The Preston Model: lessons for local value in property, construction, food …

The local Preston Model for ‘guerilla localism’ has received coverage in the Guardian over the last month or so. For those interested in how localism approaches can favour SME’s rather than out-of-town large investors, these reports make good reading.

In 2011 Preston hit rock bottom. Then it took back control

The Preston model – event review: ‘Cities are looking to us for hope’

Related: in the light of Carillion collapse, Nottingham City framework will be broken down into smaller packages to favour smaller construction organisations in the region.

Related: my LinkedIn article Co-Benefits of Built Environment.

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Regenerative Sustainability: Co-Benefits of the Built Environment.

A number of excellent reports and papers have passed through my reading list and feeds in the last week or so, that together represent a wonderful view on regenerative sustainability co-benefits.

No Longer have luxury

Health co-benefits from air pollution and mitigation costs of the Paris Agreement: a modelling study

The Lancet Planetary Health , Volume 2 , Issue 3. Although the co-benefits from addressing problems related to both climate change and air pollution have been recognised, there is not much evidence comparing the mitigation costs and economic benefits of air pollution reduction for alternative approaches to meeting greenhouse gas targets. We analysed the extent to which health co-benefits would compensate the mitigation cost of achieving the targets of the Paris climate agreement (2°C and 1·5°C) under different scenarios in which the emissions abatement effort is shared between countries in accordance with three established equity criteria.

New Harvard Study: Green Buildings Provide Nearly $6 Billion in Benefits to Health and Climate

Harvard University examined a subset of green-certified buildings over a 16-year period in six countries: the U.S., China, India, Brazil, Germany and Turkey. Known as HEALTHfx, the study found nearly $6 billion in combined health and climate benefits.

UTC Healthfx The Impact Infographic

Related see also

The Healthy Buildings Team created the 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building as a standardized, holistic approach to understanding how buildings impact the people inside them. In any indoor space – offices, homes, schools, airplanes – these foundations can be assessed via Health Performance Indicators, or HPIs. Derived from the business term Key Performance Indicators, HPIs are metrics that provide insight into how a building is performing.

 By tracking HPIs on all 9 Foundations of the built environment, we can discover how to optimize buildings for health. We call this “Buildingomics”: the totality of factors in the built environment that influence human health, well-being and productivity of people who work in those buildings.

COBE Co-Benefits of the Built Environment

CoBE (Cobenefits of the Built Environment) is a tool to determine the health and climate benefits related to reductions in energy use. Reducing a building’s energy consumption reduces amount of energy produced by power plants, resulting in fewer emissions of pollutants that contribute to climate change and cause premature mortality, hospitalization, and lost school or work days.

Doughnut Dialogues

Welcome to the Doughnut Dialogues, inspired by Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist. This looks a brilliant platform to debate ideas, share links and examples, and start new conversations relating to Doughnut Economics see

BAMB Passports

The electronic Materials Passports developed in BAMB aim to be a one stop shop for material information. Materials Passports developed in BAMB are sets of data describing defined characteristics of materials in products that give them value for recovery and reuse, aiming to

  • Increase the value or keep the value of materials, products and components over time
  • Create incentives for suppliers to produce healthy, sustainable and circular materials/building products
  • Support materials choices in Reversible Building Design projects
  • Make it easier for developers, managers and renovators to choose healthy, sustainable and circular building materials
  • Facilitate reversed logistics and take back of products, materials and components

The Economics of Biophilia 

Not a new document but is now being re-published in 6 instalments. From offices and schools to hospitals and hotels, the case is made for incorporating nature into the spaces we live and work.

Sustainaspeak: A Guide to Sustainable Design Terms

The complex and evolving language used in the sustainable design community can be very challenging, particularly to those new to environmentally friendly and resource-efficient design strategies that are needed today.

Still to review this in full, but looks a good compliment to the work from COST RESTORE Working Group One Language of Sustainability report (available early April)


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5 reasons why walking is good for physical and mental wellbeing — Wild about Scotland

It’s official: nature is good for you. In fact, according to England’s Chief Medical Officer in 2010: “If a medication existed which had a similar effect to physical activity, it would be regarded as a “wonder drug” or a “miracle cure”’. But nature isn’t just a remedy for a healthy body, it also nurtures a […]

Re-blogged from

5 reasons why walking is good for physical and mental wellbeing — Wild about Scotland

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Imagine Better

imagine better costrestore budapest

People, Planet and Prosperity: A regenerative sustainability perspective of the classic Social, Environment and Economic ‘Venn’ diagram.

Image result for Social, Environment and Economic 'Venn' diagram.

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Blockchains: enabling a sustainable future?

pexels-photo-119562Mid way through last year I raised the concept of blockchain in relation to transparency and responsibility aiding and disrupting material supply chains (within the context of the Grenfell Tower tragedy).

Arup Foresight have just published a useful guide to Blockchain within the context of BIM that really should be essential reading for anyone working in or interested in BIM and Digital construction.  

The Built Environment delivery, operation and service provision sectors are the last bastion of old analogue methods and traditions. The sector is characterised by fragmentation, low margins and unpredictable performance. Over the last five years interventions by a number of Governments led by the UK have seen the first tentative steps in digitisation through the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) technologies.

BIM has shown us that it is possible to create useful structured data which describes brief, design, manufacturing and operational scenarios. However, the sector is limited by the existing data processing and exchange methods which remain characterised by analogue methods that support old adversarial behaviours.

What is the solution to complex data transactions where openness, transparency, honesty and immutability are the basic foundations?

Enter Distributed Ledger and blockchain, with the promise of permanent, secure and valuable transaction methodologies.

However, from my perspective, one of moving forward towards a built environment that is regenerative (BIM 6D?),  it is the application of blockchain to create immutable records that is of note. The Arup publication provides a snippet of what will be possible, given the speed of digital implementation, within a very short timeframe:

Immutable Data for enabling Circular Economy
Data captured from a building could be used to accurately predict the remaining lifespan of a (device, element, product, building) and its suitability for re-use in other buildings or applications, reducing the likelihood of waste and over-supply, therefore cutting down material use and carbon emissions, and underpinning the principles of the Circular Economy.

Material passports via blockchain enable recovery and re-use of materials, thereby helping realise a truly Circular Economy.

Immutable Life Cycle Energy Usage and Efficiency Record

The accumulated data that could be gathered by the blockchain can allow anyone to view an immutable and complete record of the energy used by a building over its life. The data could be used to compare how effciency a building has used energy relative to similar modern buildings, and those built in the past.

Immutable Life Cycle Performance Efficiency Record
The performance efficiency of individual components can be recorded, meaning a total gure for an entire building can be calculated. As with energy efficiency, this could be compared to the performance of previous buildings, to measure progress over time.

Immutable Life Cycle Carbon Footprint Record
The carbon footprint of individual devices and even materials could be calculated, giving an overall total. This data would be extremely valuable for helping to identify if a building is meeting carbon emissions targets.

Immutable Recyclable Material and Component Record
The quantity of materials such as plasterboard and steel, as well as IoT devices, that are able to be recycled to some degree, or even reused, could be easily recorded on the blockchain.

Immutable Recyclable Material and Component Location Record
Tying in with the previous use case, this one would help to quickly identity where recyclable components are located exactly, in turn reducing the time to remove them from a building.

P2P Surplus Energy Transfer
In the future, buildings could become net producers of energy. Any surplus energy generated could have its ownership transferred in a peer-to-peer manner to other buildings that require it, enabling buildings to generate their own profit.

Blockchain Explainer:

blochain explainer

The Arup Report: Blockchain Technology, How the Inventions Behind Bitcoin are Enabling a Network of Trust for the Built Environment can be downloaded from Arup Foresight page here.

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The Business Case for ‘Sustainable’ Buildings


Three recent reports focus on the business case for sustainability, green buildings and human-centric buildings.

Are we now witnessing the new normal, where the question of sustainability cost is flipping from, how much extra will the sustainable building cost? to, what are the real costs in not providing sustainable buildings?

The WorldGBC Business Case for Green Building: A Review of the Costs and Benefits for Developers, Investors and Occupants, examines whether or not it is possible to attach a financial value to the cost and benefits of sustainable buildings.

The report highlights how green buildings can be delivered at a price comparable to conventional buildings and investments can be recouped through operational cost savings. It also notes that with the right design features, green buildings can create a more productive workplace.

The report specifically focuses on the potential benefits of green buildings throughout the various stages of the building lifecycle, from reduced costs during the design and construction phases through to improved health and productivity of workers when a building is in use.

“This is the first time all the credible evidence has been compiled into one collective resource”

  • Asset value: Emerging evidence in some markets of green buildings being able to more easily attract tenants and to command higher rents and sale prices
  • Design and construction costs: There has been an overall reduction in the costs associated with designing and constructing sustainable buildings
  • Operating costs: The direct benefits from green buildings in use (such as reduced energy and water use and lower long-term operations and maintenance costs) typically exceed any costs premiums associated with their design and construction within a reasonable payback period
  • Workplace productivity and health: The characteristics and indoor environments of green buildings can influence the productivity and health of workers who occupy them, resulting in bottom line benefits for businesses
The UKGBC Report Capturing the Value of Sustainability, Identifying the links between sustainability and business value focuses on a wider business case for sustainability, looking at at the challenges that businesses face in trying to identify the value they derive from their sustainability initiatives.

… the purpose of this report is to empower businesses and individuals to make the business case for environmental and social impact activities and to enable them to measure and demonstrate the value their organisations derive from such practices. 

Of particular note, relevant to my current work relating to FutuREstorative and with COST RESTORE in understanding the emergence of restorative and regenerative sustainability, this report notes we are seeing the rise of the restorative enterprise within the built environment

Much has been written on how businesses are moving towards doing more good rather than less bad. The phrases ‘net positive’ and ‘restorative enterprise’ are now appearing within sustainable business circles, with both referring to businesses that put back more than they take and restore social and natural capital whilst making a profit. Such businesses may be termed as using a ‘business with impact’ approach or being a ‘purpose driven’ organisation. In this context, ‘purpose’ may be de ned as ‘an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organisation, its partners and stakeholders, and provides bene t to local and global society’.

The white paper from Buildings 2030: Building 4 People: People-Centric Buildings for European Citizens published in November 2017 notes how the buildings we live and work in are affecting our environment, our physical & mental health, our wellbeing and our productivity.

The broad alignment of environmental and health agendas presents an opportunity to not only invest in better performing buildings, but also to improve the quality of life for people using these buildings. Enhancing the health and comfort of people in buildings has a huge potential for economic and societal benefits such as better health, increased productivity, reduced sick leave and a decrease in associated medical costs We call this approach “Building 4 People.”

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UK Government 25 Year Environment Plan is … disappointing.

nature globeThe UK Governments 25 Year Environment Plan (A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment) released yesterday should, on the face of it be a very significant document. Leaks and pre-issue comments from Gove in particular, hinted at great things in respect to addressing plastic, aligning health benefits of nature with healthcare and restoring nature in light of housing and infrastructure developments.

The Plan identifies six key areas:
Using and managing land sustainably (chapter 1).
Recovering nature and enhancing the beauty of landscapes (chapter 2).
Connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing (chapter 3).
Increasing resource efficiency, and reducing pollution and waste (chapter 4).
Securing clean, productive and biologically diverse seas and oceans (chapter 5).
Protecting and improving the global environment (chapter 6).

And of note for the built environment,

‘Embed an ‘environmental net gain’ principle for development, including housing and infrastructure. (Chapter One)

High environmental standards for all new builds. New homes will be built in a way that reduces demands for water, energy and material resources, improves flood resilience, minimises overheating and encourages walking and cycling. Resilient buildings and infrastructure will more readily adapt to a changing climate.

And, to improve existing green infrastructure by encouraging more investment while making sure there is a presumption for sustainable development.

However what we have is low on ambition and nothing more than a plan to plan. Each action is peppered with “consider”, “explore”, “promote”, “help” etc … and to work with others if they would care to.

25 yr plan quote

The fact this is a 25 year plan, in 2018, it takes us through to 2043 – firmly into the next generation that will undoubtedly be severely compromised by what we do or don’t do today.  One only has to compare other initiatives with target dates within this timeframe to see how low on intent this plan is. Compare with the WorldGBC plans for zero carbon new buildings by 2030 and all buildings zero carbon by 2050, or the auto industry to move away from fossil fuels.

As commented by many, there is an ‘extraordinary omission’ in the plan: there is no mention at all of fracking. Given that the only sustained solution to the environmental and climate crisis is leaving fossil fuels in the ground, the continued support for extracting yet more through fracking cannot be justified in the light of the this report.

We are now acutely aware that  we do not have the luxury only to explore, to consider and to just reduce impacts … that is not sustainable. We require more direct leadership, commitment and action to do more good, to restore and regenerate the environment.

George Monbiot commented ‘ Those who wrote (the plan) are aware of the multiple crises we face. But, having laid out the depth and breadth of our predicaments, they propose to do almost nothing about them”

Stephanie Hilborne, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, “unless more leadership is shown, wildlife will continue to decline & with it our mental health as more people become isolated from benefits of contact with nature’

What we do have however, and should take action on, is further recognition that the environment  and connection with nature is severely affecting the health of the planet, of ourselves and of other species. Gove is trying to secure commitment to an Environment Act in the next Queen’s speech and we should help to secure this as there is not yet full government support, but there certainly needs to be more leadership, direct action and targets in this 25 year plan.

The Plan is available to download from here 

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