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Sun 17 Feb 2008 11:01 AM

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Time running out for sustainable action, warns design principal

Need for a commitment to be made on implementing sustainability, says Joseph Lalli, president and managing principal of EDSA.

Time is running out for the implementation of sustainable design and development, warned the head of a US landscape architecture and urban design firm at a sustainability development conference held last week.

"We all know that sustainable [development] is the right thing to do but [it is as if we are] looking for one person to say do it," Joseph Lalli, president and managing principal of EDSA, said at the Abu Dhabi conference.

"What it really needs is a real passion by developers, clients and practitioners to carry these things forward and make them happen. [With economic concerns] people say put it on the backburner, but I don't think we can do that any more, we have to make a commitment," he added.

Sustainability is not just about green buildings, it is about taking everything and making it sustainable, he added.

Peter Calthorpe, principal of US design firm Calthorpe Associates, also stressed the importance of looking at the overall picture.

"No place is an island. We design projects individually, but it is the interconnection that is important," he said.

The one-day conference, which was organised by the Urban Land Institute, was held for the first time in the Middle East region.

Opening the event, H.E Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan said the conference was ‘the right initiative, in the right place, at the right time'.

Sheikh Sultan pointed to Abu Dhabi's Plan 2030 as an example of how Abu Dhabi has embraced the fundamentals of sustainability in its urban planning structure, through the pursuit of green building standards in design and construction to the search for sustainable technologies for the management of energy, waste and water.

"The political will to pursue sustainability is there at the highest level," he told delegates.

Other speakers at the event included Joe Brown, president and CEO of landscape design firm EDAW, and Jim Heid, president of UrbanGreen in the US.

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