Built Environment Earthday Inspiration

Today, April 22nd is Earthday.

Earth Day is an annual day on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day is observed on April 22 each year. The April 22 date was designated as International Mother Earth Day by a consensus resolution adopted by the United Nations in 2009. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and is celebrated in more than 192 countries every year.

Google once again is celebrating with an interactive doodle. gearth

“Today we are celebrating Earth Day with an interactive doodle that captures a slice of nature’s subtle wonders,” wrote Doodler Leon Hong. “We hope you enjoy discovering animals, controlling the weather, and observing the seasons. Use the sightseeing checklist  to make sure you do not miss anything!” (end of blog below)

But for Built Environment inspiration on Earth Day – take a look at the video on the philosophy behind the Bullitt Centre in Seattle – “driving a wedge into the future of buildings”, officially opening today and now home to the Living Building Challenge.

Seattle’s Bullitt Center: The World’s Greenest Office Building from EarthFix on Vimeo.

An inspiration for the UK Built Environment. The UK Collaborative was launched on the 3rd April (see Introduction here) Find out more and keep in touch with Living Building Challenge UK via @UK_LBC

……

earth-day-2013-doodle-sightseeing-checklist

another decade of waste or something different?

One of the potentially more powerful influences that could shape future thinking on waste and waste management that emerged during the ‘noughties’ is Cradle to Cradle, Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough & Michael Braungart

This is a subject I have blogged, twittered, presented and included in workshops on many occasions, but recent musings led me to think just what the coming decade in construction could look like if C2C thinking was adopted.

In particular projecting the ‘waste is stupid’ concept forward how will our approach to waste change?

So lets stand in the future, lets say 2019, where we have passed a good number of the known milestones on zero carbon and sustainable construction, and look back at how our attitude to waste matured.

2010 There is a general awakening and awareness in general business, government and society to the disproportionate contribution that construction makes in terms to waste and associated carbon emissions.

2011 Now seen as the rubicon year in which construction waste started to be seen as socially, economically and environmentally unacceptable, (as asbestos, tobacco and smoking)

2012 50% reduction to landfill target only just achieved and disputed by many. Realisation that the real cost of waste is not in landfill but in creation of waste in the first instance even if waste is recycled or reused

2012 Reusable Protection Solutions (RPS) introduced that start to eliminate waste from packaging. Some RPS items seen as desirable design objects and used as furniture.

2013 Resources, including waste managers and waste ‘budgets’ diverted into avoiding waste and managing waste out, with no costs budgeted for waste management. Waste starts to become a real design issue

2013 Achievement of Zero Waste becomes a reality and a key industry KPI and target.

2014 Recycling now seen as a performance indicator of the design sector and  limited to materials arising from demolition and buildings taken out of commission.

2014 Site Waste Management Plans replaced by Material Re-Use Plans (Materials incorporated into designs and construction must have a reuse identified should wastage occur and at end of building life)

2015 Contract procurement of design teams, contractors and subcontractors majors on the ability and past evidence of eliminating waste and producing

2016 Savings from zero waste costs offset initial investment in sustainable construction and energy conservation measures

2017 Recycling now seen as a key element of the design sector as recycled materials are created with planned future use.

2017 Reduction in material supply sector output as the efficiency of construction improves.

2017 Construction profits increase

2018 Construction costs reduce in line with improved quality and waste reduction

2019 The traditional landfill and waste sector shrinks to a negligible level.

2019 Waste transportation, particularly skips, seen as quaint and laughable method from the past decade, “very noughties”

recession thoughts and tips

The recent excellent BBC Life on Mars series painted a harsh, dark and in many ways ugly portrait of life in Britain in the mid 1970’s. It was in that this environment I started a career in construction, a young trainee QS, working a ‘statutory’ three day week with fuel and power rationing (only able to buy petrol on alternative days depending on the first initial of your surname)

Since then I have experienced and survived the industry’s many cycles of boom and bust, times of recession and times of plenty, often caused by conditions outside of the sector itself.

It wasn’t until a later reading of Charles Handy’s Empty Raincoat that I understood I had developed a strategy for dealing with this cyclic industry. Handy sees the key to surviving change as being the ability to move from one sigmoid curve to the next before the current one peaks, or before the current one becomes a bandwagon and is no longer cutting edge. (see here)

In times of recession, innovation is the hallmark of successful organisations, and of people that survive. In my experience this means looking ahead, identifying the next emerging innovation/theme/idea, and getting rapidly up to speed. Over my career, this has led to moving from work to university, to becoming an expat, to moving from project management into planning, from planning to quality, to TQM, to collaborative working and business improvement, to benchmarking, to fm and then into independent support provision.

The move into planning serves as a good example. I was able to shelter the downturn at the time, being one of the few who could (or wanted to) operate a computer. We are talking 80’s here, the office had one pc shared between a secretary and myself. I cut my teeth on Pertmaster. Initially this produced crude gantt charts as a row of green X’s, but provided a much needed USP to winning work, and was the start of a short career as a computer based planner.

In the world of business improvement, quality, TQM and benchmarking, being part of a supportive network, and having mentors outside of the industry, proved incredibly useful, bringing new learning ideas in to the organisation

All this, I believe, improved the value I was able to add, in addressing the emerging issues that clients were facing. being ready to deal with this emergence meant that I was able to move as doors open, and explore new avenues. The lessons from each of these unexpected events has created a resilience that enables me to work in a number of sectors and areas.

So, here is a very personal guide to survival. It may not be the exact menu for you, but it will, hopefully spark a few thoughts and ideas that will help.

Be Enthusiastic: Recharge your batteries now, get out and do something wild. Appearing tired at work, and not hungry for change, is bad news

Be Ready: Identify the next emerging theme. What skills and knowledge can you acquire that will add value to you and the organisation. Get intelligence and use it.

Be Flexible: Have a plan, but also go with the flow as opportunities emerge. The built environment has a fantastic range of careers and jobs. Consider which areas are more recession proof. Currently these may be sustainability, or BIM (Building Information Modelling), or web based technologies. These are areas that will be more in demand post recession

Be Resilient: Think long term. Arguably its short-termism that has led us into the current mess. Develop a personal and organisational resilience plan that looks at improvement over the long term. Be better when we emerge from this recession.

Stand in the future and observe the industry in 2016/2019 – climate change will not be ‘put on hold’ during the recession – so do you have a route to zero mapped out?

Be Visible: Find a group you can network with, learn from and share with. For me in the past, this has included quality circles, benchmarking clubs or industry improvement groups. More recently, I am a part of many on line forums. Themed networks such as Green Drinks can provide similar opportunities. 

Get a profile inside and outside of the organisation. This is easy to do through web 2,(eg Linkedin) but what does your facebook, myspace, twitter really say about you?  What do you really find out when you google your name, or your organisation. 

Be helped and help: Find a mentor or work with a mentee

And read …  the Empty Raincoat for example

And help is out there.

Supportive resources I am involved with include:

• Mentoring courses (funded)

• Start up support. For example, through Constructing the Future we are offering a free set of modules for women in Lancashire considering startup business or self employment.

• Route to Zero. This is designed to help in the development of resilience strategies

• Surviving the Recession. This is a one-day Evolution-IP survival course for businesses in development

• Green training. It is useful to get a environmental top up to your qualifications (for example the Green Register or others)

• Construction Agency. This is a planned employee/employer agency service for Lancashire that uses RSS, mobile web and Twitter to ‘keep jobs local’ (To be launched mid / late March, but follow @cagency for updates)

For more on the above please feel free to email or twitter or leave comments below and if you found this post useful please share with others …. AddThis Social Bookmark Button:

interacting with information

“There’s a clear direction … away from people thinking, ‘This is my PC, this is my hard drive,’ to ‘This is how I interact with information, this is how I interact with the web.'”

Occasionally you come across a quote that reinforces up what you have been trying to communicate for ages, such is the comment above from Dave Armstrong, head of product and marketing for Google Enterprise, reported in the Observer article Google plans to make PC’s history .

This illustrates that the move towards a more web2.0 environment is no more about the technology but about people, trust and empowerment.

Over the last week or so I have seen many examples of the silo approach to information and knowledge, from projects to corporates to universities to industry champions, all concerned over loss of some kind of advantage (claims, profit, competitive edge, intellectual rights etc) in the face of sharing on web2.0 platforms or apps.

Maybe the built environment sector need to look at the mess the music industry has gotten itself into by trying to retain some degree of ownership for a solution.

There is also the generation thing here, as Paul commented at last weeks collaborative champions meeting, Y Gen and Google Gen people are unconscious collaborators , and yet the more influential generation (boomers) maybe stifling such collaboration by taking away and banning collaboration / sharing tools such as facebook and twitter and blogs and ….

There is also a parallel here to the anti-benchmarking school of thought, but history has shown that those who share, learn and benchmark mark with others have gained rather than lost advantage and made progress on many improvement fronts.

Time for us in the built environment to re-evaluate how we  interact with information and the internet…

defining zero carbon

As a post on this blog noted at the end of last year, the definition of zero carbon buildings is currently under consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

I am in full agreement with Casey over at Carbon Limited who blogs for a call to arms on this one, this consultation is so important that all in the built environment should engage with.

The outcome definition will shape and determine design, construction, building services  and facilities management into the future, in a similar (but more profound way) that the HASAW and CDM and other milestone legislations have done.

(from zero carbon consultation:summary)

At the core of the document is the government’s preferred framework for reaching zero carbon. In order of priority:

  1. A minimum standard of energy efficiency will be required.
  2. A minimum carbon reduction should be achieved through a combination of energy efficiency, onsite low and zero carbon (LZC) technologies, and directly connected heat. This is referred to as achieving carbon compliance.
  3. Any remaining emissions should be dealt with using allowable solutions, including offsite energy.

The zero carbon definition will have profound implications for…

… the built environment client in the choice and cost implications

design –  a change the design parameters,

construction, for example with airtight construction calling for a build quality and quality control we are not too good at. (Research at Leeds Met is showing that the cost of retro fixing air leaks in new buildings is  a hugely costly exercise *)

building services – on energy sourcing and management.

And of course on the way buildings are used, run and managed.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can download it here.  or as Casey puts it – get involved or forever bitch about it in the pubs.

(* more on this later)

does the built environment ‘get’ the web?

CEO’s do not ‘get’ the web, according to the last of four articles in today’s Telegraph that reviewed Steve Tappin and Andrew Cave’s book The Secrets of CEOs and looked at the emerging web3.0 and its impact on business.

Web3.0 will have a profound impact on building designs and the way we use buildings, through for example the use of cloud computing that will remove the need for server space and the required power and cooling energy. It will also impact on office space layout as network access becomes unchained from the desk and floor box.

But in the built environment the biggest impact may well be on collaboration that changes relationships, supply and value chains beyond recognition …

Web 2.0 has been focused on social communities, on individual relationships; things not focused on the office. … Web 3.0 will be about more interaction between customers and vendors and competitors, on making life better for the customer.- provide better collaboration on business problems.

And of course more predictions on virtual worlds, and second life…

Forecasters Gartner are predicting that by the end of 2011, 80pc of active internet users and Fortune 500 enterprises will have a “second life”,

with no where to hide problems, mistakes or greenwash …

Reputational damage in the Web 3.0 environment will be swift for companies that are caught out, because of the speed with which information can spread around the world.

So I guess an equally important question is how well does  the built environment ‘get’ the web?

be2camp in London on the 10th October, may well be seen as the start of awareness for many in the built environment to get to grips with and better understand some of the emerging web2.0 and web3.0 applications.

Post note – just as I finished this item I received a tweet (Twitter) from Krishna De in Ireland with a link to her blog article on the state of web use among SME’s: Organise, Activate And Influence Social Activism Through Social Media relating to a recent study released by O2 and TNS MRBI

  • SMS messaging for business communications, increasing from 29% four years ago to almost half (49%) today.
  • almost half of SME owner managers are unaware of what a blog is – and that just over one in 16 (6%) SME respondents has started a business blog while 5% have a personal blog.

a smart eco house that daydreams?

Following recent communication with Adam Somlai-Fischer at Zuiprezi, who I hope can get to talk at the be2camp event in October, I took a look at the Reconfigurable House, a concept environment developed by Adam constructed from thousands of low tech components that can be “rewired” by visitors.

So far so good, but reconfigurations can be made endlessly as people change their minds, so that the House can take on completely new behaviours.

Smart homes actually aren’t very smart simply because they are pre-wired according to algorithms and decisions made by designers of the systems, rather than the people who occupy the houses.

so the user gets to configure the usability level, excellent, but:

if the House is left alone for too long, it gets bored, daydreams and reconfigures itself….

The Reconfigurable House is open source, registered through Creative Commons which seems to allow you to download the code and create your very own reconfigurable home, or upload your own configurable devices into the house suite.

Arguments as to who has control of the remote may take on a whole new dimension.