The Carbon Cycle: Transition Event

In 2006 Kate Rawles cycled 4553 miles from Texas to Alaska. Along the way she talked to ordinary Americans about their views on climate change and saw for herself some of what’s at stake.

In 2012 she published a book about her amazing journey. The Carbon Cycle

Now Kate’s coming to Garstang to give a first-hand account of the trip and talk about its lessons and implications. Admission is free but space is limited; if you can, please confirm your attendance by email to carbongarstang@icloud.com

Carbon Cycle Poster Web

Heros and Texts for a future Built Environment based on #CSR

“suddenly the air smells much greener now”

Listening to ‘These Streets’, lyrics by Paolo Nutini summed up the brilliant, inspiring Green Vision conference in Leeds – exploring CSR within the built environment.

A mix of talks, presentations, round table discussions and pecha kuchas from Mel Starrs, Eden Brukman, Tamara Bergkamp, Eddie Murphy, Martin Brown, Faye Jenkins, Claire Walker, Rick Hamilton, Mark Warner, Pedro Pablo Cardoso-Castro, Andy Ainsworth, Paula Widdowson and many others showed that there is real emergence and a future for a Built Environment founded on social responsibility principles.

The air smells much greener …

We heard of excellent progress being made by individuals, projects and organisations on the CSR journey, and how behind these are great influential thinkers, often outside of the sector, many, unsurprisingly, related to the ‘outdoor’ sector.

Many of the speakers were enthusiastic in sharing CSR heros and recommended CSR reading. So here, as a summary, or reading list are those mentioned during the day. I wonder how many of these are on the reading list within design, construction and fm education? (Book titles link to Amazon)

Yvon Chouinard

Rock climber, environmentalist and outdoor industry businessman, noted for his contributions to climbing, climbing equipment and the outdoor gear business. His company @Patagonia is widely acclaimed for its environmental and social focus. According to Fortune magazine, Chouinard is arguably the most successful outdoor industry businessman alive today.

The Responsible Company What we have learnt in the first 40 years at Patagonia by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley (see my blog)

Let My People Go Surfing Yvon Chouinard – Probably the ‘must read book’ to understand CSR in Business

(On my blog: How can construction learn from Patagonia?)

Ray Anderson

Founder of Interface Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of modular carpet for commercial and residential applications and a leading producer of commercial broadloom and commercial fabrics. He was known in environmental circles for his advanced and progressive stance on industrial ecology and sustainability.

Ray was was posthumously awarded an Outstanding Achievement award at this year’s Guardian Sustainable Business Awards in 2012. (There is a related, must watch, video here: John Elkington describing the work and legacy of Ray Anderson)

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose: Doing Business by Respecting the Earth (2009) Later released in paperback as Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist in 2011.

Paul Hawken

An environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author. Ray Anderson of Interface credited The Ecology of Commerce with his environmental awakening. He described reading it as a “spear in the chest experience”, after which Anderson started crisscrossing the country with a near-evangelical fervor, telling fellow executives about the need to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

Hawken’s book, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (1999) coauthored with Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins, popularized the now-standard idea of natural capital and direct accounting for ecosystem services, a theme revisited by Rio +20 and likely to become more mainstream across the built environment.

Janine Benyus

Her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature defines Biomimry as a “new science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems”. Benyus suggests looking to Nature as a “Model, Measure, and Mentor” and emphasizes sustainability as an objective of biomimicry. Key thinking in the Living Building Challenge principles, as is

E O Wilson

Edward Osborne Wilson an American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author. In the mid 80’s developed the concept of Biophilia, the connection between humans and nature, which translates into architecture and the built environment as comfort, well being and productivity through exposure to natural light and natural surrondings or imagry.

Anita Roddick

Dame Anita Roddick, human rights activist and environmental campaigner, best known as the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company producing and retailing beauty products that shaped ethical consumerism The company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the first to promote fair trade with third world countries. Roddick was involved in activism and campaigning for environmental and social issues, including involvement with Greenpeace andThe Big Issue.

John Elkington

John Elkington @volansjohn is a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development. He is currently the Founding Partner & Executive Chairman of Volans, a future-focused business working at the intersection of the sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovation movements

His latest book The Zeronauts, Breaking the Sustainability Barrier describes many of todays inspirational leaders : “Just as our species broke the Sound Barrier during the 1940s and 1950s, a new breed of innovator, entrepreneur, and investor is lining up to break the Sustainability Barrier”

Jorgen Randers

2052: What will the world look like in 2052

Jeff Hollender,

Jeffrey Hollender is an American businessperson, entrepreneur, author, and activist. He was well known for his roles as CEO, co-founder, and later Chief Inspired Protagonist and Executive Chairperson of Seventh Generation Inc., the country’s largest distributor of non-toxic, all-natural cleaning, paper and personal care products. www.jeffhollender.com/

Gary Hirshberg,

Gary Hirshberg is chairman and former president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt producer, based in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Now part of the Danone group.

Published in January 2008, Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World is a book about socially minded business that calls on individuals to realize their power to make a difference in the marketplace, while doing business in ways that adhere to a multiple bottom line – one that takes into consideration not only finance, but the environment and health as well.

Jeffrey Swartz,

Jeffrey Swartz is the former president and CEO of The Timberland Company an organization that believes that doing well and doing good are inextricably linked. Timberland’s commitment is to reducing global warming and preserving the outdoor environment.

David and Claire Hieatt,

Founders of Howies a clothing company based in Cardigan Bay, Wales produces eco-friendly T-shirts, jeans and sportswear, and aims to have ethically correct practices. Howies use natural fabrics as alternatives to petrochemical-derived modern fabrics. Examples include organic cotton, Merino wool and recycled cotton. Howies T-shirts often have images or slogans with political or environmental themes

Dee Hock

Dee Ward Hock is the founder and former CEO of VISA , described systems that are both chaotic and ordered, and used for the first time the term “chard” and chaordic,combining the words chaos and order.

More?

Over to you –

Follow the discussion on twitter with the #GVis2012 hashtag.

Who are your CSR Heros and CSR Texts to add to this Built Environment inspirers list?

What additions or comments would you make to the entries above?

A full record (video, blog, tweets, presentations, storify) of the Building CSR Event is being curated on the be2camp event page here.

Sustained summer reading and listening

Stuck for a rip-roaring read or an essential soundtrack to your summer break?  BSJ online asked 13 loyal readers of the sustainability channel to put forward their cultural favourites for the holiday season. Try out this über list of print or plastic (or MP3) which range from the sublime (Proust, Glenn Gould) to the ridiculous (Howard Jones and a singing bear)

You can find the full list of the favourite books on the LibraryThing.com website

Contributors (a who’s who of the UK sustainability and blogging world?):

Mark Brinkley, Housebuilder’s Bible author and blogger.

Paul Scott, Head of Fire and Risk, Faber Maunsell

Sophy Twohig, Director, Hopkins

John Goodbun, Architect, founder, WAG

Mel Starrs, housing team, Inbuilt, and blogger

Rob Annable, Axis Design Architects

Brian Scannell, NES

Julian Crawford, Sustainable Committee lead at Gensler Architects

Martin Brown, founder, Fairsnape and blogger at isite

Andrew Warren, Director, Association for the Conservation of Energy

Paul Wilkinson, BIW Technologies

Paul Crossley, sustainability manager, RLF

Jim Webster, director, 3d Reid Architects

Phil Clark, editorial director, Sustainability

Michael Willoughby, reporter, Sustainability

your top three environmental books

What are the top three books you’ve read on environmental issues that you would recommend?   Why are they great reads,important or influential?

Join the discussion underway on the Linkedin Sustainability Questions page and learn what others feel are important environmental books. I will summarise all the recommendations here soon.

Not a member of Linkedin? contact me to get an invite.

latest Grid Works issued

The latest issue of Grid Works has been issued and is available for download from here or from vendors on the Public Works area within Second Life.

Once again CivilE Writer (editor) has pulled together an excellent journal that illustrates how second life and other virtual worlds can be used to improve the real world built environment.

In this issue:

  • Conference in a sewer.
  • Using Second Life for architectural design and planning
  • Built Environment Tour to introduce you to Second Life
  • Job Seeking in the Virtual World
  • Website reviews of the UK FixMyStreet and FillThatHole from mysociety.org

The next edition of Grid Works will feature colleges and universities in Second Life offering engineering and related science programs in real life and/or Second Life. If you know of a school that should be included in this issue, let us know by e-mailing the following information:

•Name and real life location of school
•Location of school in Second Life
•Second Life contact information for school

(I guess I should declare an interest as contributing editor through my second life avatar Brand Woodin)

Grid Works is published quarterly for $L0 per year in Second Life.

chicken in the blasket roof

From a non-conference on virtual worlds in Limerick – to the experience of reconnecting with nature, wildness and remoteness at the edge of Europe …

Last week I had the privilege of once again spending time on the Great Blasket Island, off the Dingle peninsular, Co Kerry Ireland.

This is always a highlight of our annual holiday in Ventry. The marine and bird life never ceases to amaze, this year ticking seals, basking sharks, minke whale, dolphin, gannets, puffins and much much more. The beach on the island is in my mind one of the best beaches in the world, and on a hot suny day the white bright sand can take you to the Caribbean. It really does feel like the end of the land out here, with the walk out over the highest point to the end of the island one of the most dramatic walks anywhere.

The island lies approximately 2 km from the mainland at Dunmore Head, and extends 6 km to the southwest, rising to 292 metres at its highest point (Croaghmore). Despite its close proximity to the mainland, visitors to the Dingle coast can often not see the island through the notorious sea mist.

The island was inhabited until 1953, when the Irish government decided that it could no longer guarantee the safety of the remaining population. It was the home of three noted Irish writers: Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Peig Sayers and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin. Their works were all written in Irish, and have all been translated into English, as well as other languages. The homes of Tomás Ó Criomhthain and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin are now in ruins but the house in which Sayers once lived has been restored, and used to form part of the hostel which previously functioned on the island.

Until 1953, the inhabitants of Great Blasket Island formed the most westerly settlement in Europe. The small fishing community (even at its peak the population was hardly more than 150) mostly lived in primitive cottages perched on the relatively sheltered north-east shore.

Over the ten years or so I have visited the island, the dispute on ownership and planning to restore and create tourist facilities has ebbed and flowed. Initially it seemed the vision was for a World Heritage listing which would mean no construction or restoration. Looking at planning minutes it seems the vision is now a somewhat less grand Irish National Historic Park which it would seem allow some facilities to be built.

This year though I was amazed to see, even upset to see, what was a poorly managed (ie untidy material storage) construction site to restore / extend self catering hostel. In stark comparison to the solid construction of existing buildings, made of solid and local stone, breeze blocks had been flown in, packs split and not restacked, timbers not stacked, (artificial?) slates from Northern Ireland awaited on pallets.

Earlier regulations would not allow any vehicles on to the island in an effort to preserve the pristine nature, now yellow diesel construction plant lay where it had been last used. Concrete and mortar spoils from the mixer hardened on the ground.

What a fantastic opportunity for alternative construction practices and designs – wasted. The creation of an alternative construction technology and education center here would have been a wonderful message, showing we can work within a sense of connectivity to nature and heritage. Instead we have taken the easy route and failed.

Read the account of Tomás Ó Criomhthain’s experiences

The roof of his home was made of a thatch of rushes or reeds and his sisters would climb up to collect eggs from under the hens nesting on top. One amusing episode in An tOileánach describes a neighbour’s family at supper when, to their bewilderment and consternation, young chickens began raining, one by one, onto the table and splashing into a mug of milk. “For God’s sake,” cried the woman of the house, “where are they coming from?” One of the children spied a hole scratched in the roof by a mother hen.

Ó Criomhthain lived in a cottage or stone cabin with a hearth at the kitchen end and sleeping quarters at the other. A feature of island life was the keeping of animals in kitchens at night, including cows, asses, sheep, dogs, cats and hens.

The Blasket Community was in its way sustainable and resilient until moved from the land by the Irish Government, reading the literature really strikes a note of resourcefulness, of reusing and of recycling:

The islanders’ sometimes meagre existence was often supplemented by gifts from the sea when shipwrecks occurred. Timber, copper and brass were salvaged, as well as cargoes of food such as meal and wheat, which helped them to survive lean years. At one time tea was unknown on the island and when a cargo of the stuff floated ashore from a wreck it was used by one woman to dye her flannel petticoats (normally dyed with woad). She also used it to feed pigs.

(facts on Blasket taken from wikipedia)

reconnect with nature: return to the outdoors

Connecting with nature is one of the underlying themes to this blog, (see the welcome panel on the left), but unfortunately that gets lost sometimes with the more day to day built environment stuff. I feel this is important – to experience the outdoors, whether by walking or cycling, camping in the backgarden, under a tarp or bivvy under the stars on a Scottish mountain top. We need that reminder of context and time to think.

I have mentioned Yvon Chouinard many times on this blog, as inspiration for environmental and business approaches. I must also admit to being a fan of the quality Chouinard Equipment, Black Diamond and Patagonia clothing for longer than I care to remember. But it is for environmentalism through the great outdoors and wildness (or should that be wilderness) that Chouinard is best associated. Oh and fly fishing …

I was delighted therefore to receive an email from Sara at Timex Expedition introducing Return to the Outdoors, a joint endeavor with the Conservation Alliance to inspire reconnection with nature and outdoor activity. Conservation Alliance have made a number of short online films, featuring outdoors icons, with hopes of motivating everyone to spend more time outdoors and raise awareness of the Conservation Alliance’s mission to protect outdoor spaces.

The latest in the series features environmentalist and author Yvon Chouinard, founder of Chouinard Equipment, Patagonia and One Percent for the Planet, fly fishing and discussing his love of nature at a secret lake in Argentina.


For inspiration and motivation to get back outdoors, take a look at the first film featuring mountaineer Conrad Anker discussing some of his earliest memories from Wyoming’s Teton Crest, or the second film featuring Steph Davis base-jumping in southern Utah’s canyonlands.

And I should plug here my business outdoor approach – benchmarkwalks – get out of the classroom, the hotel room or conference center and do the improvement stuff on a walk, on a camp or under that tarp.