Reconnecting the eco system: Specifi Services London

logoIt was a real pleasure to present a sustainability keynote to the 100 plus service experts and engineers attending the Specifi Services event in London on the 29th November.

The keynote focused on the impact that the built environment sector  has on climate change and how we can all become part of climate change solutions. I introduced the need to think beyond sustainability, to a regenerative approach that connects with and enables natural eco systems to flourish.

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Sharing insights from FutuREstorative, I put forward the case that we no longer have the luxury of being less bad, and that we need increasingly radical approaches of being more good.

This includes working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (that will replace the Brundtland definition of sustainability) and for example meeting the World GBC from Thousands to Billions target for all new buildings to be net zero carbon from 2030 and all buildings to be net zero carbon by 2050

One particular mention for London services is the Getting to Zero report which lays out a ‘roadmap for making all London buildings zero net energy by 2050‘ from the London Energy Transformation Initiative. LETI is driven by Clara Bagenal George at Elementa who was able to respond to questions during the evening, particularly the recommendation, endorsed by the London Plan, that public and private buildings to disclose their performance on energy use.

On LETI, the following extract is from the recent Integral publication Impact, transforming the engineering industry’

Focused on mitigating catastrophic climate change by dramatically reducing carbon emissions from the city’s buildings, LETI was established as a multidisciplinary collaboration working toward a zero-emissions future for London.

LETI is poised to make a big difference, and it all began with the vision of one person, a member of Elementa’s London office named Clara Bagenal George. Hers is a story of the power of one to make a big difference, and is also a story of the power of many. It shows how a person with a vision, backed by a supportive team with access to resources, can mobilise like-minded people who together can have a tremendous impact on one of the world’s biggest cities.

The new normal

We now have many solutions available to us that will undoubtley become the new normal. For example, Project Draw Down contains over 100 solutions that already exist in practice, and the new emerging regenerative sustainability standards such as the Living Building Challenge  that gives us a new direction for a new future built environment.

The keynote focused on two new normal aspects – Healthy Material and Rethinking Carbon …

Healthy Materials:

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Declare is the ILFI material declaration standard against the Living Building Challenge Redlist– a key area of debate for LBC, Well Build, Google and other projects in London at the moment.
The Declare label asks three questions .

  • Where does a product come from?
  • What is it made of?
  • Where does it go at the end of its life?

Rethinking Carbon:

There is a growing recognition to reimagine carbon. Thinking of carbon as an unwanted evil may be preventing real advance on effective carbon management.

Maybe the metric for carbon success is not just reduction in fugative emissions but a metric that acknowledges the carbons locked into circular economy materials (Durable Carbon) and carbon returned to where it belongs (Living Carbon)

The keynote provided examples of two Living Building Challenge projects, the Bullitt Centre in Seattle & the Cuerdon Valley Park in Lancashire, and concluded with the question – ‘how will your organisation, your product, your building get beyond zero’

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!)

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Download an abridged version of the Specifi Services London keynote

See you at the next Specifi: Design in Manchester in 2018

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Revolutionary, Regenerative Sustainability; RESTORE Training School

The UK RESTORE Training School

The first RESTORE Training School took place in Lancaster, UK between 14th and 17th November 2017 organised and facilitated by Martin Brown, Fairsnape. Over 40 trainees and RESTORE core group members attended, representing a great spectrum of sustainability disciplines, experience and EU countries. The four days were lead by trainers and guest lectures from the UK, EU and USA, but with a distinct Lancashire focus!.

The focus was firmly on Regenerative Sustainability, Biophilia, and Sustainability Education,  in four days trainees gained a deep understanding of Restorative and Regenerative Sustainability and the key topics from RESTORE working groups.

The week was very busy and very interesting, with topics and activities that went well beyond my initial scope and expectations” Trainee Report Feedback

Training school designed to progress the RESTORE Cost Actions purpose.

“I believe this was the beginning of something bigger and totally revolutionary”            Trainee Report Feedback

Discussions and agreement on sustainability definitions was a crucial start to the four day training school

“I received clear definitions and deep understanding of three basic, but important words: sustainability, restoration and regeneration. I think that this precise explanation will allow me to direct my research toward more “green direction” Trainee Report Feedback

 

“So one of the key insights to me was to understand sustainable design as a philosophy. It’s not a list of do’s and don’ts about materials, site development, and building systems. It’s a holistic ethic that includes all the stakeholders in the dialogue, encouraging feedback for continuous refinement and improvement. It seeks to imitate the efficiency and diversity of nature and create design solutions that are responsive, self-regulating, and full of spirit” Trainee Report Feedback

“Working with experts from different fields, discussing different ideas, learning about others and about their expereinces, their work, education, their side of the story – that is how you can learn so much in just few days, something that you can not learn by reading only books. I am so very glad that I was part of this Training School and I can surely say that I had a great time, but at the same time learnt a lot”  Trainee Report Feedback

“Do nothing today to compromise tomorrows generation” Also, the concepts of salutogenesis and healthy materials were introduced. These were completely new expressions to me, so besides trying to process all the information I had great times in the debate parts, where discussions among a completely heterogeneous group lead to a perfect understanding. Trainee Report Feedback

State of the Art and Visions from the working group subgroups central to the training school content

“Newly learned term: salutogenesis. The “sustainability” of the people living/working inside a building could be more important than the sustainability of the building itself”  Trainee Report Feedback

Quotes and comments shared through social media during the four days made for a good number of Regenerative Sustainability Takeaways …

“The Living Building Challenge presented itself as one of the most holistic sustainable building standards I have come across and I would really hope to get the LFA certification and aim for a LBC building in one of my future projects. I also thought the 20 LBC imperatives provide a great lens in which to scrutinise projects”. Trainee Report Feedback

Project visits to Brockholes and CVP enabled the students to witness the application of the topics covered during the training school. Planting trees at the Living Building Challenge Project ( in part to offset carbon from travel, but also to provide locally available Larch timber for any future cladding replacement of the Visitor Centre)

“New approaches were given, new ideas were born and this was only possible due to amazing hosts and organizers which knew how to keep us motivated and focused all day long… hard work was done, and great results were attained” Trainee Report Feedback

Read our Storify here 

Download our full infographic here

 

(Header Image Credits TopL JustEngland.org TopR Lancaster Uni. Bot L+R Martin Brown @fairsnape)

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Towards 1.5 DegC: Built Environment’s role in COP23

pexels-photo-425050-2COP23 located in Bonn, Germany and hosted by Fiji takes place from 6 – 17 November.

The hosting by Fiji is significant as as a island nation they already feel the impact of climate change more than other nations. Fiji will also bring a new consensus building and discussion approach to COP23 – ‘Talanoa’.

Talanoa is a Pacific, story telling, term for discussions aimed at building consensus, airing differences constructively, and finding ways to overcome difficulties or embark on new projects. It is one of the building blocks of Fijian society, used for centuries to foster greater understanding among a people distributed over many small islands, and carry them through a tough existence. It is hoped that Talanoa will break deadlocks that have limited COP progress over the last 20 years.

The built environment

In recognition of its crucial role of the built environment, (as part of the climate change ‘problem’ and part of the solution for reducing CO2 emissions) the sector should receive high levels of visibility at this year´s COP.

An unprecedented four-day buildings programme has been pulled together by Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction  which has at its core the overarching goal of COP23:

To harness innovation, enterprise and investment to fast track the development and deployment of climate solutions that will build future economies with net zero greenhouse gas emissions, in an effort to limit the rise of global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

You should be able to follow discussions, comments and outcomes from the four days via a combination of #COP23 #GABC twitter hashtags 

Setting the scene: Building Action Symposium

9 November action is very much at the heart of the Building Action Symposium, a public event that will kick off the four-day event programme.

The objective of this action day is to identify key ingredients to achieving a low-carbon, energy efficient buildings and construction sector that will help to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement from 2015.

Turning theory into practice: Best practice examples on the ground

To illustrate that it is possible to walk the talk, the following day, a guided tour by the Federal Chamber of German Architects will showcase a selection of local buildings that are exemplary for sustainable architecture, including a day care centre and student housing.

Bringing about change within the construction and real estate sector: Human Settlements Day

Taking onboard recommendations from the Building Action Symposium on 9 November, this event will explore high impact change agents and measures, the role of private sector engagement and how to link buildings to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Linking buildings to the Sustainable Development Goals: SDG11 Day

Finally, Monday, 13 November is SDG11 Day will see a high-level dialogue between country representatives and senior industry leaders focused on ensuring the buildings sector delivers against key relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals:

  • SDG11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • SDG7   – Ensure access to affordable and clean energy
  • SDG13 – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Sources: this post is based on and adapted from

RICS News post

Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction

Guardian 6th Nov 

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Reimagining Construction Materials: (Waste) Food for Thought.

 

pexels-photoA new Arup publication, (The Urban Bio-Loop) aims to demonstrate that a different paradigm for materials in construction is possible, through the adoption of organic waste re-imagined as construction materials.

“Adopting the principles of Circular Economy provides the rationale for a shift from a linear (take, make, dump) disposal model – towards a circular value chain where organic waste is the main resource.

The use of organic waste in construction would possibly allow the exploitation of its untapped value with a positive impact not only from an environmental perspective but also from a technical, social and economic standpoint”

The waste and resource use profile of construction is not healthy, as reinforced by statistics within the report. For example,  60% of UK raw materials are consumed by construction and operation of the built environment and up to 30% of EU waste comes from construction. (FutuREstorative used the 40% rule of thumb for waste and resource use)

And the food waste sector is equally poor, with 0.6 billion tonnes consumer organic waste produced globally,  accounting for 5% of global green house gases.

The report suggests that “organic waste from our cities and countryside, traditionally managed through landfill, incineration and composting could be diverted – at least in part – to become a resource for the creation of construction engineering and architecture products before being fed back in the biological cycle at the end of their service life”

Intriguing and Inspiring facts and examples include:

  • Pineapple: Internal cladding and furniture
  • Rice: Brick and Block Products. Rice can be also used as raw material for board production
  • Banana fruit and leaves can be used to obtain rugged textiles and carpets. The material is 100% biodegradable. http://leoxx.nl/
  • Sunflower: floors walls and ceiling boards, made by the repurposing of waste from sunflower harvesting. They are made by just adding water, heat and pressure with no additives. http://www.kokoboard.com/
  • Peanut: Flame retardant boards, made by the repurposing of waste from peanut shells. Peanuts shell are turned into particle boards by a hot press procedure and the use of a formaldehyde-free (e.g. soy based) adhesives.

Download the Arup report from https://www.arup.com/en/publications/research/section/the-urban-bio-loop 

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Regenerative thinking embedded in new DGNB System 2017.

nature globeSustainable building certification standards are immense influencers on not only the built environment sector but also commercial, industrial and domestic green lifestyles. With that influence comes a real responsibility in establishing the current direction of travel for the industry against a backdrop of climate, economic and social change.

Get it right, and we move closer to addressing major climate change issues, attaining carbon reduction targets and achieving ecologically, economically and socially just goals. Get it wrong and the negative impact ripples far beyond our built environment sector.

It is the purpose of ‘regenerative’ certification schemes not only to identify best practice requirements for design, construction and operation, but to go way beyond current best practices and establish a vision for sustainable buildings based on future requirements — with practice then measured against that vision.

FutuREstorative Working Towards a New Sustainability makes the case for regenerative building standards, using the Living Building Challenge, Well Build Standard, One Planet Living and The Natural Step as examples. Encouragingly, news of the 2017 DGNB System update, the result of an intensive internal review, could well now join that the regenerative sustainability standards family.

The following are extracts and comments are from a DGNB System update release,  illustrating its proposed alignment with current regenerative sustainability theme:

Sustainability should not be an add-on or nice-to-have. Instead, it should be seen as an integral part of every building project. Given the number of global challenges we now face and the demands of climate change, it will become increasingly important for everyone to face up to the key topics of sustainability, especially when it comes to implementing different aspects in practice. Paying lip service to sustainability or reacting simply because it looks good for marketing purposes will no longer be accepted

Health and Wellbeing: We build for ourselves – for people who spend most of their lives in buildings. This intrinsically means that people and their need for health and wellbeing must therefore be the lynch pin – the point around which everything revolves when making all the decisions that influence planning and building

 

Circular Economy: When selecting the materials to be used in a building it is necessary to consider that one day it may be disassembled or reclaimed. The DGNB certification system thus plays an important role in ensuring that material cycles are put in place so that products can be re-used or reclaimed, along the lines of cradle-to-cradle principles.

The DGNB System is therefore the first of its kind to make circular economy principles an assessable and measurable aspect of buildings. To promote the use of new methods, such solutions are rewarded with bonuses, in turn having a positive impact on certification outcomes.

Positive Contribution: The DGNB sees design quality and Baukultur (architectural culture) as a central aspect of sustainable building.  Version 2017 …looks more closely at any factors that consider a building’s contribution to its … environment.

 

Sustainable Development Goals: In 2016, the United Nations issued its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of specific and meaningful targets aimed at shaping the future development of our planet, encouraging people to think again and thus paving the way for life in a sustainable world. The DGNB supports the UN objectives and wants to encourage others to make a tangible and positive contribution to achieving these targets through certification.  All projects that achieve DGNB certification in future will also include a statement on the extent to which they contribute towards fulfilling the SDGs

 

Life cycle assessment of entire buildings. This is captured in the DGNB System in accordance with EU standards and ranges from how materials are produced to final deconstruction. It’s important that scientifically defined benchmarks are used to calculate and optimise impacts on the environment.

 

Innovation: It is the DGNB’s goal to promote new thinking and a willingness to step outside comfort zones. It was this underlying thought that resulted in a new instrument being added to the criteria contained in Version 2017: Innovation Capacities. With immediate effect, many of the criteria have been defined in a way that should motivate planners to pursue the best possible and the most sensible solutions for their project.

RelatedA case for reconstructing the world of sustainable building standards

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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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