Monthly Archives: October 2014

Sustainability through Diversity

On the 14th october I presented the above pecha kucha to Be2Camp Be2campOxon event on Ada Lovelace Day, taking the perspective of a young Ada, looking to a career in construction, in sustainability, in IT, in BIM, and the challenges she may face. Not only a glass ceiling but perhaps a triple glazed ceiling.

Initial thinking was triggered by the excellent Nilofer Merchant article in TIME You Are the Industry. You Must Be the Change, pointing out to Satya Nadella, Microsoft that it is not good enough to call for change in the (IT) sector – but that those in power, like Satya Nadella, should affect change.

And so it is in the built environment, particularly construction, where it is no longer acceptable for industry leaders, industry groups and strategy authors to record the fact we have a gender and diversity problem – but time to do something about it and affect change.

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EcoBuild launch a vision for a Built Environment future …

Ecobuild, in association with Building has published ‘Future of the Built Environment’ as part of the launch for EcoBuild 2015.  The white paper, a collection of thought pieces from leading industry players, assesses the future of the sector, painting a very useful picture for a not-so-far into the future built environment.

It is set of future scenarios, encompassing beauty, circular economy, health, equity and eco systems. And in this respect closer to the regenerative sustainability philosophy of Living Building Challenge and the Well Building Standard than it is of current, more energy performance focused BREEAM and Regulations.

Jane Henley, Chief Executive Officer, World Green Building Council sees the next chapter for green building as one of health, wellbeing and productivity, arguing that business may be less interested in the mechanical and energy issues of a building than they are on how investing in better indoor environments will lead to better returns on their greatest asset: people

Rick Willmott, Chief Executive, Willmott Dixon sees a contracting future as one of climate adaption, carbon targets and collaborative construction with a leadership that ‘digs deeper’. The circular economy will be key, offering industry tremendous opportunities. Willmott cites the rising energy costs and depletion of finite natural resources that will lead to a mushrooming market for recycled materials, and a move to designing buildings with deconstruction in mind from the outset.

Munish Datta, Head of Plan A & Facilities Management, Marks & Spencer sees the future being about beautiful buildings, “We spend 90% of our time in buildings so why shouldn’t they be beautiful”, delivered from an industry that is holistic,where every role, from developers to facilities management, is incentivised to design, build, operate and re-use buildings for their life.

Paul King, Chief Executive Officer, UK Green Building Council sees that there is a great deal a new government, of whatever hue, can do to create the conditions in which a sustainable built environment industry can thrive. It can save more money than it needs to spend, it can set clear and consistent policy direction, and it can lead by example. “Frankly, to do anything else would be to squander an opportunity for growth the UK simply cannot afford”

Sarah Richardson, Editor, Building, sees the sector on the cusp of a radical transformation, with a growing sense that new technologies are not just an optional extras but key to delivering necessary efficiencies. However, to realise any transformation, a shift in the demographic of the sector itself is required, to attract a broader mix of talent that can imagine a future free from the constraints of the past.

Peter Caplehorn, Deputy CEO, Construction Products Association sees a key challenge for the industry being to get out of buildings the performance we design into them

Ike Ijeh, Architectural Critic, Building and Building Design describes  a future sustainable environment as one which has established a holistic vision for integrated urban development where every aspect of the city is specifically planned and designed to maximise social, economic and environmental benefits for its inhabitants while at the same time minimising its ecological footprint. The city itself no longer relies on an ecosystem, it becomes one.

Recommended reading for all in the sector, the EcoBuild paper can be downloaded from here