Wildwood, A Journey Through Trees

Roger Deakin’s article in this weeks Guardian Review starts off with one of the best illustrations of biophilia and connection with nature I have read in a while …

I wonder if the swallows that nest in the chimney of my Suffolk farmhouse have the faintest idea how profoundly they affect my emotions. When they first arrive from the south in spring, and I hear the thrumming of their wingbeats amplified to a boom by the hollow brickwork, my heart leaps. They seem to bless the house with the spirit of the south; the promise of summer. Swallows have such a strong homing instinct that it is quite possible this same family of birds, by now an ancient dynasty, has been returning here to nest for the 450 summers since the chimney was built.

When the household swallows fly away to Africa, I get restless. I suppose I envy them. I certainly miss standing by the fireplace at night, eavesdropping on their dormitory conversations in the mud nests above. Swallows never fail to stir the nomad in me, too.

Do read the rest of the article Follow the swallows: Roger Deakin’s days hitchhiking to the sun, it is a great read, a rights of passage of schoolboy french, heading south, hitchhiking delights of the 2CV or Citroen DS, the goddess of the French road. It rekindles in me my my own memories of hitch hiking down through France, sleeping on Corsican beaches, grape picking and climbing around the Mediterranean.

1344371Roger Deakin is one of our great nature writers (and ‘an icon’ of the environmentalist movement) and I would certainly recommend Wildwood, A Journey through Trees, not least for the description of a living building – his home at Walnut Tree Farm, … “evolved rather than designed … riding the earths constant movement … The proportions of each room and of the house as a whole were predicated on the natural proportions of the trees available”

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The Brightest Greenest Buildings Europe 2015

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Brightest! Greenest! Buildings EUROPE Opens 10th June 2015 at 10am CET

The free-to-attend carbon neutral virtual exhibition dedicated to Europe’s most successful and greenest building projects and green building solutions opens on June 10th. 

Following on from the success of last years ExpoC21, (Sustainability Made Cool – my blog review here) the format for this year, under the title of Brightest! Greenest! Buildings, is very different.

UntitledThe Expo will run over a number of months with an evolving focus and a great Schedule of Events.

The launch of Brightest! Greenest! Buildings EUROPE 2015 on 10 June 2015  includes presentations by Delta Development Group, C.F. Møller, The Carbon Trust, MIPIM’s Innovation Forum, OVG Real Estate, Europe’s Green Building Councils, BUILD UPON: Co-Creating Europe’s National Renovation Strategies, launch of baseEUcities, and many more!

Brightest! Greenest! Buildings EUROPE 2015, as a virtual exhibition has been designed and organised an international team to promote the greenest building projects and associated solutions in Europe. Our exhibition and conference will reach 50+ countries in the European market in a very efficient manner. Last year, we had the participation of over 1500 of the greenest and most successful real estate investors, project developers, designers, green building consultants and rating tool assessors and other services as well as and technologies, products, and materials providers.

Organized under the patronage of the European Commission, Brightest! Greenest! Buildings EUROPE 2015 is very low cost for exhibitors, free for attendees, eliminates travel time and the associated carbon emissions, and benefits from the support Green Building Councils across Europe as well as other expert organisations. From our current partnerships and future efforts, we believe we will easily reach our target of 10000 high quality attendees and strong media coverage during the 12 month exhibition period.

Our introduction brochure and website – www.BrightestGreenestBuildings.eu – provides all the information about the event, the great organizing team, and the promotional plan and highlights from last year’s event. Booth features are described in the “Why Exhibit” section. Exhibitors can also configure their virtual booths in just a couple of hours using their existing promotional material.

We invite you to take a demonstration tour with our team of the virtual trade fair platform to see first hand how this works. Tours are scheduled at 3:30pm (Central European Time) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and at 10:30am on Fridays. Please note, the deadline to register to exhibit for the 10 June launch event is 29 May 2015.

UK_collaborative_logoAs in 2014, the UK Living Building Challenge Collaborative will have a presence at Brightest! Greenest! Buildings EUROPE 2015, join us on the 10th June and throughout the exhibition!

Related: Why EXPOC21 is a vital event for the built environment

So what was / is Climate Week Paris and how relevant to the built environment?

You couldn’t have missed the #CWParis hashtag and tweets from the Business Climate Summit in twitter streams over the past few days. The Climate Week Paris business meeting hosted by The Climate Group was scheduled six months before Paris hosts the UN conference where almost 200 countries are set to seal a (yet another) global climate change pact.

Key events included a Business & Climate Summit and Climate Finance Day, with world’s leading companies and policymakers brought together to demonstrate that low carbon makes good business, and good environmental sense

There were calls from many company executives at Paris urging governments to introduce more carbon pricing systems, such as a carbon tax or emissions trading schemes.

Relevance to built environment

With the Built Environment contributing the (rule of thumb) 40% of Carbon emissions, and a huge influence on business operation the sector had a presence through advocacy organisations and businesses with large built environment assets, but from reports seen and feeds followed, there was a very low presence from built environment providers – if any!

A high level session on transition to a ‘Low Carbon Built Environment’ (with a panel led by Christiana Figueres @CFigueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and chaired by Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Director of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership) discussed how “architect, town planners and engineers, collaborating with the construction, real-estate, materials & technology and financial communities, could showcase solutions for the built environment that can be deployed in Europe and inspire worldwide action”

One of the main points addressed was the lack of visibility suffered by the construction sector, as topics like energy efficiency and net positive standards are often seen as highly-technical and not understood by the general public.

Key to meeting the global goal of decarbonisation by 2050 is seen as the transition of new and existing buildings to EU Net Energy Standards . The EU Standard Requires “Member States shall ensure that by 31 December 2020 all new buildings are nearly zero-energy buildings; and after 31 December 2018, new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities are nearly zero-energy buildings”

Marks and Spencer (M&S) announced that they joined RE100, a global initiative for major companies committing to 100% renewable power, through their Plan A programme to lower carbon emissions from their activities and building operations.

The World Green Build Council promoted and launched its BuildUpon report during Climate Week Paris, aiming to create a building renovation revolution in Europe. See the Imagine a Built Environment that Enables a High Quality of Life for All  report

The BuildUpon report includes two notable actions,

  • identifying and engaging with ‘Unusual Suspects’, those not as yet engaged in the low carbon built environment dialogue.
  • A proposed open source wiki for information, the RenoWiki, a comprehensive summary of renovation initiatives across the 13 project EU countries, “to bring clarity on how national renovation strategies can strategically build upon the current landscape and how identified solutions might be scaled-up across other countries”

And, as reported in the Guardian Article “in an unprecedented alliance, 25 global news publishers have agreed to share climate change content to raise awareness in the runup to the next UN summit and agreed to scrap licensing fees for climate change content so that members of the alliance can freely republish articles.”

A call then to the Built Environment news publishers to do similar, to share climate change content and bring that content out from behind paywalls?

(I am grateful for informative tweets, sharing news and links from Climate Week Paris from friend , @WeMeanBusiness, @GuardianSustBiz, @SDDecleve @ClimateGroup and others in Paris)

Circulate News Launched

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has launched Circulate, an online platform for news and thought-leadership on circular economy thinking, providing a central location for information and news on circular economy related topics.

Content on Circulate falls into three distinct types:

  • fortnightly featured articles with a journalistic focus, from a range of writers;
  • daily updated news articles from various industries and on a number of subjects, accompanied by comment from the Circulate editorial team;
  • and suggested reading material recommended by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation team.

Circulate has a twitter account at @circulatenews

Tesla’s Powerwall: a game changer for BIM and Built Environment Sustainability?

Following the announcement from Elon Musk, we have seen energy and sustainability commentators proclaiming the new Tesla PowerWall a game changer for energy management, and for good reasons, moving from centralised energy to local energy management.tesla-demand

Tesla estimate that with only 9 million Powerwall devices, carbon targets to address climate change can be achieved and that’s not such a big number given the number of cars in the world. What happens when every home, office, building has a Powerwall (or similar: there will be others) enabling local energy management, connected to the internet of course.

The Information Age Is Over. Welcome to the Infrastructure Age.

The Powerwall has also be heralded as an example of the emerging ’world view’ age, we are leaving the Age of Information to enter an Age of Infrastructure. An age that will focus on the way not only energy but how information is managed, transported and communicated, constantly and in real time – the Infrastructure of Information.

Imagine future Building Information Management models that up date instantly and constantly based on incoming data feeds from building’s internet of things , from weather, from other BIM’s building user data and so on

The age of Infrastructure, in which the internet of things is a key element will mash up physical and cyber spaces. Will BIM’s also start to blur the boundary between physical and web space, making Augmented Reality the tip of an iceberg. Building Infrastructure Management anyone?

But of course there is the security aspect:

There are the inevitable dangers that come with infusing physical space with all the vulnerabilities of cyberspace. People will hack your building; they’ll inject malicious code into delivery drones; stealing your phone might become the same thing as stealing your car.

Whilst this could well give us near perfect buildings and facilities, it could also take us one step closer to the Blade Runner vision of cities and buildings that is the antithesis of the environment, restorative sustainability thinking movement, and a danger “We’ll still be mining unsustainably to support our glorious batteries and photovoltaics and smart dance clubs”

It is shaping up to be an incredible fast paced journey ahead for the built environment and even more reason for sustainability watchdogs, and for educational focus.

Sources/Credits:

Tesla’s new Powerwall battery could be world-changing

Tesla Powerwall: Game-changing batteries for homes and businesses, starting at $3,000

The Information Age Is Over. Welcome to the Infrastructure Age.

The Internet of Things (IoT)— an integrated fabric of devices, data, connections, processes, and people.