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.”

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    4 Responses to UKGBC task group too important to be so narrow?

    1. Your comments are right on target. When I pointed out what seemed like the rather obvious omission of FM to CEO Paul King, I got in return an assurance that there would be numerous working parties involved so that no important interests would be left out. Hmmmm…..

      Elliott Chase
      editor, i-FM

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    2. Martin, I have read and re-read this post several times now and it is right on the money. Indeed, I would say that this post could effectively be the ‘manifesto’ of the Be2camp movement.

      Be2camp is intended to draw together ICT/web enthusiasts and people from the mainstream AEC industry, and the event is already drawing representatives from several of the constituencies that you say have been overlooked: education/academics, younger generation/students, ‘alternative’ viewpoints, and – of course – the Web 2.0 fraternity.

      Wouldn’t it be great if UKGBC could be persuaded to have a presence at this event and – better still – to embrace your ideas about open conversations, wikis, etc? We could even extend an invitation to Be2camp to all the panel members.

      Paul

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