Open Debate 2015

London’s pollution is ruining our lives. Can we build a cleaner city?

Wed 9 September 2015, LSE Saw Swee Hock Student Centre

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Get debating at@openhouselondon #opendebate and tell us your views!

Light pollution in London Deadly smog leaves us gasping for breath, decibel levels make us turn to earplugs and the beauty of the night sky is invisible behind the city lights.

The third annual Open Debate asks ‘What can London’s built environment experts do to help clean up our city for good?



Confirmed speakers:

  • Chair: John Vidal, Environment Editor, The Guardian
  • Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth, London
  • Noel Farrer, President, Landscape Institute
  • Roland Grzybek, Chair, Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) London (and Water and Environment Management Framework Manager, CH2M HILL)
  • Paul Heather, Managing Director, Skanska
  • Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health and Director, Environmental Research Group, King's College London

The Mayor wants to make London ‘one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the world’. But despite radical measures and major investment, London’s pollution levels are still shocking. A King’s College study in July 2015 estimated that the death toll from air pollution might be nearly 10,000 people a year, more than twice as high as previously thought.

Air pollution is killing us, but other types of pollution can also damage our physical and mental health, and worsen the effects of climate change, making London even hotter. Persistent exposure to noise in such a busy 24-hour city, especially at night, can lead to deafness, sleep disturbance, and ultimately serious physical problems such as hypertension.

New transport infrastructure, the green infrastructure investment plan for London and major policy measures such as Low Emission Zones are being put in place to tackle the problem.

But architects, construction professionals, landscape designers and engineers are doing their bit too - developing and using radical new ideas and technologies such as self-cleaning concrete as well as returning to more traditional measures such as retrofit and green infrastructure to help tackle London’s polluted built environment.

The Open Debate, now in its third year and supported by Skanska as part of the Open House London Green Exemplar strand, opens up a real platform for debate, discussion and sharing of opinion between Londoners and professionals about how our city is planned, designed and built.

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Open Debate 2014

In partnership with the Institution of Civil Engineers, Open-City hosted the second Open Debate on Monday 15 September 2014 with the question '8 Million and Growing... Will London Grind to a Halt?' to give citizens and professional alike a voice of how the city can and ought to be built. Read the review.

Open Debate 2013

Open-City in partnership with the Landscape Institute, hosted the first-ever Open Debate, 'Is London Building a Sterile City' to a full house on Tuesday 17 September 2013. The Open Debate is the part of Open-City's ongoing Urban Issues programme. Read the review.

‘We can’t hope to accommodate a growth rate of 100,000 people a year without the kind of active debate such as we’ve had this evening. I endorse the whole Open-City concept.’ Chris Whitehead, Director of Sustainability, Balfour Beatty on the Open Debate 2013


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