Monthly Archives: June 2018

From Construction to Prostruction

COST RESTORE‘s third working group kicked off in Koper, Slovenia in June, continuing the regenerative themes of working groups 1 and 2, seeking to bring about a paradigm shift in the way we approach construction and building operations.

Working group one addressed concepts of regenerative built environment within the language we use, through our social and ecological relationships (from Eco, to Ego to Seva), through new build and existing heritage buildings that leads to a regenerative economy. This work has been captured with the Sustainability, Restorative to Regenerative publication available for free download.

Working group two picked up these themes and applied to regenerative design.

One of the inspiring and light bulb discussions entered around building users, facilitated by facilities management …  as prosumers, not consumers. And those who design and deliver buildings as prostructors not constructors.

This thinking allows us to further develop the ‘less bad to more good’ diagram that has come to illustrate the work of RESTORE


We may never change construction to prostruction, however language is important and the wider the term is used, the better awareness of where our sector, organisations, projects and products are on the regenerative spectrum from consumption to prosumption.

Prostruction Using Natures Technology to Grow Buildings –  Eric Corey Freed 

A prosumer is a person who consumes and produces a product. It is derived from “prosumption“, a dot-com era business term meaning “production by consumers”. These terms were coined in 1980 by American futurist Alvin Toffler. Wikipedia 

An early paper exploring facilities management as community prosumers CbFM Community Based FM.


Modern Slavery : There can be no sustainability in an unequal world

As emphasised in FutuREstorative, sustainability is only possible within an equitable and socially just sector. Whilst we continue to have instances of unjust practices, of Modern Slavery, within our projects, supply chains and organisations, we simply cannot call ourselves sustainable, or worst, label our projects Excellent, Platinum or Outstanding.

FutuREstorative highlighted many innovations, inspirations and approaches that will help us with the transition towards a regenerative and sustainable future. Yet no innovation, technology, biomimic, biophilic or digital thinking will really progress our sustainability performance if we do not have a matched and parallel improvement in equality, equity, diversity and justice.

no sustainability in an unequal world

And now, as we strive for a 1.5°C cap on global warming and the attendant carbon reduction, we need to ensure that equity and equality remain at the top of every sustainability agenda. There can be no sustainability in an unequal world. Indeed sustainability should embrace the three E’s of ecology, economy and equality. As we now recognise that we need a new level of consciousness in the way we relate to nature for design and delivery of healthy, sustainable buildings, we need a similar ‘worldview’ recognition in how we respect those who produce our materials and buildings.

As part of our sustainability journey, our language in construction also needs to evolve – from one that is combative, technical and confrontational to one that is mindful, and embraces a language of collaboration, sharing, care and love.

We need a change in the narrative and address Modern Slavery in the wider context of a truly  ‘Just’ built environment, through for example mapping and monitoring against the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Modern slavery is currently blowing holes in 11 of the 17 SDG targets.

At a recent workshop we explored the causes of modern slavery, and in addition to the nature of our construction industry, (high labour, short-term contracts, geographic locations, fragmented supply chains), it is our continued drive for lowest cost, particularly in labour dominant work-packages that was seen as a real problem.

A powerful action we can take today is to embed modern slavery aspects within built environment sustainability standards and certifications. As for example JUST (Making Social Justice Your Business)  is embedded within the Living Building Challenge.

I closed FutuREstorative by repeating the most important and powerful of the Living Building Challenge’s aims: the transition to a socially just, ecologically restorative and culturally rich future.

This is a revisited version of the closing Epilogue within FutuREstorative. 



Martin is recognised in the 100 modern slavery influencers index  



Imagine Better

nature globeFollowing the success of my Imagine Better keynote for Specifi events, here are links and background reading to references made:

Much of the Imagine Better thinking is from here, my Fairsnape blog or from within FutuREstorative. Thoughts and comments and blogs from previous Specifi events are on the Specifi Blog

If you would like more information, or support in greater clarity, understanding and  interpretation of these ‘new normal’ themes please do not hesitate to get in touch. (We provide support to many organisations, including further ‘deep dive’ training, in house awareness sessions, support for bids and pitching to clients or just a chat with your team)

However, importantly we provide kick off and ongoing support for projects. As I mention in the presentations every project should commence with a Biophilic Design workshop. Speak to us about organising and facilitating your next project’s kick off.

Links to references made in the keynotes:

Yellowstone Park

Four Laws of Ecology revisited

Living Building Challenge 

Living Future Institute Europe 

FutuREstorative bibliography 

Economics of Biophilia 


Sustainable Development Goals 

Well Build Standard 

One Planet Living 

Declare and Red List 

Reimagine Carbon 

M C Construction  biophilic office 


Cities as an Eco System?

A comment and question after the talk in Liverpool led to an interesting pre-dinner networking discussion. Are cities an ecosystem? For a short response the answer is yes, but, as in all eco systems, its complex, but makes for a great theme for future Specifi talks! The question was prompted by my showing of the Wolves in Yellowstone video and mention of Barry Commoners four laws of ecology.

Law 1 Everything is connected – the space between buildings, our pollinator pathways, our water systems, our green infrastructure all have a profound bearing on our health, wellbeing and mental state.

Law 2 There is no waste in nature – something we are starting to embrace, as we develop circular economies and strategies for the built environment, and cities design on circular economy principles. Eco systems, and as cities should be, are regenerative, providing co-benefits beyond our designs, city planning and city management. Such co-benefits we are now recognising as the health co-benefits of green infrastructure within cities.

Law 3 Nature knows best – adopting biomimicry within cities opens many opportunities for resources and health

Law 4 There is no such thing as a free lunch – any intervention with nature needs to be repaid. The longer we delay repayment the more separation and damage we cause.

To design and operate cities as an ecosystem, having a new level of consciousness in our relationship with nature is key.

We have moved, or are moving from an Ego approach to the built environment’s relationship with the natural environment – where we deemed to have total domination, to an Eco relationship, where we are starting to see ourselves, our buildings as part of nature, but still unsure what that means, as we still try to value nature in monetary terms. The new level of consciousness is often referred to as Seva. Translated variously as love of or identity with, its that innate relationship ad understanding

Over the centuries we have tried hard to prevent cities and towns acting as a eco system, designing and constructing objects (buildings) with little thought to the spaces between buildings. Following the Liverpool event, I flew out to Portland for the Living Futures Conference, where a ‘15 minutes of excellence’ keynote described how the city of Portland had imposed its rectangular East – West, North -South, grid of streets over a natural river and water course that severed relationship with natural place and land.

A good place to start, in thinking of buildings and cities as eco systems, is in the adoption of ecological and biophilic design, as we (Elizabeth Calabrese and myself) explored and led a Living Futures workshop – creating facilities and spaces that foster hopefulness, rather than hopelessness, social collaboration not isolation.

This post originally appeared on the Specifi Blog 

If you haven’t seen the Image Better talk, or the Wolves video ,you need to get along to upcoming talks – see

See also

The Practice of Biophilic Design by Stephen R. Kellert, Elizabeth F Calabrese

Sustainability, Restorative to Regenerative –