local authority in peak oil tranisition

Last week, Somerset County Council voted unanimously to endorse a motion that they become the UK’s first ‘Transition Local Authority’ reported the Transition Culture blog yesterday

What this means is that SCC will take a more integrated approach to its planning processes, putting peak oil, sustainable communities and climate change at the heart of its forward planning, which would/should/will include its construction and maintenance procurement and management.

Is this the start of local authorities adopting a wider and longer term view of sustainability?  It will be very interesting now to see the PQQ (preliminary qualification questionnaire) issues the county ask of its bidders, the selection criteria used in procurement and the performance indicators.  One big impact should be the real focus on local labour, local materials and construction miles.

Just as the built environment sector is (slowly) getting to grips with answering basic environmental questions with in bidding documents, this may not only move the goal posts but put them on a different playing field.  Try addressing a PQQ question along the lines  “What steps have you taken to address peak oil”

At last we may have some real effort in addressing the impact we in the built environment have on the environment and climate change.

As the Transition Culture blog states: Something Wonderful Just Happened in Somerset

The proposal put before the Council ran as follows;

That this Council

  1. Acknowledges the work done by communities in Somerset on Transition Towns and that the independence of the Transition Movement is key to its grass roots appeal.
  2. As demonstrated in its Climate Change Strategy, fully endorses the Transition Town Movement and subscribes to the principles and ethos of the organisation’s goals to reduce dependence on fuel oil and create more sustainable communities.
  3. Commits to providing support and assistance to all towns in Somerset that wish to join this initiative to help them achieve the goals they set for themselves as local communities, as demonstrated under the ‘Community Initiatives’ section of the Climate Change Strategy.
  4. Therefore, requests the Scrutiny and Executive Committees to consider through the council’s strategic planning process; allocating funds to assist in achieving the outcomes of the Transition Towns Movement in Somerset and requiring all directorates to engage with and provide support for Transition Initiatives in Somerset

Through the work outlined above, seeks to become the first Transition Authority in the UK. Agrees to undertake a review of its budgets and services to achieve a reduction in dependence on fuel oil and produce an energy descent action plan in line with the principles of the Transition Initiative.

best practice procurement and support

The Lancashire BPC event last Thursday saw a good number of organisations exhibiting and discussing procurement and support issues with around 70 delegates.  The objective of the day was to allow organisations in the Lancashire area to showcase their procurement requirements and or areas of support, and for delegates to find out their customers requirements and talk to organisations who may be able to support them.

Throughout the day there were a number of small seminars on related themes:

Clive Weston – College and Apprenticeship schemes available through ACCROS

Martin Brown – Bid To Win – ten top tips for improving bid submissions

David Parsons – BSRIA – an overview of the work of BSRIA

Andrew PlattenSustainable Stars competition as part of the Constructing the Future October conference

Chris Gold – Elevates Women into Work programme

My thoughts on the day:

  • a successful and well attended event with plenty of buzz and discussions. It was good to see small group discussions within the networking area.  The seminars were well attended with about 25 present at each. A formula for the club to repeat, taking on board the feedback from delegates and lessons learnt.
  • as expected the sustainability based seminars generated the most discussion.  David from BSRIA generated discussions on biomass boilers not being suitable for schools,  on air tightness and zero carbon homes. Once again it was evident sustainability issues are only just being to be understood by construction people, with the efforts required for zero carbon targets of 2016 for example not fully appreciated as yet.
  • on my ‘stand’ I talked about and gave out information relating to fairsnape services.  I was also pleased to be able to communicate information and goodies on footprintfriends. However the take up on a free one to one session to demonstrate how using web2.0 on the Internet can save time, through bringing news, planning and project leads freely to your computer, was extremely poorly taken up.  Maybe if I charge a corporate fee the take up would be better?

Slides from the seminars should be available soon on the club pages

on learning from eco-challenges …

What can we learn from the fact that bidders are pulling out of the next carbon-challenge project at Peterborough? (Shortlisted bidders flee from EP flagship project)

Could it be English Partnerships are using a traditional, cost based procurement route? Even with PQQ and other ability or capability ‘gates’ selection may still be based on cost. This could lead to the all too familiar high price of low cost syndrome, but as long as cost remains the main selection paradigm we are not going to think differently about sustainability, carbon zero, social responsibility and all things green.

What an opportunity we are missing. Eco challenge projects must do the same for our industry as Building Down Barriers did for partnering, collaboration and supply chain management a decade or so ago.

Why cannot the builders, designers and others be selected on improvement criteria (- ability and solutions in reducing carbons to zero, in design and in the construction process) and of improvement in cost – yes reducing cost at the same time through waste and improvement initiatives.

The oft quoted 30% waste (time, materials, energy, value, effort) in construction could more than pay for carbon zero and sustainability improvements.

We have a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate and to learn that we can get close to zero carbon, level 6 and all that without adding costs to the overall project – if combined with basic and proven improvement approaches.

The alternative? continue with business as usual from a construction perspective, with the exception of integrating some natty designs and product solutions, and continue to moan about the costs …

using isite as a bid tool

I received interesting feedback from two individuals last week who mentioned they use isite as a knowledge base when answering bid questions for new work, to ensure they are up to date with current thinking. One of these was local, ie in the North West UK, the other in the USA.
I now regularly use the blog as a bookmarked, knowledge base, to easily recall items to develop work with clients, but I am really pleased to hear that others find value in the site as an archive source of information and knowledge.

Its another powerful plus for blogs.