StateUp is proud to announce the launch of WEBS, the global alliance to drive clean growth in built environment and construction, the world’s second largest carbon-emitting sector.
You can find out more about WEBS and sign up to receive emails about its progress here.
WEBS is a first-of-its-kind alliance of global built environment industry and technology leaders, researchers, and investors that have come together with one clear mission: to identify, develop and adopt gateway technologies, policies, and behaviours that will transform the use of water and energy in our infrastructure and buildings for the wellbeing of all.
An integrated approach
An integrated approach to water and energy infrastructure and use is vital to decarbonisation, but is little practised. WEBS aims to enable systems-level adoption of clean water and energy innovations, and join up the gap between them. Energy and water innovation is far from only an industry concern; it is a question of resource security that impacts everyday life.
The built environment is responsible for 38% of carbon emissions globally and accounted for 30% of final energy consumption and 27% of energy sector emissions in 2021. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has declared the Construction sector “not on track” to meet 2030 climate goals.
Global experts and industry leaders
The WEBS steering group includes experts and industry leaders from the University of Cambridge, Technion Israel Institute for Technology, the University of Warwick, KPMG, the University of Oxford, a leading construction VC, and other leading organisations. They will meet regularly over the next year, with a conference to present plans and findings to technology, policy, research and industry audiences planned for summer 2024.
WEBS is seed funded by the British Council. Targets for WEBS first year of work will be set at its 2-day September steering meeting, which will be held at Technion University, in Haifa, Israel.
WEBS will explore a range of approaches, including techniques drawn from artificial intelligence and behavioural science, to better integrate energy and water resource innovations. WEBS is well placed to combine data analysis and domain expertise to unlock targeted policy, behavioural, and technology solutions for some of industry’s hardest scenarios, from supply chain innovation to capability gaps.
A challenge too big for one organisation
Dr. Tanya Filer, CEO of StateUp, said: “WEBS fills a critical gap by addressing a challenge too big for any one company or organisation to tackle alone. By harnessing the collective expertise of built environment, technology, policy and finance across an often fragmented industry, our goal is to drive the systems-level change, trust mechanisms, and feedback loops required to embed clean innovation within the built environment.
“We are proud to bring together world-class participants from energy, water, and the built environment to break down silos and address this critical challenge. We aim to identify the key under-addressed research needs, and create evidence-based solutions whether based in technology, policy, or human behaviour.”
Prof. Rafael Sacks, Ashtrom Engineering Company Chair in Civil Engineering at Technion said “Systems-level fragmentation reduces the capacity for trust-building and evidence-sharing. WEBS will seek directly to tackle these challenges.”
Efficiencies in a $13.9 trillion global market
With a predicted market size of $13.9 trillion by 2037 (Oxford Economics), and an $8.72 trillion project pipeline for road and rail alone over the next 5 years, the unsustainable use of water and energy throughout built environment value chains is a global challenge.
WEBS aims to integrate stakeholders from across regions and bring value, evidence, and solutions to the international community.
As WEBS develops, you can stay informed about network events and plans here. Enquiries regarding partnership opportunities can be sent to email@example.com.
Key barriers to clean growth in the built environment
WEBS will aim to tackle structural and behaviour-based barriers whose impact and responsibility sit at the whole-of-system level, lying beyond any one sector or organisation alone. These include:
- How humans behave in buildings and the spaces between them fosters uncertainty in predicting and optimising energy and water use. Too often, we forget to consider the role of human behaviour in achieving innovation-led clean growth.
- A lack of coordination, stemming from “extreme fragmentation” across industry, presents challenges around integrating innovative clean energy and water-related technologies throughout the built environment lifecycle.
- The construction industry perpetuates lose-lose behaviours, favouring narrow, short-term interests, including procurement processes that fail to align incentives for innovation.
- There’s typically scant knowledge sharing between projects, with little evidence transferred regarding the outcomes of innovative technologies, processes, and materials.
- Construction processes are often siloed from the broader built environment lifecycle. As such, built assets are procured and constructed without a holistic sense of how humans are likely to use and engage with their energy and water systems.
- Low confidence in organisational technical skills and overestimation of the risks associated with the uptake of new technologies and processes.
- A preference for the status quo
- Ignoring large future benefits in favour of short-term gains
- Difficulty accessing and processing information about new approaches
- Uncertainty about shifting social norms regarding climate action, within industry and beyond
These barriers cannot be tackled through any one sector or discipline alone. This is reflected in the WEBS Steering Group, which initially includes:
- Rafael Sacks, PhD, Ashtrom Engineering Company Chair in Civil Engineering and Professor, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
- Tanya Filer, PhD, Founder and CEO, StateUp
- Janet Greenwood,, Director, Major Projects Advisory, KPMG
- Davide Schaumann, PhD, Director of the Intelligent Place Laboratory (IPL) and Assistant Professor, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
- Kwadwo Oti-Sarpong, PhD, Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction, University of Cambridge
- Paolo Turrini, PhD, Associate Professor of Computer Science, University of Warwick and Fellow, The Alan Turing Institute
- Cristina Peñasco, PhD, Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge and Senior Economist, Banque de France
- Eszter Czibor, PhD, Head of Research, StateUp
- Mauricio Tessi Weiss, Founding Partner, EU and LatAm, Zacua Ventures
- Leon Kapetas, PhD, Lead for Programs and Climate Resilience, Resilient Cities Network, Europe and Middle East
- Tanya Bloch, PhD, Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
- Michael Gilmont, PhD, Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, University of Oxford