Backcasting for a future sustainability.

The UK Living BuildiUK_collaborative_logong Challenge Collaborative hosted at Leeds Sustainability Institute at Leeds Beckett University is currently  working through the Standards petals and imperatives to develop a UK translation or ‘overlay. It is therefore timely to revisit and remind us of Mel Starrs insightful review of the Living Build Challenge following her visit to our Green Vision conference that focused on aspects of the LBC.

“For those who might not have come across the Living Building Challenge yet, it is a deep, deep green target based certification scheme. The ‘challenge’ is described as ‘the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to diminish the gap between current limits and ideal solutions’. The International Living Future Institute, who operate the scheme, have approached green building certification from the opposite end than say BREEAM or LEED. Rather than starting with where we are today and adding incremental improvements, they have ‘backcasted’ from their ideal end point.

Full article here

SnapseedIndeed it was this idea of backcasting and in particular this image shared via twitter from an ILFI conference some years back that really ignited the formation of the UK Living Building Challenge Collaborative. Backcasting cos sustainability can be seen as an approach that sets future restorative and visionary end points with required practices and imperatives in order to back cast a path and encouraging rethinking of current approaches for getting there. Rather than as with current mainstream sustainability standards, that focus on making current practices a little less harmful through incremental improvement steps.

The Collaboratives exploration of the Petals continues on 11th March with Water and then 22nd April with Energy. More information of these, past sessions and future dates can be found here.

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Not knowing the construction industry carbon footprint is not acceptable.

Minimising and reducing carbon in construction has been a central plank of industry sustainability strategies for a good many years. It is therefore embarrassing for the industry, as Construction Manager reports, that we don’t still don’t have an industry handle on or indeed understand construction carbon figures.

An earlier Sustainability Strategy for Construction set a 2012 target of 15% reduction from the 2008 figure of 48T of CO2 / £million spend which should give us about 42 T / £m at 2012 with targets for further reductions by 2020 and 2050 in line with UK reduction targets.

Although … Peter Hansford “The strategy is to achieve a 50% cut in construction sector emissions from 1990 levels by 2025, and the GCB (Green Construction Board) is tasked with making it happen”

Indications are that, dispute a focus on sustainability, with just about every organisation in construction self-claiming to be sustainable,  construction emissions actually rose by 13% over the period 2008 – 2012.

As a major emitter of CO2, (when adding in transport and travel) the construction has a socially responsibility to address and reduce.

The fact that as an industry we don’t really know is down right unacceptable.

Our ConstructCO2 tool shows an average of 97.5kg / £k based on all construction types. As we gain more data (currently 300 projects) we can break this down into more meaningful targets, but since the first project on ConstructCO2 our benchmark has not fallen below 90kg/£K. (As an industry we should be below 40kg/£K)

When we founded ConstructCO2, we set out to keep it simple to record and used the strap line of Monitor, Understand and then Reduce.  Having monitored for a number of years we now understand the causes of construction carbon

Ashford School CCO2 A2 Poster

and can take steps to reduce through proactive planning.

Reducing Construction Carbon - Infographic


Why then, as industry we do not understand or monitor Construction CO2?

  • Cash in King, Carbon is Queen was a rallying call from Construction Advisor Paul Morrell – but very few rallied.
  • BREEAM hasn’t followed through – with just the requirement to record travel, transport and energy use, but not to reduce, monitor over time or collate. As an industry we have a mass of disparate spreadsheets across the country containing probably all the data we need.
  • Recording data at site level is deemed too time consuming, put into the too busy to do box by contractors, excepting of course the enlighten contractors using ConstructCO2 who see the benefits of doing so – or their clients are telling them to do so.
  • In the main, clients are not requiring projects to record and act on carbon emissions as a project key performance indicators.
  • Reducing carbon at site entails a collaborative approach from all on construction method, specification, procurement, planning, sub contractor management and so on. We simply don’t collaborate on reducing CO2.

Benefits of Monitoring CO2 (as reported by ConstructCO2 users)

  • Every kg of CO2 reduced equates to x£ not spent
  • Reducing CO2 from material and waste transport improves the local spend
  • Reducing mileage CO2 from personnel travel reduces driving time stress on operative & managers, improves productivity and time on site. Car sharing also reduces the fuel cost of operatives and managers.
  • Understanding the carbon issues enables more informed procurement, selection and logistics management

As Shaun McCarthy, Director of the Sustainability Supply Chain School said on twitter, its not Rocket Science,

Indications are that the GCB and WRAP UK will take up the mantle of managing data on construction carbons. Lets hope they talk to ConstructCO2, understand our lessons learnt and keep it simple but effective.

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Biomimicry: the tool to facilitate our transition to the ecological age

unnamedHaving just finished reading Michael Palwyn’s Biomimicry in Architecture as background reading  for upcoming book, Healing the Future, I am looking forward to the Green Vision session on Biomimicry and Biophilia with Richard James MacCowan (Director and Co-Founder,Biomimicry UK ), Yaniv Peer (Associate – Exploration) along with others TBC.  (This GreenVision event is key for anyone in the built environment with an interest in sustainability and looking to improve knowledge and awareness of biomimicry and biophilic developments, Registration and more detail here)

Richard James MacCowan, Re-thinking Nature The world that we live in faces enormous challenges such as climate change, food security, biosphere integrity and freshwater use. Nature can play a strong role to tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time. Solutions are at our fingertips, they are cost effective and we know how to implement them. Richard’s talk will focus on developments, research, case studies and future opportunities that this vital strand of sustainability can offer our industry.

Yaniv Peer (Associate – Exploration): Radical Nature  At a time when architecture and society urgently need to reconsider their relationship to the natural world there are few more exciting and innovative ways to find solutions to our current and future challenges than the discipline known as Biomimicry. This field uses nature as a mentor, learning from its ingenious adaptations that have undergone 3.8 billion years of research and development to produce exceptionally well evolved solutions. This talk will explore three projects of the London based Exploration Architecture Ltd and how it is that they use biomimicry in their work to offer new solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face today. 

And it’s not just material innovation that can benefit here. We can learn from nature for construction process and improvement. Indeed nature works with small and continuous feedback loops, always learning, adopting and evolving to its changing environment. Through learning and applying such feedback loops to design, to construction and to management of facilities we will be able to achieve far better sustainable processes, buildings and facilities.

I was struck by a review comment from Peter Head @PeterHeadCBE (Chair, Global Consulting Planning at Arup) on the cover of Michael Palwyn’s book:

“Between now and 2050 I think Biomimicry is going to be one of the main tools that will facilitate the transition from the industrial age to the ecological age” 

Agree!

Untitled

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30 CSR Pro’s to Follow in 2015 …

This is interesting. Triple Pundit have published their list of 30 CSR Pro’s to follow in 2015 authored by @Mary_Mazzoni

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Whilst being honoured to be included within such a great community, I was particular interested in the fact that all three of the UK people listed (Jim McClelland @SustMeme, Mike Barry @planamikebarry and myself @Fairsnape) are all connected with the property or built environment sector.

Is this indicative of the change in construction, property and built environment approach to CSR, moving away from a ‘donate and volunteer’ context to one of addressing the real social and environmental responsibilities of an organisation and of the industry. Further that we can and indeed should learn from other organisations and thought leaders within other sectors.

It also illustrates the power of social media and of twitter in particular to learn and share. Within the triple pundit list there are a number of tweet chats (for example #CSRChat hosted by @susanmcp1 and our #sustldrconv Sustainable Leadership Conversation* that I co-host monthly with @AndreaLearned who is also listed)

I have commented often that I see tweet chats as the new benchmarking. No longer do we need to go through ‘benchmarking protocols’ to understand innovations and improvements elsewhere, we simply find the chat appropriate to our needs, join in engage and learn.

To help in following the CSR accounts listed by Triple Pundit I have created a twitter list here – please do follow or subscribe – if you really want the leading edge thinking and commentary on CSR you couldn’t do much better!

* a good number of #sustldrconv guests and friends (for eg @PeggyatKC @KayakMediaTweet @costrike @AmanSinghCSRalso feature within this list, which reinforces the fact we are on target with our conversation series.

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A Green Deal that could have done so much. RIP

It could have been such a good deal, but it now seems the Green Deal, the green flagship of our current government is dead.

Going back to 2011/12 – the concept of a scheme that promised to reduce fuel poverty, reduce carbon,  improve our housing stock, and create a vibrant, certified (PAS2030) market sector – Green Deal looked brilliant. It certainly put sustainability thinking on the agenda of many organisations in the construction, maintenance, services and built environment sectors.

My workshops and presentations at that time, More Than Just a Green Deal tried to widen the debate – embedding more resilient and sustainability thinking into green deal. (see related Green Deal blog posts here)

But somehow along the way Green Deal got lost, became mired in politics, in energy company greed and bureaucratic red tape. The company set up by the Government to aggregate loans for the Green Deal was bailed out recently with a multi-million-pound loan of public money.

‘In a parliamentary inquiry held in September, MPs called the Green Deal a “disappointing failure”, with flawed planning that has left consumers without promised cashback and improvement works’

And plans for non domestic Green Deals seems to have quietly fizzled away in the corner …

A recent article in the Telegraph Your Money section Householders See Red Over Green Deal catalogued problems of the scheme

The Government’s flagship energy efficiency policy has become a headache for thousands of householders left with bungled installations or waiting for promised cash back payments that fail to materialise. In some cases, the energy companies responsible for carrying out the works have left householders with botched improvement works in the rush to meet energy efficiency targets’

One of the organisations supported to attain PA2030 under the MCS scheme has had certification for the last few years, yet has never had the opportunity for any installation under the scheme, yet must undergo re-accreditation on an annual basis. In light of the effort, system development and training the organisation went through, this is now a big frustration and laughing matter, making them very suspicious of further government backed green schemes.

Consequently Green Deal is unlikely to appear on any of the main political party manifesto for the coming election – and therefore most likely to be dismantled.  But of course it should be there, we need to be addressing one of the big sustainability issues in domestic building stock.

Back in 2012 I posed the question “how did we get to 2012 and still not have a viable solution to housing building performance”? We now need to ask the question – “how did we get to 2015 and still not have a viable solution DESPITE 2 years of promises, effort and funded approaches”?

A pity, a real pity and wasted opportunity.

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64 hour Living Building Challenge European Competition

I am delighted to have been asked to support and tutor the 64 hours European Competition and design workshop based on the Living Building Challenge to be held in Trento, Italy, April 2015.

Below is abridged flyer info from organisers Macro Design Studio.

REGENERATION_BANNER

Macro Design Studio in collaboration with ILFI is proud to organize REGENERATION, a design competition in Europe entirely based on the Living Building Challenge protocol.

REGENERATION as the first “generation” of young professionals (architects, engineers) that can “regenerate” with their own ideas the built environment, getting the best possible performances for the building.

REGENERATION is the first design competition in Europe entirely based on the Living Building Challenge protocol.

The Living Building Challenge™ (LBC) is a building certification program, advocacy tool and philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to rapidly diminish the gap between current limits and the end-game positive solutions we seek. LBC is a Visionary Path to a Regenerative Future.

REGENERATION is a design workshop in which teams composed of young professionals are called to develop a project of sustainable requalification of an existing public building for the local community.

Every team should respond to specific requirements defined in the announcement Integrative design, synergistic development of the project and sharing of expertise are necessary prerogatives to tackle this challenge.

The purpose of the competition is to show the best sustainable regeneration project for the existing building in terms of architecture, energy efficiency, livability and relationship with social, urban and natural context

REGENERATION will take place at Centrale Fies, Dro (Trento – Italy), on April 15th to 18th, 2015.

Selection of 15 young participants is open via the Application Form with a deadline of January 30th 2015.

Official language: English.


For more information on the purpose and how to participate, see

Related:

Fairsnape Blog Living Building Challenge posts

UCLan LBC Design Competition: House of the Rising Sun 

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Rethinking Sustainability Research: Eight Global Challenges

mb-m-and-c-1-blue“We must start to envision what a positive future looks like and work to make this happen”  Bob Watson, Chair of Future Earth’s Interim Engagement Committee.

Further reinforcement that good or best practice may not be enough, with the need to identify the ‘required practice’ to enable us to address big sustainability issues is central to Future Earth’s recently published Strategic Research Agenda 2014  .  This concept, (mentioned many times by myself in presentations, seminars and on this blog) resonates well with the Living Building Challenge and restorative sustainability thinking or forward visioning.

The Strategic Research Agenda 2014 publication, result of a year-long global consultation on priorities for global change research, calls for a rethink  in research to address serious environmental, social and economic threats.

The Strategic Research Agenda 2014 focuses on three themes: firstly, on understanding how the planet is changing; secondly, on deploying integrated, interdisciplinary science to address urgent sustainable development needs; and thirdly, on transforming development to be more sustainable in the long term, through eight global sustainability challenges;

  1. Delivering water, energy, and food for all.
  2. Decoupling carbon emissions from economic growth.
  3. Safeguarding land, freshwater and marine natural assets.
  4. Building healthy, resilient and productive cities.
  5. Promoting sustainable rural futures.
  6. Improving human health by incorporating global change concerns.
  7. Encouraging sustainable consumption and production patterns.
  8. Improving governance and early warning systems to respond to complex future threats.

‘The Strategic Research Agenda 2014 advocates not just a set of research priorities, but also a novel way of doing science. This approach is detailed in the Future Earth 2025 Vision and includes a strong emphasis on full integration among scientific disciplines, on engagement with societal partners in co-designing and co-producing knowledge, on international collaboration, on producing knowledge that is valuable to decision-makers, and on generating the solutions that society needs’ Strategic Research Agenda 2014

Download: strategic_research_agenda_2014.pdf

Source

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