Category Archives: News

Counting construction carbons with ConstructCO2

This blog has reported on numerous occasions (eg here and here) on the need to measure and improve carbon emissions from construction activities separately from that of the building itself or the facility in use. And the need for an easy, simple to use tool.

As noted many of the available applications for calculating carbons were linked dubiously to carbon offsetting schemes.  Of note for use in construction were the Google Carbon tool (but not construction specific enough) and the Environment Agency tool (but is proving to be too detailed and cumbersome for most projects)

Measuring and improving carbons on site is increasingly important as more and more projects seek higher standards to BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes (and soon Non Dom Buildings).  One recent project set ‘damages’ for the contractor not achieving the ‘management points’ (for waste, CO2 and considerate constructor standard) for CSH at £40k per point. (See the CSH Technical Manual for more on this)

Recently at EcoBuild Paul Morrell, Construction Tsar commented  that focus on carbon emissions should be a number one site priority as it is measurable and addresses other areas of ‘waste’ in the industry

And yet the majority of contracts just do not know their project carbon footprint, whether its close to 1tonne or over 100tonne. We do not have a feel for the magnitude of emissions, or indeed what 1kg of CO2 actually looks like.

So it is good news to see the release of ConstructCO2, developed through Evolution-ip, by construction people for construction use.

ConstructCO2 is a simple carbon calculator based on the premise of keeping it simple and easy to use on site. It makes use of existing site approaches for data collection (induction sheets, daily log-ins, plant sheets, utility invoices etc). Carbon emissions through transport are calculated through use of google mapping API .

Construction (people) travel miles are recorded for management, operatives and visitors. (With a dispersed project management team you will be surprised at the carbon footprint of a project site meeting and probably think of alternative arrangements) Material transport miles are derived from delivery notes or goods received sheets.

Where the power of ConstructCO2 lies however is in its reporting. Construction carbons can be measured in terms of co2/£project value, co2/dwelling, c02/m2, co2/bed or other, enabling benchmarking with other projects and generically through KPI’s such as those from Construction Excellence.

But simply knowing the project footprint, the construction company’s total project footprint, and where the biggest areas for carbon emission are enables action for real improvement.

ConstructCO2 is currently being used by a number of different projects in what I guess would be called a beta stage. Current projects include a large new build hotel project, a small industrial refurb project, school extension and an architect’s office.

Currently the use of ConstructCO2 as a tool is free, with a (currently optional) fee based support and training package to help contractors understand carbon issues, carbon standards requirements, measuring, benchmarking and improving carbon footprints.  So it makes sense to take the opportunity now, measure and understand the carbon footprint of one of your projects. At the moment sign up is through request via email contacts on the ConstructCO2 front page

Future developments include the option for live energy feeds from site power meters to ConstructCO2 and live exporting from ConstructCO2 to Google and Pachube for example.

ConstructCO2 is on twitter at @constructco2 and has a ning forum in development for discussion and benchmarking of project carbon issues.

Note: As an associate with Evolution-ip, I have been involved in the ConstructCO2 concept development and testing.  Evolution-IP is a be2camp partner, presenting at and sponsoring be2camp un-conference events.

CBI low-carbon economy roadmap to 2020

For the first time the UK’s leading business group has set out its vision for a low-carbon economy in a series of climate change roadmaps.  The roadmaps, called ‘Going the Distance’, set out a timetable of action to ensure carbon emissions targets are met, and the measures that will be needed to put the UK in pole position in the development of low-carbon technologies.

Comment: the roadmap could appear to be protecting industry (only a 6% reduction) and focuses heavily on nuclear and carbon capture (but not until 2013), sees the Severn Barrage as the way forward and wants a government led, rather than industry led  initiative.  (what happened to market led economies?)

CBI are proposing the following contributions per sector from 2006 

Industry 6%

Buildings 43%

Transport 29%

Energy 39%

(not sure how much the roadmap avoids double counting, particularly with energy reductions) 

 

In the buildings roadmap the CBI wants to see:
• Smart meters fitted in homes and businesses so users can see how much power they are using.
• Incentives to encourage consumers to buy more efficient washing machines, fridges and freezers.
• Loft insulation installed in three million homes.
• Agreement on a realistic definition of ‘zero-carbon’ for new homes and business premises.

  Download: Going the distance: the low-carbon buildings roadmap 

Forty percent of the UK’s carbon emissions come from energy consumed in buildings.1 To meet the UK’s 2020 CO₂ target, the CBI believes carbon savings of 43MtCO₂ should come from buildings, equivalent to a 20%reduction from 2006 levels.

Nearly two thirds of these savings can come from energy efficiency measures that will save money as well as carbon, while remaining savings will need to come from renewable and low carbon heat and micro-generation and zero-carbon new buildings. Progress made in decarbonising the UK’s electricity supply will also drive emissions reduction

Related:

Route to Zero

zero carbon definition

Climate Change and Sustainable Development Team at the Department for Communities and Local Government have launched the consultation on the definition of zero carbon homes and non-domestic buildings.

see the press notice at http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1101131.

They are interested in views on the definition of zero carbon homes and non-domestic buildings – consultation closes on Wednesday 18 March 2009.

You will see from the press notice that the Zero Carbon Hub will be organising workshops in February.  For more information about the workshops, please contact the Hub at info@zerocarbonhub.org.

code for sustainable buildings

A while ago  I posted on the UKGBC task force UKGBC task group too important to be so narrow? and how it should embrace an open collaborative wiki style approach to the development of the Code for Sustainable Buildings.
This code will be so influential and far reaching that it cannot be developed behind closed doors, behind closed servers etc

Now the good news is that the UKGBC have started a consultation on the development of the Code.

Closing date back to the UKGBC is on the 12 December. A very short window compared to the months given to the same process for the Construction Sustainability Strategy.

The document can be downloaded from here, and a discussion area has been set up on the be2camp forum.

sustainability and the crunch

The UKGBC released results of a survey earlier this week, which should be seen as important reminder that sustainability is here to stay despite the economic situation.

Results released today from a poll held during a webinar hosted by the UK Green Building Council have revealed that British companies see sustainability as a growth area over the next 3 years, despite the current financial crisis. More than 92% of respondents felt that sustainability would either grow as an issue or stay at the same level despite the credit crunch.

27% said that the financial crisis has had no adverse effect on their organisation’s efforts to tackle sustainability and more than half (55.54%) said it had caused it to become an even bigger focus for them over the past 6 months.

The general consensus from respondents was that during these times of uncertainty, it is important for government to stick to ambitious green targets, maintaining the direction of travel for policy and regulation. More than 96% either agreed or strongly agreed with this statement.

This was supported recently via colleague Pam Broviak, who recently sent live tweets and comments (via Twitter) from the US GreenBuild08 conference:

Me: whats the buzz re green v credit crunch ?

Pam:  everyone says it really hasn’t affected it a lot

Of course if we consider the triple bottom line, of environmental, social AND economic sustainability this makes sense. But as has been commented here before the survivors of this financial crisis will be those who have resilient practices and approaches in place – and that this must include social and environmental

government to focus on 50% construction waste reduction

Waste and recycling minister Jane Kennedy has revealed that tackling business waste is to be a “top priority”

as reported on www.letsrecycle.com

Ms Kennedy explained that the Government would now develop proposals aimed at supporting businesses to look at ways they could reduce, reuse and recycle their waste, with a particular focus falling on small businesses. She added that the government hoped to offer support in light of Envirowise research which claimed businesses spend 4% of their annual turnover on waste disposal.

One area that the minister said that she hoped to make some real headway with regards to waste reduction and recycling was the construction and demolition sectors, with Ms Kennedy keen to build on targets to halve the amount of waste generated in these sectors by 2012.

Identifying work already done in this area, the minister said she believed the 2007 Waste Strategy for England had “rightly identified” construction and demolition waste as in need of action, leading to the Sustainable Construction Strategy launched in June and the legal requirement for each business to have a Site Waste Management Plans, which the minister believed would play a part in keeping focus on waste at this time of economic instability.

——

All good news, but reliance on Site Waste Management Plans to acheive 50% reduction in waste is not the way forward and more empahsis should be on eliminating waste, not simply finding better ways to mange waste after it has been created.

In addition one of the biggest moans from site contractors I hear at the moment, across the country, is the lack of real engagement from clients in driving Site Waste Management Plans

And as to spending 4% of their annual turnover on waste disposal this seems very low for the built environment sector when the real cost of skips is estimated at £1500, not the £100 costed for, and the estimated waste in the sector is at 30%, and DEFRA suggesting that one third of solid materials delivered to a project is wasted.

Previous isite related posts:

resource efficiency could save construction industry millions

beyond waste management

carbon management and waste management event

UKGBC task group too important to be so narrow?

sustainable construction commitments launched

be2camp count down

With only four days until be2camp meets in London, this blog over the next few days will feature updates of what you can expect, and profile some of the events, speakers, and our sponsors.

More information and details of registration (its free to register) can be found at http://www.be2camp.com

OK, the initial ‘keynotes’ are shaping up like this, so far…

09:30 Registration and networking

10:00 Welcome, introductions, housekeeping, sponsors, be2camp story,

People, planet, productivity

Death to Email! (Suw Charman-Anderson)

Free our data (Charles Arthur, The Guardian)

Free our mapping response – data  (Live from Angus Scown, Australia)

11.00  Coffee then 3 streams of concurrent sessions

13:45 – AEC Design in Second Life, Aloft Hotels (Live from Second Life Jon Brouchoud)

14.00 then 3 streams of concurrent sessions, including live link ups from Second Life

17:30 Pecha Kucha

Remember be2camp is based upon the barcamp, unconference form of event, so things will evolve and change on the day – what would you like to see or share to inprire others?

Keep in touch via twitter on @be2camp or the be2camp website

be2camp founders and un-organisers are: martin brown, paul wilkinson, jodie miners, pam broviak

Contact be2camp via be2camp@gmail.com

Next blog will cover …. Stream One ….Collaborating through Web2.0

on public building epc’s

The UK Communities and Local Government government website states

Our buildings are responsible for almost 50 per cent of the UK’s energy consumption and carbon emissions.

October 1st marked the date by which UK public buildings have to display their energy performance for buildings and facilities as an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). Currently around 18,000 buildings, including town halls, museums, schools and job centres, are being tested.

The Guardian’s Hall of Shame lists a number of very prominent and public buildings that score G ( on the same A (good) to G (bad) as white goods). There is within the article a number of calls for refurbishment of these buildings – many less than 5 years old. So where was / is the sustainable design, construction and facilities management that everyone has claimed to be doing since ‘whenever‘?

a facilities management issue?

I question whether this is a design issue or the running of the building. Case studies indicate that Facilities Managers often lack the up to date eco-knowledge to manage complex building management systems, so manage all buildings ‘the same’.    In addition FM has largely been excluded from the debate, news and leading edge sustainability decision making, (at least publicly as a voice shaping our built environment sustainability future) and here we see the consequences.  (see my post on the UKGBC task group for example)

And the blame?

You can see the FM providers or managers from poor scoring buildings being called into board or chamber meetings or  to explain the low EPC score, and told to ‘do something about it’. After all no one wants to be associated with producing white goods that carry a G rating, so the same with buildings that carry a G rating.

and the costs

To be really meaningful, and easily understood the A – G ratings need to be converted into £ of wasted energy per building or per m2 for each building, to demonstrate the real cost to the tax payer of inefficient buildings or facilities.

and keep the focus on ….

It is necessary that focus remains on EPC, change will only come when the public, the building users and environmentalists (and bloggers) kept focus on EPC and displays, as with so many good initiatives this could easily fall away. Maybe the first fine for non display will sharpen minds.

the sustainable way

I am delighted to be supporting the NW premier sustainability conference – The Sustainable Way – scheduled for October 29th – 30th . Details can be found on the event website with registration form, and some great influential key note speakers to be confirmed very shortly, but here are the salient features:

Ambition and aspiration

Sustainable design and construction are no longer quirky one off projects; clients and occupiers expect buildings to be both environmentally sound and cost effective, and there are further expectations on the industry to deliver Zero Carbon Homes linked to sustainable communities and the wider climate change agenda.

Innovation is a key driver of competitive advantage in construction.

The 2008 Sustainable Way conference will provide the platform to encourage the sector to work in collaboration, to help the industry develop and to implement a shared vision and strategy for innovation to create a healthy economic advantage through using sustainable methods rather than working against them.

Outline

Designing in sustainability; half day workshop 10am – 3pm 29th October

Site visits 3pm – 5pm optional

Join Rob Cowan (Urban Design Skills) probably Britain’s most experienced urban design trainer and other leading place makers including URBED and Carolyn Butterworth as they explore what makes a place sustainable. Examining current design and quality issues using the Elevate Design Handbook and local and national case studies.

Themes: International master planning, place making, design strategies, sustainability briefs, local distinctiveness.

Audience: Town planners, planning officers, architects, urban designers, master planners, landscape architects, regeneration professionals, community consultants.

Limit capacity please book early to avoid disappointment

29th October Evening event

Lancashire Best Practice Club

Debate the latest issues across sustainability at this sponsored event.

30th October Conference and exhibition 9.30am – 5pm

Format:
AM – key note speakers & panel discussion
PM – Seminars, workshop sessions & demonstrations

Listen to key debates across the sustainability sector. Visit workshops on important sector issues with leading figures from Bre, CABE, CIBSE, Catalyst, and more. Learn a new skill in the demonstration zone or upskill in the Networking zone. Visit suppliers and industry innovators in the exhibition areas.

Themes: Sustainable construction nationally & internationally; BSF sustainable schools, onsite waste management plans, ESCO’s & Feed In Tariffs, climate change, biodiversity, public realm, renewable technologies, construction legislation, natural building materials, regeneration, large scale housing refurbishment, heritage renovations, Transition towns.

Audience: Architects, urban designers, planners, housing associations, developers, contractors, local authorities, property consultants, house builders, young professionals, students, community groups.

Exhibition, Networking zone and Demonstrations – Free to college students, apprentices and trainees in the Northwest. Please email education@sustainableway.info for further details.

the future of conferences?

The organisers of the be2camp event met on-line late Monday evening (well it was breakfast in Sydney, tea time in Illinois, and late here in the UK!) to continue with the development of this project and event.  The agenda and arrangements are now shaping up very nicely. (It was noted that this event development and the communication between the organisers has not yet needed one email between us)

For an excellent  insight as to this type of event, read Pam Broviak’s report of her attendance at a Chicago event. Pam, a Public Works Director in Illinois comments:

I retained more from this conference than I normally would at a more traditional event and met more people

So is the unconference, low cost, free (as in free speech) barcamp event going to replace the high fee corporate control-organised events? .  Time will tell.   But surely, as budgets bite and delegates and organisations question the value from attending high fee conference events, the knowledge gained (and retained) and the networking value, bar camp and other non-conference events will undoubtedly become more common and popular.

Be2Camp – a barcamp type non-confernce event, exploring the use of Web 2.0 approaches in the built environment will be held in London, at the Building Center, Store Street, on October 10th.

Register for free here.

The backstory to be2camp:

The concept for be2camp started as a Twitter conversation between Martin Brown (built environment advisor) and Paul Wilkinson, (Comms Director BIW) following Martin’s attendance at barcamp type events, suggesting we do ‘something’ for the (UK) built environment. This discussion was picked by Jodie Miners in Australia, (Construction Collaborative IT specialist)  again through Twitter, and through conversations within Second Life with Pam Broviak (Director Public Works) from Illinois, USA. The timing of the event has been fixed to coincide with Jodie’s visit to the UK. We do hope Pam will be able to attend, if not she will be coordinating the be2camp Second Life activities. So now you know who to contact, praise or blame!