Base EU Cities – In The Presence of Greatness

post.inddI was fortunate to attend the conference session of BaseEUcities in Brussels late last month. Sandrine Dixson Decleve (chair BaseEUCities advisory board, and Director CISL)  introduced the day as being in ‘the presence of greatness’, and undoubtedly that was to be the case, not only from the speakers and panelists but in discussions throughout the networking sessions.

File 03-11-2015, 08 42 57Keynote for the morning was Jeremy Rifkin economic, social theorist and author (the Third Industrial Revolution and recently the Zero Marginal Cost Society amongst many). According to The “European Energy Review” “Perhaps no other author or thinker has had more influence on the EU’s ambitious climate and energy policy”

Key to Rifkin’s keynote is the emergence and then convergence of innovation in three key areas – communications, energy, and transportation. This led to the fist industrial revolution in the UK, driven by coal, printing and the railways, the second industrial revolution was based on centralised power, cheap oil, telecommunications and the combustion engine ….. and now we heading into a third industrial revolution as we see the internet, IOT and virtual collaboration converging with a shift in energy production, ownership and conservation along radical innovations in transportation – not only vehicle but digital transportation of materials. (think Amazon and iTunes)

Rifkin’s delivery at BaseEUCities was just under an hour of linked thoughts, without aids or slides, and this is his skill, to connect and articulate a number of seemingly disconnected concepts into economic theories.

“The digital economy will revolutionise every commercial sector, disrupt the workings of virtually every industry, bring with it unprecedented new economic opportunities, put millions of people back to work, democratise economic life and create a more sustainable low-carbon society to mitigate climate change”  Rifkin in Huffington Post

At a private conference dinner the evening before, where Rifkin also spoke, Jorgen Randers, (a distinguished Norwegian economist and author of 2052 A Global Forecast for the Next 40 years, a much acclaimed sustainability publication) wasn’t too happy with Rifkin’s delivery, comparing it to building blocks being throw at you, rather than carefully constructed into a solid wall of economic theory. Frank Schwallba-Hoth (Founder of Green Party, Germany) responded that whilst you may or may not agree with Rifkin, his delivery, thinking and conclusions were to be admired.

And I agree, it is necessary to move away from a limiting cause and effect approach, the world isn’t like that anymore, if it ever was. We need more of Rikfin’s style, more complexity theory thinking – of fractuals thinking  and emergence from simple rules.

File 03-11-2015, 09 25 48

Graeme Moxton Sec Gen Club of Rome, added to the debate at the conference, arguing for political change and leadership for redistribution of wealth, energy and that greening is not negative for GDP growth but vital.

John Elkington, the final speaker for the day, summed up the days debates identifying three themes,  a New Normal, Corporations are key to Cities and a move from Incremental to Exponential Solutions

Listening to and participating in the days debates (in particularly listening to and reading extracts from Rifkin) you cannot help but think of the emergence of BIM, (Building Information Management) and how it is now transforming the AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) sector.

Is BIM innovative and contributing to and shaping the third industrial revolution? or is it a consequence of the convergence of digital communications, new energy thinking and innovations in transportation? Which ever way it is, is BIM taking us towards a Rifkin future of Zero Marginal Costs?

Once we have, for eg, standard digital construction models, when each building is an energy production unit and we are 3D printing with local materials, the price of construction will tumble close to zero marginal cost, determined by the market, not by the cost of production. As has, music, books and other commodities following suit..

File 03-11-2015, 09 25 17And it isn’t all positive news. Rifkin talked of the dangers in externalising the nervous system of human race through Internet of Things , Alexander Der Croo Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, who kicked off the conference, championing the digital era, warned that the IoT has a 1984 dark side we must all guard against.

And the sustainability dimension? After two industrial revolutions and now seemingly unsolvable climate change, our eco systems just cannot keep up with our interference, and as Rifkin commented “there is no guarantee for our species” – making the ending of using fossil fuel and emergence of restorative and regenerative sustainability so utterly vital.

……

For more on the BaseEUCities events see

#EUCities hashtagged feeds

BaseEUCities: the Conference storify

BaseEUCities: the Parallel sessions storify

BaseEUCities virtual exhibition continues for a few more weeks at http://virtualbasecities.com/

Inventing the Eco-Industrial Age … with ‘Bio’ the new Data.

unnamedThat ‘Bio’ is set to be the new data, and a further development for BIM (Building Information Management) to align with biomimicry and the circular economy was reinforced in a Wired interview with Janice Beynus inspirational insights into the near future manufacturing at Interface.

What excites you about where technology is taking humankind?

I’m excited by the fact that we are probably the first generation to actually be able to gather biological intelligence and distribute it to the people because of the Internet. Our understanding of how nature works is just increasing exponentially. Now we have a way to gather it and to actually make it available to people.

Our experiment is AskNature.org to try to get that biological intelligence out. That’s exciting to me—understanding how nature works, and then possibly being able to emulate it.

You’ve said that “heat, beat, and treat”—heating up materials, beating them with high pressure, and treating them with chemicals—is the de facto slogan for our current industrial age. What should be the slogan for the next era in manufacturing?

I think manufacturing will be local, safe, and cyclical. (… but at the moment) We’re talking about an industrial process, where you wear hard hats and eye guards. We’re a long way to go before it’s local raw material, safely produced, (with non toxic products) and then recycled at the end of its life—put back into the printer, if you will, as the raw materials for the next product.

We’ve got a long way to go.

Why did I seek to put GreenBIM into Room 101?

Why did I seek to put Green BIM into Room 101 ? Did I not tweet only this week that Green BIM is one of the more important developments in the built environment?

greenBIM 101

The label, or hashtag for GreenBIM is so riddled with issues, I was only able to skim during the 2 mins allowed in the ThinkBIM / Green Vision Room 101 session, and in fact is pre-occupying a lot of thought and space in my forthcoming RIBA book.

However, in 5 bullet points … here goes.

  • BIM (and digital construction) is the most powerful of improvement and collaborative programmes for decades, if not in the history of construction – all BIM should be green – all BIM should be pushing the boundaries and doing more good, not happy just to maintain a business as usual, a sustainability status quo or be incrementally less bad.
  • Every BIM is a core enabler in achieving Construction Vision 2025 through sustainability and carbon targets – requiring net positive approaches. Construction 2025 is not just for GreenBIM’s.
  • One of the fast emerging sectors within the world of sustainability, with a predicted market value in the billions, is the circular economy – every BIM, not just GreenBIM’s should be addressing this concept. In particular, where one building becomes the food, the material farm, for the next building. Am I in danger of creating a new hashtag and meme here: #CEBIM _ Circular Economy BIM anyone?
  • Looking through (BIM) product data sheets we see products and chemicals that are scientifically proven carcinogenic – the formaldehyde, the PVC’s, the styrene – all BIM’s should address these issues on health and wellbeing grounds, not just GreenBIM. It is estimated to take 8 hours per material on Red List transparency to determine exact ingredients – and ensure no redlist prohibited materials, at present this doesn’t make material or product specification through BIM a viable option for LBC, Well Building standard or indeed LEED4 where the Red List thinking is applied
  • Green Vision has embraced Living Building Challenge – where, for accredited projects like the Bullit Centre there are no energy performance gaps – this is what a BIM should achieve on every building, green or not, and fast. Lets seek a net-positive performance gap. This is Construction Vision 2025!

Conclusion: My reason for putting GreenBIM into 101 is more out of frustration than annoyance. We would all agree that all BIM’s should be GreenBIMs, so do we need another label, perhaps, perhaps not, but what we do need to do is to take the agenda from ‘GreenBIM’ sessions to all other BIM events, initiates, software, projects, and make every BIM Green.

I also blogged on this very issue back in 2013 – Do we really need ‘Green BIM’?

It was encouraging to see the Circular Economy feature in a number of presentations at the Green BIM event. For more on circular economy and BIM see my take here: RegenerativeBIM … moving the GreenBIM debate

And, by coincidence or serendipity, I had presented to and participated within a panel debate at Runshaw College on Circular Economy the day before:

Tesla’s Powerwall: a game changer for BIM and Built Environment Sustainability?

Following the announcement from Elon Musk, we have seen energy and sustainability commentators proclaiming the new Tesla PowerWall a game changer for energy management, and for good reasons, moving from centralised energy to local energy management.tesla-demand

Tesla estimate that with only 9 million Powerwall devices, carbon targets to address climate change can be achieved and that’s not such a big number given the number of cars in the world. What happens when every home, office, building has a Powerwall (or similar: there will be others) enabling local energy management, connected to the internet of course.

The Information Age Is Over. Welcome to the Infrastructure Age.

The Powerwall has also be heralded as an example of the emerging ’world view’ age, we are leaving the Age of Information to enter an Age of Infrastructure. An age that will focus on the way not only energy but how information is managed, transported and communicated, constantly and in real time – the Infrastructure of Information.

Imagine future Building Information Management models that up date instantly and constantly based on incoming data feeds from building’s internet of things , from weather, from other BIM’s building user data and so on

The age of Infrastructure, in which the internet of things is a key element will mash up physical and cyber spaces. Will BIM’s also start to blur the boundary between physical and web space, making Augmented Reality the tip of an iceberg. Building Infrastructure Management anyone?

But of course there is the security aspect:

There are the inevitable dangers that come with infusing physical space with all the vulnerabilities of cyberspace. People will hack your building; they’ll inject malicious code into delivery drones; stealing your phone might become the same thing as stealing your car.

Whilst this could well give us near perfect buildings and facilities, it could also take us one step closer to the Blade Runner vision of cities and buildings that is the antithesis of the environment, restorative sustainability thinking movement, and a danger “We’ll still be mining unsustainably to support our glorious batteries and photovoltaics and smart dance clubs”

It is shaping up to be an incredible fast paced journey ahead for the built environment and even more reason for sustainability watchdogs, and for educational focus.

Sources/Credits:

Tesla’s new Powerwall battery could be world-changing

Tesla Powerwall: Game-changing batteries for homes and businesses, starting at $3,000

The Information Age Is Over. Welcome to the Infrastructure Age.

The Internet of Things (IoT)— an integrated fabric of devices, data, connections, processes, and people.

RegenerativeBIM … moving the GreenBIM debate

green bimBuilding Information Management offers huge benefits to Sustainability and to GreenBuild, but needs to move from GreenBIM to RestorativeBIM

Bringing together the two most important themes of todays built environment, Sustainability and BIM, the ThinkBIM and Green Vision programmes at Leeds Beckett are setting the agenda for GreenBIM.

However we need to guard against GreenBIM falling into a trap of being Sustainability and BIM as usual, but to move GreenBIM into the visionary, Regenerative Sustainability arena, as adopted by Green Vision through their association with the Living Building Challenge.

Rethinking BIM for the Ecological Age

It does seems a waste that all the creative and innovative thinking and energy being put into BIM should only incrementally improve built environment sustainability, and that we will be a little less bad next year, a bit more less bad by 2018

Aligning the innovation of BIM and the forward thinking of Regenerative Sustainability provides an immense opportunity that could and should powerfully push the overall built environment agenda forward. And, through the intelligence of a RegenerativeBIM, ensure that each element, not just the building, contributes in a net-positive manner, doing more good, not just doing incrementally less bad.

Where GreenBIM is today and where Green BIM needs to be, RegenerativeBIM.
Where GreenBIM is today and where Green BIM needs to be, RegenerativeBIM.

Imagine then if every building, indeed every ‘facility’ was designed, constructed and operated through a RegenerativeBIM, that;

> is designed and constructed specifically in relation to its ‘place’, positively impacting and benefiting its immediate environment.

> becomes a provider of water, cleaning all that falls on the building and providing clean water to adjacent facilities.

> generates more energy than required and contributes the net positive difference to nearby homes, community buildings.

> contains no harmful materials. There should be no place in a GreenBIM for materials on Red Lists. An intelligent RestorativeBIM could not allow materials or products such as PVC, formaldehyde, or SPF’s. Every Product Data Sheet would include the elements of the Living Product Challenge, with every product having a net-positive Handprint

>  are based on biophilic and biomimic principles. RegenerativeBIM would constantly ask the question, How would nature approach this?

> focus on a positive, salutogenetic health principle – on making people healthy, not as present on the negative stopping people getting less ill. (Big difference!)

> cleans the air, emitting better quality than intaking.

> delights and encourages creativity …

> intelligently and digitally inspires and educate the next …. BIM.

Such an approach is not only possible but arguably the responsible approach we must take. An approach that in a short time could be the accepted way of designing, constructing and maintaining buildings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These ideas will be explored further in upcoming ‘GreenBIM’ events hosted through Green Vision, ThinkBIM and CE Yorkshire.

Watch this space.

Green BIM – a thinkBIM round table summary

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreen BIM is healthy, yet only just coming of age with a long way to go. Here is the outline and summary and the Green BIM round table I chaired at the brilliant ThinkBIM/Green Vision event in Leeds on 3rd Dec. More information, reports, blogs and videos from the event can be found through the ThinkBIM blog

Introduction:

The world of sustainability and green building is moving rapidly into the circular economy and health & wellness arena, not only for healthy buildings but also for healthy, ethical and just material inclusion. This round table explored how BIM relates to Restorative Sustainability, Red List and Healthy Materials and the Circular Economy:

  •      Can BIM assist in ‘restorative sustainability’ ie not just doing less bad, but doing more good.
  • What safeguards do we have to prevent unsustainable, unhealthy or toxic materials from inclusion into BIM Models.
  • How is BIM addressing increasing influence of bio-sustainability – biomimicry, biophilia, bio-urbanism.
  • What is the role for new thinking illustrated by the Well Building Standard and Living Building Challenge in BIM development? (and of course BREEAM, LEED, PH developments etc)
  • What data do we have, do we need relating to the impact of healthy / toxic materials on occupant health – or should we just follow the precautionary principle?
  • Deconstruction of buildings is increasingly a design consideration – how can BIM assist circular economy thinking as buildings as material banks

Summary 

Green BIM is coming of age, but has a lot of maturing to do to address the emerging wider sustainability thinking and agenda.

Material Passports can provide a good tracker for materials on source, ethics, health and more. With a Level 3 BIM thinking of linking databases, material passport datasets can link to / interigate health databases. Waiting for legislation may not be acceptable – we need to adopt the precautionary principle and act on known / identified risks to prevent or pre-empt another asbestos/lead paint scenario

Currently GreenBIM focus is on energy reduction issues, yet for many large organisations the well being of staff to minimise staff costs is a bigger driver. There is a space for BIM to incorporate wellness of building occupants in modelling. POE experiences and stories need to be channelled back into BIM development thinking. Is there a need for social / well bing knowledge or expertise within the early BIM development stages – identified within the BIM documentation for example?

BIM presents opportunities and options we haven’t seen before to really add value to the life cycle of buildings, including dis-assemble and re-use in the cradle to cradle sense, but also to add value to the well being of occupants. The 1:5:200 model can shape this thinking but there needs to be long term commitment of the project members to the whole life value ( the 200!) of the facility (and beyond)

There is exciting development within the worlds of BIM (digital tools) and sustainability (restorative) for example Google Flux, and the notion of the BIM being a seed that can be ‘planted’ to grow buildings which are respondent to the local conditions and local environment whilst being respondant to occupant and client requirements

A BIM could be seen as a operating system which comprises of a  number of apps that can be chosen and incorpated into the facilities, building or client portfolio, such apps could be cost, environmental, sustainability or all the way to restorative sustainability with net positive waste, energy and water.

Exciting times ….

The round table ran twice with excellent participation from all attending, thank you.

During the Green BIM round table we mentioned a good number of references:

Living Building Challenge  and UK Living Building Challenge Collaborative 

Well Build Standard

World Green Build Council – Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building

Delta Developments, in particular Cradle to Cradle biz park 2020

Google Flux see Randy Deutsch Blog 

Material Passports Cradle to Cradle application in Ship Building

EPD

Lean BIM: Six reasons why construction needs to embrace BIM alongside Lean Thinking

Combining Lean Construction thinking (in the shape of Last Planner approaches) and BIM (Building Information Management) on construction projects can enable big reductions on time, cost, waste and stress, and in doing so improve profits, capability, staff wellbeing and reputation.

Improving construction: we need to swap out the inefficient square wheels of yesterday for todays round wheel thinking.
Improving construction: we need to swap out the inefficient square wheels of yesterday for todays round wheel thinking.

My recent ‘Lean BIM’ lecture at Leeds Beckett, explored and discussed with case studies, how achieving the 30% construction strategy cost saving target is within reach.

Lean thinking and last planner approaches should be seen as collaborative working preparation for BIM. Both share similar aims – ‘producing  the right product at the right time in the right quantity for the customer and to produce exactly what you need and nothing more’.

Here are 6 of the many compelling reasons for adopting ‘Lean BIM’ …

  1. BIM in conjunction with lean construction (ie Last Planner approaches) can get construction activity closer to the Honda expression of “everything we do … goes into everything we do” (Currently only 40-60% of what we do in construction goes into what we do, ie what we get paid for or hand over to our customers).
  2. BIM, like lean construction thinking forces us to focus on the end game first, understanding client value and pulling that value through design and construction.
  3. BIM, like Last Planner will reduce firefighting and stress on project management team.
  4. BIM will drive lean and predictable programming and material sequencing.
  5. BIM will streamline the supply value stream for materials, enabling just in time supply, adding value and reducing unnecessary costs.
  6. BIM will greatly assist in improving information flow and communications, between project partners and supply chain. Techniques such as the TQM / Toyota ‘5 whys‘ repeatedly shows communication as the root cause of many if not all costly problem

However,  embracing  both BIM and Lean has a number of essential pre-requisites, for example

  1. BIM and Lean construction both need construction leadership at organisation and at project level.
  2. Contractor core processes (eg design and construction) need to be shaped around Lean Thinking and BIM requirements.
  3. BIM Is a people collaboration mindset. Even on BIM projects, approaches such as last planner are essential to ensure people (the last planner) involvement in project short-term planning and improvement, and
  4. Early contractor and supply chain involvement with strong collaborative culture must be in place.

“The construction aspects of projects is the easy bit – “a doddle”  … The harder, more complex bit is the collaborative working ‘glue’ that surrounds the design, build and operation of the facility, whether BIM is used or not” John Lorimer (In PPP Publication)