On Patagonia

Since the early ’80’s Patagonia has featured in my life, initially in respect of climbing hardware and outdoor clothing and latterly as a real source of CSR, Corporate Social Responsible inspiration. I recall my first purchase, and a still a winter favourite, a Synchilla fleece jacket, produced from recyled plastic bottles, and this in the 80’s,

It is fantastic to see how the influence of Patagonia, Chouinard and contempories has now reached into built environment sustainability, as evidenced at the recent excellent Green Vision Building CSR event in Leeds.

Patagonia stores are still a magnet for me, in the UK, and from Chamonix to Banff. But it has been the Patagonia catalogue, published a few times each year with the seasons, that has in no small part shaped my sustainability thinking, through stunning photographs and excellent narratives from Yvon Chouinard, Rick Ridgway and Patagonia Ambassadors, It is from here I developed a passion for connecting sustainability thinking with nature, linking love of outdoor exploration with business excellence.

No better is this illustrated than in the Spring/Summer 2012 edition …

“we learned early the need for good quality … and environmental consciousness, because we’re part of the natural world from where we draw our strength”

If ever you see a Patagonia catalogue – pick it up and be inspired by the photographs and narratives.

( the Becoming Wild text in the image above can be found here )

The Responsible Company a great quote on Sustainability from Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley:

“A word about a word we have chosen to use as little as possible: Sustainability.  Its a legitimate term that calls us not to take more from nature than we can give back. But we do take more than we give, we do harm nature more than we help it. We have no business applying the the word sustainable to business activity until we learn to house, feed, clothe and entertain ourselves – and fuel the effort – without interfering with natures capacity to regenerate itself and support a rich variety of life. We are a long long way from doing business … and no human economic activity is yet sustainable”

How is your corporate sustainability or CSR thinking aligned to nature?

Who inspires and influences your thinking?

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Heros and Texts for a future Built Environment based on #CSR

“suddenly the air smells much greener now”

Listening to ‘These Streets’, lyrics by Paolo Nutini summed up the brilliant, inspiring Green Vision conference in Leeds – exploring CSR within the built environment.

A mix of talks, presentations, round table discussions and pecha kuchas from Mel Starrs, Eden Brukman, Tamara Bergkamp, Eddie Murphy, Martin Brown, Faye Jenkins, Claire Walker, Rick Hamilton, Mark Warner, Pedro Pablo Cardoso-Castro, Andy Ainsworth, Paula Widdowson and many others showed that there is real emergence and a future for a Built Environment founded on social responsibility principles.

The air smells much greener …

We heard of excellent progress being made by individuals, projects and organisations on the CSR journey, and how behind these are great influential thinkers, often outside of the sector, many, unsurprisingly, related to the ‘outdoor’ sector.

Many of the speakers were enthusiastic in sharing CSR heros and recommended CSR reading. So here, as a summary, or reading list are those mentioned during the day. I wonder how many of these are on the reading list within design, construction and fm education? (Book titles link to Amazon)

Yvon Chouinard

Rock climber, environmentalist and outdoor industry businessman, noted for his contributions to climbing, climbing equipment and the outdoor gear business. His company @Patagonia is widely acclaimed for its environmental and social focus. According to Fortune magazine, Chouinard is arguably the most successful outdoor industry businessman alive today.

The Responsible Company What we have learnt in the first 40 years at Patagonia by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley (see my blog)

Let My People Go Surfing Yvon Chouinard – Probably the ‘must read book’ to understand CSR in Business

(On my blog: How can construction learn from Patagonia?)

Ray Anderson

Founder of Interface Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of modular carpet for commercial and residential applications and a leading producer of commercial broadloom and commercial fabrics. He was known in environmental circles for his advanced and progressive stance on industrial ecology and sustainability.

Ray was was posthumously awarded an Outstanding Achievement award at this year’s Guardian Sustainable Business Awards in 2012. (There is a related, must watch, video here: John Elkington describing the work and legacy of Ray Anderson)

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose: Doing Business by Respecting the Earth (2009) Later released in paperback as Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist in 2011.

Paul Hawken

An environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author. Ray Anderson of Interface credited The Ecology of Commerce with his environmental awakening. He described reading it as a “spear in the chest experience”, after which Anderson started crisscrossing the country with a near-evangelical fervor, telling fellow executives about the need to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

Hawken’s book, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (1999) coauthored with Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins, popularized the now-standard idea of natural capital and direct accounting for ecosystem services, a theme revisited by Rio +20 and likely to become more mainstream across the built environment.

Janine Benyus

Her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature defines Biomimry as a “new science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems”. Benyus suggests looking to Nature as a “Model, Measure, and Mentor” and emphasizes sustainability as an objective of biomimicry. Key thinking in the Living Building Challenge principles, as is

E O Wilson

Edward Osborne Wilson an American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author. In the mid 80’s developed the concept of Biophilia, the connection between humans and nature, which translates into architecture and the built environment as comfort, well being and productivity through exposure to natural light and natural surrondings or imagry.

Anita Roddick

Dame Anita Roddick, human rights activist and environmental campaigner, best known as the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company producing and retailing beauty products that shaped ethical consumerism The company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the first to promote fair trade with third world countries. Roddick was involved in activism and campaigning for environmental and social issues, including involvement with Greenpeace andThe Big Issue.

John Elkington

John Elkington @volansjohn is a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development. He is currently the Founding Partner & Executive Chairman of Volans, a future-focused business working at the intersection of the sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovation movements

His latest book The Zeronauts, Breaking the Sustainability Barrier describes many of todays inspirational leaders : “Just as our species broke the Sound Barrier during the 1940s and 1950s, a new breed of innovator, entrepreneur, and investor is lining up to break the Sustainability Barrier”

Jorgen Randers

2052: What will the world look like in 2052

Jeff Hollender,

Jeffrey Hollender is an American businessperson, entrepreneur, author, and activist. He was well known for his roles as CEO, co-founder, and later Chief Inspired Protagonist and Executive Chairperson of Seventh Generation Inc., the country’s largest distributor of non-toxic, all-natural cleaning, paper and personal care products. www.jeffhollender.com/

Gary Hirshberg,

Gary Hirshberg is chairman and former president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt producer, based in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Now part of the Danone group.

Published in January 2008, Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World is a book about socially minded business that calls on individuals to realize their power to make a difference in the marketplace, while doing business in ways that adhere to a multiple bottom line – one that takes into consideration not only finance, but the environment and health as well.

Jeffrey Swartz,

Jeffrey Swartz is the former president and CEO of The Timberland Company an organization that believes that doing well and doing good are inextricably linked. Timberland’s commitment is to reducing global warming and preserving the outdoor environment.

David and Claire Hieatt,

Founders of Howies a clothing company based in Cardigan Bay, Wales produces eco-friendly T-shirts, jeans and sportswear, and aims to have ethically correct practices. Howies use natural fabrics as alternatives to petrochemical-derived modern fabrics. Examples include organic cotton, Merino wool and recycled cotton. Howies T-shirts often have images or slogans with political or environmental themes

Dee Hock

Dee Ward Hock is the founder and former CEO of VISA , described systems that are both chaotic and ordered, and used for the first time the term “chard” and chaordic,combining the words chaos and order.


Over to you –

Follow the discussion on twitter with the #GVis2012 hashtag.

Who are your CSR Heros and CSR Texts to add to this Built Environment inspirers list?

What additions or comments would you make to the entries above?

A full record (video, blog, tweets, presentations, storify) of the Building CSR Event is being curated on the be2camp event page here.

‘Green Deal Conduit’ for SMEs

The interesting and innovation Green Deal Conduit approach from Parity Projects, giving better involvement with and access to Green Deal for SME’s  is gathering pace, as the recent press release from Parity Projects indicates.

New Organisation Announced – ‘Green Deal Conduit’ for Smaller Construction Practioners to put SMEs in charge of their own destiny

The final touches are being made to the business plan for a new organisation that will allow smaller organisations to take a significant slice of the Green Deal (GD) work on their own terms. It will stem the threat to their existing workload that is presented by the larger organisations that are, at this time, the only organisation linked to the Green Deal and enable those involved in the assessment and refurbishment of buildings to be in charge of their own destiny.
The ‘Green Deal Conduit’ is the current working name for a new organisation that will build a large network of small and medium sized organisations involved in the assessment and refurbishment of buildings across the UK and the aim is for it to be owned by its members. Backing this initiative is a wide range of professional institutions and trade associations working hard to ensure their members have control over the delivery of their products, not just ending up as the tail end of the supply chain.

Read the full press release here

Keep informed by following @ParityProjects on twitter

More information on the Green Deal Conduit here

Business Development/Managing Director sought for client

We have been asked by our Irish client, just established in London, to help find them a suitable Business Development/Managing Director.

They are looking for the right individual with good interpersonal skills rather than technical. They have a target of developing the business from £1m in Year 1 to £7.5m in year 3 with majority of projects around the £150K-£750K primarily from public sector or high end private sector. They are used to schools and LA building in Ireland

The job comes with a Six figure package.

Contact vassos@ibepartnership.com for more information