Kaarin Taipale is a freelance writer, lecturer and researcher. She is also a Visiting Researcher at the Center for Knowledge & Innovation Research (CKIR), Aalto University School of Economics (formerly Helsinki School of Economics), in Helsinki, Finland.
She received her PhD with a dissertation Cities for sale: How economic globalization transforms the local public sphere from the Helsinki University of Technology (Department of Architecture, Urban Studies). Originally educated as an architect at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), she also received a Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation from Columbia University in New York.
She has worked as an architect in Zurich, New York and Helsinki; was Editor of ARKKITEHTI (Finnish Architectural Review); the Chief Executive of the Building Control Department of the City of Helsinki, and Guest Professor (Sustainable Urbanism) at Chalmers in Gothenburg.
As Chairperson of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability (2000-03), she was both political representative and expert on urban issues in several United Nations’ and other intergovernmental meetings. On behalf of the Ministry of the Environment of Finland she chaired the global Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Buildings & Construction (2006-10) with Finland as lead country. The Task Force focuses on energy issues and sustainability policies in the built environment, including a “Sustainable Building Checklist” for decision-makers and citizens to increase awareness of the challenges and opportunities for sustainable building.
She was Vice President of the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE). Among her political activities as a Social Democrat she is a Board Member of the Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council (Uudenmaan liitto) and a replacement member of the City Council of Helsinki.
She has focused in recent years on sustainability and urban development, as well as local and global energy policies; and the cross-cutting nature of the energy and broader sustainability perspectives in regional and urban policies, as well as metropolitan governance. Her research has analyzed the privatization of the urban public realm, basic services in particular, and the role of financing in sustainable construction.
She was awarded the Order of the White Rose of Finland, Chevalier of the 1st Class, ordained by the President of Finland in 1999.
Kaarin Taipale was a member of the Global Holcim Awards jury in 2006. She was a member of the Concluding Panel Discussion at the inaugural Holcim Forum on “Basic Needs” in Zurich (2004), and was a member of the Academic Committee for the 2nd International Holcim Forum on “Urban_Trans_Formation” in Shanghai (2007).