What a week for sustainability related news.
I should try and get to do more weekly round ups – the last couple of weeks have been quiet on the blog posts so here are things that hit my radar last week. (The WordPress linking seems to be broken at the moment – so I will repost with the links later)
Top of the list was probably Eco-Build, which although covered by Building and others, including Phils blog, hasn’t clearly communicated its message (whatever it was) outside of those attending but led to confusion – more thinking and more targets. People I have talked to who attended all volunteered that event itself didn’t feel sustainable and got a lot of carbons to get people there.
Good news then that Building are promoting the (worlds?) first virtual on-line sustainability conference on the 15th and 16th April.
I thought one spark from Eco Build was in the message I picked up in a number of reports that the drive and demand for greener homes, buildings and lifestyles should come from communities, business and individuals, not rely on legislation to led us… (sustainablity2.0 on which more later)
Paul King from the UKGBC did get good coverage (Friday Interview in the Guardian) – a must read article to understand the UKGBC intentions
The most depressing news this week by far was that Isle of White council cannot afford low or zero carbon homes – presumably they can continue to afford the high cost of low price, the on going high cost of wasted energy and the 30% or so wastage in the construction process. What the IoW, along with others, cannot do is align capital budgets with operational and life cycle budgets – the out of date focus on 1, not the 5 or even the 200. Standing in the future, looking back we may see that we fumbling with easy options, a luxury we may not have again – as the Stern report indicates tomorrows cost of in-decision today.
The cost of going low or zero increasingly is perceived as a barrier. In the US as reported here many times it is seen as a commercial opportunity. I fear our green agendas may well be funded by US led green finance arrangements before too long.
Environment Property Codes were launched with a fanfare by IPD and others – but at first glance looked a bit of a damp squid. Hard to see anything new other than (another) standard format – but until the benchmarking gets underway, and the scale of take up known, it may be too early to comment on. What is worrying is the fee to use approach a lot these schemes are adopting – in the face of open source movement elsewhere.
I scanned a copy of the Green Marketing Manifesto in Borders during the week. I thought it was in itself another greenwash book, with advice such as ‘add ECO in front of anything to increase its desirability’ (Eco-Build, Eco Homes, Eco Villages perhaps) until I saw the ‘blurb’ and forward by leading respected thinkers. A closer look revealed this gem – it’s the greening of the business that is important – not the greening of product. Taking this into the built environment – organisations will only be able to deliver low or zero carbon construction, provide environmental fm etc if they themselves are green at heart. A new way of cutting through greenwash perhaps.
Oh and the plastic bag story. Anyone traveling through Europe will know this is not leading edge thinking to ban or reduce plastic bags – we are playing catch up. At its worst it is a blatant retail and government greenwash – focus on the easy carrier bags and smokescreen the bigger issues. Supermarkets need to focus on packaging, open cabinet fridges, the energy inefficient stores (with one or two exceptions) and the travel miles they generate. Salisbury’s advert today tells us they are making it easy for us to reduce, reuse and recycle, nice green wash words when what is needed is rethinking.
And then the interview with James Lovelock who happily tells us we are past the tipping point, to enjoy life while we can (for which he gives us 20 years). But insists this gives us plenty to do – except they will be the things we don’t want to do.
And then I had my eyes opened to Twitter … but more of that later.