Sustainability through Diversity

On the 14th october I presented the above pecha kucha to Be2Camp Be2campOxon event on Ada Lovelace Day, taking the perspective of a young Ada, looking to a career in construction, in sustainability, in IT, in BIM, and the challenges she may face. Not only a glass ceiling but perhaps a triple glazed ceiling.

Initial thinking was triggered by the excellent Nilofer Merchant article in TIME You Are the Industry. You Must Be the Change, pointing out to Satya Nadella, Microsoft that it is not good enough to call for change in the (IT) sector – but that those in power, like Satya Nadella, should affect change.

And so it is in the built environment, particularly construction, where it is no longer acceptable for industry leaders, industry groups and strategy authors to record the fact we have a gender and diversity problem – but time to do something about it and affect change.

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EcoBuild launch a vision for a Built Environment future …

Ecobuild, in association with Building has published ‘Future of the Built Environment’ as part of the launch for EcoBuild 2015.  The white paper, a collection of thought pieces from leading industry players, assesses the future of the sector, painting a very useful picture for a not-so-far into the future built environment.

It is set of future scenarios, encompassing beauty, circular economy, health, equity and eco systems. And in this respect closer to the regenerative sustainability philosophy of Living Building Challenge and the Well Building Standard than it is of current, more energy performance focused BREEAM and Regulations.

Jane Henley, Chief Executive Officer, World Green Building Council sees the next chapter for green building as one of health, wellbeing and productivity, arguing that business may be less interested in the mechanical and energy issues of a building than they are on how investing in better indoor environments will lead to better returns on their greatest asset: people

Rick Willmott, Chief Executive, Willmott Dixon sees a contracting future as one of climate adaption, carbon targets and collaborative construction with a leadership that ‘digs deeper’. The circular economy will be key, offering industry tremendous opportunities. Willmott cites the rising energy costs and depletion of finite natural resources that will lead to a mushrooming market for recycled materials, and a move to designing buildings with deconstruction in mind from the outset.

Munish Datta, Head of Plan A & Facilities Management, Marks & Spencer sees the future being about beautiful buildings, “We spend 90% of our time in buildings so why shouldn’t they be beautiful”, delivered from an industry that is holistic,where every role, from developers to facilities management, is incentivised to design, build, operate and re-use buildings for their life.

Paul King, Chief Executive Officer, UK Green Building Council sees that there is a great deal a new government, of whatever hue, can do to create the conditions in which a sustainable built environment industry can thrive. It can save more money than it needs to spend, it can set clear and consistent policy direction, and it can lead by example. “Frankly, to do anything else would be to squander an opportunity for growth the UK simply cannot afford”

Sarah Richardson, Editor, Building, sees the sector on the cusp of a radical transformation, with a growing sense that new technologies are not just an optional extras but key to delivering necessary efficiencies. However, to realise any transformation, a shift in the demographic of the sector itself is required, to attract a broader mix of talent that can imagine a future free from the constraints of the past.

Peter Caplehorn, Deputy CEO, Construction Products Association sees a key challenge for the industry being to get out of buildings the performance we design into them

Ike Ijeh, Architectural Critic, Building and Building Design describes  a future sustainable environment as one which has established a holistic vision for integrated urban development where every aspect of the city is specifically planned and designed to maximise social, economic and environmental benefits for its inhabitants while at the same time minimising its ecological footprint. The city itself no longer relies on an ecosystem, it becomes one.

Recommended reading for all in the sector, the EcoBuild paper can be downloaded from here

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Is Building as Usual still a sustainable, responsible option?

Buildings represent a critical piece of any global low-carbon future.

Within the buildings sector, both residential and commercial, early movers towards efficiency can reap multiple benefits. These include more valuable, resilient buildings that offer better living and working conditions for owners and tenants, associated improvements in health and productivity, and higher occupancy rates.

Business Briefings on the Latest Climate Science is a highly readable series of briefings from CISL* at University of Cambridge, born of the belief that many sectors, including the building sector, could make more use of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)**, which is long and  highly technical, if it were distilled into an accurate, accessible, timely, relevant and readable summary.

The briefing can be downloaded here, and of particular interest is the warning of doing nothing, too little or too late that will severely impact and comprise future generations for decades, locking in many of problems we are seeking to eradicate.

  • The longevity of buildings presents the risk of energy performance ‘lock-in’ whereby today’s sluggish ambition confers a legacy of less than optimal buildings to future generations.
  • Avoiding lock-in requires the urgent adoption of state-of-the-art
    performance standards in all buildings.
  • Radical change within the building sector requires aggressive and sustained policies and actions across the design, construction, and operation of buildings and their equipment.
Building as Usual v Building for the Future Infographic

Building as Usual v Building for the Future Infographic

CISL, together with the Cambridge Judge Business School and the support of the European Climate Foundation  a series of documents synthesising the most pertinent findings of AR5 for specific economic and business sectors

** The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) concluded that climate change is unequivocal, and that human activities, particularly emissions of carbon dioxide, are very likely to be the dominant cause.

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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 water 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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