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The AJ turns a new shade of green

Footprint’s relaunch comes at a key time for green thinking, says Hattie Hartman

Footprint relaunches this month as the AJ’s new home for all things sustainable – in print and online. Evolving from its three-year stint as the AJ Sustainability Blog, Footprint – now with its own tab on TheAJ.co.uk homepage – will continue to deliver a daily round-up of green news, as well as favourite picks from my inbox and across the web. With this refresh, in step with the redesign of the AJ last month, we will also broaden our lens.

We are in pursuit of an ecologically informed architecture in which concerns such as daylight, thermal performance and structural efficiency are embedded in quality design. In the last issue of every month, Footprint features will review exemplar projects and emerging best practice. Daily posts at AJFootprint.com will capture evolving policy and regulations, new books and exhibitions and more, both within and beyond the shores of the UK.

This month, Steve Parnell examines FAT’s cube-in-a-cube at Riverside One in Middlesbrough. When I previewed this project 18 months ago, one outraged Footprint reader asked why I had devoted precious pages in the AJ to this ‘outlandish’ project. So why devote more pages now?

Firstly, sustainability is a broad church. Secondly, Parnell observes that ‘the potential for an ecological, social and even economically sustainable post-industrial place is palpable’ at Riverside One. Yet now, both client Teeside Valley Regeneration and developer, BioRegional Quintain – a sustainability pioneer – are defunct. We must assess what went right and learn from what went wrong.

Last week’s news that Japan’s last nuclear plant will close imminently caught my eye because I’ve just returned from two memorable weeks there. Many aspects of Japanese daily life deeply impress: from the omnipresence of bicycles and impeccably organised recycling to the dimming of lighting at night to save energy.

Retooling our built environment to better embrace the planet requires human resilience. We are infinitely adaptable when required. In the absence of necessity, the roadmap for change is often murky. Deep-seated societal transformation is needed. Perhaps we should take some clues from post-Fukushima Japan.

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