Friday, 05 June, 2015 11:17 | Written by Larry Wash |
Thoughts and Reaction to the Chicago Forum on Global Cities
Last week, the Chicago Forum on Global Cities assembled an impressive cast of current and former diplomats, architects and non-profit and private-sector leaders to discuss important issues that are impacting global cities and how these cities will continue to impact the world. Although I was unable to attend the forum, I was able to catch a few of the fascinating panel discussions online. Two sessions specifically stand out to me both for their dialogue and the immediate role KONE is playing in both issues. The sessions were: “Reimagining Urban Infrastructure,” and “Designing Environmentally Sustainable Cities.”
Reimagining Urban Infrastructure
As mentioned in the panel discussion, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas and that’s expected to increase to more than two-thirds by 2050. As the name of the panel notes, this rise in population and demand for city living is pushing architects and engineers to reimagine the development of new and existing buildings to handle many new factors. Retrofitting aging and outdated infrastructure is also a key issue on the minds of architects and city planners.
The answer to these concerns, to me, is innovation.
“As new technologies develop, the opportunity to think about infrastructure differently in terms of sustainability and resilience, is profound,” said Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, during the panel.
At KONE, this sentiment could not ring more true, from our KONE EcoDisc innovation in 1990 to our creation of the first machine room-less (MRL) elevator in 1996, to KONE UltraRope in 2013. We thrive on challenges and are in the trenches when it comes to developing innovations for managing the flow of people within buildings, including those that are already standing.
Currently, more than one-third of the world’s elevators are more than 20 years old. Though we currently service more than 1 million elevators across the globe, modernizations and retrofitting also represent a large portion of our business. KONE is able to replace antiquated machine-room elevators with an MRL elevator, which can save money in the long run by reducing maintenance and energy cost.
Designing Environmentally Sustainable Cities
Although populations of cities continue to grow, the entire surface area of cities represent less than 2 percent of the earth’s surface, but consume 78 percent of the world’s energy. As mentioned on the panel, though large contributors to stress on the environment and the health of the people residing within them, global cities also have the power to identify and implement solutions and innovations for sustainable development.
“It’s the combination of reengineering major systems but also design that have the power to be funded by individuals and cities [to address sustainability and environmental issues],” said Jeanne Gang, Founder and Principal of Studio Gang Architects, said on the panel discussion.
We share this same sentiment with Jeanne and strive to make sustainability a constant throughout all of our business practices. As a company we’ve created the KONE Environmental Excellence Program which holistically looks to address sustainability through five key initiatives including:
- Increasing eco-efficiency of our solutions
- Minimizing our carbon footprint
- Fulfilling ISO 14001 and green building requirements
- Developing environmental excellence programs with our suppliers
- Gaining recognition as the most eco-efficient company in our industry
We’re proud to say that our efforts in these five categories resulted in KONE being named the 12th greenest company by Newsweek last year.
Overall, the Chicago Forum on Global Cities represented an important compilation of brilliant minds, discussing important issues as they relate to the many of us that reside in and around global cities and companies like ours that play a direct role in the future of these cities.
I encourage you to check out some of the sessions here.
Executive Vice President