… on developing a plan to reduce CO2 emissions from Construction activities

Through constructco2 we can now start to get an understanding for the level of CO2 emissions that arise solely from the construction activity, ie those within the control of the construction team.  Overall this is currently looking like 98kg per £100,000 contract value, or 1tonne for £1m. There are of course variances in this, and as soon as we have more projects completing a better picture will emerge.

This figure is arrived at through measuring the carbons arising from personnel travel, the material and waste transport emissions along with the fuels and energy used on a project. The front page of constructco2 shows a real time breakdown across these areas for projects using the tool.

But what does a tonne of CO2 look like? Borrowing an idea and concept from Carbon Coach Dave Hampton, I often use balloons in my sustainability workshops, with each delegate blowing up a party balloon. Each one of which represents about 10g of CO2. Imagine a medium sized workshop room / classroom filled with balloons and we starts to get a feeling for what a tonne can look like.


Now a very useful visual measure has been developed by University of Leicester, sponsored by Willmott Dixon, where a tonne of carbon is represented as  a cube larger than the average house at 560m3 (Although not new as a CO2 Cube created from 12 shipping containers to form the equivalent of a three-story building, was used to demonstrate what a tonne can look like at Copenhagen in 2009)

So for every £1 million of contract value we are emitting the equivalent of a large family house.  The SfC Strategic Forum for Construction calculates the turnover of the UK Industry to be in excess of £100billion. Therefore if my maths with big numbers is good we fill the equivalent of one hundred thousand homes with CO2 per annum through construction activities alone

What then are the areas we should address in developing a low carb plan to reduce levels and impacts of construction CO2?

passive – getting the foundations right , for example through ensuring all vehicles, plant, cabins and small tools used on site are as energy efficient as is possible, that we start to use renewable energy, eg solar power for small tools where possible and seek to use mains power as early as possible in the contract to avoid use of generators. And of course ensuring all project planning is optimised for minimum energy use.

active – addressing everyday activities to reduce energy and fuels used and hence emissions, through, for example, focus on local procurement to minimise travel and transport, encouraging car sharing, using lean construction to minimise time, reduce energy usage in site accommodation and plant, reduce waste and improve storage.

positive – we can attempt to balance those carbons still arising from construction through education and awareness of people and organisations on projects (so learning can be shared and taken to other projects and offices, also what goes around will come around; your staff and operatives for the next project will be better informed and more likely to save energy.) We can also look at carbon capture via planting of (additional) trees and landscapings

And of course using constructco2 to measure understand and reduce construction carbon.

Autodesk Project Vasari – a lite version of Revit to make BIM accessible and viable for all?

David Light on his blog Revit enthuses about a ‘lite’ version of Revit.

I am struggling to contain my excitement, but there is a storm a coming!!!

With Paul Morrell recently calling for more projects, indeed, all public projects to be managed through a BIM platform, could this be the killer that brings BIM within the use of all sectors in the built environment, ie design, construction and facilities management? (Cost and steep learning curve are often the main reasons for contractors and designers alike for not even exploring BIM).
Project Varasi is now live – sign in to the Autodesk Labs website to download
The version is a technology preview which I see will operate until May 15, 2011, a great opportunity to explore and learn?
Detailed BIM modeling tools have been removed from Project Vasari but provides the opportunity to explore performance based 3D design

on a significant shift to the way we can procure buildings or facilities …

On Friday something remarkable and significant happened at Accrington Academy. 

Local contractors and construction related specialists came to present to Roots (a school student company comprising of 12-14 yr olds) expressing their interest in becoming involved with the Roots EcoClassroom, as part of a fresh approach to collaborative procurement devised by Martin and Alison at Classofyourown.

Roots themselves will be blogging themselves about the day over at www.rootscoyo.posterous.com. The day was also captured on twitter with the hashtag #rootseoi with a transcript here.

It was remarkable that it happened at all (through the innovative and forward thinking at Accrington Academy and those involved with Classofyourown) and remarkable for the enthusiasm and commitment shown by those presenting. 

Significant in that it can, no it should, or will, start to move end user engagement into a new arena, from an upfront tick box exercise to one of driving the procurement process. 

If secondary school students can drive procurement and select contractors, design and project teams for their new school build, so could office staff, hospital workers, retail workers, could procure for their new build or new facility. Procurement would then be based on real end-user needs and requirements. A significant shift in the way we procure buildings.

Derek Deighton from Blackburn College who sat in for the morning sessions later summed the day as:

It was absolutely awe inspiring today watching major companies presenting to the ROOTS team in the hope of getting business and the resultant Kudos of being a part of the Class Of Your Own project.


I feel this has the opportunity of being a global initiative through networks like Rotary International and  the Transition Town Movement.

One of the dangers of promoting children and students as clients, as drivers of the design, procure and build process is that it can look twee, even gimmicky. The EOI presentations proved that this is definitely not the case as far as Roots are concerned. Roots 

children asked intelligent mature questions and got considered answers.

On reflection, a significant moment was when one of the presenters was really taken aback and surprised that the children did not really know about CDM. Lets stop and think about this – why would a 13yr old know about CDM – but more importantly the questioner obviously thought that they should know. This proves that the children are being taken very seriously indeed, as any client should. (It so happened the Roots students who wrote their health and safety construction commitments were not at that particular interview, otherwise the response would have been very different!)

Overall the messages of the presentations were not dumbed down, the language used not simplified and there were many instances through the day that proved this was serious business: such as the handover of Annual Accounts, of legal proceedings for sustainable construction, of articles on collaborative working, and more. 

The contractors and others that presented had obviously worked hard to fine tune their excellent presentations, it showed that they had really focused on and addressed the requirements of Roots, and I know from comments have benefited and learnt much in doing so that can be translated to other projects.

It Just Worked

But the big question in my mind was – Why hasn't this done before? 

The next blog piece on this subject will discuss the process of this unique student (end-user) led procurement approach.

Essence and Spirit of #Collaborative Working and #IPD

I had good reason to revisit and re-acquaint myself with the working details of the Be Collaborative Working Form of Contract, (now the JCT Constructing Excellence Form of Contract 2009) over the weekend.   Once again I was stuck by the common sense of the collaborative overriding principle initially written way back in 2003. 

Why cant all projects have this as a guide that sums up the essence of Collaborative Working and Integrated Project Delivery, and is the spirit of working together?

The Overriding Principle