Monthly Archives: June 2007

Hidden Innovation

NESTA (see below) have published their Hidden Innovation report which looks at innovation systems of six sectors that are seen as having low levels of innovation: oil production, retail banking, construction, legal aid services, education and the rehabilitation of offenders.

It examines whether these sectors are truly lacking in innovation, or whether traditional measures of innovation – such as investment in R&D – are failing to capture all of the innovation that takes place.

Collaboration vital

The NESTA report heralds Constructing Excellence, a scheme which brought together major companies, clients, different levels of government and the research community to identify, develop and diffuse innovation, as a good example of the way in which industry leaders and government can collaborate to the benefit of all. Government gets the right people together, while the sector leaders themselves drive change.

The construction industry patents few new inventions, (less than 1% of companies in the sector file for patents) but efforts to modernise construction methods across the sector have already saved more than £800 million in central government procurement alone.

Hmmm, it would be good to see the sectors investment on R and D in comparison to other industries.

NESTA is the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, the largest single endowment devoted exclusively to supporting talent, innovation and creativity in the UK. Our mission is to transform the UK’s capacity for innovation. We invest in early stage companies, inform innovation policy and encourage a culture that helps innovation to flourish.

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Free Innovation Event – be seen to be innovative

Do you want to learn more about accessing innovation?

Attend the LBPC Innovation Event on 5th July at UClan

Do you want to tell the world about your innovative product or service?

Exhibit  at the LBPC Innovation Event on 5th July at UClan

Details and flyers on the Events Page. Be there and be seen to be innovative. Numbers will be limited so reserve your place now!

Rubble Trouble

The following was noticed from UK Green Building Council

Percentage of UK greenhouse gas emissions from running buildings…

…of those emissions could be cut by cheap and simple measures

Percentage of UK emissions coming from producing building materials…

20% …of those materials on every new building ends up in a skip…

…producing in a year enough waste to build 88 Great Pyramids of Giza.

Hence the need for the Lancashire Best Practice Club Innovation Event on 5th July ( have you reserved your place yet?)

The inconvenient truth about the carbon offset industry

The Guardian on Saturday carried the concluding part of a major investigation, by Nick Davies showing how greenhouse gas credits do little or nothing to combat global warming. It is worrying how the offsetting industry has grown in this manner. Carbon offsetting has been referred to here and others as chocolate teapots, not at all addressing the carbon reduction. It has also been called carbon off-putting.

There is a growing trend in construction and property to address the required carbon reduction targets through offputting. This was illustrated within the recently published to internet construction (new housing) local plan from a local authority (down south!) which claims, and I guess this is typical:

Although carbon neutrality is possible by just using on-site measures, it is recognized that at least for the foreseeable future, it is challenging and expensive and therefore carbon offset is proposed as an alternative more cost effective option. On-site measures will be encouraged where possible to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which will of course reduce the carbon offset payment.

(ie likely to result in a do nothing business as usual approach)

A one-off contribution will be required to the carbon offset fund, at a rate of £200 (index-linked)  for each tonne carbon dioxide by means of a Section 106 agreement or unilateral undertaking. Coupled with existing best practice in energy efficiency, carbon offset could provide carbon neutrality for a few hundred pounds per house.

(so .. for a few hundred pounds? – no problem then ?)

However – if as the Guardian article suggests that even ‘immediate‘ carbon offputting schemes may take 100 years to ‘offset’ -will we miss the window of time to act that scientists say we must address, (the reason for the urgency in all this carbon management) and of course miss the targets for zero carbon housing in 2016.

Your thoughts?

Your comments?

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“I don’t think we’re going to make it…”

Dave over at the Carbon Coach brought my attention to an emotional shock response  video from TED.  Whilst you may not agree with all in the video, Venture Capitalist, John Doerr’s lucid presentation is indeed worth watching, it includes amongst other issues a view on what WalMart are planning for their stores globally, and the huge investments being made green innovation.

Comments I like from the video include  “There is a time when panic is the appropriate response!”


Future of construction transport – something that’s better for the planet

A number of items in the news / other websites and blogs have given me cause for thought on construction transport.

  • Procurement for construction will evaluate construction transport miles and travel plans
  • Defra claim only two thirds of solid materials delivered are used on any site – so perhaps we only need one third of heavy construction transport on the road? (and I recall from somewhere that construction counts for nearly 40% of all transport on our roads, ie both materials and people)
  • Low emission zones will become common place in cities – increasing the cost of construction transport and deliveries
  • The Oil Depletion Protocol is driving countries to become free of oil dependence – with Sweden’s Minister for Sustainable Development announcing in 2006 that Sweden will be completely oil free by 2020. We could learn alot from watching Sweden’s construction industry address this objective.

And finally to do something positive, Change Your World is asking you to swap just one car trip from 1-7 July and choose something that’s better for the planet instead. Sign up and pledge at Change Your World. If we all give up just one car journey that week we’ll reduce car traffic by 10%, and importantly get an insight to the challenges construction travel and transport face.

And for a view of a future carbon free transport city – Dutch city Groningen. of 185,000 proves that bicycle transportation can reign supreme: people there make about 150,000 trips by bicycle every day.