Monthly Archives: December 2015

Something Remarkable Happened at COP21 (update)

We now know the outcome from COP21 and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

cop21 article 2 draft

 

The Paris Agreement will be highly significant for the built environment, signalling one of its most exciting and challenging eras, one of innovation and reward;

  • The climate change and sustainability language is changing, from 2degC to 1.5degC based on science, rather than economic targets.
  • The Paris COP21 discussions, negotiations and events were played out in a social, open, collaborative and transparent environment. During the summit we turned to social media feeds and the #COP21 hashtags rather than traditional newsprint or news media.  This sets a future for transparency and collaboration for the climate change  agenda, at global, national, the built environment sector, company and project level.
  • Construction and the built environment has now be recognised as a climate change problem and a key part of the solution. We now have to flip our 40% negative impact into a 40% positive impact.
  • With existing construction sustainability strategies, building certification standard and reduction targets based on 2 Deg, there is now the urgent need to rethink and to address  a 1.5Deg future with faster, tougher reduction targets and more focused approaches.
  • To achieve 1.5degC caps, we cannot continue with a sustainable construction as usual approach of being incrementally less bad, but would need to make the flip to restorative and regenerative approaches, such as the Living Building Challenge.
  • The Paris Agreement is recognised as signalling the end of the fossil fuel era, and the signal for a low carbon future. This presents a huge opportunity and challenge for construction, utlilising all the tools and approaches we have at our disposal – for example
    • BIM to design and model low carbon buildings and construction methods,
    • circular economy to reduce impact from construction resources
    • lean construction to reduce all forms of waste along with
    • education and advocacy to inform and inspire both the next generation and those in the industry.

As I write this I am reviewing an 2015 updated copy of Olgyay’s Design with Climate, A BioClimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism. Originally published in 1963 – over 50 years ago – was a groundbreaking book for students of sustainable architecture. One of the core concepts, (the Interlocking Fields of Climatology, Biology, Architecture and Technology) would unfortunately still appear new and radical to many today, but is profoundly relevant to the new climate change agenda.  We cannot wait any longer to learn or relearn basics of sustainability.

Related previous blog post

Presentation to Brightest Greenest Buildings event on 10/12/15:

 

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How significant was the first Buildings Day at COP21?

banner-nama-cop21_800-percent

In coming years, hopefully very significant. This was the first time that the built environment has been recognised as important in any global, United Nation climate change summit.

We now have the recognition that buildings and construction have a major impact and influence on climate changes, being part of the problem but also key to climate change solutions

My thoughts from following inspiring feeds from Paris and elsewhere, through the twitter hashtags of #COP21, #BuildingsDay #BuildBetterGreen #BackClimateAction and others:

I felt ashamed by the approach of our government in weakening and dismantling sustainability strategies for homes and buildings whilst others around the world are deepening their green building strategies

That the built environment players (leaders, companies, advocates, agencies, academics) all need to collaborate to ensure a sub 2 degrees warming path is central to sustainability strategies

Not once did I see BIM mentioned or cited as part of the building environment solution. BIM needs to engage with the leaders and decision makers who are shaping the design, construction and operation of buildings.

Encouraged to hear of net positive approaches, being restorative and regenerative in built environment sustainability approaches. Not only for carbon reduction but for social and health strategies to be ‘net-positive’

Encouragingly there have been many great pledges from GBC members around the world – including the UK.

Whilst major contractors and manufacturers were visible in making commitments or presenting the built environment world of contracting, of SME’s and supply chains right across the sector still needs to engage, and understand that business as usual may not be that usual in the coming year.

Finally – with the built environments impact on climate change, often quoted as 40% of the problem, making the real change to get on a sub 2 degree global warming path may seem impossible. Globally, through design and construction we need to reduce emissions by 84 GtCO2 by 2050 – thats taking over 22.000 coal fired power stations out of service.

Yet impossible is only a challenge – and as Steve Jobs said – its kind of fun to do the impossible.

What Is COP21?

Understand COP21 in these 7 graphics (via Green Biz)

France is chairing and hosting the 21 th Conference of Parties to the Framework UN Convention on Climate Change (COP21 / CMP11) from 30 November to 11 December 2015. This is a crucial conference since it must lead to a new international climate agreement, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2 ° C.

18 countries (Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Senegal, Singapore, Sweden, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America), and over 60 organisations launched an unprecedented Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction to speed up and scale up the sector’s huge potential to reduce its emissions and literally build greater climate resilience into future cities and infrastructure.

Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction to Combat Climate Change

Lendlease: Accelerating Wellbeing in Built Environment

In November 2015, Lendlease, one of the world’s leading integrated infrastructure and real estate groups, announced a global alliance with Delos, aiming to accelerate the integration of human health and wellness outcomes in the built environment. This alliance will include identifying pioneering projects in Australia, Asia, the United Kingdom and the United States, which will pursue WELL Certification and provide ‘WELL ready’ workplaces for tenants.

Untitled 5Geoff Dutaillis, group head of sustainability at Lendlease said, “Supporting the next generation of buildings and places that get it right for people, as well as the environment is very important….The built environment has a critical role to play in helping cities and governments transition towards a low carbon future; however, it’s the direct impact on human capital and productivity through increased focus on supporting human health and wellbeing which is the untapped potential.”*

The WELL Building Standard is the first protocol of its kind to focus on “improving human wellness within the built environment by identifying specific conditions that, when holistically integrated into building interiors, enhance the health and wellbeing of the occupants.” The WELL Building Standard is a performance-focused system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing including air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and importantly mind.

Wellness and Happiness: The Next Built Environment / CSR Frontier 

WELL Building Institute launches pilot programs for new sectors.

Designing Buildings Wiki: Well Building Standard 

REGENERATION 2016

Great news is that Regeneration, the very successful and innovative European, Living Building Challenge, 64 hours design competition is back for another edition in April 2016. The event to be held in the Italian Trento region is organised by Carlo, Paola and team at the Macro Design Studio in Revereto.

The event will take place at Centrale Fies, Dro (Trento – Italy), on April, 13th to 16th, 2016

 

The competition is open to professionals (architects, engineers, environmental sustainability and landscape experts) in Europe, under 35 years old. The deadline for the request of participation is next January 29th, 2016. 15 of the best applicants will be selected on the basis of the documentation submitted.

The applicant form can be downloaded from here 

The event is 64 non-stop hours of integrative design in which each team, assisted by tutors expert of LBC, will compete in designing the best redevelopment project of an existing local public building. There will be side events i.e. a final conference open to the public on the issues of LBC as well as the final presentation of the projects, with the proclamation of the best project by an international jury.

And, once again I am delighted to have been asked to tutor the teams on aspects and insights of the Living Building Challenge.

As you know, The Living Building Challenge™ is a building certification program, advocacy tool and philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to rapidly diminish the gap between current limits and the end-game positive solutions we seek. LBC is a Visionary Path to a Regenerative Future.
It is administered by The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) based in Seattle (WA), a hub for visionary programs that promotes a sustainability that is Socially Just, Culturally Rich and Ecologically Restorative SM. ILFI is partner and scientific advisor of Macro Design Studio and the Living Building Challenge Collaborative: Italy in organizing REGENERATION.