Category Archives: best practice

sustainable connectivity

A new look for isite with a new image on the top banner(*). I like this design as it includes a RSS button – to get isite delivered to your desktop, and a search facility to search back through isite items.

But a little more too. After reflection on this blogs contents and direction, I have slightly amended the purpose of isite.

Yes it will continue to be a news views and comments blog for the built environment, poking here and there when things dont seem quite right or dubious, or indeed covered with greenwash. It will continue to be a voice to the online world for the Lancashire Best Practice Construction Club and to a lesser degree the CKE, and will continue to focus on collaborative working, integrated working, facilities management, futures and improvement towards excellence. The emerging web2.0 or even 3.0, and I include second life here, is an important theme that links and enables allot of what we, what I do, so will remain a key element of the posts and comments.

isite is also of course the outlet to the world for my business – fairsnape.  (the name was taken from the local hill in the Forest of Bowland visible from my base here)

However, more importantly I see isite starting to look at connectivity with the natural environment. A number of activities I have been involved with lately has made me realise we may be where we are today because we have lost, and struggling to regain connectivity with our impact on ecology in its widest sense.

What does this mean? – Ecological footprints more than carbon footprints – as John Muir said when we tug on a single thing in nature we find it attached to everything else . – natural materials rather than harmful – renewable energy rather than fossil fuels, community based FM rather than endless target driven fm, about responsible sourcing rather than supply chain bullying, all putting a new direction to CSR.

I have long used the triptych of fit for people purpose and planet (before it became enshrined into the triple bottom line concept I like to think) . It is what Patrick Geddes would call folk, work and place, nearly a century ago, and reading Satish Kumar over the weekend – he described our modern trinity as needing soil, soul and society. Soil for the environment. soul for a spiritual dimension and society for justice.

Kumar a great walker – now based at the Schumacher college in Dartmoor, that incidentally run courses on Zen and Construction, talks about never trusting ideas that you never worked through whilst walking. “when you walk you are connected with nature, when in a car or a building your are disconnected, you walk to connect yourself”.

A while ago I started a benchmark walking programme to do just this – getting workshops and learning sharing events out of a training room or hotel into the countryside. With a loose agenda that emerges to deal with peoples real improvement needs, benchmarkwalks allows real learning and sharing, I likened it to doing business on a golf course – but this is business improving on a walk.

So all this as a preamble to a new thread for isite – connectivity – one I hope that will give it more scope, depth and importance as we address the sustainability issues, the soil, soul and society issues facing the built environment.

(* taken at Beacon Fell, Forest of Bowland, Lancashire recently – a location for many benchmarkwalks)

Worlds greenest city and eco home?

Is the German city of Freiburg, the  worlds greenest Eco City? Is the Passiv Haus the most effective and efficient Eco-Home? If so why are we not learning for eco-homes and eco-towns in the UK ?

Also, more on Eco Cities at Eco City 2008

a real school for the future – without eco-bling

Education Guardian reports today on the development of Acharacle School on the Ardnamurchan peninsula in Scotland.  The report by Tariq Tahir, should make ‘essential ‘ reading for those involved in school design, construction and in community assets. In addition the school childrens blog ‘they are building outside our class‘ illustrates how construction can be a real educational benefit.  One to RSS and watch develop.

And with no eco-bling, no greenwash, this is sustainable development…

The design, illustrating a sustainable future, for two or three generations is based on the use of mass-timber.  Architect Howard Liddel from Gaia comments … “the modern school does what it says on the tin but what it has on the tin is a skull and crossbones, and these are toxic fumes. Modern buildings have huge amounts of formaldehyde coming out of the floor coverings, seat coverings, the walls run with condensation.”

“What this project is doing is ticking a lot of boxes in a very subtle manner. There’s no covering the building in ‘eco-bling’ – the gimmicks people put on to make buildings green. It’s really quite liberating for an architect.”

He promised that the new building would provide a much healthier working environment for the staff and 50-odd pupils. “We have an immense problem with toxic materials in buildings – we have 55,000 chemicals we use in building and only 3% of them have been tested for their effects on humans.

“The timber is very good at dealing with indoor moisture passively. In other words, you don’t need a ventilation system when you’ve actually got a material that’s dealing with the moisture. Continue reading

on learning from eco-challenges …

What can we learn from the fact that bidders are pulling out of the next carbon-challenge project at Peterborough? (Shortlisted bidders flee from EP flagship project)

Could it be English Partnerships are using a traditional, cost based procurement route? Even with PQQ and other ability or capability ‘gates’ selection may still be based on cost. This could lead to the all too familiar high price of low cost syndrome, but as long as cost remains the main selection paradigm we are not going to think differently about sustainability, carbon zero, social responsibility and all things green.

What an opportunity we are missing. Eco challenge projects must do the same for our industry as Building Down Barriers did for partnering, collaboration and supply chain management a decade or so ago.

Why cannot the builders, designers and others be selected on improvement criteria (- ability and solutions in reducing carbons to zero, in design and in the construction process) and of improvement in cost – yes reducing cost at the same time through waste and improvement initiatives.

The oft quoted 30% waste (time, materials, energy, value, effort) in construction could more than pay for carbon zero and sustainability improvements.

We have a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate and to learn that we can get close to zero carbon, level 6 and all that without adding costs to the overall project – if combined with basic and proven improvement approaches.

The alternative? continue with business as usual from a construction perspective, with the exception of integrating some natty designs and product solutions, and continue to moan about the costs …

on building school futures …

school things on my radar this weekend…

In May the Lancashire Construction Best Practice Club will be held at Devonshire School, Blackpool an exemplar school that is a significant step forward in the design of learning environments for young children. Details of the event and site visit will be posted on the Events pages very soon

but … Building schools for the future is far too slow …. says the the NASUWT

Almost half of all teachers work in schools where water drips from the ceilings and windows do not fit properly, a study by the NASUWT concludes. A third complained of damp and slippery corridors, while one in five said lighting was poorly maintained. Most said they had to work in excessively hot or cold conditions and 30 per cent did not have easy access to drinking water.

Source: Scandal of Britain’s Crumbling Schools

What happened when Bright Green, an innovative green recruitment organisation brought together leaders from Britain’s top construction firms, sustainability consultancies, schools think-tanks with Kit Rogers, a teacher at Priestlands Secondary School, Hampshire, to discuss sustainability issues in schools?

Source: The Green School Dinner

newspaper house

Treehugger ( number 13 in the top 50 most powerful blogs according to the Observer on Sunday) carries the news of the London house built from discarded free newspapers that was revealed over the weekend – it took just 5 days to get the 150,000 papers!.  Read more here

Treehugger, which must be on everyones RSS feed, has a staggering 1.8million unique hits per month,  has 40 writers in 10 countries and was bought last year  by Discovery Channel for reportedly $10m.  It has pages dedicated to design and architecture that covers the eco and green aspects of the built environment.

efficien-cities

Its clean and its efficient and its possible  – its efficiencity – whilst the government dither on policy Greenpeace have produced an attractive and informative animation to show just what is possible in our towns and cities.  It is a animated and illustrated portal to many of the initiatives and emerging technologies in the built environment

It is statistics such as by the time we use electricity in our homes and offices, we’ve lost nearly 80 per cent of the usable energy inside the fossil fuels we burn that demonstrates the urgency of rethinking our approaches, and as this site demonstrates – this rethinking is happening in real world communities and projects around the UK

Carbon management, route to zero and waste management event

Over 70 people from the regional construction, fm and energy sector attended last nights Lancashire Best Practice Club event at the Solarus Center in Blackpool.  The event , in two parts, covered sustainability, targets for the built environment  and carbon issues from Martin Brown and in the second half site waste management plans from Colin Woods

Presentation and links will be available on the events page for downloading.

For more information, or for those present, to discuss any of the issues raised in the evening email Martin or Colin – or both!

Green Building Elevates Expectations

Two thousand seven may go down as the year that green buildings became  cornerstone of a global strategies to address global warming

Green building in the US gets a good review in the recommended recently published paper from Greenbiz.com State of Green Business.  (Download from Greenbiz.com).  The report neatly summarises sectors into swimming, treading water or sinking in efforts to address green and environmental issues.

As to building and property, the following extracts should wet your appetite to download and read:

In this fast-rising environment, green building is becoming less the exception than the norm, embraced by sectors ranging from hotels to health care to housing

The price premium for green building is shrinking, reducing one of the few remaining barriers to the industry’s growth.

Moreover, green building can  provide a competitive advantage in a tough market,

Demand and planning for green buildings is rising like a skyscraper on steroids, the product of everything from high energy prices to corporate vanity to a better understanding of the dividends paid by environmentally sensitive facilities 

LL Bean- Sustainability and Sensitivity

For an excellent and refreshing read of a collaborative project that is aligned to and sensitive to nature, read the the account of the new fishing store development at LL Bean (an old haunt of mine when living in New England many years back) on the Building Design and Construction website