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Scenarios for strategic planning in the built environment

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Tea, Coffee and Biscuits will be served throughout the presentation


Buildings, highways and airports, like much of the built environment, have long design lives that necessitate long-term planning. This seminar will explore how decision-makers can use scenarios to help them take a long-term view in an increasingly uncertain world. The first two speakers will focus on the cross-cutting issues of energy and energy efficiency, while the second two speakers will focus on the specific issues of aviation infrastructure and construction materials.


Dr Alexander Van de Putte, Senior Director and Head of Scenario Processes and Applications, PFC Energy International; Adjunct Professor of Energy Economics, Energy Delta Institute; Adjunct Professor of Strategic Foresight, IE Business School; Associate, US National Intelligence Council; Brains Trust, Evian Group at IMD .

Dr Theo Hacking, Senior Research Associate, Cambridge Centre for Energy Studies

Marcus Morrell, Senior Analyst, Arup Foresight Innovation + Incubation

Jeff Vickers, PhD student, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Speakers’ abstracts

Dr Alexander Van de Putte, “Implications of Shell’s recent energy scenarios for the built environment”

Royal Dutch / Shell Group has a long history of scenario planning. Using scenarios, Shell famously anticipated the 1973 oil crisis and the fall of communism in Russia. By understanding early indicators of change, Shell was able to take appropriate action quickly.

In 2008, Shell published two energy scenarios looking forward to 2050: Blueprints and Scramble. Both scenarios are driven by three “hard truths”: energy use in developing nations is increasing dramatically, supply will struggle to meet demand, and environmental stresses from energy use will increase. Will nations scramble to meet their own energy demands or will they cooperate and draft blueprints?

As one of the experts who helped to create these scenarios, Alexander will introduce each of them before working through their implications for the built environment.

Dr Theo Hacking, “Scenarios for the future of energy management in buildings and property developments”

Existing buildings, including the appliances within them, account for over 40% of the world’s total primary energy consumption and approximately 25% of carbon emissions. In more developed countries, such as the UK, the contribution is closer to 50%. With rising energy costs and ambitious carbon reduction targets, energy efficiency will be a critical issue for the future of the built environment.

Cambridge Centre for Energy Studies (CCES) at the Judge Business School and property group Grosvenor are coordinating a project that aims to explore the most appropriate responses to the future challenges of energy management in buildings and property developments, and the interventions (‘policies’) needed to facilitate their implementation. Theo will introduce the scenario-building technique being applied, the four scenarios that have already been developed – Steady Progress, Transformational Change, Growing Divide and Comfort without Concern – and future work.

Marcus Morrell, “Aviation 2040: Future scenarios for airport infrastructure”

In 2009, Arup’s Foresight group developed four scenarios for the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), focussing on the future of UK aviation and airport infrastructure to 2040. The ICE commissioned the project in the hope that the scenarios will stimulate long-term, strategic thinking in both the public and private sectors. Marcus will talk about the process that Arup designed to create the scenario set in collaboration with the ICE . He will also give an overview of the scenarios themselves and some of the conclusions that were drawn.

Jeff Vickers, “Possible future scenarios for construction aggregate and implications for earthmoving equipment”

Future scenarios are commonly presented as competing stories of wildly different future states. To illustrate each scenario world and how it came about, devices such as fictional news clippings, thought-provoking images and excerpts from fact books are used. As a result, the end states are often given much more weight than the process of reaching them.

An alternative approach, Scenario Network Mapping, presents scenarios as a roadmap of possible cause-and-effect links. This makes the internal logic of the scenarios transparent, meaning they are easier to modify as new possibilities emerge. It also highlights the points at which scenarios diverge and converge, better enabling firms to build flexibility and robustness into their future products and services.

Using the construction aggregates industry as an example, Jeff will discuss how Scenario Network Mapping can be applied to a global market and present initial findings on how the scenarios can be linked to product and technology roadmaps, in this case for earthmoving equipment.

This talk is part of the Sustainability in the Built Environment (GreenBRIDGE) series.

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