Tag Archives: biophilia

The Nature of Air

When imagining clean, rejuvenating air, one might conjure visions of high mountain-tops or misty waterfalls—in other words, pristine nature.

When imagining clean, rejuvenating air, one might conjure visions of high mountain-tops or misty waterfalls—in other words, pristine nature. In reality, plants, animals, and even underlying geology pose numerous challenges to air quality whether from airborne particulate matter, pollen, mold, bacteria or noxious gasses. Despite these many natural pollutants, Earth’s troposphere—the bottom layer of atmosphere—has remained clean, intact, and molecularly balanced over the hundreds of millions of years it has existed in this particular state of dynamic equilibrium. Utilizing only ambient energy and basic tenets of physics and chemistry, the mechanisms by which the atmosphere remains clean exemplify principles of circularity, synergy, and resource efficiency. Most of these cleaning mechanisms initiate from an interaction between the atmosphere and something else (plants, soils, oceans, rainfall), but arguably the most important atmospheric cleaning process is carried out by the atmosphere itself.

The Nature of Air

The Nature of Air: Economic and Bio-Inspired Perspectives on Indoor Air Quality Management,  the latest publication from Terrapin Bright Green sheds light on the financial burden of poor air quality as well as the atmospheric mechanisms by which earth is able to addresses air pollution in an energy efficient and circular manner. Sponsored by AtmosAir Solutions, the report explores how those same mechanisms can be brought indoors to support rethought indoor air quality management, and how one technology–bi-polar ionization –is doing just that.

This Terrapin Bright Green white paper represents another facet of the ever growing body of research into the human-nature connection. It outlays actionable information that companies can use to improve productivity, employee satisfaction, and the bottom line.

Poor indoor air quality has received greater attention as yet another deterrent of our mental and physical well-being. Despite a growing demand for healthy buildings, IAQ management has remained a design challenge as typical strategies, such as increased filtration, pit energy performance against air quality. Competing outcomes—in this case, energy-efficiency and well-being—can seem intractable, however nature provides a different perspective.

Terrapin Bright Green Blog

Abstract: Poor indoor air quality diminishes cognitive functioning. For employers, reduced work task performance translates into a lower return on their investment in employees. Indoor air quality management remains an industry challenge as efforts to improve air quality, and subsequent occupant wellness, often come at the expense of energy performance. Insights from atmospheric cleaning mechanisms have spurred the development of air purifying technology to realign air quality management with the fundamental processes found in nature. Doing so allows for better management of pollutants and helps to decouple air quality with the amount of air brought in from outside.

The Nature of Air

Header Image: Mist Rolls Down, Roland Batke-Mutschler, Unsplash

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Recent Reading …

This is the first in a regular series covering pieces I have been reading online that I think are worthy of further sharing. Followers on twitter, linkedin and to a lesser degree on Instgram will be aware that I regularly share items relating to sustainability, the built environment and our relationship with the outdoors and nature. However posts there can be flitting and often difficult to track down and return to. They will hopefully have a longer life here.

Articles, papers and images that catch my eye, or as a result of a search I move into my ever growing Instapaper (and occasionally Evernote) Library. This enables me to read offline, and importantly to keep and or return to for reference: here are a few recents:

Sustainability

Patagonia is in business to save our home planet  For the past 45 years, Patagonia has been a business at the cutting edge of environmental activism, sustainable supply chains, and advocacy for public lands and the outdoors. Its mission has long been “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”But for Yvon Chouinard, that’s not enough. So this week, the 80-year-old company founder and Marcario informed employees that the company’s mission statement has changed to something more direct, urgent, and crystal clear: “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.”

Chasing the Sun by Linda Geddes review – why we don’t get enough natural light. Guardian review of Linda Geddes book exploring the importance of sunlight and circadian rhythms for our wellbeing. Chasing the sun is an interesting insight to add to the current interest in biophilia thinking.

Ten lessons for embedding sustainability across the business Sue Garrard, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership Senior associate and Unilever’s former EVP Sustainable Business, was responsible for leading and embedding the company’s ambitious USLP (the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan) into the business and ensuring progress against its 70-plus time bound targets. Here she provides 10 lessons for embedding sustainability across the business.

To get to a circular economy we have to change not just the cup, but the culture. Lloyd Alter explores the circular economy in the ‘coffee delivery system’ from the CE 3 principles (to Design out waste and pollution, to Keep products and materials in use, and to Regenerate Natural Systems)


Image food for thought: Disturbing images like this emphasis the need for urgency in our sustainability actions. The Pastoruri glacier, part of the Cordillera Blanca.

Built Environment

Net Gain: A developer’s commitment to enhancing biodiversity. Natural England blog from Louise Clarke, Head of Sustainable Places at Berkeley Group, outlining the organisation’s approach to biodiversity net gain

Manchester commits to making all new buildings ‘net-zero’ by 2028. Edie Article: The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has pledged to ensure that all new buildings erected in the city region will be ‘net-zero’ carbon by 2028

Concrete responsible for 8 per cent of all CO2 emissions. Research by the think tank Chatham House underlines the need for drastic changes in the production and use of concrete, the world’s most used man-made material, because of the way in which cement is made.

Outdoors / Nature

Plantwatch: is sphagnum the most underrated plant on Earth? Sphagnum is probably the most underrated plant on Earth. This humble little moss makes up the bulk of our peat bogs and holds up to 20 times its weight in water. That makes boglands huge sponges that store water, slowing its flow and helping prevent flooding downstream.

What I’ve Been Reading Online Recently. Chris Townsend’s blog that inspired this approach to reshaping what I have been reading.

Image food for thought: Human Modification v Ecological Integrity. Shared at #Rewilding2019

The Search for England’s Forgotten Footpaths.  Article by Sam Knight in The New Yorker on our English footpaths “The Countryside and Rights of Way Act created a new “right to roam” on common land, opening up three million acres of mountains and moor, heath and down, to cyclists, climbers, and dog walkers. It also set an ambitious goal: to record every public path crisscrossing England and Wales by January 1, 2026”

Regenerative Sustainability: Co-Benefits of the Built Environment.

A number of excellent reports and papers have passed through my reading list and feeds in the last week or so, that together represent a wonderful view on regenerative sustainability co-benefits.

No Longer have luxury

Health co-benefits from air pollution and mitigation costs of the Paris Agreement: a modelling study

The Lancet Planetary Health , Volume 2 , Issue 3. Although the co-benefits from addressing problems related to both climate change and air pollution have been recognised, there is not much evidence comparing the mitigation costs and economic benefits of air pollution reduction for alternative approaches to meeting greenhouse gas targets. We analysed the extent to which health co-benefits would compensate the mitigation cost of achieving the targets of the Paris climate agreement (2°C and 1·5°C) under different scenarios in which the emissions abatement effort is shared between countries in accordance with three established equity criteria.

New Harvard Study: Green Buildings Provide Nearly $6 Billion in Benefits to Health and Climate

Harvard University examined a subset of green-certified buildings over a 16-year period in six countries: the U.S., China, India, Brazil, Germany and Turkey. Known as HEALTHfx, the study found nearly $6 billion in combined health and climate benefits.

UTC Healthfx The Impact Infographic

Related see also http://forhealth.org

The Healthy Buildings Team created the 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building as a standardized, holistic approach to understanding how buildings impact the people inside them. In any indoor space – offices, homes, schools, airplanes – these foundations can be assessed via Health Performance Indicators, or HPIs. Derived from the business term Key Performance Indicators, HPIs are metrics that provide insight into how a building is performing.

 By tracking HPIs on all 9 Foundations of the built environment, we can discover how to optimize buildings for health. We call this “Buildingomics”: the totality of factors in the built environment that influence human health, well-being and productivity of people who work in those buildings.

COBE Co-Benefits of the Built Environment

CoBE (Cobenefits of the Built Environment) is a tool to determine the health and climate benefits related to reductions in energy use. Reducing a building’s energy consumption reduces amount of energy produced by power plants, resulting in fewer emissions of pollutants that contribute to climate change and cause premature mortality, hospitalization, and lost school or work days.

Doughnut Dialogues

Welcome to the Doughnut Dialogues, inspired by Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist. This looks a brilliant platform to debate ideas, share links and examples, and start new conversations relating to Doughnut Economics see https://discuss.doughnuteconomics.org

BAMB Passports

The electronic Materials Passports developed in BAMB aim to be a one stop shop for material information. Materials Passports developed in BAMB are sets of data describing defined characteristics of materials in products that give them value for recovery and reuse, aiming to

  • Increase the value or keep the value of materials, products and components over time
  • Create incentives for suppliers to produce healthy, sustainable and circular materials/building products
  • Support materials choices in Reversible Building Design projects
  • Make it easier for developers, managers and renovators to choose healthy, sustainable and circular building materials
  • Facilitate reversed logistics and take back of products, materials and components

The Economics of Biophilia 

Not a new document but is now being re-published in 6 instalments. From offices and schools to hospitals and hotels, the case is made for incorporating nature into the spaces we live and work.

Sustainaspeak: A Guide to Sustainable Design Terms

The complex and evolving language used in the sustainable design community can be very challenging, particularly to those new to environmentally friendly and resource-efficient design strategies that are needed today.

Still to review this in full, but looks a good compliment to the work from COST RESTORE Working Group One Language of Sustainability report (available early April)

 

Gaining a deeper understanding of sustainability.

RESTORE TS LogoA reminder that there only a few days remaining to apply for our funded RESTORE Training School to be held in November.

Restorative sustainability will move us beyond the intersection of ‘old’ and ‘new’ sustainability, and attending this training school will equip you with knowledge and greater understanding for the new emerging sustainability era..

Aldo Leopold quote

In addition to learning from leading experts in areas such as Biophilia, Sustainable Education & Restorative Sustainability, visit inspiring sustainability projects, you will also gain an understanding of the forward thinking work from the RESTORE working groups.

Applications received to date indicate a wonderful range of backgrounds and experience from across Europe that will enable you to learn, to share and to form working collaborations with other training school delegates.

We encourage you to get your application (or expression of interest) to us now, and to share this opportunity with your colleagues and friends.  The application details are at www.eurestore.eu/ts. but should you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask Dorin Beu (dorin.beu@rogbc.org) or myself.

The Training School is fully funded by COST RESTORE (subject to the COST rules outlined in the application) and hence represents great, unmissable value.

I look forward to welcoming you to Lancaster and the Training School in November …

training school images

Exploring Restorative Sustainability with COST RESTORE

The work and progress of the COST RESTORE Working Group One is nicely summarised in this Infographic. You can find out more on the RESTORE website, and there is still time to apply for the (free, funded) Training School In Lancaster in November

new-piktochart_24326637_6f4620fbecf6cb4d94bd7d842e05e0d9b8d671a7

 

Back to School with Restorative Sustainability

What is Restorative Sustainability and why is Education so vital?

pexels-photo-129743

Working with Class of your Own, it is a pleasure to be organising and directing the first Training School for the RESTORE Cost Action to be held in Lancaster, between 14th and 17th November 2017.

Restore Logo

The RESTORE Action aims at a paradigm shift towards restorative sustainability for new and existing buildings, promoting forward thinking and multidisciplinary knowledge, leading to solutions that celebrate the richness of design creativity while enhancing users’ experience, health and wellbeing inside and outside buildings, in harmony with urban ecosystems, reconnecting users to nature.

Applications are now invited for the school that will focus on Restorative Sustainability, Biophilia, and Sustainability Education.  In four days students and practitioners from across the EU will gain a deep understanding of Restorative Sustainability and learn about key topics from RESTORE working groups.

Training School trainees (students, educators, and practitioners) will participate in

  • Introduction Seminars
  • Action Learning
  • Presentations (Team and Individual)
  • Designing and Delivering a School Sustainability Education workshop
  • Study Tours / Interviews with Living Building Challenge Project Teams
  • Report Writing
  • Evening seminars

We expect the school to be oversubscribed, so get your application in now! Full details, selection criteria and how to apply can be found on the Cost RESTORE website.

pexels-photo-93013

Topics to be covered include:

  • PLACE:  Relationship with place, ecology, nature, soils, bio-climate,
  • ENERGY: restorative and regenerative energy, net-zero, carbon-neutral, energy storage
  • WATER: net positive water, building influence, floods, drought, water stress
  • WELLBEING: health, happiness, Salutogenesis, biophilia, mindfulness, air, light, comfort
  • CARBON: science based targets, 350ppm, 2Deg, 1.5Deg, social impact,
  • RESOURCES:  healthy materials, responsible, transparency, conservation, circular economy,
  • EQUITY: equality fairness, inclusion, respect,
  • EDUCATION: behaviour, next generation, next project, development,

The outline agenda for the four days:

Day One (TUESDAY, November 14)

  • Inductions, Welcomes and Arrangements
  • Introduction to RESTORE
  • Restorative Sustainability Thinking
  • FutuREstorative Module
  • Introduction to Biophilic Design and Impact on Sustainable Behaviour
  • Production of Biophilic Design Plan (for Birth Center (Design or Refurbishment)

Evening

  • Guest Lecture Sustainable and Traceable Coffee – Presentation and Coffee Tasting
  • Dinner

 Day Two (WEDS, November 15)

  • Introduction: Sustainability Education, Inspiring the next generation
  • Planning An Education Workshop
  • Site Tour Lancaster Castle + Refurbishment Works
  • Working Group One: Faro Papers, Intro and Discussion
    • Social Wellbeing, Behaviour
    • Restorative Heritage
    • Regenerative Buildings
    • Economics, Resources ‘the circular economy’
  • Guest Lectures (eg Heritage, Biomimicry, Circular Economy)

Evening

  • UK ReWilding Guest Lecture
  • Dinner

Day Three (THURS, November 16)

  • Running a Live Sustainability Education Workshop at Local School (tbc)
  • Education Workshop Feedback from students and teachers
  • Finalisation of Reports/Presentations
  • Public event with sustainability, built environment professionals
  • Training School Presentations to Core Group
  • Training School Q&A Panel Session (chair tbc)
  • Dinner

Day Four (FRIDAY, November 17)

Study Tours to RESTORE demonstration Buildings

  • Building Relationships with Place and Nature: Brock Holes (Preston) BREEAM Outstanding
  • Site Visit – Living Building Challenge Project, CVP, Lancashire
  • Living Building Challenge Design Issues,
  • Designing and Building with Natural Materials
  • Training School Debriefing
  • Post Course requirements

Full details, selection criteria and how to apply can be found on the Cost RESTORE website.

What hurts, what helps, what heals: the Built Environment and mental health.

With respect to  Mental Health Awareness Week,  Erin Newton’s excellent article in UD/MH (Urban Design / Mental Health) caught my attention. Erin notes that the built environment can create and maintain risk factors for mental illness by stripping away protective factors for good mental health, for example through:

Reducing access to nature
Reducing opportunities for physical activity
Overloading the senses
Eroding privacy and quiet time
Interrupting sleep
Reducing safety (from crime to traffic to way finding)
Separating people from their social networks

buildings

The Built Environment can strip away protective factors for good mental health

As noted in my last blog post, this can lead to an increased state of distress, a solastalgia and yearning for natural environments we recall from the past, further impacting on mental health.

Yet, with  with biophilic design and salutogenic approaches, by focusing on what improves mental health, rather than only just reducing the negative impacts, Erin suggests that as built environment professionals designers, contractors and facilities managers we need to be knowledgeable about what hurts, what helps, what heals and to;

Recognise environment affects the mind, the body and perception.
Boost cognitive health by creating visually and aesthetically pleasing buildings & cities.
Advocate for buildings, spaces, cities and communities that have plenty of fresh air, good light and green spaces, while reducing noise and visual pollution through good design.
Create buildings and places for refuge, escape and outlet.
Design places that facilitate people talking to each other in positive, natural social interactions.
Improve mental health by creating safe, walkable communities.

And mental health issues are not only limited to building design and buildings in use, but also the construction process. . I am reminded of Anne Parkers astute contribution to FutuREstorative where she comments ‘I see your wonderful Sustainable buildings shining bright, then I look at your Project Managers and project team and I see the light not so bright and dimming’

Erin Newton is a UD/MH Fellow and part of NK Architects Healthcare Group in Morristown, New Jersey, USA

FutuREstorative is available in hard copy and electronic format from RIBA Bookshops