UK Government 25 Year Environment Plan is … disappointing.

nature globeThe UK Governments 25 Year Environment Plan (A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment) released yesterday should, on the face of it be a very significant document. Leaks and pre-issue comments from Gove in particular, hinted at great things in respect to addressing plastic, aligning health benefits of nature with healthcare and restoring nature in light of housing and infrastructure developments.

The Plan identifies six key areas:
Using and managing land sustainably (chapter 1).
Recovering nature and enhancing the beauty of landscapes (chapter 2).
Connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing (chapter 3).
Increasing resource efficiency, and reducing pollution and waste (chapter 4).
Securing clean, productive and biologically diverse seas and oceans (chapter 5).
Protecting and improving the global environment (chapter 6).

And of note for the built environment,

‘Embed an ‘environmental net gain’ principle for development, including housing and infrastructure. (Chapter One)

High environmental standards for all new builds. New homes will be built in a way that reduces demands for water, energy and material resources, improves flood resilience, minimises overheating and encourages walking and cycling. Resilient buildings and infrastructure will more readily adapt to a changing climate.

And, to improve existing green infrastructure by encouraging more investment while making sure there is a presumption for sustainable development.

However what we have is low on ambition and nothing more than a plan to plan. Each action is peppered with “consider”, “explore”, “promote”, “help” etc … and to work with others if they would care to.

25 yr plan quote

The fact this is a 25 year plan, in 2018, it takes us through to 2043 – firmly into the next generation that will undoubtedly be severely compromised by what we do or don’t do today.  One only has to compare other initiatives with target dates within this timeframe to see how low on intent this plan is. Compare with the WorldGBC plans for zero carbon new buildings by 2030 and all buildings zero carbon by 2050, or the auto industry to move away from fossil fuels.

As commented by many, there is an ‘extraordinary omission’ in the plan: there is no mention at all of fracking. Given that the only sustained solution to the environmental and climate crisis is leaving fossil fuels in the ground, the continued support for extracting yet more through fracking cannot be justified in the light of the this report.

We are now acutely aware that  we do not have the luxury only to explore, to consider and to just reduce impacts … that is not sustainable. We require more direct leadership, commitment and action to do more good, to restore and regenerate the environment.

George Monbiot commented ‘ Those who wrote (the plan) are aware of the multiple crises we face. But, having laid out the depth and breadth of our predicaments, they propose to do almost nothing about them”

Stephanie Hilborne, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, “unless more leadership is shown, wildlife will continue to decline & with it our mental health as more people become isolated from benefits of contact with nature’

What we do have however, and should take action on, is further recognition that the environment  and connection with nature is severely affecting the health of the planet, of ourselves and of other species. Gove is trying to secure commitment to an Environment Act in the next Queen’s speech and we should help to secure this as there is not yet full government support, but there certainly needs to be more leadership, direct action and targets in this 25 year plan.

The Plan is available to download from here 

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:

 

RegenerativeBIM … moving the GreenBIM debate

green bimBuilding Information Management offers huge benefits to Sustainability and to GreenBuild, but needs to move from GreenBIM to RestorativeBIM

Bringing together the two most important themes of todays built environment, Sustainability and BIM, the ThinkBIM and Green Vision programmes at Leeds Beckett are setting the agenda for GreenBIM.

However we need to guard against GreenBIM falling into a trap of being Sustainability and BIM as usual, but to move GreenBIM into the visionary, Regenerative Sustainability arena, as adopted by Green Vision through their association with the Living Building Challenge.

Rethinking BIM for the Ecological Age

It does seems a waste that all the creative and innovative thinking and energy being put into BIM should only incrementally improve built environment sustainability, and that we will be a little less bad next year, a bit more less bad by 2018

Aligning the innovation of BIM and the forward thinking of Regenerative Sustainability provides an immense opportunity that could and should powerfully push the overall built environment agenda forward. And, through the intelligence of a RegenerativeBIM, ensure that each element, not just the building, contributes in a net-positive manner, doing more good, not just doing incrementally less bad.

Where GreenBIM is today and where Green BIM needs to be, RegenerativeBIM.
Where GreenBIM is today and where Green BIM needs to be, RegenerativeBIM.

Imagine then if every building, indeed every ‘facility’ was designed, constructed and operated through a RegenerativeBIM, that;

> is designed and constructed specifically in relation to its ‘place’, positively impacting and benefiting its immediate environment.

> becomes a provider of water, cleaning all that falls on the building and providing clean water to adjacent facilities.

> generates more energy than required and contributes the net positive difference to nearby homes, community buildings.

> contains no harmful materials. There should be no place in a GreenBIM for materials on Red Lists. An intelligent RestorativeBIM could not allow materials or products such as PVC, formaldehyde, or SPF’s. Every Product Data Sheet would include the elements of the Living Product Challenge, with every product having a net-positive Handprint

>  are based on biophilic and biomimic principles. RegenerativeBIM would constantly ask the question, How would nature approach this?

> focus on a positive, salutogenetic health principle – on making people healthy, not as present on the negative stopping people getting less ill. (Big difference!)

> cleans the air, emitting better quality than intaking.

> delights and encourages creativity …

> intelligently and digitally inspires and educate the next …. BIM.

Such an approach is not only possible but arguably the responsible approach we must take. An approach that in a short time could be the accepted way of designing, constructing and maintaining buildings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These ideas will be explored further in upcoming ‘GreenBIM’ events hosted through Green Vision, ThinkBIM and CE Yorkshire.

Watch this space.

Green BIM – a thinkBIM round table summary

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreen BIM is healthy, yet only just coming of age with a long way to go. Here is the outline and summary and the Green BIM round table I chaired at the brilliant ThinkBIM/Green Vision event in Leeds on 3rd Dec. More information, reports, blogs and videos from the event can be found through the ThinkBIM blog

Introduction:

The world of sustainability and green building is moving rapidly into the circular economy and health & wellness arena, not only for healthy buildings but also for healthy, ethical and just material inclusion. This round table explored how BIM relates to Restorative Sustainability, Red List and Healthy Materials and the Circular Economy:

  •      Can BIM assist in ‘restorative sustainability’ ie not just doing less bad, but doing more good.
  • What safeguards do we have to prevent unsustainable, unhealthy or toxic materials from inclusion into BIM Models.
  • How is BIM addressing increasing influence of bio-sustainability – biomimicry, biophilia, bio-urbanism.
  • What is the role for new thinking illustrated by the Well Building Standard and Living Building Challenge in BIM development? (and of course BREEAM, LEED, PH developments etc)
  • What data do we have, do we need relating to the impact of healthy / toxic materials on occupant health – or should we just follow the precautionary principle?
  • Deconstruction of buildings is increasingly a design consideration – how can BIM assist circular economy thinking as buildings as material banks

Summary 

Green BIM is coming of age, but has a lot of maturing to do to address the emerging wider sustainability thinking and agenda.

Material Passports can provide a good tracker for materials on source, ethics, health and more. With a Level 3 BIM thinking of linking databases, material passport datasets can link to / interigate health databases. Waiting for legislation may not be acceptable – we need to adopt the precautionary principle and act on known / identified risks to prevent or pre-empt another asbestos/lead paint scenario

Currently GreenBIM focus is on energy reduction issues, yet for many large organisations the well being of staff to minimise staff costs is a bigger driver. There is a space for BIM to incorporate wellness of building occupants in modelling. POE experiences and stories need to be channelled back into BIM development thinking. Is there a need for social / well bing knowledge or expertise within the early BIM development stages – identified within the BIM documentation for example?

BIM presents opportunities and options we haven’t seen before to really add value to the life cycle of buildings, including dis-assemble and re-use in the cradle to cradle sense, but also to add value to the well being of occupants. The 1:5:200 model can shape this thinking but there needs to be long term commitment of the project members to the whole life value ( the 200!) of the facility (and beyond)

There is exciting development within the worlds of BIM (digital tools) and sustainability (restorative) for example Google Flux, and the notion of the BIM being a seed that can be ‘planted’ to grow buildings which are respondent to the local conditions and local environment whilst being respondant to occupant and client requirements

A BIM could be seen as a operating system which comprises of a  number of apps that can be chosen and incorpated into the facilities, building or client portfolio, such apps could be cost, environmental, sustainability or all the way to restorative sustainability with net positive waste, energy and water.

Exciting times ….

The round table ran twice with excellent participation from all attending, thank you.

During the Green BIM round table we mentioned a good number of references:

Living Building Challenge  and UK Living Building Challenge Collaborative 

Well Build Standard

World Green Build Council – Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building

Delta Developments, in particular Cradle to Cradle biz park 2020

Google Flux see Randy Deutsch Blog 

Material Passports Cradle to Cradle application in Ship Building

EPD

BIM: More than just an information model

Last month I was delighted to present and explore ‘BIM, Building Information Modelling’ with Yorkshire CIBSE members.

I wanted to reinforce a few BIM issues, in particular that

  • BIM is just not about buildings – but facilities
  • BIM is about collaborating and continues the collaborative working journey started way back in Building Down Barriers, Rethinking Construction and others since.
  • BIM needs people collaborating to be a success

and that BIM is more than just an information model.

Here is Simon Owens, (@CalibreSimon excellent commentary from the evening:

The evening started with an introduction from Jim Marner of the B&ES expressing the belief that there is something of a “genetic  flaw” that leads the industry to perpetuate problems, 80% of which he believes could be resolved at pre-contract stage and mainly relate to design and procurement. Jim went on to say that he sees BIM as being an opportunity to create a new model leading to more projects being completed with a greater level of success than previously.

Having laid the foundations for the discussion to follow Paul gave an overview and then went on to talk about the challenge of the 2016 BIM target and how SES had embraced it to prepare for that deadline and gain advantage. What they have found is that for advantage to be realised, general understanding of BIM, cost of implementation and construction industry methodology would need to be addressed.

Paul discussed how poor models would be of limited value and that issues regarding the transfer of data between Architects, Modellers and other disciplines can hinder the cornerstone of BIM; that of being able to use information more than once and smooth out procurement processes.

Lee then discussed the technology side of BIM within SES and how they use AutoCAD as a basic package with Revit for Stage E moving on to AutoDesk Fabrication (formerly FABMep+ and CADmep+ as separate packages, now merged), their own system to quantify costs before NavisWorks for 3D visualization, clash detection, coordination, presentations and bringing models in from other packages.

The idea is that core information comes in at one end and is progressed through the system until the final result is produced and he demonstrated the value of using information more than once by extracting design data for a module and importing it in to their cost system. He then showed how the system could provide a list of the constituent parts, costs and labour for that module. While very impressive, Lee was keen to point out that to reach the stage of being able to make it look that easy had taken several years and many hours of development.

Paul raised the following discussion points as part of his rounding off:
– The industry appears keen to embrace BIM and its expected benefits, but there are still factors holding it back such as knowledge and questions of achieving return on investment.
– Who are the BIM Heroes and where are they coming from?
– Whether the industry as a whole is ready for the necessary culture change as opposed to merely buying the appropriate packages/technology.
– There are still inefficiencies within project procurement which BIM may not be able to fully help address.

As a final statement he talked about the need to blur the boundaries between the various stages of building and the different parties involved to achieve the necessary degree of collaborative working needed for all to benefit.

This final statement led very nicely on to Martin’s presentation Copy of Martins presentation here where he started with a definition of BIM as follows:

“The total and virtual modelling of all aspects of a facility prior to construction, during construction and in use.”

Martin stressed the word facility as he believes that clients do not commission buildings, but places which have to fulfil a purpose. He then compared the 13 month build period of the Empire State Building at the rate of 1 story a day with a maximum of 3400 people on site and one contractor with Ropemaker Place which took 3 years, had a maximum of 500 people on site and 140 contractors. What happened to progression? Complexity of building, process and organisational complexity as well as inefficient production were given as reasons; things that Jim referred to at the start, that SES has been developing BIM to minimise and something which Martin believes can be avoided through collaboration.

The origins of BIM go further back than most people think with its roots being in “Building Down Barriers” (pre-dating Egan) and Richard Saxon’s “Be Valuable”, a book he recommends reading. Richard Saxon is now the UK Governments BIM Ambassador who has introduced regional people to promote BIM at a more local level.

Martin asked whether technology was ruling the roost, or enabling the process; the clear thing is, he stated, if BIM is to lead to a 20% cost reduction by 2016, but is costing the industry more now, it is going in the wrong direction and only has a short while to make up ground, a concern of Paul’s when there are just over 3 years to go.

Taking communication as the root issue of many problems Martin described how email was used as a “splatter gun” while an effective BIM process will see all information relating to a scheme in a central point, ordered and accessible to all involved.

This is indeed a step change for the industry and he feels that the education system is teaching students about the old way; failing to show their students about the culture that the industry is adopting for the future.

So how to move forward?
– Get all parties involved, especially the smaller players
– Be comfortable with paperless sharing
– Be comfortable using social media sharing and its place in BIM

To make the point Martin likened taking social media away from young people to telling the previous generation that they waste too much time talking on their mobile ‘phone.

As a partial answer to where are the BIM heroes, he suggested that they are the people who are using Minecraft, Second Life etc. to design virtual worlds could well be those people given suitable understanding of construction.

With his presentation drawing to a close Martin talked briefly about Honda how “everything they do, goes in to everything they do” and the development of their culture, mind set and working practices to eliminate waste.

As a final comment, Martin highlighted the thought that we’ve tried solving the problem with technology, found it didn’t work and needed to go back to collaboration and then design the technology to facilitate that.

For further thoughts there is a Tweetchat about BIM using #TBim as a hashtag on the 29th Nov at 8pm – for details about what one is click here

There is also the thinkBIM network which holds regular meetings and discussions around BIM and its development. For further information visit:

http://ckehub.org/thinkbim

It is also worth looking out for BIM Storms click here for details

Please do get in touch by email, twitter (@fairsnape) or leave a comment below if you wish to discuss any of the BIM issues raised here.

BIM Survey – More Contractors than Architects using #BIM

 

A recent, still to be published survey shows some very interesting BIM usage stats:

 

  • The percentage of companies using BIM  is now 71%, which is a jump when comparing previous statistics, with 17% in 2007 and 49% in 2009.
  • More contractors (74%) are using BIM than architects (70%) for the first time.
  • 49% of BIM users have five or more years experience using it.
  • Almost 40% of BIM users are heavily committed to using BIM, doing over 60% of their work in BIM.

This new research conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction shows that there is a rapid increase of Building Information Modeling (BIM) usage by architects, engineers, contractors and owners in, you may have guessed –  North America.

But for us here in the UK, I find this interesting:

  • With increased use, will BIM prove to be more attractive, and deliver more benefits to contractors than architects?
  • With our current push on BIM with the 2016 target for level 2 BIM, could we see usage in the UK at a similar 71% level?
  • By time we do get to 2016, we will have a good stock of experience of BIM users, ie those adopting BIM or BIM approaches now!
  • As we move more to documentation systems and working in collaborative spaces, working predominantly within BIM’s could be the way we will work within AEC sector in the very near future