Monthly Archives: October 2013

Understanding the Social Value Act for better bids …

The Social Value Act 2012 was established in part to help understand the difference between a contracts cost and a contracts value and to encourage greater collaboration between voluntary, community and private sectors.

Bid responses for public sector work can be greatly improved by a through understanding of and addressing the concepts of the act. Waste and recycling company Veolia Environment Services have recently released a new and useful youtube video explaining the Social Value Act from their perspective

Also, from – Towards New Innovative Collaborations

The Social Value Act 2012 introduces social benefits into public procurement of private services. It requires local authorities and other commissioners of public services to consider how their services can benefit people living in the local community. Under this legislation, local authority procurers must now consider how they can improve the social impact of their public service contracts before they start the procurement process.  More…

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Not a good day for Green Building

Not a good day for Green Building in the USA.

Lloyd Alter on TreeHugger reports that the Green Building Initiative, which runs the Green Globes building certification system has been recognised as a LEED alternative by the federal General Services Administration

I feel sad for friends, colleagues, advocates in the US who are passionate in defending real green building and real building product transparency that will restore the damage done by the built environment.

Lloyd writes: The lobby organization formed last year to kill LEED and counting among its members just about every toxic chemical manufacturer in the USA, is ecstatic, but pushing for more …

The US Green Building Council that runs the LEED program put on a brave face in a press release, saying “At this point, it is unassailable, LEED works. It has played a significant role in GSA’s achievement of its energy and sustainability goals.”

Dream on. Green Globes is now recognized as legit and will eat your lunch; it’s cheaper, it lets builders use all that plastic, and doesn’t give points for FSC certified lumber. In state after state, the politicians paid for by the plastics industry will insist upon it.

Unfortunately I see this as a discussion, then argument and battle waiting to happen here in the UK and Europe. As we push for deeper green standards such as the Living Building Challenge, for deeper product transparency, as Google and other clients will undoubtedly push for non toxic red list materials in their buildings, we will see the push from the power of the petro-chemical, plastics  and big lumber organisations, resisting change for healthy products.

And unfortunately I see our UK Greenest Government Ever likely to side with these giants, removing as they already are in numerous areas, environmental protection so as not to damage industry and growth, headed by an Environmental Minister who is taking  green policy back to the 70s

The UK green build fraternity, advocates, green build councils and accreditation organisations needs to hold strong in the coming years.

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Towards a Responsible and Sustainability Construction Economy

Increasingly we hear more and more on emerging sustainable, responsible, collaborative economies. For example:

Patagonia, following on from Chouinard’s Responsible Business have launched their Responsible Economy initiative, and wisely, not having the answers shape the programme with the mission to start the debate – and ‘catch the wave‘.

Recently the TSSS and Earthshine launched an interesting and influential paper, BluePrints for a Sustainable Economy whose aim is to share a journey with people around the world, to help generate greater awareness of the issues and possibilities, to promote debate, to provide a sense of hope for what might be, and how we could all make the transition towards a more sustainable economy.

In the introduction to Towards New Innovative Collaborations  I wrote “Our built environment collaborative working journey is now venturing into new territories. The future for a responsible built environment will increase both  pressure and opportunities beyond collaboration and partnerships to co-collaborate and co-create hybrid projects, moving to open innovations that in turn stimulate further opportunities. 

So, what would a responsible, collaborative and sustainable economy for the construction sector look like?

Lets have the conversation.

How do we move from being the 40% negative sector to the 40% positive sector? How do we heal the future?

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“We can not call it a sustainable construction economy when we take more from nature than we give back”

We are seeing a number of excellent initiatives emerging, particularly in the area of restorative sustainability, converging on a sustainable construction economy – but what are the barriers, where are the leaders and drivers who will get us there?

This is just one of the topics planned in our Sustainability Leadership Conversations – join our Google+ community and participate in our twitter based conversations. The next conversation on Nov 5th with Eric Lowitt explores the Collaborative Economy.

Mindful Construction – pre-frontal cortex ramblings

photo (2)I caught up with Anne Parker last week over a morning tea and stroll around the grounds of the Apple Store Cafe in Scorton where we discussed mindfulness in construction as a key to unlock many of the current  issues facing construction, including sustainability and technology. We started to scratch out possible format, content and venue for a Mindful Construction Conference in the new year, but more on that over the coming weeks.

Anne delivered a Be2talks talk at our event back in September following which I asked her for a few thoughts on mindfulness:

Ramblings from My Pre Frontal Cortex – Anne Parker

The hills had never looked so green, the motorway signs had never looked such a Mediterranean blue, the mid summer sunset wrote lyrics all of its own.

Had I just taken some playful hallucinogenic drugs?  No of course not – I had just left a CIOB AGM! Yes, I had just given a talk on ‘Mindfulness in Construction and Engineering’ at this professional forum and it had given me the most amazing experience and affirmation.  Let me explain.

‘Mindfulness’ is a way of living, a way of managing the mind and the body that has origins in Eastern Traditions and has been steadily tested, researched and validated by Western Science.  What do you know about your brain and your body?  Have you learnt about it so that you can maximise the quality of your daily life?  Can you maximise the power of your brain to optimise your performance at work?  Do you understand the range of processes within your mind and body that influence your ability to innovate, tolerate change and work collaboratively with others?  Perhaps you thought that this was at the level of skill or talent without going any further into anatomy or physiology.

This is a hugely exciting time as sciences converge.  The fusion of ideas is generating new insights and models but more interestingly means that new language, metaphors, images or styles import and export ideas and practices from one arena into another.

I had found that it was my mission to bring Mindfulness into certain industries without any pictures of rainbows or women sitting on beaches in yoga postures.  With no reference to ‘Gods and Goddesses Within’ or to Yin and Yang I had found a set of idioms with which I was bringing this stuff into industries with possibly a very low tolerance to ‘airy fairy ideas’.  I was passionate about communicating the genius of these practices to men and women who could feel the benefits of this learning in their busy lives in practical or demanding jobs.  So far the exercise had been a thorny experience but I knew it was what I was here to do.  I persevered.  The talk at this CIOB AGM was part of my mission.  And it was a turning point.  This audience on this summer’s night gave such an enthusiastic, high energy response to the teachings of these disciplines that I was lifted beyond measure.

The joy of my internal world was being reflected back to me on that motorway drive home.  Brains, Mind, Body, Wellbeing, Buildings, Construction – the whole concept was beginning to flow.  Surely everything that has ever been built or made or constructed started off in someone’s mind?  So isn’t it worth having a look in there, exploring it? Working with it or taming it?  The construction of the outside reflection is what we shall live in years to come…..

Mindfulness.  It is worth your investigation.

Is the next step a conference on Mindfulness and Neuro-Leadership for the Construction and Engineering industries? Would love to hear your thoughts….

Anne’s talk to Be2Talks, The Cuddle Hormone’: Mindfulness, Sustainable Construction and Social Media  can be viewed here 

Construction virtual trade show for Europe

60199455601729109971916966764nfSave money!  Reduce CO2 emissions!  and visit leading innovative sustainable construction solutions and projects from across the European continent.

UPDATE: Construction21 Chapters and Green Building Councils from France, Spain, Italy, Poland, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia and Montenegro have joined Construction21EXPO, with many more to be announced shortly.

Construction21EXPO EUROPE be held the 18th & 19th of February 2014 and will bring together 500 exhibitors and 20,000 participants including architects, engineers, project managers, investors, and other essential stakeholders.

Exhibitors will be able to reach the most active green building professionals across Europe with a very small investment. Exhibitors can gather high quality sales leads from EXPO visitors from both existing and new markets for sustainable construction solutions.

Booth setup is very simple but will create very attractive exhibits with your desired branding. Review the website and watch the video at Construction21EXPO.eu to see the conversational features and rich interactive experience our virtual tradefair will provide.  Fees are explained in the Exhibitor section of the EXPO website.

Potential exhibitors will also want to visit the Construction21EXPO EUROPE Community to download theIntroduction document highlighting more details on the event plan.

Related on isite: Living Building Challenge UK is UK Partner for EXPO

Could Google technology transform BIM and the built environment?

Snapseed (2)Have Google developed the next era of Building Information Modelling (BIM Level 3?) or even an alternative?

Reports via GLOBES News from Google X , the company’s secret development unit, (the unit responsible for driverless cars and Google Glass) provides exciting but tantalising news of a new construction technology, known as Genie. Google X’s construction technology project had a budget of $5 million.

Genie is described as a ‘platform with online-based planning applications to help architects and engineers in the design process, especially for skyscrapers and large buildings. The platform includes planning tools of expert architects and engineers and advance analytics and simulation tools. Genie standardises and automates the design and construction processes with unlimited design options, enabling an architect to preserve the building’s uniqueness in the urban environment’

And, not surprisingly given Googles interest and activity in sustainability and healthy buildings, ‘Genie was presented as a revolutionary technology for the construction of sustainable and environmentally-friendly buildings of a quality never before known’ (Google fund healthy construction product programmes in the US and are reportedly looking to use the Living Building Challenge Red List material approach on the new London project) 

Linking the transparency of construction products into BIM objects, (or Genie objects?) giving more information for selecting healthy, responsible materials seems a likely approach in a left field shake up for construction as  ‘a  technology  that will change the conservative global construction industry through a fundamental and revolutionary change in how buildings are designed, built, and maintained’

And … with big ambitions

Genie could save 30-50% in prevailing construction costs and shorten the time from the start of planning to market by 30-60%.

Not all of Googles projects make it mainstream or survive (think Google Wave) but success Google platforms rapidly gain mass take up (from search to Chrome browser to Google+) and with the global built environment looking for a solution that is perhaps more accessible, more collaborative and at lower cost than BIM, Genie could be a game changer, or even a sector changer.

And where else is there an innovation project with a budget of $5million to address the economic and sustainability failings of the built environment.

One to follow very closely, but it would appear the Genie has been released from a BIM bottle.

The full GLOBES report can be found here