Monthly Archives: June 2008

where is the service user innovation …

I attended the SCRI event on Service User Innovation in Salford Uni’s new Lady Hale Building yesterday, listened to four influential speakers and participated in thoughtful discussions and break outs.

POE (post occupancy evaluations) were mentioned too often – I have an issue with POE  as a means to evaluate performance, and as they have been referred to before are the wrong tool for the wrong job.  Yes there needs to be post project evaluation, for as Ian Cooper notes, every building project without a feedback loop is a prototype. But to measure people performance through their relationship with the building is the wrong starting point. After all its about the service users ‘experience’

The four key speakers were Prof Peter Barratt at BuHu Salford University – key message here for me was his comment that all the successful projects were led by Facilities Management, his case studies included the Sydney Opera House and Wm McCormack Place in Cairns as part of the Australian Facilities Management Action Agenda, the Trondhiem Hospital where the construction team were selected by psychologists to ensure they understood health issues, and John Zeisel‘s work in Boston USA with Alzheimer’s centers

Neil Sachdev, Sainsburys Commerical Director, illustrated how they engage with their customers on store design,

John Lorimer from Manchester City Council on testing furniture with pupils against a background of how the school environment shapes and influences education , and

Nigel Oseland on POE’s who also . Nigel also introduced the Dunbar’s number concept of 150 and talked on biophilia kinship, of our history of camp fires and story telling, of seeking nature and space and waymarking, but now confined into office cubicles.  (We need to get out more, tell stories have camp fire meetings and connect with nature – not surprising then the increase in barcamps and benchmarkwalks)

The investment in really engaging with and empowering end users is impressive. Five years in the case of John Zeisel in understanding Alzheimer’s needs in the USA , a huge investment from Sainsbury’ s and the patient work in understanding pupil and teacher needs from Manchester City Council.  None of these three examples start with the building, but with the users.  Why then as an industry do we fool ourselves we can do the engagement stuff with one or two value management exercises and a POE?

I was not alone in noting an under theme of web 2.0 in the presentations and discussions.  There was the mention of pupils using second life to determine space and colour requirements, of the use of Web2 (twitter maybe, blogs, or facebook groups) in getting real, unsolicited, feedback from facilities users. I sensed though it was something to put on the wish list and get on with the business in hand.

It is a pity this was an under theme as to me as is where the real service user innovation lies. Service users make use of web2 technology outside of the work place, ie in second life, in twittering, in facebook, in myspace … etc etc etc.  The innovation is in using this in design and facilities management.  We seem to be blind to or just awakening to its potential. The potential to allow continuous dialogue between service users and service providers / designers   This is not rocket science – those using twitter can contact the government on issues (and get a response) and be kept in touch with the Prime Ministers actions, speeches and even thoughts.

And then where – consumers constantly in dialogue with a supermarket on store layouts, on colour, on products and costs – office users ditto with the fm’s on suggestions and wc complaints –  pupils on school design, residents on city facilities and urban design – on eco town developments,  and all in real time as it happens.

Definitely a topic to be discussed at the be2camp event in October

ecotowns – small steps in the right direction and stop …

There may be one or two things as important for humanity’s future, but nothing is more important than ecocities.

a great, insight, article by Richard Register on Eco Cities, which here in the UK may give another view on eco towns, from both sides, ie both those planning and those opposing:

But what is most often missed is the design and layout of our built environment of cities, towns and villages. Could we build cities that actually enrich soils, promote biodiversity and stabilize climate while creating a more beautiful human environment than ever seen before and one harmonious with the natural world as well?

I’ve seen people move small steps in the right direction and stop, satisfied that they have arrived. They, for example, might recycle better and buy an energy saving automobile, but they still live a long way from work and their friends and drive anyway.

I’ve seen them freeze up the city, opposing any new “density” in already existing neighborhoods or resist adding diversity of services and jobs to a neighborhood, clinging to the segregating single uses of zoning that helped the car scatter the city of car dependent and cheap energy dependent distances.

and Richards conclusion:

We need to be thorough. We need to see all the parts connected and understand that to have a…

…. read the article at Eco Cities,

on press releases

I get quite a few press releases sent over requesting me to post onto the isite blog, many I am afraid I do not necessarily subscribe to, so politely decline.  However, two received this week,  from Jayne at FMB Green Energy Revolution Needs Green Housing Revolution and VAT hindering environmental improvements? which illustrates the positive actions taken by the FMB to lobby government on behalf of the industry and from Peter over at Architecture 2030 cracking the codes furthering the sterling work on carbon reductions in the built enviroment and its link to the use of coal.

cracking the codes

Peter Chapman over at Architecture 2030 has forwarded the following news item.  I find this fascinating, although USA based, is there an equivalent mapping of BREEAM, CSH, etc against for example the Construction Strategy targets, indicating the additional reductions needed beyond the requirements of a particular code, standard or rating system.

Is it the case here in the UK, as in the US, that existing (and recently revised) codes will not acheive the necessary targets? One would think that the codes have been designed to meet higher targets, but then ….

From Architecture 2030:

Edward Mazria and Architecture 2030 have released an unprecedented and much-anticipated guide for every city, county and state in the nation to swiftly meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets of the 2030 Challenge.

Published in a new white paper, titled “Meeting the 2030 Challenge Through Building Codes“, a single table provides the key to deciphering various building energy codes, standards and rating systems as they relate to the immediate 50% reduction target called for in the 2030 Challenge. Using the code equivalents provided in this table, local governments, states and industry professionals can achieve dramatic reductions and be confident that they are meeting the 2030 Challenge.

VAT hindering environmental improvements?

Press release from Jayne Curtis over at FMB:

MPs Deliver 10,000 ‘Cut the VAT’ Postcards to 11 Downing Street: Kate Hoey MP (Labour) and Bob Russell MP (Liberal Democrat) have delivered a 10,000 signature strong petition to 11 Downing Street, calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to cut VAT from 17.5% to 5% for building repair and maintenance work. The demand to cut VAT comes at a time when the Government is failing to achieve its ambitious target to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050; when the number of people living in fuel poverty currently is still rising from the current figure of 4.5 million; and when thousands of consumers are being fleeced by rogue traders offering cash deals to avoid VAT on home improvements.

The MPs were joined by three members of the Cut the VAT Coalition: Brian Berry of the Federation of Master Builders, Julia Goodwin of House Beautiful magazine, and Yvonne Orgill of the Bathroom Manufacturers’ Association. In the week that the one hundredth MP signed the Early Day Motion (EDM 669) calling on the Government to VAT for building repair and maintenance work MPs voiced their concerns.

For more information please visit:

Green Energy Revolution Needs Green Housing Revolution

Press release from Jayne Curtis over at FMB:

Green Energy Revolution Needs Green Housing Revolution, says Federation of Master Builders

Today’s Government plans to move away from fossil fuels to wind, solar, and tidal power  as part of its green energy programme is a welcome initiative but we need an accompanying  green housing revolution if we are to cut carbon emissions and make our housing stock more energy efficient, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Brian Berry, Director of External Affairs at the FMB said:

“The Government is failing to develop a coherent strategy about what to do with Britain’s existing housing stock. Given that homes are responsible for 27 per cent of the country’s carbon emissions and that nearly 70 per cent of our current housing will still be standing in 2050 urgent action is needed now to make our homes greener and more energy efficient.”

Berry continued:

“The Government’s leadership in tackling in new build needs to be matched with new initiatives and leadership about what it intends to do with our existing homes. We need a range of incentives to encourage householders to upgrade their homes. Cutting VAT from 17.5 per cent to 5 per cent on energy efficient improvements would be a start as would reform of Stamp Duty and the introduction of Council Tax rebates. Given the Governments’ target to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 now is not the time to be dithering. We need a joined up strategy for all our housing and the time for that strategy is now!”

For more information please visit:

virtual world fest for built environment?

Peak Oil awareness: today and tomorrow, Eco-Friendly sim Etopia is having a two day activity to help raise awareness of our global overdependence on oil.

Etopia will host a concert, panel discussions, freebie hunt, videos, exhibits and displays in the hope of touching more people in SL and all over the globe and inspiring changes in our world.  Etopia Bamboo Bikes will be given away with bike hikes scheduled as peaceful demonstrations of our support of alternative methods of transportation. We hope that riders will then take their bikes and ride all across SL.

Read more for the schedule and see how SL can be a tool for positive change.

Thursday, June 26th

Opening Events (Main Entrance)                               12:45p – 1p SLT
Live Concert – Pillowfish (Community Center)          1-2p SLT
Pedal-thon (Main Entrance)                                        2-3p SLT
Panel Discussion (Community Center)                       3-4p SLT
Sailing Tour (Etopia Prime – Beach)                            4-5p SLT

Peak Oil Video (Main Clocktower)                               5-6p SLT

Pedal-thon (Main Entrance)                                         6-7p SLT

Friday, June 27th

Class: Cooking Without Oil (Main Entrance)              1-2p SLT
Pedal-thon (Main Entrance)                                          2-3p SLT
Peak Oil Video (Main Clocktower)                                3-4p SLT
Freebie Hunt (Main Entrance)                                       4-5p SLT
Pedal Thon (Main Entrance)                                          5-6p SLT
Discussion (Tsidel’s Cafe – Prime)                                6-7p SLT
Live Concert – Sassy Nitely (Prime Bandshell)   7-8p SL

thanks to HodgePodge and Faythe Zauber at the Going Green Store  (on Etopia )

And ….

And then hot on the heels of the Public Works Group orientation and Open Day, this Saturday (28th June) a Second Life birthday event that runs along side the Sustainability Now, Building’s online conference on July 1st, is “Urbanism, Architecture, Planning: How Second Life Can Help Build the Urban Landscape of the First Life–and Vice Versa“ See you there?!?!

from the Arch Blog:
Date/Time: July 1, 12:00 p.m. PT (thats 8pm in the UK?)


Moderator: Rissa Maidstone (RL Kim Smith)

Tab Scott (RL Terry Beaubois), Creative Research Lab, Montana State University
Diva Canto (RL Cristina Lopes), Dept. of Informatics, UC Irvine
Boston Borst (RL Eric Gordon), Department of Visual and Media Arts, Emerson College, Hub2
Keystone Bouchard (RL Jon Brouchoud), Crescendo Design, Studio Wikitectur