65th world FIABCI Congress took place from may 20th to
22nd 2014, bringing together the key players and decision makers in global real estate, brokers, promoters, builders, investors, developers, architects and interior designers along with
experts in finance and tax… For this international event, the members chose Luxembourg.
#1 Jeremy RIFKIN : Zero Marginal Cost Society, the Internet of Things, Collaborative Commons and the Third Industrial Revolution
Jeremy Rifkin opened the conference with a plea for 'The Third Industrial
Revolution', the title of his last book. The oil era is over and he campaigns for a change of awareness, indispensable to the preservation of the conditions necessary for human life on
The economist and social theorist, who has written many books translated into
over 35 languages, explains that as current energy prices remain volatile, some people have already understood the long-term viability of investment in technologies linked to renewable energy. He
insists on the need for a change of approach to work, objects and property, based on sharing, and cites Michigan where the same levels of mobility have been maintained with a reduction of 80% of
vehicles on the road, demonstrating a real sharing of energy.
In his last book 'Zero Marginal Cost Society' he explains that a reduction of
marginal costs usually results in a reduction of environmental impact. Since the beginning of the millennium this process has begun with the sharing of zero cost knowledge: Wikipedia, YouTube
etc. The Internet of Things will soon impact on the economical value system. Although exciting, a network including everyone and everything would have to be regulated effectively in order to
protect privacy and data.
Jeremy Rifkin dreams of a new world no longer based on outdated geopolitical
regulations but on business innovators' awareness of the ecological footprint of new enterprises. Each new construction should incorporate energy-saving elements (insulation 40 cm, the
integration of renewable energy etc.) Those who fail to achieve these will be obliged to conform retrospectively over the coming decades, involving much higher costs. The building itself loses
its static nature to become an intelligent hub of infrastructures which connects humans, objects and data.
This system leads to the democratization of the economy, facilitating the
reduction of marginal costs and thereby the lowering of prices. Thus it will be easier to integrate wind and solar energy into positive energy buildings (those producing more energy than they
consume) such as those being developed in Denmark and Germany and - in a more tentative way - in the south of France.
"If you have children and grandchildren", concludes Jeremy Rifkin, "you cannot ignore the need for a radical change of mind-set and a new way of operating. It's a planetary adventure - everyone needs to participate. The responsibility of the members of the FIABCI conference is to work for a beautiful Earth."
#2 World Women in Real Estate, BROAD, Cradle to cradle and circular economy
The first afternoon began with a lecture by Professor of Economics US-French Robert James OLIVER, who paid a real tribute to women in the field of real estate, identifying the importance of networking in particular. The continued inequality in the treatment and position of women, compared with their male counterparts, led them to create, for example, a highly active Linkedin group: 'Women in World Real Estate'. He also insisted on the responsibility of the conference to encourage meetings and collaborations.
The environmental theme remained a high priority and the second day began with a contribution in Chinese by Zhang YUE, chairman of the BROAD group and an international leading light in technology. He holds over 200 patents in the field of energy saving and pollution prevention. Some buildings BROAD erected are now equipped with very efficient air purification systems along with highly effective insulation. Development in the West however remains tentative; demand is insufficient and standards are very stringent. He regretted that the Chinese are not sufficiently aware of environmental issues during construction, paying more heed to the aesthetics of the building than to its insulation.
In his presentation entitled 'Building like trees - Cities like Forests', the German Professor Michael Braungart described the system he had developed with William McDonough: 'Cradle to Cradle'. In contrast to the traditional 'cradle to grave' approach they set up a network of companies working towards zero waste, endlessly recycling residues from one company to another, saving billions of euros. The Cradle to Cradle philosophy is 'Nothing is created; nothing is lost; everything is transformed.' The result is an innovation platform which generates profits and provides high quality products which are friendly both to people and to the environment.
He cites many examples of lifestyle aberrations such as disposable nappies which represent a mountain of waste for every child; toilet papers which are extremely hazardous to water; the consumption of beef, which is both the least healthy and the least environmentally friendly.
To read: ‘Cradle to cradle – remaking the way we make things’ W. Donough and M. Braungart.
The afternoon of May 21st was dedicated to finance and taxes, with a lecture by Nicholas MACKEL, the Director General of Finance in Luxembourg, which was followed by several workshops.
#3 Architect Rudy Ricciotti : Low tech, environment ...
On Tuesday morning French attendees could have been excused for thinking that Jacques Higelin -the famous French singer - was making the keynote speech. This would have been entirely understandable since, beyond the striking physical resemblance, Rudy Ricciotti also delivered a lively and engaging speech to the great enjoyment of the audience. Even the Grand Duke of Luxembourg was there to listen to the artist-architect who has produced so many stunning designs such as the national MUCEM museum in Marseille and the extraordinary Islamic Art section at the Louvre in Paris.
A low-tech enthusiast, he campaigns for the 'architecture of feeling', defining engineers as the poets of tomorrow, speaking via
the expertise and dedication of craftsmen who take great pleasure in realizing the dream of the architect.
The relocation of production from raw materials causes unemployment and the loss of valuable crafts, incurring considerable environmental costs. The Jean Bouin stadium (Paris) is an example of a significant reduction in the environmental footprint of a concrete building and also created more local jobs. In contrast to minimalism and conceptual art – of which he defines himself as an enemy - his architecture is magnificent, light, vibrant and attractive.
In the forum following the conference, the architect criticized 'fascistic bureaucracy' slowing and sometimes suffocating projects, spreading its negativity in order to tighten territorial control over the city and the people who live there, with the sole aim of justifying its own existence through demonstrations of exponential growth. Like Zhang Yue, he argues that building standards, sometimes poorly adapted to current reality, are often a major obstacle. Would it not be better to base planning decisions - which are too often constrained by the means available - on the final results to be obtained?
Ecology central concern of the FIABCI
from Rudy Ricciotti, self-proclaimed anti-technological to Zhang Yue, international leader in the field, but also Michael Braungard or Jeremy Rifkin advocating inter alia the economy and efficiency of the energy in an intelligent management throughout all manufacturing stages, all voices concur in the direction of a change of attitude necessary in our society and constructions. For instance a reduction in comfort requirements emerges as essential. A glaring example are the " fridges-buildings ", meaning the bad habit of space cooling at 20° C in summer, forcing the occupants to dress more to go in! Increasing this temperature seems inevitable, and many other areas should undergo changes.
As Paul James points it out (Global compact cities), buildings that are ecological and economic is far from being antinomian but still has to
improve to become the standard, can not be achieved without partnerships between the companies (real estate agents, brokers, developers, technicians and innovative industries)
Political will can and should make a strong push in this direction. Thus the Milwaukee, on the shores of Lake Michigan, has completely transformed in 5 years its water management: economy, recovery of waste etc..
In the same conference Marco Jeffrey offers a solution for the purification of urban air by green spaces.
Property development must take into account the economic and political, economic, cultural dimension.
Finally during the closing ceremony the audience could welcome Robyn Waters as the new FIABCI President.
The gala diner concluded the congress, illuminated by an unforgettable sunset sun.
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