Category Archives: resilience

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.

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Sustainability: Breaking on through to the other side

“Break on through to the Other Side”  sang Jim Morrison in the Doors way back in the 60s.

Listening again recently started me thinking of how ‘sustainability’ could be ‘breaking through to the other side’ … to a time / place where sustainability and CSR is the norm rather than something we strive for.

This, however, begs a number of tricky questions and answers

Just what does sustainability and social responsibility really look like? When or how will we know we have arrived? What exactly do we have to ‘break through’? What is the tipping point?

What we should find really exciting is that we dont really know, we dont know where the boundary or tipping point is. Where, what or indeed how far we need to push.  Are we nearly there or light years away?  This makes sustainability an adventure and exploration.

And of course many argue, quite rightly, that sustainability is a journey not a destination or a state of business.

A tipping point may well come when organisations move across a rubicon, from trying to do good whilst making a profit, to making a profit from doing good.  (I am reminded here again of Yvon Chouinard at Patagoniaevery time we do the right thing for the environment we make a profit”)

Have we made sustainability and CSR too intellectual? I fear so. Is it now far too embedded in checklists, processes and systems. We have lost connection with the natural world, with planet earth, the very reason we need sustainability, resilience and CSR?

Perhaps the tipping point to breaking through to the other side is re-igniting this connection, where we dont need a tag, or a label, but doing the right thing as an organisation or individual is the norm and ‘feels’ right, rather than something we do because we are encouraged, nudged or told to do.

Through fairsnape, organisations are supported in understanding their Route to Zero, where zero is a target, the route the more important, and supported in breaking through barriers.

If you are interested in learning more, I invite you to join me in the sustainability and CSR conversations on twitter, to subscribe to this blog or to get in touch at fairsnape for more information

And a thought for the built environment in 2012… what do you see as the sustainability boundaries that we need to break through and move beyond?

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”

a transition view of the uk transition housing plan

A welcomed and important perspective on the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan was posted by Rob Hopkins on the Transition blog:

lowcarbonplancover

After many months of Ed Milliband putting himself out there are a Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change that actually gets climate change, finally his big Plan, the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan was unveiled on Wednesday, in a speech in the House of Commons that name checked Transition Towns and which is the boldest national vision for a low carbon society yet seen.  Many others have since pitched in with their thoughts, I thought it might be useful here to offer an analysis from a Transition perspective.  In his speech, Milliband said “we know from the Transition Towns movement the power of community action to motivate people..”, clearly an outcome of his attendance as a ‘Keynote Listener’ at the Transition Network conference in May. So how does the Plan measure up, and does it actually advance what Transition initiatives and the wider relocalisation movement are doing?

On Housing (of particular interest here) Rob Comments:

tpcommThe Plan restates 2016 of the date by which all new housing will be zero carbon, which is entirely laudable, although Wales has actually managed to introduce this 5 years earlier, by 2011.  It might have provided a good push to this had it been brought forward to, say, 2014. Much of this part of the report is as you would imagine, but it does contain the intriguing statement that “the Government is investing up to £6 million to construct 60 more low carbon affordable homes built with innovative, highly insulating, renewable materials”.

Does this mean that there is now £6 million for hands-on research into straw bale, hemp construction, earth plasters and so on?

Or does ‘highly insulating, renewable materials’ refer to Kingspan and other industrial oil-derived building materials?

At the moment ‘zero carbon homes’ refers only to a building’s performance once built, not the embodied energy of the materials it contains.

The role of local and natural materials in strengthening local economies is key.

My Comment: it is these points that need a wider, open and urgent debate as raised in a previous blog item here. If zero carbon is the solution what was the question? and are we defining zero carbon with enough insight?

Rob scores the Plan as follows:

Addressing Peak Oil:  1 out of 10.

Energy: 7 out of 10.

Transport 4 out of 10

Housing: 6 out of 10

Community involvement: 2 out of 10

Food and Farming: 1 out of 10

and Overall : 6 out of 10


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:

on going local – part one

Mel Starrs over at Elemental has a great and useful article on local resources as seen from the LEED and BREEAM perspectives. Local materials, for local people (or a review of LEED credit MR5.1)  Essential reading for those using these standards and grapling with the concept of local resources.

And yet there is another local resource debate emerging that may well eclipse these standards:

The transition movement approach based on the concepts of peak oil and local resilience necessitates the use of local labour and resources. Rob Hopkins within the Transition Handbook includes building materials as one of the key products, along with food, that can be produced locally.  Re-localisation calls for the production of the means to produce locally – something lost in the cheap transport, cheap oil economies.

A recent presentation from Tom Woolley advocating the use of hempcrete and other cropped based construction products as the  material of the future, paints the picture of the hemp being grown fields local to the new housing project.

Within the UK regeneration projects there is often KPI requirements on the use of local resources and labour, as high as 70%  in an attempt to keep spend local to regenerate the regional and local construction markets.  It remains a key selection criteria on most if not all public procurement PQQ’s.  Corporate organisations often have grand CSR statements on positive approaches to using local labour and organisations. 

And yet a simple plotting of supplier / subcontractor locations on a google map can reveal to clients the visual distribution of spend away from the local area. 

Re-localisation is a debate that will continue, driven by the drive for low or zero carbon, the economy, politics and concepts such as transition and peak oil.  How the standards, LEED /BRREAM and the CSB / CSH influence or reflect this will be of great interest.

… off now to view the Hanham Hall sublitted application plans for their intentions for use of local labour and resources … part 2 to follow.

sustainable resources and publications update

Items of interest to built environment + natural environment + sustainable communities filtered from the Sustainability Development Research Network (SDRN) update

Engaging Places
A new initiative has been launched by CABE and English Heritage to help every school exploit the world’s biggest teaching resource; ‘Engaging Places’ will champion and support teaching and learning through the whole built environment, from grand historic buildings to the streets and neighbourhoods where we live. Great web resource here

Creating green jobs: developing local low-carbon economies
This publication outlines measures to help create 150 000 new jobs in the low carbon economy – jobs that help save carbon, reduce fuel poverty, increase our energy security and build resilience in those areas at greatest risk from climate change. A must read document.

Policy Exchange Report – ‘Warm Homes’
This report argues that Government efforts to improve energy efficiency in the existing housing stock have been slow and expensive. The grants available are too complicated to administer and have had to be applied for on household-by-household basis, with those that do wish to upgrade required to cover a large part of the upfront costs. This has resulted in millions of homes not applying for the grants to which they are eligible and those unable to find the cash for upfront installation costs being excluded. In addition, such a variety of organisations are responsible for the delivery of energy efficiency improvements, including the Warm Front Scheme and the Energy Saving Trust, that effective joined-up action is prevented and the costs of bureaucracy increased. To quickly install basic energy efficiency measures in every household that needs them, ‘Warm Homes’ suggests that the structures of energy efficiency finance and delivery have to change and makes recommendations of how to achieve this. More…

Comfort in a Lower Carbon Society
The January edition of Building Research and Information includes a set of five commentaries on the earlier special issue ‘Comfort in a Lower Carbon Society’. The commentaries examine from different perspectives the opportunities, barriers and potential for significant carbon reductions through changing the social expectations and behaviours for what constitutes thermal comfort. The heating and cooling of buildings consumes a significant proportion of energy in developed countries and the trajectory of consumption continues to rise. Given that developed countries have a large and slowly growing building stock (less than 2% per annum), technical solutions to upgrading the building stock will take a substantial period of time. Altering societies’ behaviour and expectations surrounding the consumption of ‘comfort’ – specifically through how much heating and cooling we require – presents an important opportunity for lowering energy use and carbon dioxide emissions. Commentaries are written by Jim Skea, Mithra Moezzi, Harold Wilhite, Russell Hitchings, and Ian Cooper. More…

Tackling Climate Change, Reducing Poverty
A new coalition of leading UK environmental and social justice groups, convened by Oxfam and the new economics foundation (nef) and including Friends of the Earth and the Royal College of Nursing, has released a report – ‘Tackling Climate Change, Reducing Poverty’ – showing that tackling climate change actually offers a huge opportunity to boost the economy and tackle UK poverty at the same time. The report shows how the need to combat climate change could present a huge opportunity to tackle poverty too. Key recommendations include: increasing household energy efficiency, reducing both emissions and fuel poverty; planning for an equitable transition to a low carbon economy (paving the way for the UK to capitalise on the opportunities and reap the benefits of the new low-carbon economy including the creation of new ‘green collar’ jobs; promoting sustainable public service provision, including low carbon food procurement for hospitals and schools; improving the existing housing stock (moving towards low carbon design in housing and urban development); and investing in a public transport system, which is better for the environment and more equitable. More…

Natural England Draft Policy – ‘All Landscapes Matter’
Natural England is leading on the implementation of the European Landscape Convention (ELC) in England.  This document sets out their detailed policy for working with and through England’s landscapes as an integrating framework for managing change and raising the quality of all landscapes and the benefits they provide, whether they are rural, urban or coastal, ordinary or outstanding. Key policies highlighted consider: landscape management, protection and planning; dynamic and evolving landscapes; landscape as an integrating framework; European Landscape Convention; valuing landscape; landscape, design and development; European and International context; Landscape Character Areas; and landscape monitoring. Natural England is keen to hear views on this draft policy, and invite written comments until the 13th March 2009More…

Community development in local authorities
This new report from CDF examines how community development teams are structured in local authorities. Findings are amalgamated from discussions with a number of local authorities, together with findings from a more formal process of investigation. It attempts to give practice-based insights and intelligence about the role of community development teams. It looks at different structural models and the key factors that help community development, and therefore the voice of the community, to have an impact. This report is part of an ongoing project and the final section poses questions for those currently engaged in developing CD within their local authority. More…


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