Vitosha Mountain, walking health, stone rivers and natural patterns …

The merits of walking, of connecting with nature, bringing nature into cities and city people into nature is one of the current sustainability and health zeitgeists. It is increasingly a prescribed remedy by GP’s.

Back in 1895 a famous Bulgarian writer, Aleko Konstantinov, persuaded 300 or so people to leave ‘dusty streets’ and ‘stuffy cafes’ of Sofia to take a refreshing walk from the city centre to the top of Vitosha mountain – Cherni Vrah (Black Peak) A mountain that has now become synomous with Sofia

In front of the National Theatre there’s a stone that marks the starting point of Aleko’s interesting journey.

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National Theatre, Sofia

I took that journey at the end of a COST Restore working group meeting in the city. Time prevented walking the whole distance from the Theatre, but through a combination of the city’s Metro, buses and taxis, I managed to take in a circular walk starting and finishing at the Aleko huts (1800m).

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Aleko Huts

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Above Sofia

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Cherni Vrah (Black Peak) Summit

Vitosha Nature Park, the oldest park on the Balkans, established in 1934 and famous for its ‘stone rivers’ – rock landforms forming lengthy ribbons of huge round boulders that run down the mountainside arising from granite rock erosion.

 

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Stone River. Natural Patterns.

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Future Pathways to Zero: Specifi Bristol Services

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It was a real pleasure to share insights from Future Restorative and other initiatives at the Specifi Services and Facilities Management event in Bristol last night.

The event was also billed as part of the World Green Build Council’s Green Build Week, focusing on re-imagining carbon to address the World GBC’s call for all new buildings to be zero by 2030 and for all buildings by 2050. A very ambitious call, but as the recent report From Thousands to Billions points out, we already have thousands of zero buildings, we just need to learn from these climate hero buildings and scale up for the remainder.

To do so, we have some awesome solutions and proven approaches now available to us – for example in Paul Hawken’s Project Drawdown, William McDonough’s  Reimagine Carbon work, (Nature: Carbon is not the Enemy) the Well Build and Living Building Challenge standards – all of which indicate future pathways to zero.

My keynote “We Eat Carbon for Lunch‘ focused on carbon positive aspects of two Living Building Challenge projects – the Bullitt Centre in Seattle and the Cuerdon Valley Project in Lancashire. Very different projects indeed – but climate heroes both, demonstrating that restorative sustainability is possible. Much of this work and thinking is being explored by the EU COST Restore action, a network of researchers and practitioners from across the EU and beyond, exploring how Rethinking Sustainability leads to Regenerative Economies.

Questions following my keynote from the audience indicate important themes for future keynotes at upcoming Specifi events

  • What is the Living Building Challenge?
  • What are the financial considerations for restorative sustainability?
  • What one (services) climate solution could we implement tomorrow?
  • Just what is Biophilic Design?
  • What clients and organisations are adopting Restorative Sustainability approaches?

Specifi events are unique, providing an opportunity to listen and to learn from inspirational speakers, an opportunity to learn and share in an informal networking format with leading exhibitors and industry colleagues, and then to discuss in more detail over a three course meal. (All included in the free attendee ticket price!)

The Bristol event was in partnership with CIBSE YEN (Young Engineers Network) – these are the young engineers of the future, hungry with an appetite to learn more, on restorative sustainability, but also from the services and facilities organisations exhibiting.

Future events in 2017 include Glasgow (Landscape) Newcastle, (Design) Birmingham (Landscape) and London (Design and Services)

I am delighted to be part of the Specifi Team – curating keynotes and talking at events throughout 2018, so I look forward to continuing the discussion with the Services people in Bristol next Feb and to meeting you at your next local Specifi event soon.

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Gaining a deeper understanding of sustainability.

RESTORE TS LogoA reminder that there only a few days remaining to apply for our funded RESTORE Training School to be held in November.

Restorative sustainability will move us beyond the intersection of ‘old’ and ‘new’ sustainability, and attending this training school will equip you with knowledge and greater understanding for the new emerging sustainability era..

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In addition to learning from leading experts in areas such as Biophilia, Sustainable Education & Restorative Sustainability, visit inspiring sustainability projects, you will also gain an understanding of the forward thinking work from the RESTORE working groups.

Applications received to date indicate a wonderful range of backgrounds and experience from across Europe that will enable you to learn, to share and to form working collaborations with other training school delegates.

We encourage you to get your application (or expression of interest) to us now, and to share this opportunity with your colleagues and friends.  The application details are at www.eurestore.eu/ts. but should you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask Dorin Beu (dorin.beu@rogbc.org) or myself.

The Training School is fully funded by COST RESTORE (subject to the COST rules outlined in the application) and hence represents great, unmissable value.

I look forward to welcoming you to Lancaster and the Training School in November …

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Regenerative Disruption: Construction Materials, from Linear to Circular.

This is not Sustainable.

Echoing themes from Cradle to Cradle and FutuREstorative on impact of construction waste and materials … namely

An industry that demands over half of humanities resources

Contributes to a third of global waste

The single largest source of waste in the UK, generating over 100 million tonnes of waste every year

32% of all waste, 13% of which is new or unused.

… the YouTube promotion from Enviromate below, calling for Circular Economy approaches to material management contains powerful messages and makes an important contribution to progressing a circular economy in construction.

the enviromate mission

Designed with one core mission; to disrupt and revolutionise construction and DIY through enabling and accelerating the reuse of surplus and leftover building materials. Helping build a future where we share, upcycle and reuse surplus, reducing the impact the industry has on our environment and building toward a more resourceful, circular economy.

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Exploring Restorative Sustainability with COST RESTORE

The work and progress of the COST RESTORE Working Group One is nicely summarised in this Infographic. You can find out more on the RESTORE website, and there is still time to apply for the (free, funded) Training School In Lancaster in November

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London Environment Strategy and the Built Environment

On 11 August Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, published his draft London Environment Strategy for public consultation (open until 17th November) The Mayor is taking a range of  actions to ‘improve the environment now, setting London on the path to create a greenercleaner future’

LES Aims

Construction, buildings and the built environment feature large in this strategy to bring together approaches to every aspect of London’s environment, including

•    Air quality:  Construction contributes to air quality as a major sources of local PM pollution with high volumes of dust and emissions from transport, the strategy looks to reducing construction traffic by five per cent by 2020, and reducing the number of freight trips during the morning peak by ten per cent by 2026. And that monitoring on construction sites to inform operators when additional measures are required must be improved.

“Non-road mobile machinery used in the construction and infrastructure building sectors currently accounts for approximately seven per cent of NOx and eight per cent of PM10 emissions in London.”

•    Green infrastructure

London will be a National Park City where more than half of its area is green; where the natural environment is protected and the network of green infrastructure is managed to benefit all Londoners.

•    Climate change mitigation and energy

To minimise carbon dioxide emissions from construction and future operation of the building and to achieve the Mayor’s zero carbon development target, the energy hierarchy wording will be updated to:

  1. be lean: use less energy and manage demand during construction and operation
  2. be clean: exploit local energy resources (such as secondary heat) and supply energy efficiently and cleanly
  3. be green: generate, store and use renewable energy on site

Ninety per cent of construction industry professionals responded to a survey stating that they would benefit from better embodied carbon guidance and support.

•    Waste

Aim : London will be a zero waste city. By 2026 no biodegradable or recyclable waste will be sent to landfill. – “waste” refers to any substance or object which the holder discards, intends to discard or is required to discard

•    Adapting to climate change

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Download the London Environment Strategy from here

Consultation is open until Nov 17th  for individuals –Talk London surveys and discussions and organisations to respond to  survey with evidence and ideas

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Powering buildings from the carpark …

sun flower.jpgOne of the holy grails of renewables, especially solar, is energy storage. We generate but want to use energy at different times.

The Energy petal of the Living Building Challenge requires that buildings generate 105% of energy needs, storing the additional for emergency use, as for example backup to maintain freezer power supply to safeguard food storage.

In economic and political advisor Jeremy Rifkin’s thinking, we are on the verge of the next industrial revolution – one in which dramatic emergence of innovations in seemingly disconnected sectors converge to create a whole new landscape. (see FutuREstorative for further exploration of this thinking)

Recently we have seen the Tesla PowerWall and now IKEA have entered the market with a home battery offering

Ikea has partnered with renewable energy firm Solarcentury to launch a new domestic battery storage solution that could help to double the amount of solar energy used by UK households and reduce electricity bills by 70%. Source Edie

Emergence of innovation in solar energy, electric vehicles and smart homes is leading to breakthrough development and technologies of what is becoming known as Vehicle to Grid (V2G).  This will undoubtedly become more mainstream given recent news that the UK will ban fossil fuel cars by 2040 and manufactures phasing out non electric car production over the next decade.

Stored energy from electric vehicles (EVs) can be used to power large buildings – creating new possibilities for the future of smart, renewable energy – is the subject for ground-breaking battery research from WMG at the University of Warwick.

Intelligently managing vehicle-to-grid technology, energy from idle vehicle batteries used to power building or pumped back into the grid could improve vehicle battery life by around 10% and without damaging the batteries.

Cenex (UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell technologies) describe V2G as being ‘very similar to a standard charging point’, with the difference that energy flows both to and from the vehicle, turning the vehicle into a portable battery store. This provides advantages of

  • Increasing use of localised renewables.
  • Supplying energy to energy markets.
  • Using the EV battery to provide demand shifting and reduce electricity costs.

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And, as the Cenex website illustrates there is much research and development in place within the UK and across the EU:

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Our future vehicles will power our homes, and in turn, our future homes will power our transport.

However, we need to be careful this doesn’t give licence to continue designing in a car-centric manner. Alongside the energy storage challenge, we need to make the transition to liveable, walkable, human powered and healthy buildings & cities, addressing and balancing the other LBC Place and Health imperatives.

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