Monthly Archives: September 2008

throwing eco sheep

At the time I heard the Radio 4 news report on Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media,  that we should use the Web for more important things than throwing sheep, and read the ExtranetEvolution blog, I also read the editorial to the latest Patagonia Catalogue:

We tell (…) stories over our modern campfires – blogs, web sites books and catalogues – in equal parts homage and interest

We are entertained but an astute few may learn and go on to build on these stories creating new stories of their own. Innovation Inspires

Steve House

So this is why we throw eco sheep, to increase awareness, to plant seeds, to tell stories and to inspire others. It may be the Maven in me to share and inspire, which has been my motivation throughout a career of business improvement so that others can move forward.


picture that tells a 1000 words

This is cool.

This image, easily generated at Nokia Barcode Generator site contains links to my site.

Anyone with a barcode reader can zap the images and instantly ‘read’ the information and save to contacts.

Also works with text and links.

Could we see all business cards looking like this one day.  Or profile images on social networking sites replaces by the picture that tells a thousand words.

Badges at conferences could be far more interesting, and a great ice breaker as people get close to zap each other.

UKGBC task group too important to be so narrow?

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has announced the panel of experts that will shape the Code for Sustainable Buildings to complement the government’s consultation on its target to make all new buildings zero-carbon from 2019.

The task group comprises:

• Bill Bolsover, chief executive, Aggregate Industries;
• John Connaughton, partner, Davis Langdon;
• Ian Coull, chief executive, Segro;
• John Frankiewicz, chief executive, Willmott Dixon;
• Alistair Guthrie, director, Ove Arup & Partners;
• Ken Hall, managing director, Prologis;
• Bill Hughes, managing director, Legal & General Property;
• Daniel Labbad, chief executive UK, Lend Lease;
• Sunand Prasad, president, RIBA; and
• Ant Wilson, business unit director, Faber Maunsell.

This group is impressive and will be influential, but I fear for the wrong reasons.

I cannot help but think we again fall into the trap of trying to solve today’s problem with the mindset that created them.(*) I have no problems with any individuals on this panel, indeed from their profiles scattered across the web, they are without doubt passionate and well informed on sustainability, but collectively do they represent too narrow a view of our industry.    It is appreciated that the task force will take evidence from sub groups and work groups, but at strategy level …

  • Where is the inclusion of small builders, the SME’s , the subcontractors from the bread/butter of the industry, where there is a mixture of struggling to understand green issues, some really great examples of grassroot initiatives but a dominant denial that we need to do anything at all. I would have thought a FMB or NFB inclusion would necessary.
  • Where is the mainstream facilities management expertise?  We are talking about sustainable buildings here – ie the use and life of the buildings, the interaction with the people who live and work in the buildings – not only the design and construction of the buildings.
  • Where are the training and educational representatives. Increasingly the educational and academic sector is the problem or barrier to us really moving forward on sustainability in the built environment, both on craft skills and professional knowledge.
  • Where are the younger generation or student representatives – from G4C (Generation for Collaboration) or Sponge for example. This is our comprised generation (from Brundtlands definition) who have brilliant ideas and very different values to mainstream, viewing the sector from the start of their careers…
  • Where are those with differing views to main stream construction and property – for example from the Transition movement, or the environmental movements
  • Where are the IT or Web experts, the research and technical innovators, as increasingly this will play an essential part in built environment sustainability.

The UKGBC have in the past stated that this Code would be an open source document which is the right way forward.  Lets hope that the panel adopts open source approach during the development as well as in the document itself.  This is an important issue for our sector and cannot be done behind closed doors. For example:

    • Open communication of meetings,  minutes and evidence considered.
    • how about a Codepedia – The Code posted to a wiki site to allow real consultation and collaboration, as the Code develops. See for example RIBApedia
    • Communication and dialogue through discussion forums, blogs or twitter on progress. (See for example the use of twitter by Downing Street, HM Government and others)

    Unfortunately unless there is a truly open and representative approach to the Code development, it will, like the Strategy for Sustainable Construction and the Code for Sustainable Homes be largley ignored, misunderstood or perceived irrelevant to those at the sharp end of the industry.

    (*) from Einsteins famous quote “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

    does the built environment ‘get’ the web?

    CEO’s do not ‘get’ the web, according to the last of four articles in today’s Telegraph that reviewed Steve Tappin and Andrew Cave’s book The Secrets of CEOs and looked at the emerging web3.0 and its impact on business.

    Web3.0 will have a profound impact on building designs and the way we use buildings, through for example the use of cloud computing that will remove the need for server space and the required power and cooling energy. It will also impact on office space layout as network access becomes unchained from the desk and floor box.

    But in the built environment the biggest impact may well be on collaboration that changes relationships, supply and value chains beyond recognition …

    Web 2.0 has been focused on social communities, on individual relationships; things not focused on the office. … Web 3.0 will be about more interaction between customers and vendors and competitors, on making life better for the customer.- provide better collaboration on business problems.

    And of course more predictions on virtual worlds, and second life…

    Forecasters Gartner are predicting that by the end of 2011, 80pc of active internet users and Fortune 500 enterprises will have a “second life”,

    with no where to hide problems, mistakes or greenwash …

    Reputational damage in the Web 3.0 environment will be swift for companies that are caught out, because of the speed with which information can spread around the world.

    So I guess an equally important question is how well does  the built environment ‘get’ the web?

    be2camp in London on the 10th October, may well be seen as the start of awareness for many in the built environment to get to grips with and better understand some of the emerging web2.0 and web3.0 applications.

    Post note – just as I finished this item I received a tweet (Twitter) from Krishna De in Ireland with a link to her blog article on the state of web use among SME’s: Organise, Activate And Influence Social Activism Through Social Media relating to a recent study released by O2 and TNS MRBI

    • SMS messaging for business communications, increasing from 29% four years ago to almost half (49%) today.
    • almost half of SME owner managers are unaware of what a blog is – and that just over one in 16 (6%) SME respondents has started a business blog while 5% have a personal blog.

    future of conference – 2

    My earlier post on the future of conferences being of a barcamp, open, participation nature has been picked up by Conference Bay – with a useful list of how to unconference elements of mainstream conferences.

    The feature doesn’t deal with the subject of conference fees though – moving away from high corporate fees to low cost, or fee by participation is one of the key elements to ‘un-conference’.

    Our be2camp unconference in London on the 10th October will break ground as being one of the first, if not the first unconference event for the built environment – that is designers, builders, clients, and facilities managers. The agenda is shaping up now with great speakers on board – what would you like to see or contribute?

    the built environment twitters

    There has been a welcomed increase in Twitter from uk construction recently. New to this world is:

    the UK construction magazine Construction News has a twitter @CNplus with deputy editor Nina Lovelace having a twitter account at @nina_lovelace

    New Civil Engineer, now also has a twitter presence at @NCEmagazine and

    Constructing Excellence has now started on twitter with @constructingexc.

    I still haven’t found anyone twittering from a facilities management perspective as yet (other than myself), which is a pity as I see twitter having great potential here. (But watch this space!)


    be2campAs Paul has mentioned over at EvolutionExtranet, These developments are perhaps the latest indications of a growing awareness and adoption of such tools within the UK mainstream built environment industry, but we are still only scratching the surface.

    I would like to think the promotion of be2camp has something to do with this, Be2camp, is an online grouping which is promoting an innovative event next month at the Building Centre in London (and online). an event run on unconference or BarCamp principles, that will seek to apply Web 2.0 to the built environment (from planning and design, through construction, to facilities management).

    Incidentally you can follow be2camp activity through twitter be2camp

    There has of course been a regular group of built environment twitters, twittering away for most of this year, forming a small, but global and growing nucleus of practioners from all aspects of the sector who share, learn from and inspire each other. A quick round up:

    Zerochamp / Phil Clark Online business journalist writing about sustainable construction and development

    melstarrs / mel starrs Sustainability Engineer, Chartered Building Services Engineer (CIBSE) and BREEAM Advisor and Assessor.

    EEPaul / Paul Wilkinson London-based, blogger on IT, SaaS, sustainability, construction. Also a cyclist, a Crewe Alex FC fan, a beer drinker, founder Be2camp

    pbroviak Civil Engineer and Public Works Director. Publish Grid Works at Working to integrate engineering & virtual worlds, founder Be2camp

    eversion / Rob Annable Architect

    the_architect / The_Architect Chartered Architect, drinker & thinker.

    jodiem / Jodie Miners founder Be2camp

    CindyFW Architect, futurist, adjunct prof U of Houston + U of KS, writer, tree hugger + perma-student exploring urban futures

    and myself

    martinbrown fairsnape: blogger, leading and supporting built environment improvements, founder Be2camp