Monthly Archives: May 2013

A tipping point for sustainability

Could this be one of the key important concept diagrams for sustainability and environmental impact?

Snapseed‘Restorative sustainability’ in one simple graphic.

This brilliant  slide came to my attention via a @melanieloftus tweeted picture  taken during Jason McLennan’s presentation, Mind the Gap at the Living Futures conference, positioning Living Building Challenge beyond LEED. 

Reflecting on this simple model, we can visualise the impact of our current built environment sustainability approaches – are they just doing less bad, or really doing more good and making a restorative, positive contribution?

And importantly we can visualise that tipping point for sustainability, from less bad to more good.

The urgency for reconsidering ‘sustainability’ was emphasised in the recent report State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible? The term sustainable has become essentially sustainababble, at best indicating a practice or product slightly less damaging than the conventional alternative.

Is it time to abandon the sustainability concept altogether, or can we find an accurate way to measure sustainability?

The Living Building Challenge, as a philosophy, an advocacy and assessment scheme has real significance. It enables us to cross the sustainability rubicon, setting a vision for a future built environment and encouraging owners, designers, constructors, operators and users to track towards it. As commented on the opening of the Bullitt Centre in Seattle a LBC accreditation hopeful, such approaches are driving a wedge into the future so others can see whats possible.

I feel honoured to be a Living Building UK Ambassador, spreading the message of the Challenge as fresh sustainability thinking into the UK built environment agenda.

For more information and planned events for the Challenge in the UK , check out our presentation to Green Build Expo, visit the Living Building website,  follow us on @UK_LBC on twitter or say hi via email. (We even have a facebook page to like!)

Related Post: Have we picked the low hanging fruit of Sustainable Construction?

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Sustainable futures require collective power of unconventional partnerships

mandelbrot

Early today I came across this excellent quote* from Hannah Jones, Nike’s global head of sustainability and innovation:

“We believe that the innovations required to create the future won’t come from a single source. Not from science. Not from technology. Not from governments. Not from business. But from all of us. We must harness the collective power of unconventional partnerships to dramatically redefine the way we thrive in the future.”

Just the thinking and attitude we need for a ‘sustainable’ built environment, based on unconventional collaborative working, driving our conversations towards a future that is sustainable on economic, social and environmental value levels. In the way we operate, address our impacts and importantly in the products and services we deliver.

*Quote contained in the Guardian Sust Biz article Can systems experts create scale and speed in sustainability?

Feel no guilt in laughter …

Feel no guilt in laughter, I know how much you care.
Feel no sorrow in a smile that I am  not there to share.
You cannot grieve forever; I would not want you to.
I hope that you could carry on the way you always do.
So, talk about the good times and the way you showed you cared,
The days we spent together, all the happiness we shared.
Let memories surround you, a word someone may say
Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day,
That brings me back as clearly as though I were still there,
And fills you with the feeling that I am always near.
For if you keep those moments, we will never be apart
And I will live forever locked safely within your heart.
 

The very moving poem read at Dad’s funeral.

John Norris Brown 1931-2013

RIP Dad, my inspiration, my hero

Architects and Green Deal: greater ability to improve public health than medical professionals

‘Architects have a greater ability to improve public health than medical professionals’

A provocative statement  made by physician Dr. Claudia Miller, assistant dean at the University of Texas School of Medicine, at a recent  healthy building materials panel moderated and blogged by Kirk Teske on his Point of View blog.

The panel* made a unanimous call for cooperation and transparency from building product manufacturers … the type of collaborative action our industry needs to shift the building materials paradigm from translucent to transparent, and from toxic to healthy

Here in the UK we are seeing the Green Deal  gearing up, which, putting aside the programmes finance and operational uncertainty, has a huge potential to improve public health and NHS health costs. A benefit not addressed or recognised to date. (Particularly given the UK’s lowest ranking across European Countries for health and housing related issues)

How would Green Deal look, and what additional health benefits would it provide, if the scheme embodied Living Building Challenge’s Red List Materials? Seems a no brainer to me.

Likewise the recently announced PF2 Education Funding Agency programme for schools in relation to educational building occupant health.

Slide1

Google may be the influential game changer, globally they are opening 40,000 square feet of office space a week (including a new UK HQ in London).  And none of those workplaces will use any of the materials on the red list developed by the Living Building Challenge. Google’s decision stems from two principles, a focus on health and vitality of its employees and cost of healthcare

The UK Collaborative for Living Building Challenge was launched in April and is currently developing an UK overlay for the standard. Get in touch for more information.

 
 
Panel:
Dr. Claudia Miller, an assistant dean at the University of Texas School of Medicine,
Jason McClennan, founder creator of the Living Building Challenge and CEO of International Living Future Institute; 
Bill Walsh, executive director of the Healthy Building Network ,
Howard Williams, vice president at Construction Specialties, a global building materials supplier.