Do we really need ‘Green BIM’?

My understanding of BIM is that it is another important step on the built environments journey of improvement, integrated approaches and increased collaborative working. I find it rather disappointing then to see concepts of Green BIM or Sustainable BIM emerging.

If we are serious about holistic improvement then we should see sustainability and green issues baked in to BIM – not as a bolt on. BIM changes everything commented John Lorimer in our PPP event and Collaborative Working document earlier in the year. It must also change our thinking on sustainability as a core improvement issue.

BIM could force direction and set the pace on  wider sustainability and circular economy issues – so for example when selecting materials from BIM libraries into a model procurement decisions can be made on:  Transparency of product composition detailing the chemicals and ingredients, the ability to filter red list compliant materials, check the responsible sourcing issues relating to the product/manufacturer (think BES 6001 or JUST)

BIM, as an industry improvement tool, will fail if it permits the design of buildings that incorporate toxic materials (either in production, construction handling or in use) or socially unjust practices in manufacture or construction. Think Qatar World Cup football stadium design and construction.  Although BIM designed we are now, as an afterthought applying a sustainability and responsibility sticking plaster.

PAS1192 Part 3 (BIM in operational phase) is out for consultation at the moment. The proposed standard focuses on hard FM- asset management and not people orientated soft FM. There is the danger we will not address the health issues of occupants within BIM development and particularly through material selection and management. Health only gets one mention in the proposed standard, and associated with Safety – under risk – there because we always use the word health when we use the word safety – without really thinking through the huge consequences. The draft doesn’t mention the word sustainability at all. (Note see The NBS article on the proposed standard here for more detail)

Just this week the USGBC released LEED v4 at GreenBuild 2013 – significant and controversial in that it includes health transparency issues in material and product selection. As this is the direction sustainable and resposnible construction is heading (think Google HQ and the Red List, think Living Building Challenge)  it is only a matter of time before BREEAM addresses the issue.

This blog has been written as background thinking to supporting the Midge Hole UK Living Building Challenge design phase and my BIM Changes everything presentation to the Lancs Best Practice BIM event on 27th Nov, and supporting my Time to Heal the Future thinking.

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Towards a Responsible and Sustainability Construction Economy

Increasingly we hear more and more on emerging sustainable, responsible, collaborative economies. For example:

Patagonia, following on from Chouinard’s Responsible Business have launched their Responsible Economy initiative, and wisely, not having the answers shape the programme with the mission to start the debate – and ‘catch the wave‘.

Recently the TSSS and Earthshine launched an interesting and influential paper, BluePrints for a Sustainable Economy whose aim is to share a journey with people around the world, to help generate greater awareness of the issues and possibilities, to promote debate, to provide a sense of hope for what might be, and how we could all make the transition towards a more sustainable economy.

In the introduction to Towards New Innovative Collaborations  I wrote “Our built environment collaborative working journey is now venturing into new territories. The future for a responsible built environment will increase both  pressure and opportunities beyond collaboration and partnerships to co-collaborate and co-create hybrid projects, moving to open innovations that in turn stimulate further opportunities. 

So, what would a responsible, collaborative and sustainable economy for the construction sector look like?

Lets have the conversation.

How do we move from being the 40% negative sector to the 40% positive sector? How do we heal the future?

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“We can not call it a sustainable construction economy when we take more from nature than we give back”

We are seeing a number of excellent initiatives emerging, particularly in the area of restorative sustainability, converging on a sustainable construction economy – but what are the barriers, where are the leaders and drivers who will get us there?

This is just one of the topics planned in our Sustainability Leadership Conversations – join our Google+ community and participate in our twitter based conversations. The next conversation on Nov 5th with Eric Lowitt explores the Collaborative Economy.