Responsible BIM

We are hearing more and more of ‘Responsible Business‘ approaches, generally taken to mean a combination of sustainability and CSR. But what happens when this emergent thinking in Construction meets BIM? Responsible BIM?

Below is the transcript or notes behind my pecha kucha presentation, exploring Responsible BIM, made to the excellent ThinkBIM event on 2 April in Leeds, .

I wanted to inject a balance of current ‘soft issues’ thinking against a prevalent hard technology thinking. I have no  issues with the passion behind the BIM approaches, I am constantly impressed and think it amazing, but sometimes feel BIM technology and language is a runaway train. Unfortunately just about every BIM event I attend I hear at the outset, BIM is about the people not the technology, with the rest of the event focuses on the application of the technology, with very little soft skill content. When was the last time we saw a BIM event focus solely on collaboration without mentioning software? Having said that, its is the balance of views at ThinkBIM events is what sets it apart from other BIM events.

The title ‘Flatland to Wonderland’ comes from a brilliant article and the work of Petra Kuenkel, who we interviewed as part of our Sustainability Leadership Conversation (#sustldrconv) twitter series recently. In short, we need both the flatlands of reality along with the possibilities of the wonderland for a sustainable future

Flatland

3D modelling, and offsite component manufacture with simple on site assembly isn’t new, as illustrated in the Building article that covered the BAA Project Genesis project in 1997. Pre Egan and pre Building Down Barriers we were doing BIM, so why didn’t it take off as the Egan Report did?  (Egan was at BAA and also involved in Project Genesis).  Somehow we lost the 3D collaborative conversation, maybe the Egan agenda itself ,with a focus on KPI’s and customer satisfaction masked some of the brilliant emerging work of that time?

One of the BIM wake up calls for contractors I work with recently has been the inclusion of BIM questions within PQQ’s in particular the PAS 91 BIM options – and the need for bidding contractors to have a BIM Strategy, signed as commitment from the CEO, detailing milestones, training and development, information management and more. “Lets write one quick”

And on the issue of information management – lets start to align to ISO 9000  documentation control requirements. How many BIM users (real and say-they-do’s) have embedded their BIM information and data communication processes into their Quality Systems. I am currently helping a good number of organisations revisit their management systems and inject current information management thinking. Particular so on how and what information is shared with supply chain members. Doing so enables us to audit, and improve information management using the Plan Do Check Act approach

But, yes, we have BIMwash. BIM language is not that difficult to learn, the technology is not that difficult to purchase, and hey presto we are BIM compliant. Not surprising then that contractors sit and wait for a client to insist or require BIM on a project before applying BIM thinking. As a BIM community we need to change the conversation away from BIM being just a design tool or client requirement to a continuous improvement tool with many many benefits.

And on to the wonderland …

If we really want to co-create a sustainable built environment, and isn’t that what BIM is all about?, then we need to have both the harsh reality of the flatlands with the spirituality of the wonderland. This resonates with Lucy Marcus Be2Camp BE2Talks back in 2011 where she described the need for leaders to be both Grounded and Stargazers.

I am impressed with the Collective Leadership approach and model (developed by the Collective Leadership Institute), and the necessity to move beyond collaboration. (How many times have I heard or read a contractor claiming to be collaborative simply because they have a supplier progress meeting once a week)  The Collective Leadership Model provides the scope of elements leadership and collaboration could, should, look like in a modern construction environment. Covering both technicality and people issues of diversity, and mindfulness

Ah mindfulness …

Currently we seem to be struggling with two drivers, on one hand the sustainability agenda of being simple, of realigning with nature. biophilic approaches and natural renewable solutions and on the other the ever increasing complexity of data, be it BIM data or big data and technology.

It is not surprising that one of the most sought after advisors to silicon valley is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, (Thay), seen by many as the the modern guru for mindfulness.  Such practices are seen to be key for business, enabling focus on real innovation, free from clutter of distractions. We will see much more of this in the construction sector I am sure, as we learn to balance people with technology, simplicity with data, well being with efficiency.

US BIM write Randy Deutsch approaches this thinking in a recent blog article for Design Intelligence Beyond BIM Boundaries - “in order to master BIM, we have to do less BIM, we have to do other things” And if we focus on better communications, people skills, listening, empathy and understanding, then BIM will flourish without effort.

Perhaps BIM is now is seen by many as a big hammer, an approach that if not adopted then we are not doing construction correctly, “if the only tool we have is a hammer then every problem is a nail”  BIM practitioners and advocates need more tools in their conversation and offerings covering both technology and soft skills. As Randy commented ‘ go against common wisdom and fortify your soft skills”

We had a brilliant twitter based conversation with Casey Rutland as part of the #EXPOC21 series this week where the conversation led to whether BIM will simplify or complicate sustainability. Many people re-tweeted the question, but with few answers offered, other than when done correctly, BIM will enhance sustainability, done incorrectly it will harm sustainability. Incorrectly here can mean overloading buildings with technology solutions when natural solutions would work (but harder to model perhaps) or by not taken cognisance of where materials are coming from or their health impacts. Casey introduced the concept of SustainaBIMity – the mash up of sustainability thinking with building information management. A far better description than Green BIM

Aligning BIM thinking to progressive sustainability thinking such as the Living Building Challenge is exciting and has huge potential. In the near future we will see BIM objects cover the attributes of health data, justice in production data, carbon and travel data. (Note the dialogue in the US between Autodesk and the Healthy Products Declaration database for example)

And we know that carbon, embodied and transportation will become a key BIM data element, procuring kitchen pods from China for modular construction on the other side of the globe may be a data and cost solution but it is not a restorative sustainability solution. (cf Modular Construction on Souremap)

In our pursuit of designing and creating buildings that work for people, planet and purpose, we perhaps need to address both the higher Maslow needs as well as focusing on basic shelter needs, and in some way build them into data and modelling,  Biophilia at last is opening up a whole new chapter for design, and BIM, and well for the built environment as a whole. In the UK the term Sick Building Syndrome has dropped out of use, but we need to be aware of the dangers of creating buildings through BIM that don’t model or promote health and well being.

There are examples of this, for example by early involvement mind and health charity experts to view and comment on proposed buildings in a 3D environment, advising on the potential enhancement or damage to end user well being. And only yesterday,(01/04/14)  Rick Fedrizzi, President of USGBC writing in EDC called Health the next frontier of green build performance, and more recently calling on the built environment to use medical data for improved building solutions.

My final slide proposed that every BIM project should have an educational element, to inform and motivate the industry and that this should be embedded into PAS1192 or equivalent documentation. No project or organisation should be allowed to claim BIM compliance unless they openly share their approaches and lessons learnt, covering both the flatland BIM and the wonderful healthy buildings that enable people and organisations to flourish.

 

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Greening the construction site cabin environment for health and wellbeing

Cutting my teeth on construction sites as a green horn QS back in the 70′s was an introduction to the frozen feet, sweating head, un-insulated site cabins, with their austere, bleak and unwelcoming work environment.

Fast forward and today, yes we have insulated cabins with PIR sensors, and occasionally you come across plants in the site cabin, windows providing decent daylight or sparks of innovation, like the free fresh fruit for site personal provided daily, but generally the internal working environment hasn’t changed much since the 70;s. Even co-location spaces on large projects are often tucked away in the bowels of a building with no daylight.  We tend to think of these offices as temporary, but temporary can be anything up to a few years, and many site personnel spend careers in temporary, accommodation

In a word, grey, not green.

Encouraging then to read  Australia’s first green construction site, a partnership with 202020 Vision, a programme seeking to increase urban green space, and bringing the greening concept into the site office.

“Incorporating green space into our site offices is part of our broader plan to create high performance workspaces. International research shows developing green space within office environments not only significantly boosts the health and wellbeing of staff, but also increases productivity,” says Lauren Haas, Brookfield’s Australian sustainability manager, and 202020 Vision advocate.

“Through introducing a Plant Plan, we envisage seeing the same or better improvements in our own staff that is integral to delivering high performance buildings for our clients as well as being an employer of choice.”

The 202020Vision programme is also conducting pre and post occupancy tests on the site team to see if their ‘green environment’ improves health and wellbeing.

We know from (eg the latest World Green Building Council’s Business Case for Green Building report) that biophilia, greenery, views to nature through windows, can improve worker well-being by reducing stress levels, less frustration, increased patience and improved overall satisfaction. The Living Building Challenge, Health Imperative, founded on biophilia principles requires daylight to all working spaces … And all this should apply to construction offices not just the buildings we design and construct.

Hopefully as contractors develop in line with Sustainability, CSR and HR best practice we will see more attention to biophilic thinking, creating green healthy inspiring places to work, enabling construction of green buildings. And, coupled with the rise in interest of mindfulness thinking for site staff, are we heading into a new era of contracting?

lbc biophillia

Healthy building concepts should apply to construction site offices as well as buildings we construct.

 

 

Related:

Biometrics and Biophilia – the new sustainable construction?

Have we picked the low hanging fruit of Sustainable Construction?

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Biomimetics and Biophilia – the new sustainable construction?

There is a new language and lexicon emerging within the world of built environment sustainability, from circular economy to biophilia,  indicating a maturing of construction’s approach, moving from better waste management to circular economy thinking, from biodiversity management to biophilia.

I participated in a brilliant tweetchat yesterday evening, under the hashtag of #CityofLife, hosted by Melissa Sterry (http://melissasterry.com) and others with some very knowledgeable contributors from Northern Europe and elsewhere, exploring the concepts of Biomimetics in buildings and cities. There will be a transcript soon and more debates, so watch this #CityofLife space.

It did strike me though, whilst being comfortable with these new terms in sustainability, many readers and subscribers to this blog may not be, so here is a quick primer.

Biomimetics –  learning from nature as models for building design and construction. See Building a Bionic City (Intriguingly George Mokhtar (@GeorgeMokhtar) tweeted  yesterday before the chat “biomimetics, basically the reason I started using 3D models” proving, maybe, a foundation link with BIM?)

Biomimcry, imitation of nature for the purpose of solving complex problems. Perhaps the best source of information can be found at Biomimicry38  and the Janine Benyus  Biomimicry TED talk

Biophillia, exploring the intrinsic bond between humans and nature, most commonly from a health and well being perspective of building users and occupants.

lbc biophillia

Biophllic thinking is core philosophy for the Living Building Challenge  and suggests the adoption of Richard Kellert’s Six Biophilic Design Elements, (roughly 70 design attributes,  from egg-shaped buildings a historical connection to place)

Suggested reading:

E.O. Wilson, Biophilia 1984 (There is a very useful primer on Ecology, based around E.O Wilson work, within the iBooks (ipad) series from the Open University, with texts, videos and workbooks)

Last Child in the Woods: Richard Louv

Building for Life: Richard Kellert

Case Study Cities: Melissa Sterry, Sustain Magazine

Suggested people to follow on twitter

@melissasterry @thefuturemakers @StefanoSerafi11

@amandasturgeon  @livingbuilding @livingbldgUK

@JanineBenyus @RichLouv @biomimicry_uk @AskNatureTweets

Other Links:

Bios – Flipboard Magazine 

Biophilia in the Real World

Biophilic Design Solutions and Effect

Sustain – my flipboard magazine 

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Green Revolutionary Engineering

Integral_cover_9x7_FINAL_webIntegral Revolutionary Engineering – a review.

Every now and again you come across a book that is both simple and profound, full of ah ha moments, of innovative ideas and yet seemingly familiar. One such book I have mentioned often on this blog is Yvon Chouinard’s “Let my people go surfing”  to which Integral Revolutionary Engineering book published by Ecotone has a similar feel.

I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Kevin Hydes at an Inetgral reception at EcoBuild this week, and picked up a copy of Revolutionary Engineering. Kevin served as the Chair of the USGBC  2005-2006, was a founder and director of CanadaGBC and a former Chair of the WorldGBC and is Founder and CEO of the Integral Group.

Integral are a global network of design professionals collaborating under a single deep green engineering umbrella, providing building system design and energy analysis services, trading as Elementa in the UK

Revolutionary Engineering is a ‘treatise of innovation in deep green building design, featuring stories and ideas from some of the worlds leading engineers and designers’

And it does what it says on the lid, providing a portfolio of the Integral Groups experience of design on deep green buildings, an insight not only into what is possible today but what is highly achievable in the future.

That the forward is written by Jason McLellan (see bio) gives the clue that this a treatise of building services design on Living Building Challenge projects.

And there is a nice affinity here. Leeds, where we founded the UK Collaborative for Living Building Challenge is also Kevin Hydes’ home town.  Now residing in San Francisco, Kevin reminisces in his preface letter on a post industrial Leeds, with belching coal fired power plants and coal from Yorkshire burning in his very home. Times have changed, in Leeds and in sustainable construction since then.

Molly Miller (@miller_mm), author, is Integrals story teller with a background in sustainability writing at Rocky Mountain Institute and Mother Earth News. And what a great title – why doesn’t every company have someone with the story teller title, official or otherwise?.

In conversational tone, Molly includes many Kevin Hydes insights scattered and emphasised throughout, alongside quotes and comments from many other green build thinkers and project team members.

As I read Revolutionary Engineering, I was looking for hints as to how BIM would fit in, yet,  found it refreshing that BIM doesn’t feature. Although I am sure it must have been used to some degree on the large Hospital projects and Empire State Building refurbishment case studies.

… refreshing to read a book with Revolutionary in the title that doesn’t try to sell BIM as the panacea for all things design and construction, even green construction.

Revolutionary Engineering sees other drivers across its fours chapters Imagine, Perform, Sustain and Accelerate. For example, creative leadership and collaboration (there are echoes here of our collective leadership tweetchat from Tuesday evening), innovation and diversity

One of the barriers to innovative thinking and collaboration across the construction sector is acknowledged as lack of diversity – of age and gender. This is indeed something I’ve seen evident in my own work in the sustainability leadership and social media world. Revolutionary Engineering, sees that the processes and policies of an organisation need to be appropriate to women,  consciously arranging hierarchies and teams to be collaborative

The character of innovation relies on different ways of thinking and a homogenous group is just not going to provide that.

Addressing the Cost v Value issue, Revolutionary Engineering reminds me of the 1:5:200 and Be Valuable thinking of a decade ago, brought bang up to date in line with deep green buildings. What must be of interest to every client and contractor seeking sustainable buildings is how Integral brought the Living Building project at Simon Frasier University in on ‘standard budget’

Whilst an reviting read it is also challenging, for eg on the higher cost for going green issue –  to cite cost as an argument against energy efficiency or innovative practices in design is often an excuse to do something the same comfortable way it has always been done”

The book’s case study on the new Clif Bar headquarters is fascinating, illustrating the importance of putting the user first. “The occupant is the star of high performance buildings”  I must say I find Clif Bar an interesting organization for personal reasons, from a CSR and cycling perspective, so this case study added much to my understanding

A small criticism, a lack of page numbers and possibly too many images of one project in particular – the Vancouver VanDusen Botanical Gardens – it is a great Living Building Challenge project that I had the chance to visit in Vancouver a few years back – but perhaps too many images here that you get the feeling of ‘space filling’

In summary we can, as the UK construction industry learn much from the experiences and insights in Revolutionary Engineering as we start to embrace deep green and Living Building Challenge thinking it should be on the reading list of all sustainability professionals, services engineers and a text for construction and building services students … to further the ‘collaborative commitment to relentless momentum’

Integral are participating (exhibiting and talking) at the Construction21 Green Build Virtual Expo in May, prior to then, I will be in conversation with Integral as part of our EXPOC21chat tweetchat series.

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Why Fairsnape?

I have been asked a lot recently on how my business name came about:

Fairsnape is a hill in the Forest of Bowland Fells, and was visible from my office window at the time I set up the business. (It hasn’t moved, we have, half a mile or so down the road). I wanted a name that wasn’t just tied to consultancy in construction, but one that could be flexible, grow with my interests in for example the outdoors and sustainability, as well as business improvement support.

And that has worked well.

photo (13)

But there is more significance in the name. Fairsnape is a minor hill at 510m with superb views, south across the Lancashire plains, north east, the Yorkshire Dales and north west to the Lake District. The later being inspirational to move on and explore greater ranges, from the Lakes to Scotland to the Alps to the Himalayas, as we did many years ago.

And so it is with sustainability. I delight in helping organisations climb that first hill, away from the flatlands of environmental management, and then on towards greater and bigger achievements. Something of Ray Andersons Mount Sustainability here I guess.

But, having discovered mindfulness of late, it is of course very fine to sit, contemplate and refresh, wherever you are on route, be it a mountain or a sustainability journey and not always to rush on to something new.  In the words of Nan Shepherd in her inspirational Living Mountain book on the Cairngorms  ‘I sat and listened to the waterfall until I didn’t hear it any more”  An approach we can learn from for a new sustainable construction thinking.

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Construction efficiency – plus ca change?

In preparation for todays Lancashire Construction Best Practice event presentation on Building Down Barriers, I have been back tracking and hunting down material from the time of the projects. Back in the 90′s, presentations were on acetates on overhead projectors, the handouts raw photocopies of those acetates.

One of the slides in a presentation made to the Midlands Construction Quality Forum* by  (I think) Clive Cain in 1996 illustrates the state of the industry at that time:

Scanned Image 39

Nearly 2 decades later have we improved?

Since Building Down Barriers we have had many many strategies to improve efficiency,  a recent (2006) study of labour efficiency showed a similar 30% of non productivity:

project footprints

And today? How much of the total cost of a project is consumed by waste and inefficiency? Have we dropped below the anecdotal 40%?

Of course any inefficiency is un-sustainable from environmental, financial and social perspective. I am reminded of the Honda advert strap line that ‘everything we do goes into everything we do’. How much of what we do in construction goes into ‘making the building grow’

It is hoped that the Lancashire Construction Best Practice Club, in association with UCLAN will undertake facilitated research to address inefficiency  and provide supported solutions. A local, Lancashire Building Down barriers, working with complete supply chains applying all the good approaches we advocate. Approaches that could include BIM, lean , cluster supply chains, collaborative working, carbon management, facilitated continuous improvement and importantly circular economy thinking.

Watch this space!

* a 1990′s innovative community of practice, comprising quality managers from construction companies with a passion to share and learn across companies.

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Tweetchat Week: w/c 4th Feb 2014

images (1)Next week is shaping up to be a brilliant week of tweetchats and twitter based conversations.

Checkout:

European Green Build

First up on Tuesday 4th Feb I will be interviewing  Building the Future (based in Catalonia, Romania and Brazil) with @C21EXPO_Europe as part of the Construction21 Euro Green Build virtual Expo tweetchat series. We will be discussing sustainability communities in the built environment.

>>> Join this conversation on this chat at 11am UK, 12 CET using the hashtag #ExpoC21Chat

Sustainability Stakeholder Engagement

Later the same day at 7 pmUK (11am PT and 2pm ET)  I am delighted to be in conversation with Peggy Ward, sustainability officer at Kimberley Clark. Peggy, based in Appleton WI, USA will be explaining how Kimberly Clark engage with and learn from their stakeholder groups. This conversation is part of the monthly Sustainable Leadership Conversations series created by Andrea Learned and Martin Brown (see our Google+ community pages)

>>> Join with this conversation on the 4th Feb at 11am PST, 2pm ET and 7pm UK using the #sustldrconv hashtag

Living Building Challenge with the UKGBC PinPoint

And then, on the 6th February, as part of the UKGBC’s Pinpoint programme taking place 3-7 Feb to increase awareness of The Living Building Challenge in the UK with UKGBC members, we will be hosting, with @UKGBC Pinpoint, a conversation with Amanda Sturgeon, VP of the Living Building Challenge at the International Living Futures Institute in Seattle.

>>> Join this conversation at 11am PST, 2pm ET and 7pm UK using the #GVischat hashtag.

All of the above tweetchats will run for 60mins and provide ample opportunity to post questions to guests, share your experiences and comment on the subject matter.

We look forward to seeing you there, and if you would like to discuss how tweetchats can promote your organisation or sustainability initiatives please do get in touch.

Also of note next week is the #CSRChat with Susan McPherson on 6th Feb at 5pm UK

iSite Links:

Records of tweetchats and conversations

Are Tweetchats: the new digital benchmarking?

#tweetchats … observations + how to

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