Ottawa Architecture Week (OAW) is an annual week-long festival that welcomes everyone to explore architecture, urbanism, art and design in Ottawa. This year’s theme is “Under Water: Weathering the New Normal” exploring the changing climate impacts on the Ottawa region and the urgent need for new solutions. OAW takes place September 28 to October 8, 2019.
We’re excited to be part of this year’s OAW! More info here.
Mark Lucuik, Director of Sustainability, will participate in this panel on Thursday, October 3. More information on the panel, including registration, can be found here.
Panel Overview: Blueprints to our eco-footprints
The increasingly inclement and extreme weather have cities around the world speaking about resiliency and disaster preparedness. There is urgency to this message but also uncertainty of any clear path forward. The problems feel insurmountable, while the solutions frequently feel disconnected from each other and from reality. Critical challenges have a way of inspiring both technological and social innovation. Individual actions can have a system-wide impact. Strategic structural and policy changes are also needed to keep the momentum going. As we look around the world for creative solutions, we must also remember the importance of working on solutions together in Ottawa for Ottawa.
This year OAW asks us: “How do we weather this new normal, together?”
For decades, the environmental movement has asked us to consider our ecological impact and has challenged us all to take action. How can we reduce, reuse, and recycle? Can we stop clear-cutting and save the rainforest? What causes acid rain? Can we close the hole in the ozone? Are our energy sources renewable? How do we reduce our dependency on fossil fuels? How do we “green” our homes and our cities to make them more sustainable? Can we ban single-use plastics? Is our water safe? The “environmental movement” is itself an ever-shifting landscape. Different issues and different strategies gain popularity. Some persist while others go out of fashion and fade from our memories. It can be hard to keep up and to know what the right thing to do is.
Architecture and the construction industry are major players in the city but are also major contributors to the global carbon footprint. Architecture can help us imagine new ways of living and ways to restore a balanced relationship with the environment. We can find inspiration in the many ecologically-driven international design competitions and projects from around the world. The architectural industry is also in need of reform. The industry continues its work to advance new building and design technologies; sophisticated building modeling; and sustainable building certification programs, such as LEED. External pressure from government regulations and incentive programs, as well as consumer-led choices and changing consumer habits can also help push architecture to identify and transform its own unsustainable practices.
Innovation is not our only resource for change. Inspiration and hope also come from looking to the past. Old buildings hold a wealth of old ideas and a wealth of materials we can call upon for creative solutions to reconcile built and natural environments. Historically, building techniques and traditions evolved to respond to local climate, making use of surrounding renewable natural resources and local knowledge. Building conservation is not just about protecting heritage. It can also be about protecting the environment. Many old buildings can be retrofitted to find new life with new purpose, while others can be rehabilitated to reduce emissions and operating costs. This can happen at the scale of minor renovations to your home, to significant heritage buildings, to entire de-industrialized districts.
Following the discussion, the audience will be invited to join the conversation by asking questions and sharing ideas.