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The physical past and digital future

The physical past and digital future

Charlotte Markey, Green Urbanisation Innovation Manager at Polypipe Civils & Green Urbanisation, reflects on the changes within the landscaping community over the past year and what this means for the future of the industry.

Before COVID, our industry was broadly based on physical meetings yet with busy diaries and our geographical distribution, conversations were often individual, one-sided and siloed. While 2020 was meagre in positives, it did force many of these meetings online which, in turn, created opportunities for greater multi-disciplinary design collaboration.  

Today, whole teams can connect and come together online, sparking shared thinking and ideas. From a project perspective, this has enabled manufacturers like ourselves to consider all viewpoints collectively and, critically, to work with stakeholders to bridge more effectively the gap between what the landscape needs and the engineering solutions required to achieve it.  

Changes in legislation, such as Sewerage Sector Guidance and Biodiversity Net gain, bring an alignment of contractors, developers and consultants to proactively seek opportunities to integrate resilient green assets into the design from the outset. To this end, we at Polypipe Civils & Green Urbanisation are evaluating how we innovate, taking a more proactive approach with the landscape community to identify gaps in design processes and where our holistic water management solutions can make a difference.  

During 2021, and in line with the focuses of COP26, we will continue to raise awareness of responsible resource use through effective water management. By placing water management at the heart of urban design, usingspecially optimised surface water attenuation and passive irrigation, it’s possible to create more sustainable, resilient landscapes that are conditioned to the local climate and deliver more positive outdoor spaces for public use.  

This is why we have such a focus on Green Urbanisation. The next generation of SuDS is about more than managing surface run-off, it’s how we can reuse this to fuel green assets and spaces to benefit individuals, communities and the environment.  

The advancement of technology, which is central to the solutions we develop, means we can integrate physical and digital interventions to create sustainable and resilient landscapes. If we are to solve the climate crisis, we need adaptive and responsive systems that can utilise real-time monitoring and activation to ensure optimum conditions and outputs are consistently maintained.  

While the last year has seen a dramatic change in the way we all work, presenting some unexpected benefits in terms of how we can collaborate more efficiently, it’s timely that COP26 will take place later this year, bringing experts from around the world together, hopefully face-to-face, to discuss climate strategies and co-ordinated action.  

The pandemic showed us that challenges we face today and in the near future – whether environmental, health or other – affect all of us as a global community. Working directly with our customers and other people in the supply chain has helped us to be more creative and strategic in our product innovations. But if we’re to truly see the benefits of the latest developments in Green Urbanisation, we need everyone to get on board. Just as COP26 is “uniting the world to tackle climate change”, as a manufacturer we want those working in the built environment to unite, so we can collectively work towards building a greener, more resilient future. 

Polypipe were sponsoring the The Dame Sylvia Crowe International Award in 2020. Entries for 2021 Awards are now open – find out more here. 

Watch an overview from the last years Dame Sylvia Crowe International Awardwinner on urban landscape, COP26, what made their entry successful and much more.