Monthly Archives: February 2018

Imagine Better

imagine better costrestore budapest

People, Planet and Prosperity: A regenerative sustainability perspective of the classic Social, Environment and Economic ‘Venn’ diagram.

Image result for Social, Environment and Economic 'Venn' diagram.


Blockchains: enabling a sustainable future?

pexels-photo-119562Mid way through last year I raised the concept of blockchain in relation to transparency and responsibility aiding and disrupting material supply chains (within the context of the Grenfell Tower tragedy).

Arup Foresight have just published a useful guide to Blockchain within the context of BIM that really should be essential reading for anyone working in or interested in BIM and Digital construction.  

The Built Environment delivery, operation and service provision sectors are the last bastion of old analogue methods and traditions. The sector is characterised by fragmentation, low margins and unpredictable performance. Over the last five years interventions by a number of Governments led by the UK have seen the first tentative steps in digitisation through the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) technologies.

BIM has shown us that it is possible to create useful structured data which describes brief, design, manufacturing and operational scenarios. However, the sector is limited by the existing data processing and exchange methods which remain characterised by analogue methods that support old adversarial behaviours.

What is the solution to complex data transactions where openness, transparency, honesty and immutability are the basic foundations?

Enter Distributed Ledger and blockchain, with the promise of permanent, secure and valuable transaction methodologies.

However, from my perspective, one of moving forward towards a built environment that is regenerative (BIM 6D?),  it is the application of blockchain to create immutable records that is of note. The Arup publication provides a snippet of what will be possible, given the speed of digital implementation, within a very short timeframe:

Immutable Data for enabling Circular Economy
Data captured from a building could be used to accurately predict the remaining lifespan of a (device, element, product, building) and its suitability for re-use in other buildings or applications, reducing the likelihood of waste and over-supply, therefore cutting down material use and carbon emissions, and underpinning the principles of the Circular Economy.

Material passports via blockchain enable recovery and re-use of materials, thereby helping realise a truly Circular Economy.

Immutable Life Cycle Energy Usage and Efficiency Record

The accumulated data that could be gathered by the blockchain can allow anyone to view an immutable and complete record of the energy used by a building over its life. The data could be used to compare how effciency a building has used energy relative to similar modern buildings, and those built in the past.

Immutable Life Cycle Performance Efficiency Record
The performance efficiency of individual components can be recorded, meaning a total gure for an entire building can be calculated. As with energy efficiency, this could be compared to the performance of previous buildings, to measure progress over time.

Immutable Life Cycle Carbon Footprint Record
The carbon footprint of individual devices and even materials could be calculated, giving an overall total. This data would be extremely valuable for helping to identify if a building is meeting carbon emissions targets.

Immutable Recyclable Material and Component Record
The quantity of materials such as plasterboard and steel, as well as IoT devices, that are able to be recycled to some degree, or even reused, could be easily recorded on the blockchain.

Immutable Recyclable Material and Component Location Record
Tying in with the previous use case, this one would help to quickly identity where recyclable components are located exactly, in turn reducing the time to remove them from a building.

P2P Surplus Energy Transfer
In the future, buildings could become net producers of energy. Any surplus energy generated could have its ownership transferred in a peer-to-peer manner to other buildings that require it, enabling buildings to generate their own profit.

Blockchain Explainer:

blochain explainer

The Arup Report: Blockchain Technology, How the Inventions Behind Bitcoin are Enabling a Network of Trust for the Built Environment can be downloaded from Arup Foresight page here.

The Business Case for ‘Sustainable’ Buildings


Three recent reports focus on the business case for sustainability, green buildings and human-centric buildings.

Are we now witnessing the new normal, where the question of sustainability cost is flipping from, how much extra will the sustainable building cost? to, what are the real costs in not providing sustainable buildings?

The WorldGBC Business Case for Green Building: A Review of the Costs and Benefits for Developers, Investors and Occupants, examines whether or not it is possible to attach a financial value to the cost and benefits of sustainable buildings.

The report highlights how green buildings can be delivered at a price comparable to conventional buildings and investments can be recouped through operational cost savings. It also notes that with the right design features, green buildings can create a more productive workplace.

The report specifically focuses on the potential benefits of green buildings throughout the various stages of the building lifecycle, from reduced costs during the design and construction phases through to improved health and productivity of workers when a building is in use.

“This is the first time all the credible evidence has been compiled into one collective resource”

  • Asset value: Emerging evidence in some markets of green buildings being able to more easily attract tenants and to command higher rents and sale prices
  • Design and construction costs: There has been an overall reduction in the costs associated with designing and constructing sustainable buildings
  • Operating costs: The direct benefits from green buildings in use (such as reduced energy and water use and lower long-term operations and maintenance costs) typically exceed any costs premiums associated with their design and construction within a reasonable payback period
  • Workplace productivity and health: The characteristics and indoor environments of green buildings can influence the productivity and health of workers who occupy them, resulting in bottom line benefits for businesses
The UKGBC Report Capturing the Value of Sustainability, Identifying the links between sustainability and business value focuses on a wider business case for sustainability, looking at at the challenges that businesses face in trying to identify the value they derive from their sustainability initiatives.

… the purpose of this report is to empower businesses and individuals to make the business case for environmental and social impact activities and to enable them to measure and demonstrate the value their organisations derive from such practices. 

Of particular note, relevant to my current work relating to FutuREstorative and with COST RESTORE in understanding the emergence of restorative and regenerative sustainability, this report notes we are seeing the rise of the restorative enterprise within the built environment

Much has been written on how businesses are moving towards doing more good rather than less bad. The phrases ‘net positive’ and ‘restorative enterprise’ are now appearing within sustainable business circles, with both referring to businesses that put back more than they take and restore social and natural capital whilst making a profit. Such businesses may be termed as using a ‘business with impact’ approach or being a ‘purpose driven’ organisation. In this context, ‘purpose’ may be de ned as ‘an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organisation, its partners and stakeholders, and provides bene t to local and global society’.

The white paper from Buildings 2030: Building 4 People: People-Centric Buildings for European Citizens published in November 2017 notes how the buildings we live and work in are affecting our environment, our physical & mental health, our wellbeing and our productivity.

The broad alignment of environmental and health agendas presents an opportunity to not only invest in better performing buildings, but also to improve the quality of life for people using these buildings. Enhancing the health and comfort of people in buildings has a huge potential for economic and societal benefits such as better health, increased productivity, reduced sick leave and a decrease in associated medical costs We call this approach “Building 4 People.”