Monthly Archives: April 2011

Constructing Excellence Social Media Forum: Unlocking potential

Construction Excellence ran a Social Media forum on Wednesday with a view to understanding current use of social media within construction and what the industry, in particular, CE could or should do with social media.
Presentations from Paul Wilkinson, Jon de Sousa and Martin Brown provided context, examples and potential for social media within the built environment, including lessons from other sectors.
Pauls Presentation
Martins Presentation
These presentations were paced with useful and thoughtful discussion that covered the usual topics such as fear of information overload, trust of using and time.
However two main themes emerged: The need for guidelines for social media that enable its appropriate use, rather than control/prevent use. Learning from other sectors, we can implement social media strategies that will make individuals and the organisation comfortable with using social media for organisational good.
Construction boards, directors and other business leaders need to understand and unlock social media potential. As it is often being used across organisations without real understanding or strategy, leaders are not aware whether their reputation is being harmed or enhanced through social media mentions.
Boards are also all too often unaware of the vital business content (client, industry, leads, legislation, competitor) shared across social media applications. It is envisaged these will form the basis for further debate within an ongoing CE Social Media forum, and possible industry guidance
See also Pauls blog on the event here. Follow discussion on this topic via twitter using the #cesmf hashtag
** Coincidently the day before presenting to the forum, I penned my first blog for CSRWire Talkback, queued for publication on 7th April: Is your board all a-Twitter about sustainability? A Low Carbon Diet For Construction Boards – Using social media can help boards be better on sustainability Martin Brown says it should be, on Talkback.

Sustainable Built Environment Business

The Guardian Sustainable Business web pages are proving a great resource for information, articles, debates and inspiration for sustainability as a strategic rather than just an operational level issue.

To reinforce the importance of the  built environment sector, the way we plan, design, construct and use buildings that is present in most aspects of business sustainability, the site now has a built environment specific ‘hub’ (and a Green ICT and Communications hub)

In addition following on my my article at CSRWire, (a low carb diet for construction boards) there is much the construction sector can learn here in moving sustainability to the board and to a strategic level.

This weeks round up from GSBi includes:

Why carbon reporting makes sense

It helps the environment, adds value to the business and brings long term benefits, says Paul Pritchard We reduced our UK carbon footprint to 31,600 tonnes in 2009 from 43,200 in 2006 – over 25%, and approximately saved over £1m. The savings have been helpful in getting the business to regard sustainability as something that could add value. Procurement is another important area of consideration and our recent contract with Kyocera for print management units is a prime example. Sustainability requirements were incorporated into the tender process from the start (beyond the “do you have an environmental policy” type questions) including quantifying energy and paper savings that formed a fundamental part in awarding the contract More …

Energy efficient buildings are vital to sustainability In the coming decades, our planet will be a very different place. By 2050, there will be an additional 3 billion people on Earth and 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. While many things about the future remain unclear, one thing is certain: more people in urban areas means an increased demand for new buildings. And unless we change the incredibly inefficient nature of today’s buildings, it means an unprecedented increase in energy use. It’s a ticking time bomb. More …

The business case for valuing natural resources James Griffiths explores how a new ecosystems guide enables companies to make better business decisions Every company values its core business resources: its products, customers, and employees. But until now business has not been able to fully consider the value of a vital aspect for success – natural resources.That is why the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) created the Guide to Corporate Ecosystem Valuation (CEV), an innovative framework designed to enhance understanding of ecosystem services like freshwater, food, fibre and natural hazard protection. More …

Carbon Trust launches green guide for SMEs The Carbon Trust has launched a green guide to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) take advantage of the green goods and services industry The free ‘Green Your Business for Growth’ guide includes information on how businesses can find opportunities for green growth within their organisation and sector and how to develop a strategy to implement the changes. It also provides advice on how to reduce an SME’s environmental impact, including templates for energy and environment policies and a checklist to assess current sustainability. “We want to help Britain’s small firms to seize the opportunities presented by green growth through cutting costs or developing greener products and services,” said Ian Gibson, Carbon Trust director of delivery programmes. More …


Best Practice Club visit: BREEAM Outstanding Brockholes Visitor Center

Last night the Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Mansell Construction hosted an event and tour of the new, soon to be opened ‘floating’ Brockholes Visitor Center in Preston for members of the Lancashire Construction Best Practice Club and local CIOB

The visitor centre has received BREEAM Outstanding for design and expects the full accreditation for the project on completion of construction. This is the first bespoke public sector project to receive this standard. In addition to providing an excellent wildlife facility, the venue should inspire those in the built environment with an interest in sustainability and low carbon construction. (And these days who hasn’t!)
As chair of the LCBPC I kicked off, re-iterating the importance of low carbon construction and construction carbon management and why it will become a defining feature for the built environment for the coming decade.
Terry Burke, Manchester City Council spoke briefly on the need for behavioural change in the way we design, build and use buildings. Most public authorities are skint, bit will still expect improvements in the usability of facilities. he challenged the delegates as to why clients are promised A EPC rated buildings yet ends up with E or F performing ones. Improvements in technology and design can be costly but changes to behaviour is low cost in comparison and can deliver real results.
Clare Kenny, LWT, talked on the clients view of the project, on the choice of design through RIBA competition (a design that reflects the Marsh Arab buildings of Iraq) and on the BREEAM Outstanding challenges and lessons.
Mansells provided a construction overview of the project, explaining the concrete floating raft technology and the challenges and solutions the project team encountered.
Following a short induction, the delegates had the opportunity to view the nearly complete construction project. The lagoon is to be filled from Monday  with the centre opening to the public on Easter Sunday.
The theme of questions raised covered the cost and value from pursuing BREEAM Outstanding, on the lack of really local component / contractors (oak shakes from Bristol, timber frame from Derbyshire etc) and on the technical aspects of raft construction, SIPS panels, airtightness requirements and U values expected.
The Lancashire Best Practice Club will be holding a further event at the center on May 18th which will enable more time to learn more on construction carbon management from Carefoots, on important waste legislation from DIEM, from the LWT lessons learnt from pursuing BREEAM Outstanding and  more. (For more information and to register please contact the club here)
Details of the Visitor Centre can be found here
Brockholes is on twitter @visitBrockholes
My blog item, way back in 2008, zero carbon floating development for preston
An interesting Building article can be found here