2050: A built environment digital future within a climate hell?

15005533690_89bee8ef08_zCan a digital future help the built environment adapt to or mitigate a climate hell?  Two reports issued recently (01 Sept) caught my interest, both based on 2050 timelines:

Built Environment 2050: (BE2050) A report on our digital future by the influential group of young construction professionals. BIM2050,  illustrating the need for organisations to consider new skills, new processes and strategies around emerging digital technologies, with a focus around a BIM future The report comprises essays focusing on three key areas; education and skill; technology and process; and the culture of integration, highlighting risks, challenges, opportunities and benefits that come with large scale innovation and game-changing new technologies. Graham Watts, CIB comments in the intro  “It is an important discussion document of ideas and concepts that will, I hope, spark debate in the wider construction community.”

and, the other report issued on 01 Sept?

Reports form the Future, United Nations report, based on 2050 weather forecasts and reports warning of floods storms and searing heat in what it describes as a climate hell. (A Bulgarian weather forecaster in 2050 shows a red map with temps of 50deg) The blatant doomsday, disaster movie (think day after tomorrow) nature of the report is intentional, raising awareness in advance of the upcoming UN Climate change summit in New York, encouraging a faster response to climate issues.

So how can the built environment, itself responsible for a whooping negative 40% impact on climate change, adapt, mitigate and address climate change and how will a digital future contribute?   

The future of our industry is facing a high degree of  complexity, extreme competition and uncertainty with respect to the outcomes of climate change, availability of resources and the disruptive nature of innovation.

Regardless of their origin, (climate change) factors will indirectly stimulate a rate of change in our sector, which will have a direct impact on every aspect of the built environment as we know it.( BE2050)

The emerging, regenerative sustainability, (eg Living Building Challenge) thinking considers:

- The need to start doing more good, not just continue being less bad, flip from ‘nearly zero’, or ‘zero’ to net positive and heal the future. Not only in waster and energy, but also in waste and addressing circular economy thinking.

- Addressing the wider health impact of buildings and facilities – removing harmful and toxic materials from the built environment in production, construction, in use and in disposal (or recycling)

- Working together in what may seem unconventional collaborations

- Create a new responsible industry! Turning the traditional social image of construction on its head

Given this, how will a digital future contribute? 

When reflecting upon Building Information Modelling in its context to a sustainability race, one realises that BIM is not just about modelling or intelligent design, but ultimately represents our emerging digital capabilities as an industry, and our future potential to meet these demands. (BE 2050)

After all it is big data, driven from BIM applications that is driving innovative approaches such as seeing buildings as material banks, not waste generators. The BE2050 report invites an ongoing debate, one absolutely essential to keep BIM and Digital approaches from falling into a bubble, (BIM for BIM’s sake?) and start debating the wider contribution for eg :

- Product data libraries that carriers health and material recipe composition to enable informed decisions through digital value engineering

- BIM approaches that  address functional and financial reuse and reincorporation of buildings and products from end of one building’s life into the next.

- BIM education that removes discipline silo’s and places BIM as a powerful tool to progress restorative sustainability approaches

Both reports are to be welcomed in the ongoing debate to correct the built environments sustainability failings of the past and face up to responsibilities for the future…

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Greening the Building Supply Chain

UNEP’s Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative (UNEP-SBCI) has, together with Skanska and other partners, assessed ways and means for ‘Greening the Building Supply Chain’, which constitutes the purpose of this new report. While there is increasing awareness and efforts to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, the work to realise reduced material use, water consumption and waste generation in the overall delivery of buildings and throughout the construction system have been less advanced. Source: Construction21 

chrome and glassThe report makes good background reading and guidance as we start to address the Sustainable Procurement requirements within the new ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management Standard

And, not surprisingly the report cites BIM as a key intervention for greening the supply chain, to ‘facilitate green  life cycle decision making and supply chain collaboration early in the design process, improve construction and procurement processes, but also facility management, to maximize resource efficiency potential over the building life cycle’


Download the report here

Download the Action Framework here

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A favourite twitter recipe

Twitter has changed the way we can view favourites, and indeed view other peoples favourites in our timelines.images (1)

With so much great information, comment and experiences now shared across twitter, particularly for me in the sustainability, BIM, construction and CSR spheres, the favourite button is important element of twitter. Accordingly I use the favourite button a lot, to save a reference for future reading, to flag a tweet for later action, if for example I am unable to RT or respond to there and then, or even just to acknowledge the tweet, as an alternative to Re-Tweeting.

I was asked during the week, when explaining this, how I get back to and make sense of those tweets that I do favourite, so sharing my response and solution here;

I use an IFTT (If This Then That) recipe that sends the favourite directly to Evernote

Within Evernote the Favorited tweets land within my ‘TwitterFav’ notebook which can be read when time permits, (across all devices, phone, ipad, laptop) and moved on to my main Notebook if worth retaining for reference, and importantly tagged for easy retrieval.

Easy, and for me an effective work flow for managing favourites.

Related iSite Blog posts:

Managing Social Media Flow

Why use social media in Construction 

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Sustainability on the late radio show

I was delighted to be invited on to the Elizabeth Alker Sunday late radio show on BBC Lancashire / BBC Manchester and discuss sustainability and improving energy use in the home. Below is a precise of my comments, links and references:

My intro:

“Based in Inglewhite on the south western edge of the Forest of Bowland, a great part of Lancashire in which to live and to work from. I run a sustainability consultancy business, Fairsnape, supporting organisations in the built environment on sustainability issues. Typically this means working with construction organisations clients, contractors,architects as well as individuals. I am Chair of Constructing Excellence Lancashire and UK Ambassador for the Living Building Challenge”

As I followed inspiring sustainability sessions from Vincent Walsh (Biospheric Project Salford), Kerry Gormley (OnePlanet) and Jacqui Brocklehurst (Hungry Gardener) I continued the ‘green nature and plants’ theme with a quick intro to the Living Building Challenge: 

“The Living Building Challenge encourages us to look at buildings differently, and imagine buildings and indeed homes using the metaphor of a flower, one that is independent, self sufficient, using only the energy and water that falls on it. The Challenge covers  7 Petals; Place (location, relationship to nature and food) Water; Energy (100% sun!); Health and Happiness; Material; Equity and Beauty. It is based on the philosophy of doing more good, not just less bad. Regenerative Sustainability”  More at http://living-future.org/lbc

Why do we need to do this?

“Sustainability is often described as having three elements – Economic; we want to reduce the money we spend on fuel and services for the home, Social; we want to be healthy, happy and feel good in the home, and Environmental; we all want to play our bit in improving our local environment, reducing carbons and addressing climate change, And it is our buildings that have one of the biggest impacts on climate change” And we see the affect of climate change increasingly through extreme weather patterns.

What can we do in the home to improve energy sustainability?

Easy / Low Cost – Check energy and water wastage – gadgets left on or on standby for example. (Its is estimated that 8% of energy production goes just to keep our stuff on standby!) Switch to LED and low energy lighting. Get an electricity meter and find out exactly where you are using energy, and watch how that kettle boils!

Medium Cost: Ensure insulation and draughts – 43% of UK homes have serious energy leaks through ill-fitting windows and doors. Get an EPC ( an Energy Performance Certificate for your home – it will show you how energy-efficient your home actually is)

High Cost: Look at alternative energy supply – PV and Solar Panels are most appropriate, Ground Source/Air Source if you have the space. However the investment can be high and returns slow, so make sure you tackle any energy waste and home efficiency issues first!

For more tips and information check out the Energy Saving Trust via their informative web pages at http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/ and follow on @EnergySvgTrust

Funding is available from time to time although initiatives like the green deal are a political football, and has been called the ‘green sub-prime’ For advice from approved Green Deal organisations see the Green Deal ORB site http://gdorb.decc.gov.uk/ 

And importantly for any builders and trades people you may use make sure they carry the TrustMark – find out more at http://www.trustmark.org.uk/ or via their twitter feed on @trustmarkUK

Other topics I mentioned included:

Healthy Materials – be sure that the materials used in any improvement scheme are healthy. There are some great materials for energy efficiency once they are in the place, but increasingly we should be concerned where the materials come from (is the manufacturing process harmful to the environment or workers) and where it goes (is the removal or demolition hazardous, can then be reused?) Note that PVC and other ‘Red List’ materials are the next harmful products to consider avoiding in this respect!

Circular Economy – moves us from our traditional Make, Buy, Dump linear thinking to a circular approach that keeps materials and products in use as long as possible, up-cycling and recycling in the home for other uses rather than put in the bin. Brings back the Make Do and Mend concepts!

Passive House – a standard that sets very stringent limits on how much energy for heat a house can use – requiring super levels of airtightness and insulation. Mechanical Ventilation is used to deal with air quality, fresh air and managing humidity levels.

The show is (still) on iplayer, with my session just after midnight (2.10.30 in) following Gypsy Tramps and Thieves up to just after Babooshka, Kate Bush around 12.30. Enjoy!





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What can social media offer in support of Construction Innovation, Information, Process and Management?

Today’s construction and built environment sector faces exciting but immense cultural, societal and technological changes. This is evidenced through a myriad of issues; a rapid escalation in the need for improved sustainability; better information management and advanced construction techniques; to test and challenge established practices.

While these challenges are significant, there are a number of platforms and tools that can improve communication, learning and sharing – not least social media. The core challenge here is “what can social media offer in support of Construction Innovation, Information, Process and Management?”

My guest editorial to Construction Innovation, Information, Process and Management (Volume 14 Issue 3) provides a snapshot of social media (past, present and future), including why and how this new collection of tools can be used to purposefully improve construction.


Why Use Social Media in Construction

Social media, alongside web 2.0 applications have been major disrupters for many industries, from music to books thorough to newspapers and journalism. These disruptions have led to new platforms and avenues for future innovation and creativity. Just how much social media, BIM/modelling, and the move towards transparent, responsible sustainability will disrupt construction and the built environment in coming years is one of the salient questions to address (and one that makes construction such an exciting industry).

Social media is by no means a panacea solution for construction improvement or, indeed, a means of replacing all construction communication. It is, however, a vital tool in today’s construction improvement “toolbox”. The discussion now needs to move beyond social media as a technology to social media as a crucial enabler.

Access the full article here (may require registration) 

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Managing Construction Carbons

Managing construction carbon is an essential part of successful project management.

If you are not already using constructco2, here is our latest update release for the ConstructCO2 carbon monitoring toolkit…

As part of the annual review of the ConstructCO2 toolkit’s conversion factors we have updated the Modes of Transport to match those published this year by DEFRA and the Carbon Trust. These updates ensure that we are in line with industry standards and reflect the emission improvements declared by DEFRA every year.

We are aware that many users are now using ConstructCO2 carbon footprint in connection with ISO 14001, Carbon Trust  Standard, ISO 9001 and other standards. You may be interested to know that we offer an independent audit and verification service to verify the accuracy of your data within ConstructCO2. Please do get in touch to discuss

We are also aware that some early adopters may not be fully using some of the more recent additions and improvements to the toolkit, therefore we will be running webinar refresher sessions in the autumn. More news and dates soon.

To assist in publicly demonstrating your commitment in measuring and reducing your projects carbon footprint we have developed:

Reducing Construction Carbon - InfographicA Reducing Carbon Action Planning Infographic to assist strategic and operational carbon reduction:


Project Carbon Performance Posters to communicate carbon progress and engagement with those on site:Ashford School CCO2 A2 Poster






and ConstructCO2 Banners, with QR codes allowing progress checks on performance:cco2 banner

We are very keen to hear your improvement suggestions to incorporate, or you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact us.  Also if you are not currently using ConstructCO2 but would like a free trial just ask!

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Getting lost in maps

photo (4)Its not often that I blog here on my fascination with maps. But yesterday’s find in a charity shop, a 1955 map of my home area, an OS Sheet SD54 1:25,000, brought home once again how wonderful it is to get lost in maps.

Its fascinating to see how both the natural and man made landscape changes over decades and indeed how cartography styling changed.
 photo (5)                   photo (6)
The nearby Beacon Fell, my  ‘get out for a short cycle or walk’ area,  shows hardly any trees in 1955, it is today just about 90% forested, unfortunately with many non native trees, although there is a programme to remove or to thin these in progress.
The circular one way road, that now has umpteen Strava segments and a favourite for Preston boy racers had not been built, neither has ‘the tarn’ (now an SSSI), the visitor centre or any of the car parks!

Fairsnape Fell was dangerously close to Yorkshire (!) and noted as being in the Bowland Forest, Higher Division. My home village of Inglewhite just on the southern edge of the map proudly displays a P (Post Office) – now sadly gone, a couple of decades ago.

The map, reprinted in 1956 with minor corrections is based upon 1907-1930 surveys, is littered with the beautiful icons and information typical of a bygone cartographic era.

photo (3)The scale bar gives measurement in furlongs, in feet, in yards and in miles. The magnetic declination is a whopping 10 deg west, which must have been the cause of many scouting,  map to compass navigation mistakes. (It is now zero, or just swinging back in parts of the UK)  In a seemingly odd mix of metric and imperial, the grid is based on 1km squares, but we are reassuringly told that one square inch presents 99.619 acres on the ground. 
The original cost of the printed map was 2s 6d net, with a cover price of 4/6 later revised to 5/6. (Thats 27p in real money)
I am assuming for practical cost reasons rather than an environmental considerations, it is stated that “to save paper the reference tables of Conventional Signs are omitted and published separately”
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