Monthly Archives: December 2012

Water Energy Nexus – a built environment mindfulness

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As a lead-up to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, January 13-17, Masdar is sponsoring a blogging contest called “Engage: The Water-Energy Nexus.”

The winner will be invited to Abu Dhabi as VIP media to cover the week’s high-profile events.

The following is my entry. Please vote for me here

Water Energy Nexus – a built environment mindfulness

Could we be facing a near perfect storm within the built environment, as our sustainability efforts, our energy and water performance efforts, or perhaps lack of effort hit an environmental cliff.

Consider:

  • 85% of buildings that will be in use in 2050 are already standing today, and many many of them, commercial, leisure and domestic were designed and constructed prior to any meaningful sustainability guidelines. Buildings that are water energy cavelier, designed and managed with a cornucopia view of resources
  • The built environment sector is often called the 40% sector on account of using 40% of the worlds resources, energy and water whilst generating 40% of the worlds waste.
  • Increasingly our lifestyles, workstyles and infrastructure styles are demand evermore energy and water.
  • We are making poor, behind target progress on energy reduction, water conservation and carbon reduction through our design, construction and use of buildings
  • Even today in 2012 water lacks behind energy in performance import for new build and refurbishment
  • We have a facilities management profession that adopts a status quo maintainence basis, often with low level SLA’s demanding same focus as water and in some cases energy performance
  • We are entering a future of big data, where rational, cold evidence based approaches will dominate, driven by Building Information Management. Whilst a very welcomed performance improvement for the sector we may be in danger of loosing the experience intuitive.
  • The dominating sustainable construction codes such as BREEAM and LEED are in danger of becoming corporate checklists, often criticised for the ability to trade water performance points against cycle travel provision points.

Addressing a Water / Energy Nexus

Looking forward the built environment should be looking for both strategic data-driven leaders and managers balanced with strategic creative leaders. This is particularly the case in facilities management sector, where the intuition that comes from deep knowledge of how buildings use water and energy, once a key skill of the building facilities manager that we are sadly loosing and one of the key green skills to rekindle.

We have a need for ‘Mindfulness’ in the built environment. A deep green understanding of the buildings relationship with nature, guided by building codes and green sustainability standards. And as a designer, as a builder as an inhabitant, develop an in-the-moment awareness connectivity or dis-connectivity with the nature and water / energy resources.

We need a move away from assessments looking at impact on the environment, but rather turning tables to look at how the facility connects with nature and its environment.

We can see standards such as the Living Building Challenge as a way forward with each building regarded as a flower, using only the water and energy that falls on the building.

We need new levels of engagement and relationship between building and user. For example the CIRS Vancouver UBC building, itself a LBC accredited building, refers to its users as inhabitants – requiring each to sign a charter that recognises the engagement expected

As I wrote in an earlier blog we need 3 New ‘R’s for built environment sustainability, and its impact on the water energy nexus

Re-Design. No longer are transactional efforts in conserving water and energy enough. Radical revolution in design thinking needed that encompasses Cradle to Cradle thinking, Circular Economy,

Re-Connect. Time to rethink our relationship with nature, a relationship that is deeper, that is deep green mindfulness. A direction that Living Building Challenge promotes – every building contributing to, not taking from its environment.

Re-Kindle. Time to rekindle the sustainability water / energy debate – moving away from the negative, harassment to doing less bad, to encouraging a move towards a positive new world of doing more good, better. Fostering Resilience.

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Seasons Greetings, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone

Seasons Greetings, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

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The world may not be ending today, but does the construction industry continue to waste as though there is no tomorrow?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOK, not all construction and indeed we have many exemplar, near-zero-waste construction projects , yet the industry continues to be wasteful, locked into a Take, Make, Waste attitude that contributes 40% of all waste.

The last few weeks of Green Vision activity have highlighted the emerging circular economy, cradle to cradle, living building, healthy product philosophies that will move us away from our cornucopian approach.

The push for 2013 must be to ‘rethink the way we make things’ and aim for more near-zero- waste projects. (near-zero-waste as meaning waste generated on a project, not the percentage of waste diverted from landfill)

Related posts:

Cradle to Cradle Tweetchat Storify

3 R’s for rethinking built environment sustainability

Is Our Green Build Compass Broken?

Innovation Voucher Provision

mb-m-and-c-1-blueThe Technology Strategy Board (TSB) is making Innovation Vouchers available worth up to £5000 for construction and built environment companies. Applications are due to open on the 10th of December and close on the 23rd of January 2013.

Fairsnape in association with IBE-Partnership is delighted to assist you  in preparing and submitting your application for Innovation Vouchers in the following topics that we offer as your innovation provider to improve your construction performance.

  1. Social Media – Awareness, Getting Started, Developing, Strategy and Policies, Measuring,
  2. CSR – Awareness, Developing Strategies, Integrating and aligning systems, Measuring.
  3. Sustainability (1) – Awareness, Strategy, Policies, Aligning / writing systems, Measuring
  4. Sustainability(2) – (Beyond Waste) – Awareness, circular economy, cradle to cradle thinking, healthy products innovation, measurement,
  5. Construction Carbon – Awareness, Strategies, Measuring and Improving, Application of wold class tools
  6. Benchmarking – (Beyond KPI’s) – Awareness, Strategy, Benchmarking Project, Measuring, Application of world class tools
  7. Business Strategy – (EFQM) Awareness, Improving overall and holistic strategy, facilitation, measurement
  8. Collaborative Planning / Last Planner – Awareness, Strategies, Training, Guidance, Facilitation, Application of world class tools
  9. Lean Construction Techniques – Awareness, Strategies, Training, Guidance, Facilitation, Application of world class tools
  10. Collaborative Working – Awareness, Strategy, Principles, Training, Facilitation, Preparation for BIM
  11. BIM – Awareness, Strategy, Policies, Preparation Plan, Facilitation,
  12. Customer Management– Awareness, Strategies, Training, Guidance, Facilitation, Application of world class tools
  13.  ISO14001 – Awareness, Strategy + Policies, Improving/Writing EM system + process, training, readiness for assessment
  14. ISO90001 – Awareness, Strategy + Policies, Improving/Writing QM, training, readiness for assessment system + process
  15. PAS 2030 – Awareness, Strategy + Policies, Improving/Writing Green Deal system + process, training, readiness for assessment
  16. Bidding – Awareness, Strategy, Process/Approach, Support,

mb-m-and-c-1-blueThis is a great opportunity for you to innovate and improve your effectiveness and efficiency, improve attractiveness to clients  and of course improve the bottom line at no cost to you. If you are interested in progressing further please call or get in touch to discuss.

00 44 7776 234702

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Future ISO14001 revisions to include supply chain and CSR?

ISO 14001, the international environmental management system standard, is shortly to undergo its second revision. The revised standard, which is expected to be published in 2015, will operate into the mid-2020s

The EMAS Helpdesk on behalf the European Commission’s Sustainable Production and Consumption Unit has launched a  survey, requesting input on relationship of EMAS to 14001, the results of which will be fed into the official ISO 14001 revision process. 

Of particular interest, hinting at 14001 changes are

Should  ISO 14001 …

2.1.7. …place greater emphasis on the management of environmental impacts across the entire life cycle / supply chain of products / services provided and used?

2.18 …seek to position environmental management in the context of sustainable development (e.g. ISO 26000, sustainability reporting)?

The online survey can be found here 

3 R’s for rethinking built environment sustainability

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Its over ten years since rethinking construction became the driving force for improving the construction industry. Back then, in 1998, sustainability wasn’t on the agenda for many construction organisations, and didnt feature in Egans influential report.

Now at the close of 2012, it is of course one of the key challenges for construction.

But is it now just a ‘must do, tick box’ matter, rather than a real agenda for improving, reducing costs and reducing our impact?

Earth2.0 Hub in an excellent blog post ( The Future of Business – inspired by and in harmony with nature.) provides a framework and the language of 3 R’s for future businesses working in harmony with the earth .  And its a framework we should learn from, borrow, adopt or adapt  at project and business level in rethinking built environment sustainability; Re-Design, Re-Connect and Re-Kindle.

Re-Design. Not only design of buildings, but to re-design the way we build. No longer are transactional efforts (reducing waste, conserving energy and recycling) enough.

How?: Take a look at Cradle to Cradle thinking, Circular Economy, Designing out toxic materialsDesigning out Landfill

Re-Connect. Time to rethink our relationship with nature. However just including nature as a natural capital to be costed is not meaningful approach. We need a relationship that is deeper, that is deep green thinking.

How?: take a look at Living Building Challenge – what if every building, like a flower, contributed to its environment. Or the One Planet Living ten principles

Re-Kindle. Time to rekindle the sustainability debate – moving away from the negative, harassment to doing less bad, to encouraging a move towards a positive new world of doing more good,  better. Resilience.

How?: Learning and benchmarking from other industries and sectors, for example Patagonia, or closer to the built environment, Interface Flooring

This blog, since 2005, has had as a tagline built environment improvement and its connectivity to the natural world . Since then, it has been a core philosophy within fairsnape.

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Since 2005 we have organised and facilitated benchmarkwalks, discussing sustainability issues , across and within sectors, whilst walking in the natural environment. Rather than in the conference of training room. You would be amazed how diffierent, how green, sustainability discussions when conducted in the great outdoors. Try it !

Cradle to Cradle, Circular Economy, Healthy Products Standard, Designing Out Landfill , Interface UK, and the UK Living Building Challenge all featured in our #GVis2012. Green Vision Conference in Leeds on the 12 Dec 2012.

>>> See Green Vision event material, links, blogs and more here  <<<<

<<< Read the Cradle to Cradle tweetchat transcript here <<<

The Living Building Challenge UK Collaborative will be ‘launched’ at this event on the 12th.

And, Cradle to Cradle is the book-topic for our Dec #GVisChat tweetchat on Dec 10th at 8pm.