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By Mark Southgate, Chief Executive @ the Ministry of Building and Innovation

The built environment has often been at the cutting edge of technical innovation across the globe. From dizzying skyscrapers to underwater museums, buildings have challenged what is possible throughout history.

This is what motivates me and the rest of the team at MOBIE (the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education). Our charity engages, educates and researches the innovation of our homes, with a mission to inspire young people to play their vital role in shaping the future of the quality of housing and communities.

Dirty fuels + poor housing = biggest challenge

By far the most important issue in housebuilding and construction at present is decarbonisation. Our houses are built in the same way as they fundamentally have been for the past 150 years. They are heated using the same dirty fossil fuels as they have been for many decades, and they are often woefully insufficiently insulated.

This means that heating and powering our buildings has a severe environmental impact, contributing to 40% of carbon emissions in the UK. Addressing buildings’ carbon emissions is a vital part of combatting climate change.

Young people

This effort is something to which young people are deeply committed and want to be involved. They are motivated to work hard to address the issue. I’ve seen this first-hand through MOBIE’s engagement work with young people on the built environment, especially the amazing future home designs they have produced for our design competitions and the talented young people on our courses at colleges and universities.

We are hearing a recurring theme. Young people are more committed than ever to addressing the problem of carbon-induced climate change. It is their future, and they want to fight for it and make it better.

Tech is key

Smart, energy-efficient buildings are the future of our housing. There is such potential for technology and innovation to revolutionise our homes. Where we once had automobiles and telephones we now have electric cars and smartphones, yet still our buildings are largely yet to see the benefits of the digital revolution. Young people can drive these advances – they have always had an intuitive understanding of the latest technology and gadgets and they are the first to embrace new developments.  They also have the innate digital design skills to produce amazing zero carbon homes for the future!

ABC has a big role to play

Intelligent, digital design coupled with renewable energy systems will help bring our housing into the future and dramatically reduce its detrimental environmental impact. This is what our friends at the Active Building Centre (ABC) are working on. They are developing the technology and the expertise that will help create the smart, energy-efficient homes of the future that generate their own renewable electricity, calculate how much they need, and share any surplus with their surrounding communities.

The ABC’s show homes will be on display at this week’s COP Gloucestershire Event at Berkeley on October 21st, demonstrating the latest technology, gadgets and techniques. It’s set to be a fantastic day, and I’d strongly suggest that young people interested in the built environment, climate change and net zero come down to see the homes of the future. It’s your future, come and help us save it.

Mark Southgate, CEO of MOBIE, will be speaking at the panel on “What will the workforce of tomorrow look like?” at Thursday’s COP Gloucestershire conference.