A case for reconstructing the world of sustainable building standards.

 

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The sustainability media platform Green Biz recently carried an extract fromFutuREstorative Chapter Six, the New Sustainability Standards. Here is an abridged version …

… (The following is an excerpt from “FutuREstorative, Working Towards a New Sustainability,”authored by Martin Brown and published by RIBA Publishing. The selection was edited for clarity and length)

Sustainable building certification standards are immense influencers on not only the built environment sector but also commercial, industrial and domestic green lifestyles. With that influence comes a real responsibility in establishing the current direction of travel for the industry against a backdrop of climate, economic and social change.

Get it right, and we move closer to addressing major climate change issues, attaining carbon reduction targets and achieving ecologically, economically and socially just goals. Get it wrong and the negative impact ripples far beyond the built environment sector.

However, it is the purpose of certification schemes not only to set best practices for design, construction and operation but to go beyond current best practices and establish a vision for sustainable buildings based on what is required — with required practice then measured against that vision.

We need to stop regarding green buildings as a benefit to be proud of. They should be seen as the norm; the way we build. Indeed, as a sector we should feel guilty about not using our skills and expertise to create green buildings for us and future generations. That we remain content to commission, design, build and operate buildings below this sustainability threshold reinforces the argument that the built environment sector is one of low aspiration.

Green Biz article

FutuREstorative is now available in a digital format

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Equality, Respect, Image, Sustainability … all connected.

‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe’ John Muir

With todays International Womens Day, falling mid week of the National Apprentice Week and concurrent with Eco Build, here are my thoughts on the inter-connectivity of equality, respect, image with sustainability.

Earlier this morning I shared on twitter what I thought was a  brilliant quote, seen within a full page ad in todays papers for International Womens Day under the #RewritingtheCode hashtag

“Because none of us can move forward if half of us are held back” #IWD2017 #RewritingTheCode

This is a topic dear to me, and as I concluded within FutuREstorative …

There can be no sustainability in an unequal world. Indeed sustainability should embrace the three E’s of ecology, economy and equality.

As part of our sustainability journey, the language of construction also needs to evolve – from one that is perhaps too combative, technical and confrontational to one that is mindful, and embraces a language of collaboration, sharing, care and love.

I return to and close, for now, with one of the most important and powerful of the Living Building Challenge’s aims: the transition to a socially just, ecologically restorative and culturally rich future.

These points were emphasised just last week in my talks at a Baxall supply chain workshop that focused on Sustainability, the Sustainable Development Goals, Modern Slavery and FIR, Fairness, Inclusion and Respect

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Slide from Sustainability, Modern Slavey and FIR Presentation

So, as Eco Build progresses with Redefining Sustainability then it is important and encouraging that the wider sustainability aspects of health, just, equality, respect and inclusion are taking center stage. A sustainability stage that will see the rather passive Brundtland definition replaced by the positive and proactive SDGs.

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Connecting the Dots …. The Sustainability Development Goals. 

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RESTORE: REthinking Sustainability TOwards a Regenerative Economy

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REthinking Sustainability Towards a Regenerative Economy 

 

After a number of years discussing, bidding, meetings in Italy and skype calls across Europe we finally launch our four year RESTORE* Cost Action CA16114 programme, exploring restorative sustainability, in Brussels this Thursday 9th March.

* REthinking Sustainability TOwards a Regenerative Economy

COST Action public page 

RESTORE Overview:

Sustainable buildings and facilities are critical to a future that is socially just, ecologically restorative, culturally rich and economically viable within the climate change context.

Despite over a decade of strategies and programmes, progress on built environment sustainability fails to address these key issues. Consequently the built environment sector no longer has the luxury of being incrementally less bad, but, with urgency, needs to adopt net-positive, restorative sustainability thinking to incrementally do ‘more good’.

Within the built environment sustainability agenda a shift is occurring, from a narrow focus on building energy performance, mitigation strategies, and minimisation of environmental impacts to a broader framework that enriches places, people, ecology, culture, and climate at the core of the design task, with a particular emphasis on the salutogenic benefits towards health.

 Sustainability in buildings, as understood today, is an inadequate measure for current and future architectural design, for it aims no higher than trying to make buildings “less bad”. Building on current European Standards restorative sustainability approaches can and will raise aspirations and deliver restorative outcomes.

The RESTORE Action will affect a paradigm shift towards restorative sustainability for new and existing buildings across Europe, promoting forward thinking and multidisciplinary knowledge, leading to solutions that celebrate the richness of design creativity while enhancing users’ experience, comfort, health, wellbeing and satisfaction inside and outside buildings, and in harmony with urban and natural ecosystems, reconnecting users to nature.

The COST proposal will advocate, mentor and influence for a restorative built environment sustainability through work groups, training schools (including learning design competitions) and Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs).

Keywords: restorative sustainability, restorative design processes-methods-tools, climate change, health, wellbeing, sustainable urban development, social, ecology, built environment.

The Working Groups

  • Working Group 0: Project Coordination
  • Working Group One: Restorative Sustainability
  • Working Group Two:Restorative Design Process
  • Working Group Three: Restorative Buildings & Operations
  • Working Group Four: Rethinking Technology
  • Working Group Five: Scale Jumping

The Cost Action will also include:

  • RESTORE Training Schools
  • RESTORE STSM – Short Term Science Missions
  • RESTORE Early Stage Research opportunities

We have an ‘in development’ website with more information here

COST Action public page 

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Fairsnape nominated for international Green Blogger Award

As noted last month, I am delighted that this blog has once again been nominated for the international  JDR Green Blogger Award, with the voting  stage of the awards now open.

If you enjoy reading and find the content of this blog (and my associated tweets @fairsnape, @futurestorative @livingbldguk @constructco2 @celancashire and a few others … ) then please do take a few minutes and vote here.

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Voting closes 24th April at 4pm PST with votes verified and limited to one vote per person per device. There are six categories once again and I wish all other nominees the best in securing votes!

  • Best Blogger: Architecture
  • Best Blogger: Construction Business
  • Best Blogger: Green Build (Fairsnape iSite nominated in this category)
  • Best Blogger: Remodelling
  • Best Blogger: Interior Design
  • Best Blogger: Microblog
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More | Better. An alternative approach to housing.

more-better-coverDelighted to have participated in the excellent More | Better – an evaluation of the potential of alternative approaches to inform housing delivery in Wales report by Ed Green and others at Cardiff University.

The compelling More | Better report, consisting of a spectrum of case studies and commentaries from expert contributors, concludes that there is no single housing ‘silver bullet’, but that there is potential for more, better housing through a combination of innovative delivery pathways and construction techniques. And the innovative delivery pathways considered include Passivhaus, the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard, and the Living Building Challenge.

“Affordable housing is uniquely placed to benefit from the philosophy and application of the Living Building Challenge and aligns well with and will assist with adherence to the Welsh Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015)”

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In the absence of a Welsh, national mandate for zero carbon, more onerous standards including CfSH Level 6, Passivhaus and the Living Building Challenge all provide optional pathways to 43 higher standards of environmental performance. 

 

The report concludes:

Wales should lead the way by placing affordable housing and affordable warmth at the centre of national policy, with homes and places that meet our needs, now and in the future. We must stop thinking purely in terms of capital costs. Construction that drains resources should be replaced with buildings that generate resources – that are energy positive and carbon negative. This fundamental perspective shift is in line with the Wales Future Generations Act 2015.

  • By employing alternative approaches, we could be constructing new homes and neighbourhoods in a more contextually appropriate way, with greater long term value.
  • Alternative approaches have the potential to deliver affordable homes in parallel with more established methods, so long as knowledge is shared with commissioners and constructors.
  • Different delivery pathways and construction techniques could lead to more diverse housing that is better quality, more fit-for-purpose, more affordable and more sustainable.
  • Further benefits could include the growth of employment in Wales, a national supply chain, greater long term resilience, and renewable energy infrastructure as a source of income.
  • The creation and maintenance of sustainable communities could provide a new focus for post-industrial Wales, facilitating joined-up development that works at a local level.

The More | Better report should become a touch-stone housing reference for change. And as such should be on must-read lists, not only for those in the Welsh housing sector, but for anyone interested and engaged in the future of built environment sustainability standards and alternative ‘innovative pathways’

Download the More | Better full document and executive summary here

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Healthy Buildings and Wellness: 12 Insights

Alison Nicholls, Associate Director, Constructing Excellence, put together the following, excellent summary of the recent Heathy Buildings and Wellness event held on the 31st January 2017.  The event was hosted Aecom at their Aldgate Tower offices, designed to meet the very latest standards in healthy buildings and wellness.

The business case behind healthy buildings and investing in standards such as WELL, BREEAM and the Living Building Challenge, as well as the demand for healthy buildings and the practicalities of delivery in both new and existing buildings and future implications for regulations and law were explored.

Here are the top things learnt during the workshop:

  1. Changing buildings is a great opportunity to instigate healthy changes
    Dave Cheshire from Aecom looked at how making making healthier choices easier for employees could help make them healthier, more productive and more resilient to stressful life and work events. Aecom are implementing solutions to encourage people to live well, both for their own staff and on client projects.
  2. Take the investment conversations up a level
    Dave’s top tip for making the business case was to take the conversation up a tier to those who have a more holistic view of the business investments. Engaging the Human Resources department at can help justify expenditure that might add cost to the capital budget but will save significant amounts over the long term occupation of the building.
  3. Circadian rhythms – mimicking nature
    As part of the British Antarctic Survey project Aecom looked at how intelligent lighting solutions could mimic natural daylight patterns in order to trigger the hormones that set our natural body clock. This is particularly important in a building where it’s pretty dark for six months of the year, however this learning can equally be applied to night workers or office buildings where natural light doesn’t penetrate deep into the building floor plates.
  4. People don’t always understand the risks
    Isabella Myers gave a public health perspective on the link between buildings and health and wellbeing. She flagged up the risks of delivering interventions when occupants were often resistant to changes and not necessarily convinced of the risks to their health from problems such as leaky boilers and fuel combustion. This can come in many forms including deaths from carbon monoxide and neuropsychiatric symptoms from long term exposure to toxins.
  5. Our strategies to save carbon may have made it worse
    Isabella reminded us that some of the strategies that have been employed to save energy and carbon dioxide have led to more airtight homes and buildings have caused the build-up of toxins that can impact people’s health.
  6. Healthy Buildings attract premium tenants
    Anita Mitchell Head of Sustainability for Lendlease Europe spoke about increasing market demand for healthy buildings. On a recent project in Sydney major clients in the financial services and blue-chip companies were demanding high levels of WELL Buildings Standard. Eventually this could lead to devaluing property that does not support health and wellbeing.
  7. Speculative developments can still be healthy
    The strategy to deliver WELL-Ready core and shell schemes enables tenants to implement their own health and wellbeing strategies in order to meet the WELL Building Standard.
  8. Health & Wellbeing cuts across the political divide
    Health and wellbeing impacts on social and economic sustainability, therefore both sides of the political divide can support the agenda, on the one hand it benefits society and on the other it delivers bottom-line economic benefits.
  9. Don’t forget the construction process
    Martin Brown from Fairsnape reminded us that whilst the end product needs to support wellbeing there is a requirement not to forget how the built environment is constructed, the toxicity of materials used and the people who build them. While we have made huge progress in terms of onsite health and safety, the industry has one of the highest mental health and suicide rates after agriculture.
  10. Biomimicry
    There is a lot we can learn from nature and how it functions in order to reproduce natural patterns and deliver healthier and better performing buildings. For example the Living Building Challenge certified Bullitt Centre in Seattle mimics the effect of a tree canopy to limit exposure to overheating and solar glare.
  11. Data can help
    By mapping physical data sets from BIM with biological datasets from the health sector and fitness trackers etc. a really rich picture of how buildings and the built environment are impacting on people’s health and wellbeing is emerging, and providing data for health improvement. There are lots of ways in which existing buildings can be improved to increase the health and wellbeing of the occupants. BRE is carrying out a research project on a real life Biophilic office refurbishment assessing the health and wellbeing of occupants before and after various interventions.
  12. WELL & BREEAM setting the standard
    BREEAM and WELL have been working together to establish common factors and areas of mutual recognition for elements of their respective standards. Chris Ward provided an overview of progress including an initial mapping exercise that has been published in a technical guidance document.This will lead to further collaborative work to ensure that health and wellbeing are an even more integral part of the BREEAM standard going forward.

The group will meet again in April to look at how innovative, healthy and sustainable materials are being specified and how that process can be improved to ensure that clients and specifiers increase their understanding and demand innovative products and materials.

The original constructing excellence post and presentations can be viewed here 

Related:

FutuREstorative – Working Towards a New Sustainability

WELL & BREEAM announce alignment for credits: more good or less bad?

Mindfulness, Biophilia and Salutogenesis: a powerful triptych for improving construction health and happiness

 

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Lancashire Construction is Blooming

With the regions transformational City Deal now getting into swing there will be ‘blooming’ opportunities for those in the Lancashire built environment sector over the coming months and years. And Constructing Excellence, through its Lancashire and Regional Clubs is well placed to assist in the development and transfer of best practice knowledge and skills. These cover the core ingredients of successful built environment organisations – Productivity, BIM & Digital Construction, Sustainability and Continuous Improvement –  all geared to meeting the Construction 2025 Vision

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Whilst you are here: Supporting the Lancashire Club: We are looking for new steering group members to steer and drive the club over the coming years, a period that will be a busy, challenging but rewarding one for built environment organisations within the region. if you are interested please get in touch with our Chair, Martin Brown, our Sec, Andrea Atherton or Regional Club Coordinator Zoe Brooke 

Our … speak to us at our next event on 23rd Feb in Lancaster 

We Are Lancashire – The Place For Growth

Lancashire, Preston and South Ribble’s transformational City Deal pitched to over 100 developers, agents and investors at half-day Place North West business conference last week.

Entitled “We Are Lancashire – The Place For Growth”, the event was organised by the City Deal Partnership (including Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council, South Ribble Council and the Homes & Communities Agency), Marketing Lancashire and the Lancashire LEP. It was run in partnership with leading property news and investment website Place North West, and hosted at the Preston headquarters of accountants RSM.

At the heart of the discussions was the impact and opportunities offered by the £434m City Deal programme. The City Deal is a key initiative of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s strategic plan to create 50,000 new jobs over the next 10 years across the county.  The City Deal will help to create more than 20,000 new private sector jobs and see over 17,000 new homes built across Preston and South Ribble, as well as new school places, open green spaces and new health provision to cater for the growing population

  • Key themes which emerged throughout the sessions included how all of the Lancashire local authorities, both county and district, involved in City Deal were working closely together to ensure private investment can flourish. This included their pragmatic, joined-up approach to the planning process, and the substantial public sector support on offer to help private sector schemes get started, and completed, with a minimum of barriers.
  • Another important debate centred around the need to create a diverse mix of housing, and have different types of tenure, throughout Central Lancashire. This was to ensure families, young people, the elderly, students and recent graduates could all get access to affordable and desirable accommodation which suited their needs.
  • As well as providing suitable homes to encourage graduates to stay in the area, many of the speakers also touched on the need to retain graduate talent through a combination of suitable jobs in the region, and the creation of an attractive environment to live in. This included a need for an improved for an improved evening economy as well as strengthening its position as a visitor destination.
  • This led to a focus on the strengths and benefits of Central Lancashire’s existing regeneration and development schemes, and highlighted some of the major City Deal investments which have recently been announced.
  • These included Preston city-centre developments such as the new Harris Quarter cinema and leisure scheme, the potential for the re-development of an ‘HS2 ready’ Preston train station, the £200m UCLan masterplan, the regeneration of Winckley Square and the proposed Altus Grade A office project.
  • The major investment opportunities based around the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone site, which has now been designated as a specialist aerospace and advanced manufacturing hub as part of The Lancashire Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Cluster programme were discussed, including reference to the recently green-lighted Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre which will be based at Samlesbury.
  • The major mixed use logistics, retail and residential scheme at Cuerden, anchored by a new IKEA, was also held up as an example of how the City Deal is helping to unlock a series of complementary developments which are set to have a genuinely transformational effect on the Central Lancashire economy.

Threats and challenges to Lancashire’s growth were also debated, with issues like skill shortages, Brexit and Lancashire’s historic reputation for being a divided county all coming under discussion.

However, the general consensus from both private and public sector speakers was that Lancashire has made incredible progress over the last few years to speak with one voice showcasing its growing ambition and confidence, is looking to tackle the issue of vocational skills through a series of effective education and employer strategies, and is set to play a key role at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse initiative through a private-public partnership approach to stimulating economic growth.

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