The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


Keynote lecture series

The School's keynote lecture series brings together great minds to share their wealth of experience and spark discussions around the future of the built environment.

Keynote lecture series

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Climate change and low carbon futures | 2022-2023

Our 2022-23 keynote lecture series explores the theme of climate change and low carbon futures. The series will consider how the construction sector and built environment contribute to addressing the impact of climate change and the transformation required for a low carbon future.

International trade and carbon emissions | Professor Zhifu Mi

Delivered by Prof. Zhifu Mi, this lecture focuses on international trade and carbon emissions. 

The CO2 emissions embodied in international trade account for more than 20% of global emissions. International trade might cause carbon leakage, which refers to that businesses were to transfer production to other countries with laxer emission constraints. Emerging economies have been making larger contributions to international trade and associated emission transfer. Understanding the trends and drivers of the CO2 emissions embodied in international trade is of great importance, and the rising emissions embodied in South–South trade need to be paid more attention.

Watch a recording. 

Digital Transformation and the search for low carbon buildings and infrastructure | Professor Tim Broyd

The construction industry has a bad reputation for failing to meet traditional targets of quality, cost and time, and also for lack of innovation in processes, methods and materials. The reality is not quite so bleak, but it is certainly the case that there is little formal research. And yet we are now facing the greatest challenge the industry has ever had to meet, that of climate change.

This lecture summarised the changes that have occurred during a single career span, particularly in the development and adoption of digital ways of working. It considered the need for a consistent and long-term shift to ‘whole life thinking’ being a necessary attribute before real change can be made. It also demonstrated how industry and government need to work closely together to meet the minimum needs of society. And in doing so, it suggested that only by closely co-ordinated international efforts can the worst effects of climate change be averted.

Watch a recording.

Resilience | 2021-2022

Our 2021-22 keynote lecture series explores the theme of resilience and how the world can withstand or recover quickly from the vast difficulties experienced and still being experienced in recent times, from infrastructure to climate solutions. 

Resilience: A State Obligation | Dr Tim Stone CBE

This lecture examined what is meant by, and the need for resilience in infrastructure, and the consequences of failure. It also covered the way that governments have progressively neglected what are their ultimately inescapable obligations, without necessarily having intended to do so.

The lecture drew on examples from across infrastructure; including transport, water and energy. It will examine failures in governance, failures in accountability and the consequences for a future low-carbon economy.

The impact and failure of policymakers, regulators, engineers and civil society will be examined along with possible solutions which might be more effective.

Watch a recording.

Building Resilience through Infrastructure in Resource Challenged Settings | Dr Priti Parikh 

This illuminating lecture examined the importance of infrastructure in resource challenged settings – both for building resilience and addressing the Sustainable Development Goals. There is a need for major investment in infrastructure to address gaps in services as an enabler for human well-being and development. With challenges such as climate change, what approaches can be used to address infrastructure needs of the current and future generations?

Dr Parikh used examples from water, sanitation, and energy projects globally to discuss inclusive, equitable and resilient infrastructure solutions.

Watch a recording.

Climate Resilient Water Solutions in Africa | Honorary Professor Samuel Godfrey

Africa has seen a seven fold increase in climate shocks over the last 30 years. Infrastructure service levels have increased from the Millennium Development Goal (MDG7) to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG6). The population of Africa has almost doubled in the last 30 years, placing pressure on available water resources and supplies. What are climate resilient water solutions for Africa? How can the infrastructure sector adapt to the climatic and demographic challenges across sub-Saharan Africa?

This lecture considered climate resilience across the infrastructure lifecycle, and present financing, design, innovation and project management options based on industry experience. 

Watch a recording

The built environment in the era of Covid-19 | 2020-21

Our 2020-21 keynote lecture series explores the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the built environment and the lessons learned. We will be exploring how society will move forward in the altered reality of life after Covid-19.

Global living environments post COVID - The future of cities
Sophie Chick, Director of World Research at Savills

In this keynote we'll be discussing the future of cities to try and answer the popular question at the moment – are people going to leave cities? We need to focus on historic and forecast migration trends globally, affordability and house prices and how cities themselves are evolving, particularly regarding sustainable solutions and liveable structures.

COVID-19 has given us a new economic reality, what do the GDP and unemployment forecasts mean?

Sophie will focus on discussing the residential investment sectors as investors pursue a ‘beds and sheds’ strategy, as well as specifically discuss housing for both students and an ageing population.

Watch a recording.

Emerging Issues in Climate Investment and Finance in China | Dr Xi Liang

Delivered by Dr Xi Liang, this keynote will provide the latest overview of climate investment and finance development in China, including policy, regional pilot and financial instruments.

The lecture will also present several emerging issues demanding further research in climate investment and finance, including additionality, standard development and climate transition risk management. 

Watch a recording. 

Can wasted resources be reused for social good post-COVID19? | Gee Sinha, Director of ReSpace Projects

On 3 March Gee Sinha, Director of ReSpace Projects delivered The Bartlett Real Estate Institute’s first lecture for 2021 ‘Can wasted resources be reused for social good post-COVID19?’. The lecture was chaired by Dr. Jos Boys, MSc Learning Environments Lead.

They discussed whether respacing can offer a glimpse of a better normal. Gee also delved into ReSpace Projects, an opportunity that respaces and reuses empty buildings to make a better city, instead of just a better profit.

Watch a recording.

Sustainability in the 21st Century

On Wednesday 16 June BSSC delivered ‘Sustainability in the 21st Century’ to mark the School’s new name change. The event was chaired by School Director, Professor D’Maris Coffman and included speakers Sue KershawNoble Francis and BSSC Alumnus Maya Naasani.

Our speakers discussed how we need to work together to utilise a diverse body of knowledge in order to adapt to the changing world, from climate change to ever evolving supply and demand.

Watch the recording.

Sustainable infrastructure: building a resilient future | 2019-20

Our 2019-20 keynote lecture series explores the pursuit of global environmental sustainability and the role of the built environment industry in supporting this.  

Now and in the future, enormous investment is required to develop infrastructure which considers economic, social and environmental factors. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals address the global challenges we face and set a blueprint for a more sustainable future. Our School actively supports research which works towards these goals.

This year’s keynote lecture series will explore topics including climate change resilience, sustainable buildings and housing and green infrastructure. 

Bringing together researchers, policy makers and leading industry innovators at the forefront of climate change and sustainable infrastructure, this series explores the potential future for a sustainable built environment.

Professor Chris Gorse, Leeds Sustainability Institute
Building a healthy and sustainable built environment: development, new build and retrofit

12 February 2020

Inadequate buildings and ill-considered developments not only increase emissions but are detrimental to our health and well-being. There are significant health benefits for those living in properties that are built and retrofitted well, and planned so that they integrate with the community and the natural environment.

Buildings that perform reduce emissions, are comfortable, benefit from improved air quality and allow for a greater social and environmental integration, and provide safer and cleaner environments.

Professor Gorse discusses how moving from tests on building elements towards exploring buildings as a whole system has greater potential for realising healthier, more sustainable buildings.

Professor Chris Gorse is Director of the Leeds Sustainability Institute and Head of the Centre of the Built Environment at Leeds Beckett University.

Dr Juliet Mian and Pasquale Capizzi, Arup
Delivering sustainable and climate change resilient infrastructure: Lessons from the world

6 November 2019

According to the UN over 60% of the land projected to become urban by 2030 is yet to be built, mostly in South-East Asia and Africa.

Development will likely test planning and design capacities, while climate change will compound risk and affect ecosystem services at an unprecedented scale.

Dr Juliet Mian and Pasquale Capizzi present practices from around the world in sustainable and resilient infrastructure and attempt to draw lessons for replication.

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Dr Juliet Mian is Arup Associate Director, Technical Director of The Resilience Shift, and Pasquale Capizzi is Arup Associate, and Lead of Climate Resilience, Arup International Development.
This lecture discusses the work of Resilience Shift - a global community working to accelerate an urgent shift towards better, more resilient infrastructure and help create a safer world.
Sue Kershaw, Visiting Professor, Managing Director Transportation at Costain'The Time is now’ Progressive assurance on Major Complex Infrastructure Projects and Programmes

3 September 2020

This lecture explored how we need to keep working together to better understand how assurance can be embraced and how we can get the message across that assurance is an enabler not a distraction. 

Watch a recording of the lecture

Constructs: digital innovation in the built environment | 2018-19

Our 2018-19 keynote lecture series considers the potential for innovative digital technologies to disrupt how we develop and manage construction projects.

The construction industry is undergoing radical change in how it delivers our social and economic infrastructure. Technology is powering this change - from the digital transformation of organisational networks and supply chains to real time responsive building design.

Using data to inform and improve construction delivery systems, the industry is revolutionising its approach to creating efficient, sustainable and adaptable infrastructure, building collaborative and integrated digital futures.Bringing together researchers, policy makers and leading industry innovators at the cutting edge of information technology, this series explores the possibilities for a digital future of the built environment.

Dr Helen Campbell, Arup
From ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘must-have’: why software development is a core discipline in the AEC sector

2 April 2019

Times are changing. The architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector is striving for transformation and digital innovation is central to this. In many cases it is no longer possible to deliver the outcomes a client wants, at a price they want to pay, without developing software.

Software development in AEC isn’t new, however it has often been peripheral to the main business of project delivery. With radical digital change in the sector, is it time we recognised software engineering as a core discipline, and an integral part of a multidisciplinary approach to business? 

This lecture explores the organisational challenges of building software development capability more centrally.

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Dr Helen Campbell is Director of the Technical Software Group at Arup
Dr Jennifer Schooling, Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction
The role of sensing and data in transforming the future of infrastructure

5 March 2019

The increasing sophistication of sensing systems and data analytics has the potential to transform the future of infrastructure.

Work being carried out at the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction is developing capabilities which will provide a powerful platform for delivering data to enable smarter and more proactive decision-making, both during the construction of new assets and the management of existing infrastructure.

A number of case studies will be described which illustrate how these capabilities are being deployed with industry partners to provide insights into asset behaviour and condition.

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Download the presentation slides [pdf 5.8KB]. Dr Jennifer Schooling is the Director of the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction.
Professor Rafael Sacks, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
Construction tech: innovation founded on lean theory and BIM technology

5 February 2019 

This decade has seen a surge in innovation in construction. Some of that innovation has emerged within existing architectural, engineering and construction companies, and some from established software vendors, but the most exciting developments are in construction tech start-up companies.

Most of these build directly on the theoretical and technological foundations provided by lean construction thinking and BIM technology. In this lecture, Prof Sacks will review some of the most promising innovations, tracing their development back to the fundamental and applied research in academia and in industry that make them possible.

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Cristina Savian, BE-WISE
Digital Twin - Axiom or Fake News?

11 December 2018 

Cristina Savian, managing director and founder of BE-WISE, joins us for the next instalment of our 2018-19 keynote lecture series Constructs: digital innovation in the built environment.

The advancement of digital technologies and the adoption of BIM processes in the built environment has enabled the construction industry to catch up with aerospace and manufacturing - made possible through the creation of digital twins.

Digital twins aim to be the single source of truth in a built asset, serving the role as a live digital representation of a physical entity through the asset’s lifecycle, from conception to decommissioning. 

This lecture will explore the double face of digital twins. On one hand they offer an inspiring new frontier in their role as problem-solvers - enhancing asset performance and reducing risk. But some argue digital twins are yet to deliver tangible, measurable benefits. 

Cristina will analyse the central questions - are we ready for digital twins? And who stands to benefit? 

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Cristina Savian is the founder and managing director of BE-WISE, a London based consultancy firm specialising in digital transformation and innovation in the construction industry. 
Mark Farmer, Cast
Declining resiliency: implications for the UK construction industry and policymakers

3 October 2018

An unprecedented set of structural resourcing risks now face UK construction, including an ageing workforce, migrant dependency increasingly threatened by Brexit and the ongoing challenge of attracting new talent into the industry. 

Against that backdrop, this lecture looks at the growing productivity imperative and whether we are now on a forced journey to adopting new delivery models embracing digital technology, integrated working and greater levels of manufacturing. Mark also explores the role of government in initiating strategic industry modernisation.

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Mark Farmer is Founding Director and CEO of real estate and construction consultancy Cast. Mark authored the October 2016 UK Government review of the construction labour market model Modernise or Die.

Rethinking Infrastructure | 2017-18

Our 2017-18 programme of lectures - titled Rethinking Infrastructure - considered new approaches and innovative perspectives on infrastructure, focusing on three key areas: projects, prospects and prosperity. 

  • Projects - examining radical new approaches to managing and financing large scale infrastructure projects
  • Prospects - considering the potential for infrastructure to develop solutions for the problems of the future
  • Prosperity - exploring the ways in which infrastructure is fundamental to building a sustainable, prosperous society
Professor Christian Hilber, London School of Economics
Constraining second home investments: the economic impacts

20 March 2018

Constraining second home investments in tourist destinations or superstar cities is an increasingly popular policy, not just in the UK but across the globe.

In this lecture, Professor Hilber investigates the housing and labour market impacts of such political backlash against wealthy investors.

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Professor Christian Hilber is Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics (LSE). Before joining LSE, he was an economist at Fannie Mae and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Basel.
Shashi Verma, TfL
Rethinking agglomeration: mass transit in the age of new mobility

13 February 2018

How can mass transport infrastructure both benefit from emerging technologies and combine them with effective transport policies? Agglomeration effects have brought about productivity advantages by clustering complementary economic activities, enabled and facilitated by effective transportation networks. How can we rethink the role of mass transit for economies of agglomeration in the age of smart systems and big data?

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As CTO for Transport for London (TfL), Shashi Verma has led the development of contactless ticketing across TfL’s services, successfully implementing the world’s largest smartcard-based ticketing system in 2012.
Professor Jeffrey Pinto, Black School of Business
“Lies, damned lies, and project plans”: Human errors that make a mockery of infrastructure planning

10 January 2018

Infrastructure projects have an abysmal and expensive record of failed delivery, often running far over budget and behind schedule, and costing their sponsors billions. Examples of infrastructure projects include power generation (nuclear and hydroelectric), rail and roadway, Olympic, and information system and data infrastructure. Many of the seeds of failure of these large projects are sown at the outset, through poor planning processes due to a variety of human biases, miscalculations, and willful negligence.

This lecture examines the “seven deadly sins” in infrastructure project planning, arguing that these errors are systematic, frequently recognizable, and correctable.

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Professor Jeffrey Pinto is Professor of Management at the Black School of Business at Penn State Erie. His research interests include project management, information system implementation, power and political processes in organisations, and the diffusion of innovations. He teaches in the areas of project management, organizational behavior, and organisation theory.

Professor Jennifer Whyte, Imperial College London
Innovation in civil infrastructure: towards digital maturity

5 December 2017

The design, operation and maintenance of infrastructure is being transformed through the use of digital data. There is a need for innovation in major infrastructure clients and projects to visualize and understand complex product systems; identify risk and build in resilience; and support collaborative working. How can construction managers and engineers use next generation tools?

This talk draws on examples from research in areas such as systems integration, configuration management, visualization and the hand-over of digital asset information from project delivery teams to long-term owners and operators.

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Professor Jennifer Whyte is Laing O'Rourke/Royal Academy of Engineering Professor of Systems Integration at Imperial College London. Prof Whyte's research focus is on systems integration in civil infrastructure. 
James Stewart, KPMG
Emerging trends in the global infrastructure market

7 November 2017

This lecture considers emerging trends in the global infrastructure market, including populism and the growing power of the consumer, innovations in infrastructure planning, impact of technology, funding and finance, and globalisation.

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James Stewart is KPMG in the UK's Chairman of Global Infrastructure. James joined KPMG in May 2011 as Chairman of KPMG’s Global Infrastructure practice. Since joining the firm, he has visited over 45 countries to discuss their infrastructure investment plans and major projects.
Professor Raymond Levitt, Stanford University
Political, Economic and Technological Forces that have Shaped the Construction Industry: Challenges and Potential Opportunities

3 October 2017

Political, economic, social and technological trends since the 1600s have shaped the structure of labor markets and firms in the US construction industry along with the structure of the construction industries in many other developed countries.

This lecture traces some of the key forces that have shaped the industry into its current vertically, horizontally and longitudinally fragmented form and provides some thoughts about how emerging technologies and business strategies that embrace them can overcome some of the inefficiencies and problems the current industry structure has created and perpetuated.

View the slides from Prof Levitt's lecture:

Professor Raymond Levitt is Kumagai Professor in Engineering, Emeritus at Stanford University.

Prof Levitt teaches classes and conducts research on organization, governance and entrepreneurship in construction in Stanford's Sustainable Design and Construction program. Prof Levitt founded and directs Stanford’s Global Projects Center (GPC), which conducts research and executive education focused on the financing, governance and sustainability of global building and infrastructure projects.

The Business of Infrastructure2016-17

The School's 2016-17 keynote lecture series - The Business of Infrastructure - introduced leading scholars and practitioners to provide their insights and stimulate debate about one of the defining grand challenges of our time: how to manage the business of infrastructure.

The event programme featured talks from major figures in national infrastructure delivery and management, including Sir John ArmittTerry Hill CBE and Mark Thurston.

Rashik Parmar MBE, IBM
A glimpse into the future of digitisation

30 May 2017

Digital technologies seem to be in all aspects of our daily lives and we do not seem to be able to do without them. How did this technology creep up on us? What is the art of the possible today? What are the current future projections and how might our lives change in the future?

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Rashik Parmar MBE is the leader of IBM’s European technical community, an IBM Distinguished Engineer and previously President of IBM's Academy of Technology.

Simon Murray, acumen7
From transactions to enterprises: a new approach to delivering high performance infrastructure

2 May 2017

In March 2017, the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Infrastructure Client Group published their report - From Transactions to Enterprises - on a new approach to delivering infrastructure projects.

In this lecture, Simon Murray explains how the report came to be written and summarises its findings. He continues by suggesting ways in which academics and practitioners can work together to improve the performance of the organisations that deliver our infrastructure.

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Simon Murray is a chartered civil engineer who has spent most of his career working in the infrastructure sector. He is a non-executive director of Highways England, a member of the Infrastructure Client Group and co-founder of the acumen7 network.

Sir John Armitt, National Express Group
Infrastructure - deciding the long term needs

21 March 2017

Today's national infrastructure is provided by the private sector and government, influenced by government policies and regulators. Going forward, recommending what should be built and when to meet the nation's long term needs is the job of the National Infrastructure Commission. In this lecture, Sir John Armitt addresses the role and challenges of the Commission.

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Sir John Armitt is a civil engineer, who was Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, the body that oversaw the construction of the venues, facilities and infrastructure for the 2012 Olympic Games. He was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 2015-6. Since February 2013, he has been Chairman of National Express Group.

Terry Hill CBE, Arup
Economic infrastructure: expensive, dumb and high carbon?

21 February 2017

The economic case for investment in new infrastructure is proven and accepted but new infrastructure is 80% construction, and this sector is the largest UK industry and yet has the lowest participation in research and innovation. In this lecture Terry Hill explores why this is so and how to fix it.

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Terry Hill CBE FREng is Chair of Arup’s Board of Trustees and former Arup Group Chairman.
Mark Thurston, CH2M
The business of infrastructure: a view on recent history and what drives success

17 January 2017

Mark Thurston, European Managing Director of CH2M, shares his view on the recent history of infrastructure and what drives success.

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Mark Thurston serves as CH2M’s Managing Director for Europe and has been with the company since June 2008.
Mike Forster, Forster Associates
The business of infrastructure: a personal perspective

6 December 2016

In this lecture, Mike Forster shares his experience gained from a working on major infrastructure projects and pulls out both key learnings and the challenges that major projects face.

Having worked for both clients and consultants his experience is primarily focussed on the early definition phases of projects, that the client has the right development strategy, the clearest brief and that the proposed solution meets those requirements in the best way possible.

The core projects referenced in the presentation include Heathrow Terminal 5, the Heathrow Third Runway proposals, Crossrail and a number of international projects.

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Professor Peter Hansford, The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction
Infrastructure projects - do they matter?

11 October 2016

In this lecture, Peter Hansford defines infrastructure as the physical fabric that underpins the built environment. Infrastructure supports economic activity around the world and enables society to function efficiently. 

He goes on to discuss the two types of infrastructure - economic and social. Economic infrastructure involves transport systems, energy, water supply, telecommunication while social infrastructure involves health and well-being institutions, educational institutions and very importantly - housing, particuarly private housing.

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Professor Peter Hansford, Chair of Construction and Infrastructure Policy at The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction, served as the government’s chief construction advisor from 2012 to 2015. He was President of ICE from 2010 to 2011.