3 R’s for rethinking built environment sustainability

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Its over ten years since rethinking construction became the driving force for improving the construction industry. Back then, in 1998, sustainability wasn’t on the agenda for many construction organisations, and didnt feature in Egans influential report.

Now at the close of 2012, it is of course one of the key challenges for construction.

But is it now just a ‘must do, tick box’ matter, rather than a real agenda for improving, reducing costs and reducing our impact?

Earth2.0 Hub in an excellent blog post ( The Future of Business – inspired by and in harmony with nature.) provides a framework and the language of 3 R’s for future businesses working in harmony with the earth .  And its a framework we should learn from, borrow, adopt or adapt  at project and business level in rethinking built environment sustainability; Re-Design, Re-Connect and Re-Kindle.

Re-Design. Not only design of buildings, but to re-design the way we build. No longer are transactional efforts (reducing waste, conserving energy and recycling) enough.

How?: Take a look at Cradle to Cradle thinking, Circular Economy, Designing out toxic materialsDesigning out Landfill

Re-Connect. Time to rethink our relationship with nature. However just including nature as a natural capital to be costed is not meaningful approach. We need a relationship that is deeper, that is deep green thinking.

How?: take a look at Living Building Challenge – what if every building, like a flower, contributed to its environment. Or the One Planet Living ten principles

Re-Kindle. Time to rekindle the sustainability debate – moving away from the negative, harassment to doing less bad, to encouraging a move towards a positive new world of doing more good,  better. Resilience.

How?: Learning and benchmarking from other industries and sectors, for example Patagonia, or closer to the built environment, Interface Flooring

This blog, since 2005, has had as a tagline built environment improvement and its connectivity to the natural world . Since then, it has been a core philosophy within fairsnape.

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Since 2005 we have organised and facilitated benchmarkwalks, discussing sustainability issues , across and within sectors, whilst walking in the natural environment. Rather than in the conference of training room. You would be amazed how diffierent, how green, sustainability discussions when conducted in the great outdoors. Try it !

Cradle to Cradle, Circular Economy, Healthy Products Standard, Designing Out Landfill , Interface UK, and the UK Living Building Challenge all featured in our #GVis2012. Green Vision Conference in Leeds on the 12 Dec 2012.

>>> See Green Vision event material, links, blogs and more here  <<<<

<<< Read the Cradle to Cradle tweetchat transcript here <<<

The Living Building Challenge UK Collaborative will be ‘launched’ at this event on the 12th.

And, Cradle to Cradle is the book-topic for our Dec #GVisChat tweetchat on Dec 10th at 8pm.

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isite radar and roundup monday 23rd june

Last week was a busy one so not too much posting here, but below are a few of the items that caught my eye

Bristol is to become the first cycle city with 11 others – York, Stoke, Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Leighton Buzzard, Southend, Shrewsbury, Southport and Woking – named as demonstration areas for the scheme. They will be added to the current six demonstration areas – Aylesbury, Brighton, Darlington, Derby, Exeter and Lancaster.

Last Saturday I led a benchmarkwalks walk in the English Lake District for a group of Facilities Management people. Great discussions over usability, eco towns, fm sustainability, fm in Cape Town shanty towns and the future of fm.  An emerging topic from the conference earlier in the week, and continued on the walk – the need for Aggressive Facilities Management

On blogs, Mel’s excellent article over at Elemental on Global air conditioning while Phil at ZeroChampion has an interesting post on Should we carbonize interest rates? and Pam over at Public Works talks from the trenches on investing in infrastruture in the face of credit crunch.

The Guardians articles that ‘revealed‘ the UK Governments blue print plans for a tougher approach to climate change. Many of which involved housing or buildings. Now why was this not included within the UK Government Strategy for Sustainable Construction. Joined up thinking, just in time thinking?

On a similar line a German town forces homes to fix solar tiles

Eco towns seem to be never out of the news with google alerts working overtime – has the opposition changed, from ‘we cant build zero carbon’, to ‘nimbyism’ to what now seems to be the ‘tescopolising’ of eco-towns. Next weeks headline? Eco towns ate my cat.  But today the Guardian reports on the forthcoming report that criticizes eco town proposals:

The choice of sites put on a shortlist to be England’s first ecotowns has been strongly criticised for their lack of adequate public transport links and other shortcomings by a government advisory panel.

George Monbiot on coalWe must leave the fossil century behind to reach the golden age of renewable energy, Mr Brown – making the important comment that its not what we do but what we stop doing

And finally, for now, much blogging and twittering of the planned be2camp event in London in October. here here and here

on getting out, learning and sharing, unconference style

As I plan another ‘benchmarkwalk’ for tomorrow in the English Lake District, I realise I haven’t described my benchmarkwalks approach here on the blog.

In some ways I now realise this approach is very much like an outdoor unconference – delegates choose the themes for discussion and, rather than standing in a lecture hall, or hotel room to present, people can talk on their topic in a way that engages very differently to the more traditional front of room or around the table discussion.

The following is the original concept from my website, (which has now been long overtaken by using this blog as my main presence).

Benchmark Walks talk the walk in landscapes to fire inspire

Aimed at improvement individuals and teams, Benchmarkwalks has been compared to doing business on the golf course but more stimulating and rewarding by far. Many leading organisations are beginning to realise the benefits of outdoor or walking-based meetings as a way of encouraging open discussion and getting away from office environments.

From the Benchmarkwalks home base within the Forest Of Bowland, itself an area of outstanding natural beauty, we organize and facilitate your business or improvement team away day. We make use of a local inspiring venue within the Forest of Bowland for events and as a base for a local benchmarkwalks

Benchmarkwalks can be tailored to suite individuals looking to improve business improvement knowledge on a unique one to one arrangementâ

You set the topics – Benchmarkwalks assembles the experts, so you can learn from improvement experts in inspirational landscapes. Find out what works and what hasnt worked from leading UK benchmarking experts.

Choose from easy, low-level valley and woodland walks through to challenging mountain days, whatever; the chance to talk the walk and learn cannot be bettered. Walks can range from an hour stroll as part of a days facilitated event through to whole days on the hill.

Benchmarkwalks have formed partnerships with leading walking and guiding organisations to arrange and lead our mountain walks

Business Improvement has often been compared to a journey where the journey itself is the reward as well as the destination. With Benchmarkwalks you will reap benefits from both the physical journey and discussions on business improvement topics

Benchmarkwalks can cover any business improvement topic, for example: benchmarking, sustainability, quality management, value management, customer relations, excellence and EFQM, collaborative working, supply chain management… Any, all or none just ramble and learn.


more information @ benchmarkwalks

reconnect with nature: return to the outdoors

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

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

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

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


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

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