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.

More

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Nomination for JDR Annual Industry Blogger Awards

green remodelingDelighted that this blog, Fairsnape iSite, that started its life in ten years ago in Jan 2007 has once again been recognised through nomination to the 8th Annual JDR Industry Blogger Awards. Watch this space as canvassing for votes starts in March.

From the JDR Blog Awards:

We are excited to announce the 8th Annual JDR Industry Blogger Awards, which recognise exceptional design and remodeling blogs. The Blogger Awards celebrate emerging and established blogs, avid followers, and active communities. In 2016, award participation continued to strengthen in reach and influence, with tight races in several categories. We eagerly anticipate an even livelier contest in our eighth year!

Our annual awards highlight the best bloggers in Architecture, Interior Design, Remodeling, Construction Business, Green, and Microblog categories.

Jackson Design and Remodeling has been a pioneer in the design and build remodeling industry for 27 years. Our company values innovation and excellence and we believe in discovering, embracing and promoting those values throughout the industry. The JDR Industry Blogger Awards bring additional recognition to the work of the best blogs in the business, while supporting our efforts to promote the professionalism of the remodeling industry, celebrate innovative communication and inspire our clients with the latest ideas in home design.

The blog that receives the most votes in a category will be the winner of that category. Each winner will receive a $500 cash prize and a 2017 JDR Industry Blogger Awards badge for display.

Awards Schedule:

  • Nominations Open: February 3rd, 2017
  • Nominations Closed: February 27th, 2017
  • Voting Open: March 6th, 2017
  • Voting Closed: April 24th, 2017
  • Winners Announced: April 28th, 2017

 Congratulations to last year’s winners:

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Why we should all read the Edinburgh Schools report.

Every built environment organisation should read the independent investigative report into Edinburgh school collapse and closures. Specifically the 40 recommendations(1) made in the report, from procurement to information sharing to training and inspections. This is basic QA gone wrong throughout the project supply chain from client through to those constructing the schools.

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This is not just a technical failure, or isolated issue, once again the root cause lies in cutting costs and lack of communication. Having robust quality management systems in place is essential but will only be effective with a responsible construction mind set and behaviours.

“This is not an area where corners or costs should ever be cut”

As Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary, said: “This report issues a stark warning – to Edinburgh, to local authorities and to all those responsible for the construction and maintenance of our schools – that they must take action to ensure that all buildings are well-designed, properly built and maintained to an extremely high standard. “This is not an area where corners or costs should ever be cut”

(1) THE LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS … The 40 individual recommendations are listed under the following nine headings. 1. Procurement 2. Independent Certifier 3. Client’s Relationship with the Design Team 4. Information Sharing 5. Construction 6. Training and Recruitment 7. Building Standards 8. Sharing of Information 9. Recommendations for the City of Edinburgh Council 10 Further Inspections

The report can be read / downloaded here: Inquiry into Edinburgh Schools Feb 2017 Final

The following is a reblog from Construction Manager

A lack of proper scrutiny in construction work has been cited as the main reason for the debacle that forced 17 Edinburgh schools to close last year, according to the BBC.

The long-awaited independent investigative report criticised the construction company involved as well as City of Edinburgh Council and the partnership that managed the building contracts.

An inquiry was set up last year following the closure of the schools due to safety failures. Around 7,600 pupils were affected by the closures.

Leading architect and procurement specialist John Cole headed up the inquiry.

In his report, he said: “The fact that no injuries or fatalities to children resulted from the collapse of the gable wall at Oxgangs School was a matter of timing and luck.

“Approximately nine tonnes of masonry fell on an area where children could easily have been standing or passing through.

“One does not require much imagination to think of what the consequences might have been if it had happened an hour or so later.”

The 250-page report identified fundamental defects which led to the wall collapse:

  • not enough wall ties;
  • the wrong type of ties were used;
  • wall cavities were not uniform.

The report said: “It is the view of the inquiry that the primary cause of the collapse of the wall at Oxgangs school was poor quality construction in the building of the wall, which failed to achieve the required minimum embedment of 50mm for the wall ties, particularly in the outer leaf of the cavity wall. The poor quality relates to all three of the following aspects:

  • the direct laying of the bricks and the positioning of the wall ties;
  • the direct supervision of the laying of the bricks and the positioning of the wall ties;
  • the quality assurance processes used by the subcontractor and main contractor to confirm the quality of the construction of the walls.

“All three issues were ultimately the responsibility of the design and build contractor in charge of the site.”

The report said it was not the result of an isolated case of a rogue bricklayer.

It said the substandard bricklaying was either not inspected or was ignored, that an appropriate level of independent scrutiny was missing, and that having a clerk of works may have made a difference.

In his report Cole also questioned whether the drive for faster, lower-cost construction is to the detriment of quality and safety.

The 17 schools were originally built by Miller Construction which, together with Amey, was part of the Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP) consortium contract. In 2001 ESP won the £360m deal to design, build and maintain the 17 schools for 30 years. Miller Construction was acquired by Galliford Try in 2014.

City of Edinburgh Council said it was drawing up an action plan to ensure confidence in the safety of all its buildings.

 

 

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

pexels-photo-94616Increasingly health is becoming a key aspect and driver for building design and maintenance. (See Next Wave of Design: Wellness-minded Spaces)

OF note, are seeing a BREEAM alignment with WELL, but as pointed out in FutuREstorative, and by others, this approach needs to equally apply to the construction process, to project working environments, including project office accommodation.

Mindfulness, Biophilia and Salutogenesis can provide a powerful triptych of approaches for construction health and happiness. But what are they, and how can they improve construction?

Mindfulness

The state of being present in the moment. Mindfulness can help in reducing stress and mind-wandering in addition to enhancing the sense of wellbeing and fulfilment from life and work. Mindfulness is growing in use within other sectors to address amongst other things wellbeing, productivity and safety.

(In collaboration with Anne Parker, we can provide tailored Mindfulness for Construction awareness and training sessions)

Biophilia

Our innate relationship with nature. Research is proving that connection or exposure to nature or natural patterns has a huge influence on our state of mind, our wellbeing, cognitive skills and our recovery times from illness. We should for example, be applying the 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design to construction workplaces as part of a healthy construction agenda

Salutogenesis

FutuREstorative introduces the concept of salutogenesis to the built environment. A medical concept that encourages focus on factors that improve & support health and then keeping people healthy, rather than the focus of just reducing the impact on health. Translated to the built environment this can mean focusing on design issues in buildings and workplaces where people go home healthier, feeling better and happier than when they arrived. As an example, the growing recognition that light (daylight and circadian light) can be a medicine, having positive, even healing benefits. Adopting a salutogenetic mindset to the construction process can also encourage us to consider and focus on potential health benefits of working in construction.

salutogenesis-slide

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