Monthly Archives: March 2007

Sustainability Updates

A few items of relevant news have landed onto my computer this week – all make great reading and illustrate the change we are or will see in our industries:

CO-OPERATIVE BANK OPENS NEW ‘GREEN’ BRANCH

In fact the Cooperative Group and Bank are going one further than being Carbon Neutral – with commitments to be Carbon Postive “From now on we’ll be offsetting all of our current carbon emissions plus an extra 10% to cover our past emissions to”

The next big thing in environmental law: Climate change. Law firms with environmental expertise expect new business. (well they do need the business)

European Union’s climate change goals will cost €1 trillion. Reports in the Guardian

Gazeley is a global real estate developer and sustainability pioneer that provides environmentally-superior distribution warehouses to Wal-Mart and many other clients around the world.

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Major Developer in Green Pledge

Hot on the heels of my post yesterday questioning targets for our building sector is the announcement from British Land:

Three reports came through to my PC today:

Britain’s ‘biggest landlord’ to go carbon neutral 

One of the United Kingdom’s largest property developers has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2008/9, according to a report published on Wednesday.

In its new Corporate Responsibility Report, British Land PLC outlines its initiatives aimed at reducing energy and associated CO2 emissions in landlord-controlled areas.

Edie News 

British Land to go carbon neutral by 2009

Sustainability drive will include solar panels, turbines and carbon-off setting

Building 

More from British Land – offsetting, targets and KPI’s

Zero Champion  

The British Land Corporate Resposnibility Report and associated web material is well worth reading.

Another  sign of the fast changing times for our industry ?

Are you being trained for the worls you will inherit? – the 2030 Challenge

The above title came from the recently received e-newsletter from the USA 2030 Challenge. The 2030 challenge seeks to reduce carbon emissions from new and existing buildings by 2030. The newsletter and the 2030 challenge makes for excellent reading, in particular:

  • targets set for each building sector – new and existing
  • informative background information on climate change
  • global case studies of design and construction that address sustainability and environmental impact
  • archived web casts

But what really caught my interest was the contribution that the building sector makes to the total US carbon emissions…

Combining the annual energy required to operate residential, commercial, and industrial buildings along with the embodied energy of industry-produced building materials like carpet, tile, glass, and concrete exposes buildings as the largest energy consuming and greenhouse gas emitting sector….the architecture and building community is responsible for 48% almost half of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions annually. Globally the percentage is even greater.”

What is the UK figure? With the exception of housing do we have targets set for each building type – new and existing? What is the UK building sectors annual carbon emissions and what is the trend? (the USA is 700 million tonnes per annum – a three fold increase since the 1960’s)

Check out and consider adopting the 2030 Challenge?

syndicated to isite, blog4fm and zero champion

New Links

I have added two new links to the blogroll panel to the right.

Elemental – a mine of interesting and informative information and sustainable solutions for the built environment from Mel Starr, a Sustainability Consultant based in Leeds.

Dave’s Diary – Dave Hampton is a carbon coach, committed to reduction of carbons. Read his posts and subscribe to his newsletters. Dave’s background is in the construction and facilities management sectors, (we worked together a few years ago in Be (now Constructing Excellence) trying to raise the image of FM as being the industries sustainabilioty ‘champion’) -so alot of the information from Dave is very relevant. (If nothing else – check out Dave’s purple skies ‘theory’)

I will post items from these two that are relevant to us here in the North West into this weblog – but do check them out from time to time yourself

Green Property

If you didn’t get the Observer property section on Sunday it could be well worth tracking down.  The whole section was devoted to Green Property issues which will be of interest to those in the housing market as well as us as individual house owners.  (I will post the links here when I can find them, they seem to be hidden in the depths of the Guardian website).

What surprised me was the home assessments necessary for the Energy Performance Certificates, that will be required from June 1st for each house put on the market, and the amount of work to be done to raise a property from a ‘F’ rating to a ‘D’ rating as the example given in the article describes.

There was also an interesting article on the light versus tight discussions in construction at the moment – do we design and construct with lightweight technologies or not?  How will climate change, and foreseen increases in temperatures effect design? Interesting to note that there is very few lightwieght properties in the hotter Med countries.

This reminds me of issues raised at a recent local CIOB event regarding Modern Methods of Construction. The speakers from the Concrete Society made a useful argument as to why concrete construction can be seen as green and environmentally friendly such as light weight or timber constructions. 

This issue would make for a great event and debate for the Best Practice Club.

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An Inconvenient Truth for us?

It is sad that at a time when climate change and carbon management in our industry is in the spot light the Lancashire Best Practice Club has had to postpone a sustainability event due to low take up and apparent lack of interest.

Is this typical of our attitude and approach to the whole carbon ‘thing’ within our industry?

Are we, as an industry putting heads into the sand hoping it will blow over like other initiatives?

Anyone watching An Inconvenient Truth (the Al Gore film – which if you haven’t seen – why not? – I understand it is now freely available to all schools to use as part of climate change awareness) and following the media and political debates, (including today’s budget speeches) will realise that our industry will be transformed on the back of climate change agendas.

For example:

The draft climate change bill calls for a 60% reduction in domestic carbon emissions – an enormous challenge – for us as home owners and more so for our industry….

Zero Carbon homes will be the norm -in design, construction and use ….

The Stern Report calls for major innovation and take up of low carbon technologies …

Gordon Brown, addressing the Green Alliance recently called for Britain to be a leader in collaborative sustainability research and technologies …

Today’s budget will give tax credits to domestic mirco generated energy put back into the grid – a shrewd move that will see an increase in mirco generation – changing the way buildings are used ?…

Carbon taxation will increase, with business and personal carbon allowances on the horizon ….

We heard at a recent Lancashire best Practice Club event that local authorities will start to look at the green travel plans of their contractors as part of their procurement process . . .

To meet these demands and challenges for the future we need an industry with the necessary skills and knowledge. Worryingly, we do not seem to have them as yet – as noted by the Construction Excellence Climate Change briefing and the Stern Report itself.

Unless this is addressed, it is higly possible that we will fail in meeting the carbon challenge – and those with the knowledge and technologies will succeed – be they from other regions or abroad.

I hope the sustainability event will be rescheduled soon.

You may be interested in the Think 07 event being held early May – The Think conference and exhibition explores the wider responsibilities of the property and construction industries as we deal with the issues of climate change, urban renewal and redevelopment.

And, on a wonderful clash of dates – Sustainabilitylive! 2007 1-3 May 2007 held at the NEC, Birmingham details here

To finish this post on a positive note – proof that things are happening not to far from home – Housebuilder Bellway claims it has reduced its carbon footprint by more than a third for the 7,117 new homes it sold last year. The housebuilder says it did so by providing renewable energy for its home owners. The firm has also offset some of its CO² emissions by saving trees in Ecuador. Source – Zero Champion blog – see link in the blog roll box on the right.

Looking back to Andrew Platten’s Elevate Carbon Challenge – where are the positive stories in Lancashire?

Leave your comments here – what do you think of the climate change agenda? – do we have our head in the sand on this one? Do you have a positive story?

Event Postponed

The Sustainability event scheduled for 22 March 2007 has unfortunatley been postponed.

Watch this space for updates.

Our next events are:

March 27th CDM – UCLAN  Harris Park Preston

April 26th Bidding to Win  – UCLAN  Harris Park Preston

You can download more details and faxback forms from the Events Page

These events are likely to be very popular – book your places now