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Manchester business leaders offered glimpse into life in 2030 as engineering firm launches ‘Future Ready’ campaign in North West

12 October 2015 - More than 50 business leaders were given an insight into the future of the built environment in Manchester at an event hosted by global engineering and professional services company, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff on October 8.


Looking ahead 15 years, the event examined how cities such as Manchester must tackle issues resulting from a rapidly changing world, if they are to compete internationally. A workforce that is ageing and the impact of evolving technology were just some of the topics discussed at the seminar, at which the findings of a new report entitled ‘Key Trends for the Built Environment’, developed by WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, were unveiled.

Developed by WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff and backed by Pinsent Masons, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Lloyds Banking Group, Cisco, NGO and Business in The Community, the report offers a clear vision of the landscape in which firms will operate and covers predictions in six main areas; demography, climate change, politics, resources, value change and technology.

Key findings for 2030, presented by David Symons, environmental director at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, included:

  • The number of older people in the UK will grow by 50% between 2013 and 2030
  • A population that’s more connected yet more lonely
  • Peak temperatures in cities regularly over 35oC.
  • Homes will be ‘zero carbon’ and ‘super water lean’ as a matter of course
  • The built environment will be designed for flexibility rather than single use
  • Health becomes a driving force in design and in the workplace
  • New information and communication technologies will improve all infrastructure
  • Robots will ensure delivery of any item within two hours

The seminar also featured presentations from thought-leaders in the North West including Alex Solk, partner at architecture practice, Sheppard Robson who said:

“Harnessing data from social media, including Twitter and Facebook, will have the greatest impact on building design in the future. If we can see that people are tweeting about the lack of shelter or public space in an area of the city earmarked for development – we can take this into consideration at the design stage.”

Selma Carson, programme director of real estate at Manchester University, gave insight into the University’s ambitious £750m campus development programme:

“All future developments, including the planned £350m engineering campus, are being designed with an environmental consultant appointed to guide to the project team at every stage of planning, design and build; helping the University achieve its target to reduce its carbon footprint by 40% by 2020.”

Commented Simon Clouston, technical director of sustainability & energy at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, who also spoke at the event: “In Manchester – we can already see how some of these trends are impacting on the city. For example, new technologies are influencing key development projects such as ‘The Corridor’ – part of the city centre which is home to both of the city’s major universities and the largest clinical academic campus in Europe. The area has received a share of a €24 million pot from a European Commission scheme to demonstrate ‘smart green growth’ and implement new green technologies, from renewable energy to increased use of electric vehicles.

“Also, loneliness, a key trend identified in the report and partly the result of an increasingly ageing population, is already being tackled in Manchester – which is the only UK city to be recognised as ‘Age-Friendly’ by the World Health Organisation. This is only being addressed by the Council as a social issue at the moment, but we expect the way in which homes are designed, with a focus on creating neighbourhoods that encourage interaction, will become mandatory in the next 30 years.”

The event marks the start of WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff’s North-West roll out of its ‘Future Ready’ campaign, the first training programme of its kind in the consultancy sector, which aims to equip its engineers with the tools to design more robust, future-proof and cost-effective projects for clients. The initiative, which already has been implemented in the company’s London HQ as well as the international regions, played a key role in helping the company secure ‘Consultancy of the Year - Impact Award’ at the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards 2015.

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff is currently using the findings of the ‘Future of the Built Environment’ report to inform a series of white papers, the first of which on ‘Overheating in Homes’ will be launched on October 22nd.

For further information please contact Debbie Bradley at Anita Morris Associates on Debbie@anitamorrisassociates.co.uk 01943 603311.

Notes to editors

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in Manchester

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff is one of the world's leading engineering professional services consulting firms, with 32,000 staff, based in more than 500 offices, across 39 countries. In the UK, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff’s 5,150 people provide consultancy services to all aspects of the built and natural environment working with governments, planners, developers and architects.

The firm has been involved in many high profile UK projects including the Shard, Crossrail, New South Glasgow Hospital, the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham and the re-development of London Bridge station.

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff’s Manchester office, consisting of 590 staff, operates across multi-disciplines, including structural and building services engineering, infrastructure, transport planning, management advisory and environmental consultancy.  Key local projects past and present include Omega Warrington (mixed development), Hilton Hotel at Beetham Towers, Manchester Airport - Transport for Greater Manchester consultancy framework, and the Port of Salford, Peel. 




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