Monthly Archives: November 2008

on web awareness

Paul at ExtranetEvolution AEC conferences, content and ‘unconferences’and Jodie at I have no opinion world architecture festival have commented recently on the low awareness and application of web technologies in the AEC and conference world.  As one would expect following previous posts here, and as a founder to be2camp, I would share the same views, reinforced with recent observations.

I was amazed at the low awareness of web applications recently as I presented a session entitled from Facebook to BIMStorms. I knew I wasn’t going to complete the journey planned through the presentation when only 20% of the 70 people there used Facebook, and when asked if they used Facebook for anything other than social the response was nil, a couple on CAD, but then blanks on twitter, linkedin, BIM, etc. I couldn’t mention Second Life …  And these were 70 of our next generation managers – being engaged in HNC or HND courses at the moment.

Hopefully it has led to working with colleges on raising awareness.

Another day, another course, a different set of organisations – 6 small contractors, discussion on use of IT on sites to enable access to knowledge, communication etc.  Not one would allow laptops or computers on site, quoting a lack of trust of their staff to use responsibly and a security / theft issue.

A reminder that its 80% people management and 20% ICT ???  But maybe the 20% is taking the blindfold off?

Oh and has anyone tried to book a venue for an unconference with open wifi or good connectivity and  power for people to use laptops?  I find this frustratingly difficult as I seek a venue for a half day event next month. Conference organisers are way behind this need. And who feels awkward in using a laptop to make notes or blog, or to use the phone to tweet at a conventional conference?

For many conventional conference attendees, the idea of streaming presentations online will be a novel concept; laptops and mobile phones should remain switched off during sessions; and ‘social networking’ means wine and canapes – not blogs and tweets

And as I write this I see twitter messages from Mel and Paul on identifying who within the built environment sector are really embracing web2.0 technologies, as Mel says who is walking their talk? My reposnse would be:those who engaging with initaiatives such as be2camp, like the Constructing Excellence Collaborative Working Champions who are stepping forward to explore web2.0 in a days workshop in January led by Paul and myself. like the use of Twiiter by Constructing Excellence.  Yes early days but ….

Advertisements

fishing for BREEAM

So I hear that BREEAM is to be pronounced as in the fish not as some 1950’s airline (BREE-AM). When did this happen – and is it a clever piece of viral marketing to give BREEAM a lift?

BREAM is never far from discussion in the work that I do, and over the last two weeks has cropped up as usual, but its mention has raised a number of worrying thoughts in my mind.

Firstly on a workshop, discussing the need for BREEAM on a new project, the comments, how “we know all about BREEAM, just means we will have more cycle sheds” “nothing to do with us its a design thing”.  And there was the genuine perception that nothing different need be done.

Secondly, I have talked or communicated with three people, all UK based, who are taking the LEED assssor course. The reason, mentioned by all was that their clients are starting to look at LEED as an alternative to BREEAM . This led, on one occasion to a discussion between the two, with the conclusion that LEED postively encourages innovation more so than BREEAM and encourages or enables more collaboartively working across the project teams to acheive the standard.

A while ago I posted an item cracking the codes relating to the USA Architecture 2030 movement which undertook a study of all the USA based codes in relation to achieving the 2030 objectives, and highlighting the gaps – the codes or standards didnt quite go far enough.

I would love to see a similar mapping exercise in the UK – a gap analysis betwen all of our codes (and I would include BRREAM, Regs, Considerate Contractors etc ) against the objectives set for the sector – (CSH, Construction Strategy, proposed Code for Sustainble Non-Doms etc).

Related posts:

on the future of sustainability standards

out breeam’d ?

affordability and sustainability

As I was delivering a bid to win workshop yesterday we covered the issue of project prices and costs, and as usual had the debate about the high cost of low price.  The trick is to break the cycle of lowest cost tendering of course, but when we consider the amount of waste in the industry, waste in all of its forms, what used to be called MUDA in TQM days:

1/3 of all hard materials arriving at the site gate not used for intended purpose

skips cost £1500 not £100 each time when real and actual costs are taken into account

there is 35% wasted time in the industry – time from rework, waiting for detail, waiting for material, for preceding trades, etc etc

there is the assumed material wastage figure of 30% for our sector

…. the list goes on

Add into this debate the cost of green build, the perceived added cost of building sustainability (not only in design but also in local labour, local materials) and there starts to appear a no brainer.  I use the word perceived on purpose – there are affordable new homes being built to good sustainability standards at next to no additional costs – such as the GreenGuage homes at Lingwood .

But why do we waste 30% on one hand and complain about additional costs to build green on the other?

So a suggestion for comment:

Tackle the waste (MUDA) in our sector, by selecting on ability to recover these waste costs,  taking us away from the need to compete on lowest cost, compete (on sustainability issues – wow there is a thought)

…the savings generated will cover the profits of the supply side, AND cover the costs of green build AND allow for us to deal with social and diversity issues

…and of course lead to lower construction cost ,  a resilient and better fit for purpose, people and planet  sector.

sustainability and the crunch

The UKGBC released results of a survey earlier this week, which should be seen as important reminder that sustainability is here to stay despite the economic situation.

Results released today from a poll held during a webinar hosted by the UK Green Building Council have revealed that British companies see sustainability as a growth area over the next 3 years, despite the current financial crisis. More than 92% of respondents felt that sustainability would either grow as an issue or stay at the same level despite the credit crunch.

27% said that the financial crisis has had no adverse effect on their organisation’s efforts to tackle sustainability and more than half (55.54%) said it had caused it to become an even bigger focus for them over the past 6 months.

The general consensus from respondents was that during these times of uncertainty, it is important for government to stick to ambitious green targets, maintaining the direction of travel for policy and regulation. More than 96% either agreed or strongly agreed with this statement.

This was supported recently via colleague Pam Broviak, who recently sent live tweets and comments (via Twitter) from the US GreenBuild08 conference:

Me: whats the buzz re green v credit crunch ?

Pam:  everyone says it really hasn’t affected it a lot

Of course if we consider the triple bottom line, of environmental, social AND economic sustainability this makes sense. But as has been commented here before the survivors of this financial crisis will be those who have resilient practices and approaches in place – and that this must include social and environmental

government to focus on 50% construction waste reduction

Waste and recycling minister Jane Kennedy has revealed that tackling business waste is to be a “top priority”

as reported on www.letsrecycle.com

Ms Kennedy explained that the Government would now develop proposals aimed at supporting businesses to look at ways they could reduce, reuse and recycle their waste, with a particular focus falling on small businesses. She added that the government hoped to offer support in light of Envirowise research which claimed businesses spend 4% of their annual turnover on waste disposal.

One area that the minister said that she hoped to make some real headway with regards to waste reduction and recycling was the construction and demolition sectors, with Ms Kennedy keen to build on targets to halve the amount of waste generated in these sectors by 2012.

Identifying work already done in this area, the minister said she believed the 2007 Waste Strategy for England had “rightly identified” construction and demolition waste as in need of action, leading to the Sustainable Construction Strategy launched in June and the legal requirement for each business to have a Site Waste Management Plans, which the minister believed would play a part in keeping focus on waste at this time of economic instability.

——

All good news, but reliance on Site Waste Management Plans to acheive 50% reduction in waste is not the way forward and more empahsis should be on eliminating waste, not simply finding better ways to mange waste after it has been created.

In addition one of the biggest moans from site contractors I hear at the moment, across the country, is the lack of real engagement from clients in driving Site Waste Management Plans

And as to spending 4% of their annual turnover on waste disposal this seems very low for the built environment sector when the real cost of skips is estimated at £1500, not the £100 costed for, and the estimated waste in the sector is at 30%, and DEFRA suggesting that one third of solid materials delivered to a project is wasted.

Previous isite related posts:

resource efficiency could save construction industry millions

beyond waste management

carbon management and waste management event

UKGBC task group too important to be so narrow?

sustainable construction commitments launched

are EPC’s working

Fellow bloggers Phil at ZeroChampion and Adrian at McFilter have commented recently on the feedback from their EPC (Energy Performance Certificates) assessments and made the observation that the recommendations do nothing more than suggest low energy lighting. I hear the same from friends who have undertaken EPC’s recently and asked me what can they really do to improve the banding.

With EPC’s being seen as a key tool in shifting the energy performance within existing housing stock (and indeed on commercial and public buildings) surely this has to be better.

Also this week They Work for Us posted results of Lib Dem Shadow Housing Minister, Sarah Teather, question, “How many domestic energy performance certificates have been registered on the central database for properties in each rating band”, Iain Wright, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the DCLG, responded with a breakdown of the numbers lodged on the central database in his written reply.

Rating Number lodged
A 228
B 50,210
C 315,623
D 526,613
E 352,354
F 117,916
G 33,035

As expected D is the most common band, but the majority are D and worst. And just what are the 228 A’s doing to achieve top marks – surely this is the information that should be relayed down to the other bands.

This post also gives me the opportunity to use WordPress new Poll tool, so here goes:

women into construction

Over the last couple of months I have found myself project managing or involved in a number of women into construction projects in the North West. One of these is a Women and Work mentoring programme:

Could you provide mentoring support to a female in the construction industry? or Could you benefit from the experience or guidance of a mentor in the construction industry?

Due to kick off soon with the following funded events:

 

Accent group, Burnley                         Bootle Town Hall Liverpool

Mentor Training 25th November              Mentor Training 5th December

Mentee Training 26th November              Mentee Training 8th December

 

New Charter  Manchester                   CREA  Redhills Cumbria

Mentor Training 11th December              Mentor Training 15th January

Mentee Training 18th December              Mentee Training 21st January

 

Download a mentoring flyer from here or contact for further information