Monthly Archives: February 2016

Vote: Fairsnape Best Green Blogger Nominee

The Fairsnape iSite blog now in its 10th year with just under 1000 posts has been providing news, comment and challenges to the built environment sector and beyond.  It is always great to get recognition, and am delighted that this blog is a Green category Best Blogger nominee for the 7th Annual 2016 JDR Industry Blogger Awards!JDRBadges_2016_Green

Voting is now open on the JDR website (from Monday, February 29th and closes April 15th)

Please take a few moments to vote for this blog here

The blog with the most votes in each category (Architecture, Interior Design, Remodelling, Construction Business, Green, and Microblog) will win that category.

 

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thank you, and best wishes to other nominees

 

 

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Every Breath We Take

The 2016 Every Breath We Take report from the Royal College of Physicians is a sobering update on human and cost consequences of poor air quality. And not only outdoor air quality, notoriously poor within many of our cities, but also consequences arising from indoor air quality, significantly triggered through the design, construction and operation of the buildings we live, work and play in.

RCPCH-1“Each year in the UK, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution, with more linked also to exposure to indoor pollutants”

The report estimates that the cost to society, business and health services in the UK adds up to more than £20 billion every year.

This is a prime example of how, in the built environment we externalise the real cost of low cost construction.

The report focuses on pollutants from buildings that occur during operation, but also touches on pollutants during construction. The high volume of construction transport, predominantly diesel in addition to the pollutants known to be asthmatics, organic & mineral dust, or carcinogenic (asbestos fibres in older buildings, formaldehyde and VOCs in newer builds)

The built environment is responsible for an increasingly complex cocktail of air quality issues:

“Looking to the future, newer ‘green’ workplaces will be constructed, and newer technologies will be developed for use within them. The latter include significant developments in, for example, the use of advanced materials and three-dimensional printing. The construction, occupancy and exposure profiles of newer workplaces will lead to the potential for novel inhaled hazards and risks, and vigilance will be required in order to identify the occupational lung problems attributed to the workplaces of tomorrow”

Every Breath We Take makes a number of recommendations:

Lead by example in the NHS. Is it acceptable to design, build and maintain health facilities that themselves are not net health positive.

Quantify the relationship between indoor air pollution and health. Pressures for ever more energy efficient buildings with lower carbon footprints raise the potential of reducing air quality in homes, offices and schools. An holistic and collaborative effort is required across built environment organisations, research and health organisations to develop policies and standards.

Lessons:

Following the findings of the Every Breath We Take report, there really should be no air quality performance gap, even a small gap will result in human health issues and externalised health costs.

Adopting the increasingly popular Living Building Challenge and Well Build Standard, air quality must become a key element of performance gap analysis. Design stage set the required air quality threshold that is validated post construction, with a fully occupied facility over a 12 month proofing period, and the on a regular on going basis. Established standards such as BREEAM and LEED must make award of certification dependent on proven air quality.

This is a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) issue of high magnitude for those who commission buildings, those who design and construction and those who manage buildings, anything less can not be acceptable to a responsible built environment sector.

Based on extract from FutuREstorative

 

Ready for a Circular Economy?

IMG_1100My recent talk at Green Vision Circular Economy event held at the Re:Center, University of Bradford, focused on Design for DeConstruction principles and raised a number of questions, for example;

  • The Circular Economy is not just simply new generation waste recycling – are we rethinking design and construction systems and processes. (slide 2)
  • How can we convert Site Waste Management Plans to Material Conservation Management Plans? (slide 3)
  • Is BIM ready to embrace design for (secondary) reuse, after the first design purpose?How well do we understand the difference between Material Passports and Product Data Sheets? (slide 5)
  • How can we remove toxic materials from buildings so that we do not build in more health problems for future use, future buildings and future generations? (slide 7)
  • Are we limiting circular economy potential through greater integrated Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing systems? (slide 15)
  • Is there really a place in construction 2016 for Substances that are Hazardous to Health? (slide 24)

Related Post: Circular Economy and the Built Environment

BioClimatic Design: Book Review

Sustainability and eco design are now common place in todays built environment, yet how appropriate is our level of understanding and relationship with natural and bioclimatic conditions necessary to address climate change?

9780691169736-us-300Design for Climate, Bioclimatic Approach to Architecture Regionalism by Victor Olgyay originally published in 1962/3 has been recently updated with new essays and insights on climate change and design.

Today, even though we may have far greater understanding of climatology and potential solutions, we still strive to understand how built environment design will influence the drive to cap global warming to 1.5 deg c. The core teachings and messages in Design for Climate remain just as relevant, and indeed perhaps far more so.

The original book is populated with wonderful pen-drawn climatic and bioclimatic charts and illustrations that pull the reader in to discover more. Sadly, much of the data, charts and methodologies included within the book would now be included within BIM environmental modules, even on smart phones, based on algorithms, and possibly applied without in-depth knowledge of for example sun path diagrams and insolation affects.

I say sadly, as we have perhaps lost that connection and innate understanding of the natural climatic conditions pertaining to the individual places in which we build.

Considering that the original edition would have been conceived, researched and produced without the use of computers and the internet, the meteorology, climatology and biological data incorporated into Design for Climate are outstanding.

There are a number of areas in the book, both within the original text and in the new prefaces that resonate with where I am in my sustainability research, practice and thinking for FutuREstorative.

For example there is a resonance with the Living Building Challenge philosophy, and of the flower metaphor for buildings rooted in place, harvesting all energy and water whilst being adapted to climate and site. Words which would not have been out of place within Olgyays text and charts.

Within the new preface, Victor W Olgyay describes how the very local bioclimatic conditions at Limone, Lake Garda, have given rise to very specific architecture, something that Living Building Challenge students on the annual Regeneration design competition, held nearby in Dro, take into account as they prepare designs for local municipal buildings along Living Building Challenge principles.

1962 also saw the publication of Silent Spring, in an era of environmental awakening, of pollution awareness and of the impact or relationship of buildings with the climate, which ushered in the modern environmental protest movement.

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Earth Day Catalogue

Through the text and the images, even the paper quality, I was reminded of another near-contemporary text, towards the end of that decade, the Earth Day Catalogue and its mantra of that time, still relevant today, to Stay Hungry Stay Foolish.

Further there is a striking continuity which caught my eye, Victor Olygay passed away on the first earth day in 1970. Part of the organisation team on that day was Denis Hayes, who, 40 years later would apply the essence of Design with Climate, translated through the Place and the other Living Building Challenge imperatives on the built environments green flagship at the Bullitt Centre.

Design for Climate includes a number of concepts that now seem way ahead of its time (or rather concepts not fully understood or adopted by practice) re-emphasised in the new Scannable Documentessays. For example, the concept of interlocking fields for climate balance – suggesting that architecture design should be in balance with biology, technology and climatology. Something which is very close to the current thinking of integrating digital technologies (BIM) with bio-data, nature and climatology within todays restorative sustainable design and build.

Core to Design for Climate text is the concept of comfort, again a concept central to todays sustainable building design, for example within passive house thinking. Olgyay quotes a Dr Cannon “the development of a nearly thermostable state in our buildings should be regarded as one of the most valuable advances in the evolution of buildings” An outcome we have lost sight of perhaps in our search for ever more energy efficient buildings under the label of sustainability, but now being addressed through a balancing wellbeing and healthy building agenda

I was somewhat surprised to note that demand for Design for Climate has outstripped supply, most likely as being an AIA recommended text for architect studies. Indeed if that is the case then why are we not seeing more buildings fully bioclimatic focused? Maybe this new and updated version will correct that, bringing understanding of bioclimatic design principles to a new generation.

In one of the new essays, (The Roots of BioClimatic Design) John Reynolds comments “while the teachings of these are still rippling out there are many corners of our built environment that cry for their application”


 

I am grateful toMolly Miller via Princeton Press. to forwarding a copy of Design For Climate for review here and within FutuREstorative

 

 

Circular Economy and the Built Environment

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Updated: Ready for a Circular Economy?

This coming week sees a number of circular economy events, for example Green Vision 10th Feb  (#GVis2016) in Bradford and ConstructCE 12 Feb (#cethinking) in London. Also see the Build Well 2016 Feb 10/11 event in the USA.  If you are at all interested in learning more about Circular Economy and its current popularity in construction, get along to at least one for these, and, engage via their twitter streams

This blog has mentioned and covered concepts of Circular Economy, Cradle to Cradle and related themes on many occasions, including the 2008 Constructing Excellence Lancashire Waste is Stupid event and presentation for that asked the question when did the construction Take Make Dump become acceptable, and why it remains so.

Whilst we see an increase in interest and a hunger to understand, an occasional interface with mainstream sustainability (as represented by BREEAM) and with BIM (GreenBIM), circular economy thinking struggles to gain any real traction within the built environment.

Research shows that the circular economy could be worth up to £29billion to the UK economy. It remains unclear how much of this would be construction related, but is this another area we can apply the rule of thumb 40% factor to, making a significant impact on the sector?

The Living Building Challenge provides a great framework for circular economy thinking, requiring for example, Conservation Plans not just Site Waste Management Plans, and pulls on the DfD (Design for Disassembly or Design for Deconstruction) principles as a guide for material selection and management within Living Building Challenge projects.

And it is DfD principles that will form the core of my talk at the Green Vision circular economy with examples from recent visits in the UK, Europe, Canada and the US.

Circular Economy and DfD principles present great opportunities and challenges for todays design and construction within the world of BIM. Can we for example design buildings with materials and components that have a secondary designed life after the first? and, how can we incorporate materials and components that are already insitu within existing buildings? The Alliander company ‘new’ HQ building in the Netherlands demonstrates it is possible, using concepts such as Material Passports to incorporate 80% raw materials from existing buildings and have designed re-use potential for 80% of the new building.

However, if we are serious in designing and constructing buildings with circular economy thinking, with a planned lifetimes reaching to 250 years, as for example in the case of Bullitt Centre, is it acceptable or responsible to specify or include unhealthy or toxic chemicals or materials?  We would be potentially locking risks into many years of use and potentially many future buildings. A good place to start is to ensure the buildings are LBC Red List compliant. The Bullitt Centre has demonstrated toxic material free buildings are possible in six-storey, city centre commercial buildings.

The era of just harm reduction should really be history, and, in an age of responsible construction, the Precautionary Principle (to do no harm where evidence of health or ecological risk exists), should be forefront in design. And if unhealthy or toxic materials are really unavoidable, then project Deconstruction Plan’s must detail the designed replacement rationale and methodology as soon as healthy alternatives become available.

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Circular thinking and DFD are explored within my upcoming RIBA publication FutuRestorative as inspirations and challenges for a new sustainability in the built environment.

Event Links:

Green Vision 10th Feb   Hashtag #GVIs2016 @lsigreenvision

CE Thinking 12 Feb  Hashtag #CEthinking @constructCE 

Build Well 2016 Feb 10/11 @BuildWELL_EBNet

Introduction to the Living Building Challenge + Project Workshop

UK_collaborative_logoWe are pleased to announce an Introduction to the Living Building Challenge (LBC) on Tuesday 9th Feb 2016 at the Cuerden Valley Park Visitor Centre, Berkeley Drive, Bamber Bridge, Preston PR5 6BY at 1pm.

The event will be led by Martin Brown of Fairsnape, the LBC UK Ambassador and supported by Barbara Jones and Hannah Hunt of the Straw Works Design team.

The event is free but we will accept donations of £5 or more towards costs.

Programme:

13.00 Introduction to the Living Building Challenge

including associated programmes: JUST, DECLARE, Living Product Challenge and Administration of LBC: Handbooks, Dialogue, Documentation, Certification

14:00 Understanding/Confirming LBC Requirements for CVP and the Seven Petals:

  • Place
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Health and Happiness
  • Materials
  • Equity
  • Beauty and Inspiration

16:30 Summary of Actions

17:00 Close

Background to the Event

Straw Works have designed and successfully achieved Planning approval for a new Visitor Centre at Cuerden Valley Park (CVP), with the support of Chorley Borough Council. It is currently under construction by volunteers of the CVP, with Straw Works providing support and running training courses where necessary. The project is registered with the LBC, the first UK project to be registered, with funding from Veolia, who are part funding the whole project. http://www.strawworks.co.uk

The Living Building Challenge™ is the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard. It calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy. https://living-future.org/lbc

Martin Brown, Fairsnape, is a sustainability consultant, LBC Ambassador and UK Collaborative Facilitator. His new book, published by RIBA, FutuREstorative, exploring Inspirations + Challenges for a New Sustainability, publishes in summer 2016.

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