Category Archives: built environment

Consultation on Protecting and Enhancing England’s Street Trees and Woodlands

DEFRA currently have an open consultation that seeks views on the UK government’s proposals to introduce four new measures designed to increase transparency and accountability in the process of felling street trees and to strengthen the Forestry Commission’s power to tackle illegal tree felling.  

Two of the measures introduce new duties on local authorities: a duty to consult on the felling of street trees; a duty to report on tree felling and replanting; while the third suggests the production of best practice guidance to support local authorities in drawing up, consulting on and publishing a Tree and Woodland Strategy. 

The duty to consult is intended to ensure that members of the public are appropriately consulted on the felling of street trees, which can contribute positively to the quality of life for people in urban areas. 

The duty to report would require local authorities to collate and report information on the felling and replanting of trees in a uniform way. This would increase transparency and allow the government to monitor tree felling at a national level, helping to make sure we maintain and enhance the natural capital benefits of trees. 

Tree and Woodland strategies would help local authorities to set out the principles that support their tree management activities, thus both increasing transparency and accountability and improving stakeholder and public engagement.  

The fourth measure is intended to give the Forestry Commission more powers to tackle illegal tree felling and strengthen protection of wooded landscapes. 

All of these proposals could contribute to the protection and enhancement of the natural environment, and help deliver the government’s ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan. This consultation seeks views on these measures and their implementation. 

The consultation (closes 28th Feb) can be found here: https://gov.smartwebportal.co.uk/defra/public/webform.asp?id=108&id2=1D06F7


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Recent Reading Online

This is the first in a regular series covering pieces I have been reading online that I think are worthy of further sharing. Followers on twitter, linkedin and to a lesser degree on Instgram will be aware that I regularly share items relating to sustainability, the built environment and our relationship with the outdoors and nature. However posts there can be flitting and often difficult to track down and return to. They will hopefully have a longer life here.

Articles, papers and images that catch my eye, or as a result of a search I move into my ever growing Instapaper (and occasionally Evernote) Library. This enables me to read offline, and importantly to keep and or return to for reference: here are a few recents:

Sustainability

Patagonia is in business to save our home planet  For the past 45 years, Patagonia has been a business at the cutting edge of environmental activism, sustainable supply chains, and advocacy for public lands and the outdoors. Its mission has long been “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”But for Yvon Chouinard, that’s not enough. So this week, the 80-year-old company founder and Marcario informed employees that the company’s mission statement has changed to something more direct, urgent, and crystal clear: “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.”

Chasing the Sun by Linda Geddes review – why we don’t get enough natural light. Guardian review of Linda Geddes book exploring the importance of sunlight and circadian rhythms for our wellbeing. Chasing the sun is an interesting insight to add to the current interest in biophilia thinking.

Ten lessons for embedding sustainability across the business Sue Garrard, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership Senior associate and Unilever’s former EVP Sustainable Business, was responsible for leading and embedding the company’s ambitious USLP (the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan) into the business and ensuring progress against its 70-plus time bound targets. Here she provides 10 lessons for embedding sustainability across the business.

To get to a circular economy we have to change not just the cup, but the culture. Lloyd Alter explores the circular economy in the ‘coffee delivery system’ from the CE 3 principles (to Design out waste and pollution, to Keep products and materials in use, and to Regenerate Natural Systems)


Image food for thought: Disturbing images like this emphasis the need for urgency in our sustainability actions. The Pastoruri glacier, part of the Cordillera Blanca.

Built Environment

Net Gain: A developer’s commitment to enhancing biodiversity. Natural England blog from Louise Clarke, Head of Sustainable Places at Berkeley Group, outlining the organisation’s approach to biodiversity net gain

Manchester commits to making all new buildings ‘net-zero’ by 2028. Edie Article: The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has pledged to ensure that all new buildings erected in the city region will be ‘net-zero’ carbon by 2028

Concrete responsible for 8 per cent of all CO2 emissions. Research by the think tank Chatham House underlines the need for drastic changes in the production and use of concrete, the world’s most used man-made material, because of the way in which cement is made.

Outdoors / Nature

Plantwatch: is sphagnum the most underrated plant on Earth? Sphagnum is probably the most underrated plant on Earth. This humble little moss makes up the bulk of our peat bogs and holds up to 20 times its weight in water. That makes boglands huge sponges that store water, slowing its flow and helping prevent flooding downstream.

What I’ve Been Reading Online Recently. Chris Townsend’s blog that inspired this approach to reshaping what I have been reading.

Image food for thought: Human Modification v Ecological Integrity. Shared at #Rewilding2019

The Search for England’s Forgotten Footpaths.  Article by Sam Knight in The New Yorker on our English footpaths “The Countryside and Rights of Way Act created a new “right to roam” on common land, opening up three million acres of mountains and moor, heath and down, to cyclists, climbers, and dog walkers. It also set an ambitious goal: to record every public path crisscrossing England and Wales by January 1, 2026”

New standard and guide for the circular economy: BS 8001:2017

Following consultant the BSI has launched a new standard for the circular economy, BS 8001:2017: Framework for implementing the principles of the circular economy in organisations, the world’s first for implementing circular economy principles.

circular economy image

I have covered the circular economy within the built environment over recent years, eg within blog posts here, through numerous presentations and workshops and of course within FutuREstorative. It is good therefore to see that BS8001 standard for circular economy guidance is now available.

The new standard is designed to be applicable to businesses of all sizes as they seek to move to a more circular model.

BSI 8001 aims to aid the navigation of the tricky transition period for businesses towards a circular model, outlining what the circular economy is and providing guidelines for the implementation of more sustainable practices.

BS 8001 is built on six principles of the circular economy – innovation, stewardship, collaboration, value optimisations, transparency and ‘systems thinking’ – with the concept that components, products and materials should be kept at their highest utility and value at all times, placing emphasis on the importance of an economy that is restorative and regenerative.

Guidance included in the standard revolves around specific issues that may hamper the transition to the circular economy, such as measurements, liability and insurance, logistical concerns and materials, and also guides on associated business models such as leasing, the sharing economy, and remanufacturing.

The principles and guidelines within the standard are not meant to be prescriptive, but are intended to be used flexibly by businesses and organisations, no matter their size or stage of transition to the circular economy, to reduce costs and supply chain risks while contributing to a low-carbon and resource efficient economy

A free download short executive briefing document has also been produced which is aimed at senior level decision makers.

Related:

RESTORE: REthinking Sustainability TOwards a Regenerative Economy

pexels-photo-93013

REthinking Sustainability Towards a Regenerative Economy 

 

After a number of years discussing, bidding, meetings in Italy and skype calls across Europe we finally launch our four year RESTORE* Cost Action CA16114 programme, exploring restorative sustainability, in Brussels this Thursday 9th March.

* REthinking Sustainability TOwards a Regenerative Economy

COST Action public page 

RESTORE Overview:

Sustainable buildings and facilities are critical to a future that is socially just, ecologically restorative, culturally rich and economically viable within the climate change context.

Despite over a decade of strategies and programmes, progress on built environment sustainability fails to address these key issues. Consequently the built environment sector no longer has the luxury of being incrementally less bad, but, with urgency, needs to adopt net-positive, restorative sustainability thinking to incrementally do ‘more good’.

Within the built environment sustainability agenda a shift is occurring, from a narrow focus on building energy performance, mitigation strategies, and minimisation of environmental impacts to a broader framework that enriches places, people, ecology, culture, and climate at the core of the design task, with a particular emphasis on the salutogenic benefits towards health.

 Sustainability in buildings, as understood today, is an inadequate measure for current and future architectural design, for it aims no higher than trying to make buildings “less bad”. Building on current European Standards restorative sustainability approaches can and will raise aspirations and deliver restorative outcomes.

The RESTORE Action will affect a paradigm shift towards restorative sustainability for new and existing buildings across Europe, promoting forward thinking and multidisciplinary knowledge, leading to solutions that celebrate the richness of design creativity while enhancing users’ experience, comfort, health, wellbeing and satisfaction inside and outside buildings, and in harmony with urban and natural ecosystems, reconnecting users to nature.

The COST proposal will advocate, mentor and influence for a restorative built environment sustainability through work groups, training schools (including learning design competitions) and Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs).

Keywords: restorative sustainability, restorative design processes-methods-tools, climate change, health, wellbeing, sustainable urban development, social, ecology, built environment.

The Working Groups

  • Working Group 0: Project Coordination
  • Working Group One: Restorative Sustainability
  • Working Group Two:Restorative Design Process
  • Working Group Three: Restorative Buildings & Operations
  • Working Group Four: Rethinking Technology
  • Working Group Five: Scale Jumping

The Cost Action will also include:

  • RESTORE Training Schools
  • RESTORE STSM – Short Term Science Missions
  • RESTORE Early Stage Research opportunities

We have an ‘in development’ website with more information here

COST Action public page 

Brexit is moving UK from client status into the supply chain

There have been many, and there will be many ‘what Brexit means for …’ articles, blogs and opinions. Here is my take on how I see the impact for the built  environment and sustainability. It is a blog post that I started on June 24th, but with each passing day, hour, a new twist has emerged …

flag_yellow_lowFar from dust settling after the EU Referendum that saw ‘Leave’ gain a slender majority, we are seeing more dust being kicked up from the daily political, financial and environmental developments. What all this means for the built environment, as many organisations are telling me in emails, tweets and statements is unclear and remains to be seen. It is still unbelievable that political and industry organisations and companies did not and still do not really have a plan in the case of an out vote, and what the implications of triggering Article 50 would entail.

What we see however is the UK on the brink of a self inflicted move from client, or framework prime contractor status to supply chain status and all the implications that would bring. No longer would we be setting the trading and governance conditions but having to negotiate, and ultimately comply.

And with the mature supply chain conditions that most in the built environment are now familiar with, this entails, fair, ethical , equitable and environmentally sound practices and governance across an organisation. Practices that are not only limited to the goods or services provided to a client (in this case the EU) but across all operations.

And the pandora’s box of potential implications, a few good but mostly disastrous in the short term, we now face in the built environment include …

A continuation of OJEU – the EU tendering and procurement process. (an Housing Association pre-referendum article foresaw this as a possibility , to ensure open access to contracts as a good ethical and fair trading practice)

Compliance with EU environmental standards, such as air quality and the Near Zero Buildings directive. Although many of the EU environmental issues have, over time been incorporated into e.g. Building Regs, as a government we have fought most EU environmental legislation, particularly air quality regulations. Boris Johnson, described as Trump-Lite in his approach to the environment, has been accused of withholding failing air quality statistics in London schools, hampering any real improvement. Now, to trade with EU it is highly likely that air quality thresholds will be an imposed condition in light of the recent statements from EU officials that they remain committed to protecting health and wellbeing of all European citizens.

Uncertainty and worry questions the free movement of skills, talent and people on which the built environment has thrived. Free movement of skills has been vital for construction on site, in Architectural practices, Environmental consultancies, Universities and other research organisations. Even BIM, which through free movement of IT talent, many of whom based in London and created the innovative IT hub, that has helped us become a BIM world leader. Not surprisingly there are warnings that IT and multi-i organisations will seek more EU centric locations, for example Berlin, relocating away from London and the UK.

Indications are that we will see short and long term price increases in construction materials. 60% of all imported construction materials come from the EU. Exported services will be expected at a lower cost which may prove to be unviable.  Imported timber, increasingly the structural material of choice – will be subject to trade and cost implications This should of course bolster Grown in Britain timber, but that itself may well be subject to wider EU trading implications – as a supply chain would be expected to do so to demonstrate good governance and ecological considerations.

The construction industry is often the barometer for the health of the economy – and hence a prelude for a recession. It requires amongst other factors, strong confidence in a pipeline of work flow. That pipeline had slowed pre referendum, with a number of contracts having Brexit clauses, and now, post referendum in some cases (e.g. infrastructure projects) come to (a temporary) stop. With the value of construction organisations being reduced, so will funds available for innovation, investments in new technologies (digital and BIM) and crucial for the industry, education, training and development.

On a wider macro sustainability level, leaving the EU risks weakening efforts to protect human rights, tackle corruption, environmental destruction and climate change, all which require a collaborative effort with our neighbours. I have already heard “that as FSC is a EU Legislation requirement we can now use unsustainably sourced timber?”

Facing all of these potential implications, never before in the sector have we needed our modern day, mature approaches to improving the built environment. These include lean construction, a diverse and ethical sector, collaboration not silo’d isolation, sound training and development, BIM, and a restorative sustainability approach that is not weakened to doing even less just to reduce the built environments sustainability impact.  

At the same time we need to speed up the incorporation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals as the sectors sustainability mission.Chart_of_UN_Sustainable_Development_Goals

Far from taking back control, we may be handing over what control we had as we take a new position within the supply chain. But then … who knows what will occur, if and when and by whom article 50 is ever triggered.

So what now? The Brexit debate has moved from the binary referendum to a complex cocktail of political issues. It is possible we will see a snap election, less likely the called for 2nd referendum, but we will have new leaders of our main parliamentary parties and debates that focus not only the future of the EU but the UK itself. All will have huge impacts for the built environment.

As individuals we have avenues to register our concerns, through social media advocacy, through our institutions and membership organisations, through the call for a 2nd referendum, and as this is now a political issue through MP lobbying.

We should also see a step up in appropriate lobbying from built environment groups – now is not the time to wait and see, now is the time for groups such as RIBA, CIOB, CE, UKGBC, CIBSE, ICE, IEMA etc etc … to mobilise, be proactive and lobby government, potential party leaders and MP’s with responsibilities within the built environment spectrum, to protect our industry and all the wonderful progress made through union with the EU.

This blog is my view of the post referendum uncertainty, an interpretation from experience and knowledge of the sector, but undoubtedly also informed through reading many many articles, blogs and tweets, too many to reference here at the moment, but also worth reading are:

For a US perspective, Lloyd Alter: What impact will Brexit have on green building in Britain?

Understanding Article 50: David Allen Green  This is what sovereignty looks like

A different Saturday that will change your minds.

Delighted to be involved in the second edition of REGENERATION Design Competition in the Trento region of Italy next week and the Conference on Saturday 16th April.

The following is a re-blog from Carlo Battisti’s blog

2016_03_24-06 Centrale Fies

It’s time to imagine a “Living Future” made of “living buildings.” Living Building Challenge is a building certification program, advocacy tool and philosophy, suitable  for projects that want to go beyond being simply “less harmful”, to truly become “regenerative”. The Challenge defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to rapidly diminish the gap between current limits and the end-game positive solutions we seek.

Connected to REGENERATION, the 64 hours non-stop design competition organized by Macro Design Studio  together with the International Living Future Institute, the Conference will return on Saturday, April 16, 2016morning at Centrale Fies – Dro (Trento). The Conference is the premier annual event of the Living Building Challenge Collaborative: Italy, a community born with the aim of sharing LBC knowledge and principles and create the local conditions for the development of “living” buildings, territories and communities.

The program (the event will be in English)
Saturday April 16th, 2016, h 10-13

  • 10:00 – 10.50: Registration
  • 10:50 – 11:00: INTRODUCTION |Macro Design Studio
  • 11.00 – 11.40: NOW IT IS THE TIME FOR A WORLD OF LIVING BUILDINGS AND COMMUNITIES |Amanda Sturgeon, The International Living Future Institute – CEO
  • 11.40 – 12:00: CHALLENGING UK CONSTRUCTION. THE UK FIRST LIVING BUILDING PROJECT |Martin Brown, Fairsnape – Founder
  • 12.00 – 12:20: THE EXPERIMENTAL UNDERSTANDING OF COMPLEX ENVIRONMENTS FOR THEIR REGENERATION | Emanuele Naboni, Royal Danish Academy Copenhagen, School of Architecture – Associate professor
  • 12.20 – 12:40: REGENERATION 2015. PROUD TO BE ZERO. |  The YELLOW Team, REGENERATION 2015
  • 12:40 – 13:00: Questions and answers

2016_03_22-02 Amanda SturgeonThe international speakers are experts who have long been working to introduce the principles of LBC in Europe, including a special guest: Amanda Sturgeon was appointed by former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton as one of the “10 most important women in sustainability.” FAIA, LEED Fellow, Amanda is from this year President and CEO of the International Living Future Institute after having been Executive Director. She sponsored also the first edition of REGENERATION.

2016_03_22-01 Martin Brown

Martin Brown is the founder of Fairsnape, active since 2005 as a consulting company, providing a wide range of support services to organizations in the built environment. He deals with innovative sustainability, social media and business improvement, with over 40 years of experience. He is a Living Building Challenge Ambassador, with a passion for the promotion of LBC and regenerative sustainability concepts in the UK.

2016_03_22-03 Emanuele NaboniEmanuele Naboni
(BArch, Dip. Arch., MPhil, PhD in Science, LEED AP, Licensed Architect) He is since 2010 an associate professor at the Institute of Technology of the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen, Faculty of Architecture. He teaches and researches in the field of technology and sustainable environmental design.

2016_03_22-04 Team YellowThe YELLOW team is the winning team of the 1st edition of REGENERATION (15-18 Apr 2015) and it is composed of (from left in the picture) Emanuele Mondin (architect, Vicenza), Guido Zanzottera(energy engineer, Turin), Luigi Greco (urban planner, Agrigento), Bernardette Soust Verdaguer (architect, Sevilla) and Maija Krizmane (civil engineer, Riga).

Further information about the event:

When: Saturday April 16th, 2016, h 10-13
Where: Centrale Fies, Dro (TN) | Coordinates 45.986691, 10.926922
Contact: +39 0464 443418 | eventi@macrodesignstudio.it
Registration: partecipation is free but seats are limited. Deadline for registration: Thursday April 15th, 2016. Registration through Eventbrite here.
Language: the conference will be in English (with simultaneous translation).
Educational credits: 3 educational credits for architects will be provided in agreement with Ordine degli Architetti Pianificatori Paesaggisti e Conservatori di Trento. This conference has been approved for 3 LFA (Living Future Accredited professional) CEU hours.

We are waiting for you:-)

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