green studies

People and Planet have published the 2008 Geen University league table which shows some good and surprising results.

Top of the list, receiving ‘firsts’ is University of Gloucestershire, and the University I am now working with, UCLAN,(Uni of Central Lancashire) moves up 45 places to number 5.Last years winner Leeds met drops from 1 to 8.

Very disappointing though to see that my old uni, Brunel University, falls from number 27 in 2007 down  to number 84, only achieving a ‘third’.  Brunel is only one of five in the league not to have an environmental policy.  (Is this possible these days?)

As People and Planet state:

The change in the sector has been driven by thousands of students who have been campaigning for greener campuses. Thanks to your determination the sector is finally starting to listen to student demands for greener campuses. There is still a long way to go though.

To what degree though does the facilities management and estates management contribute to these results, are they driving change, or being driven in the face of student and customer pressure.  Maybe the selection of facilities and service providers will now be influenced by their contribution to improving a universities position in this league?   Again it was good to hear that the VP at UCLAN did praise Facilities Management for their contribution in their excellent improvement in the league, at his recent address.

As this league will surely be used by students looking to select universities, wouldn’t it be useful to have similar leagues in the UK construction and FM sectors, replacing those contracts won, turnover based leagues we see in the industry press.

Related isite links:

How Green is your University?

facilities management of green buildings

I like this, and wonder if there are any other facilities management courses that focus on managing buildings that are green, LEED or BREEAM accredited? After all its all in the management of the building and facilities not just the design and the tick in the box.

(INDIANAPOLIS) The Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) will offer a unique course beginning in the fall of 2008 entitled “Greening Organizations.”

The masters-level course will introduce students to the requirements needed for existing buildings to become LEED Certified by the United States Green Building Council. The course will also cover other rating systems and the management of green buildings.

“Because LEED Certified buildings conserve energy and water, reduce waste, and have lower operating costs, creating and sustaining LEED Certified buildings is a trend that is here to stay. It is important for our students to receive a solid foundation in this area of study,” said Ken Rennels, associate professor of mechanical engineering technology and facilities management program director at the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI.

The “Greening Organizations” course is offered as part of the School’s recently launched online Master of Science degree emphasizing Facilities Management. The program is delivered via the Internet to meet the needs of working professionals, preparing students to meet a growing demand for skilled employees in the Facilities Management field.

zero carbon ‘floating’ development for Preston

Green, innovative and zero carbon project development on our doorstep in Preston, Lancs, !

The RIBA have recently awarded a zero carbon design as the visitor center at the new Brockholes Wetland and Woodland Nature Reserve in Preston, to regenerate a former quarry site into a major visitor attraction.

The project called “A Floating World”, consists of zero-carbon floating buildings (the name coming from the fact that the zero-carbon buildings will be built on an island of floating pontoons)

Adam Khan Architects, won the RIBA design competition to work on the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Britain’s largest eco-regeneration scheme. The project is zero-carbon in both use and production, with materials of low embodied energy – thatch, willow, timber, with off-site prefabrication and on-site energy generation and waste treatment.

Floating world will feature cafe, shops, gallery, education areas and meeting rooms and is part of the £59 million Newlands Scheme, a project that will turn 900 hectares to community woodland and green space.

On announcement of the winner, Peter White, Head of Infrastructure & Development at the Northwest Regional Development Agency said:

“This site has the potential to become an important visitor attraction for the region, building on its rich natural assets and impressive biodiversity. The Agency is supporting its development through Newlands, a wide reaching scheme that aims to reclaim brownfield land and transform it into thriving community open spaces, and has so far invested £800,000 in Brockholes. The chosen design will not only create an inspirational open space for the local community to enjoy but will also enhance a key gateway into Lancashire and attract further investment into the area. We look forward to working with our partners to progress these plans.”

More on this as the project develops …

time for built environment transition?

We may now have a handbook for sustainability change in our sector.

When facilitating sessions on sustainability in the built environment, I often get delegates to ‘stand in the future’, 2030 is always a good date, imagine what buildings and our use of them would be like, and try to identify what messages they would send back to today. Often they talk of well insulated, 100% sealed construction, 100% renewable energy (which often drives the car), bright, vibrant, natural light and ventilated environments, and more in touch with the natural environemnt. They talk of more team work, long established supply chains from the local area and more use of natural material.

Interesting they very rarely describe the current approaches of today – ie Eco-Home, Code 6 or Passiv House, BREEAM or whatever. (Maybe through current lack of real understanding what these concepts are). What they describe, unwittingly perhaps is a post oil built environment, even a post carbon (ie post carbon being a driver or worry)

Rob Hopkins, architect of the Transition Movement, in his excellent book The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience takes a similar approach, also using 2030 – but sees the Passiv Haus as being the home of the future, (for our sector he predicts; in 2014 the Passiv Haus model became the standard for all new domsestic construction across the UK, 80% of materials are locally sourced, an explosion of local industry for clay and cob blocks and in 2017 the government initiated the Great Reskilling of construction workers) . In this, the central chapter, A Vision for 2030, looking back over the transition, Rob paints a picture of construction, of energy (UK nearly self reliant, based on the 2010 crash programme of 50% reduction in use and a 50% renewable scale up), of transport, education and the economy.

Central to the book are the themes of post oil and reslience (resilience being the ability of a system to continue functioning in the face of any change or shocks from outside). Littered with well placed quotations, tools for community engagement and learning, templates to use and a history of transition, it is in essence the guide to tranistion movement, but far more than that. I can see this aspirational book one I will read more than once, to dip into and to learn a lot from. Divided into the head (for the ideas) the heart (for passion) and the hands – (for action), it could be seen to be the activists handbook for community based societies and enterprises.

There is a sense of the tipping point concept running throughout the book – given enough direction and empowerment, communities and people will tip the swing towards sustainable environments. Here perhaps is one key to the future – one of communialism rather than the approach of accommadationism we are taking tat the moment.

If any feeling of ‘concern’ exists on reading the book, it is in the tools. Focused at social and communtiy enterprise thinking people they work exceedingly well. To engage main stream built environment companies into the post oil and tranistion concept, a new set of tools maybe required – sharper and aimed at business survial and resilience

The closing chapter is aspirational – Closing Thoughts – “Something about the profoundly cahllenging times we live in strikes me as being tremondously exciting” Rob writes. and closes with a quote from Camus, In the depth of winter I finally realised there was in me an invincible summer

A quick scan of reviews for this book indicate its potential importance: for example:

The newly published ‘Transition Handbook’ is so important that I am tempted just to confine this review to five simple words ‘You must read this book!’ But to do so would, of course, completely fail to communicate its message which is, I believe, so profound and inspiring that I want to do my very best to encourage its spread far and wide.

Wherever you are on the sustainable journey … Transition Handbook will be of assistance. It is on the one hand a very worrying read, on the other inspirational. Through out I kept asking myself is our design, construction and FM sector ‘resilient’?

Maybe it is time for the built environment sector to take on and learn from the transition movement, to reach the tipping point for change. It is encouraging to see Rob Hopkins is talking at the Think 08 event in May. Will this be the catalyst I wonder?

More information and discussion over at the Transition Culture web blog.

The Grid Works

SLengineer has changed its name to Grid Works with its latest issue to reflect the magazine’s goal of documenting and reporting how companies and people are using online services and tools to support and enhance their work in engineering and science related fields. Available as pdf here

in this issue:

Walking into the Map – David Rumsey shares his extensive map collection with residents of Second Life

TEEX Bridge Tour –  the Texas Engineering Extension brings real life bridge maintenance training to Second Life

Cement Company LSmidth builds a virtual cement plant as an aid for real life recruitment

and how Implenia, Switzerland’s largest construction and building services provider, conceived and developed the virtual worlds communication interface (VWCI)— a tool for monitoring common building automation systems

This is an excellent communication example of how Second Life can be and is relevant to RL businesses, education and general learning / sharing improvements, and pleased that I (and isite) have been co-opted ‘on to the staff’ for future issues of the GridWorks, hopefully bringing an international, well UK view.  Watch this space.

wanted … eco home builder

I have for a while now been exploring Second Life’s contribution to the built environment – on themes of collaboration, education and usability.

One of these ideas is to create a UK Level 6 Eco Home within second life to use as an educational device. A meeting a month or so ago with Pam Broviak (Public Works Director for the City of LaSalle, Illinois) has led to a collaborative project forming an International Eco-Code Park within Second Life. The Public Work island already contains a US Code House, demonstrating how such virtual builds can be used effectively.

Read more over on Pam’s Public Works blog

The island also contains a brilliant bridge tour built by TEEX enabling you to view all risks and hazards of concrete bridge construction. Read a review in the latest, hot of the press, copy of GridWorks

So a plot of land has been cleared, signs put in place, across the street from the US Code House to build a UK level 6 eco home. Perhaps a Dunster (level 7) home or Hanham Hall home? (Location on Public Works)

We are now seeking support from designers and SL builders to help on this exciting project. If you are a SL builder, educator or would like to fund and support this project please do get in touch. (or IM Brand Woodin or Pam Renoir from within Second Life)

When complete, or indeed even in construction, the international eco-code park will enable educational tours and visits from colleges and universities, on site workshops and discussions along with the show casing of real world eco solutions and material. It is even anticipated the homes could be used to give building code assessors more awareness and depth to training – as the existing TEEX bridge and Code house do already.

If you do not have a Second Life – join up through our dedicated Public Work registration site – you will arrive in Second Life at the Public Works Island and meet other built environment professionals there who will assist with any questions.  We look forward to seeing you there.

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 “a real school for the future – without eco-bling”