Tag Archives: BREEAM

EcoBuild launch a vision for a Built Environment future …

Ecobuild, in association with Building has published ‘Future of the Built Environment’ as part of the launch for EcoBuild 2015.  The white paper, a collection of thought pieces from leading industry players, assesses the future of the sector, painting a very useful picture for a not-so-far into the future built environment.

It is set of future scenarios, encompassing beauty, circular economy, health, equity and eco systems. And in this respect closer to the regenerative sustainability philosophy of Living Building Challenge and the Well Building Standard than it is of current, more energy performance focused BREEAM and Regulations.

Jane Henley, Chief Executive Officer, World Green Building Council sees the next chapter for green building as one of health, wellbeing and productivity, arguing that business may be less interested in the mechanical and energy issues of a building than they are on how investing in better indoor environments will lead to better returns on their greatest asset: people

Rick Willmott, Chief Executive, Willmott Dixon sees a contracting future as one of climate adaption, carbon targets and collaborative construction with a leadership that ‘digs deeper’. The circular economy will be key, offering industry tremendous opportunities. Willmott cites the rising energy costs and depletion of finite natural resources that will lead to a mushrooming market for recycled materials, and a move to designing buildings with deconstruction in mind from the outset.

Munish Datta, Head of Plan A & Facilities Management, Marks & Spencer sees the future being about beautiful buildings, “We spend 90% of our time in buildings so why shouldn’t they be beautiful”, delivered from an industry that is holistic,where every role, from developers to facilities management, is incentivised to design, build, operate and re-use buildings for their life.

Paul King, Chief Executive Officer, UK Green Building Council sees that there is a great deal a new government, of whatever hue, can do to create the conditions in which a sustainable built environment industry can thrive. It can save more money than it needs to spend, it can set clear and consistent policy direction, and it can lead by example. “Frankly, to do anything else would be to squander an opportunity for growth the UK simply cannot afford”

Sarah Richardson, Editor, Building, sees the sector on the cusp of a radical transformation, with a growing sense that new technologies are not just an optional extras but key to delivering necessary efficiencies. However, to realise any transformation, a shift in the demographic of the sector itself is required, to attract a broader mix of talent that can imagine a future free from the constraints of the past.

Peter Caplehorn, Deputy CEO, Construction Products Association sees a key challenge for the industry being to get out of buildings the performance we design into them

Ike Ijeh, Architectural Critic, Building and Building Design describes  a future sustainable environment as one which has established a holistic vision for integrated urban development where every aspect of the city is specifically planned and designed to maximise social, economic and environmental benefits for its inhabitants while at the same time minimising its ecological footprint. The city itself no longer relies on an ecosystem, it becomes one.

Recommended reading for all in the sector, the EcoBuild paper can be downloaded from here

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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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With the demise of SWMP’s – now is the time to rethink waste

This week DECC confirmed arrangements for the demise of SWMP’s

You will no longer be required by law to prepare a site waste management plan (SWMP) from 1 December 2013. However, SWMPs may still be required by BREEAM, the planning permission or by the main contractor or client. Even if you don’t need to produce one, completing a SWMP will help you to handle your materials and waste correctly, helping you reduce and save money in the process. 

We should see this as an opportunity to rethink our relationship with waste, and focus upstream, not on waste, but on solutions through appropriate material management. And one solution lies within the Living Building Challenge, a restorative sustainability philosophy, advocacy and accreditation programme for the built environment.

conservation

It is heartening to note that the Living Building Challenge Material Petal, does not refer to waste (as BREEAM and LEED do) but on Conservation and Re-Use, requiring each project team to create a Material Conservation Management Plan that explains how the project optimises materials in:

Design,  including consideration of appropriate durability in product specification

Construction, including product optimization and collection of wasted materials

Operation, including a collection plan for consumables and durables

End of Life, including a plan for Adaptable Reuse and Deconstruction

Through ISO 14001, Environmental Management, and Living Building Challenge support for projects and organisations we are slowly moving SWasteMP’s thinking towards MConservationMP’s and to Adaptable Reuse and Deconstruction Plans.

If you would like more information to seize this opportunity to move your organisation forward please do get in touch. (Innovation Vouchers can help offset costs!)

Links:

Introducing the Living Building Challenge in the UK

Living Building Challenge Infographic

Changes to SWMP regulation (DECC)

Your waste responsibilities (DECC)

Not a good day for Green Building

Not a good day for Green Building in the USA.

Lloyd Alter on TreeHugger reports that the Green Building Initiative, which runs the Green Globes building certification system has been recognised as a LEED alternative by the federal General Services Administration

I feel sad for friends, colleagues, advocates in the US who are passionate in defending real green building and real building product transparency that will restore the damage done by the built environment.

Lloyd writes: The lobby organization formed last year to kill LEED and counting among its members just about every toxic chemical manufacturer in the USA, is ecstatic, but pushing for more …

The US Green Building Council that runs the LEED program put on a brave face in a press release, saying “At this point, it is unassailable, LEED works. It has played a significant role in GSA’s achievement of its energy and sustainability goals.”

Dream on. Green Globes is now recognized as legit and will eat your lunch; it’s cheaper, it lets builders use all that plastic, and doesn’t give points for FSC certified lumber. In state after state, the politicians paid for by the plastics industry will insist upon it.

Unfortunately I see this as a discussion, then argument and battle waiting to happen here in the UK and Europe. As we push for deeper green standards such as the Living Building Challenge, for deeper product transparency, as Google and other clients will undoubtedly push for non toxic red list materials in their buildings, we will see the push from the power of the petro-chemical, plastics  and big lumber organisations, resisting change for healthy products.

And unfortunately I see our UK Greenest Government Ever likely to side with these giants, removing as they already are in numerous areas, environmental protection so as not to damage industry and growth, headed by an Environmental Minister who is taking  green policy back to the 70s

The UK green build fraternity, advocates, green build councils and accreditation organisations needs to hold strong in the coming years.

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A tipping point for sustainability

Could this be one of the key important concept diagrams for sustainability and environmental impact?

Snapseed‘Restorative sustainability’ in one simple graphic.

This brilliant  slide came to my attention via a @melanieloftus tweeted picture  taken during Jason McLennan’s presentation, Mind the Gap at the Living Futures conference, positioning Living Building Challenge beyond LEED. 

Reflecting on this simple model, we can visualise the impact of our current built environment sustainability approaches – are they just doing less bad, or really doing more good and making a restorative, positive contribution?

And importantly we can visualise that tipping point for sustainability, from less bad to more good.

The urgency for reconsidering ‘sustainability’ was emphasised in the recent report State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible? The term sustainable has become essentially sustainababble, at best indicating a practice or product slightly less damaging than the conventional alternative.

Is it time to abandon the sustainability concept altogether, or can we find an accurate way to measure sustainability?

The Living Building Challenge, as a philosophy, an advocacy and assessment scheme has real significance. It enables us to cross the sustainability rubicon, setting a vision for a future built environment and encouraging owners, designers, constructors, operators and users to track towards it. As commented on the opening of the Bullitt Centre in Seattle a LBC accreditation hopeful, such approaches are driving a wedge into the future so others can see whats possible.

I feel honoured to be a Living Building UK Ambassador, spreading the message of the Challenge as fresh sustainability thinking into the UK built environment agenda.

For more information and planned events for the Challenge in the UK , check out our presentation to Green Build Expo, visit the Living Building website,  follow us on @UK_LBC on twitter or say hi via email. (We even have a facebook page to like!)

Related Post: Have we picked the low hanging fruit of Sustainable Construction?

Counting construction carbons with ConstructCO2

This blog has reported on numerous occasions (eg here and here) on the need to measure and improve carbon emissions from construction activities separately from that of the building itself or the facility in use. And the need for an easy, simple to use tool.

As noted many of the available applications for calculating carbons were linked dubiously to carbon offsetting schemes.  Of note for use in construction were the Google Carbon tool (but not construction specific enough) and the Environment Agency tool (but is proving to be too detailed and cumbersome for most projects)

Measuring and improving carbons on site is increasingly important as more and more projects seek higher standards to BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes (and soon Non Dom Buildings).  One recent project set ‘damages’ for the contractor not achieving the ‘management points’ (for waste, CO2 and considerate constructor standard) for CSH at £40k per point. (See the CSH Technical Manual for more on this)

Recently at EcoBuild Paul Morrell, Construction Tsar commented  that focus on carbon emissions should be a number one site priority as it is measurable and addresses other areas of ‘waste’ in the industry

And yet the majority of contracts just do not know their project carbon footprint, whether its close to 1tonne or over 100tonne. We do not have a feel for the magnitude of emissions, or indeed what 1kg of CO2 actually looks like.

So it is good news to see the release of ConstructCO2, developed through Evolution-ip, by construction people for construction use.

ConstructCO2 is a simple carbon calculator based on the premise of keeping it simple and easy to use on site. It makes use of existing site approaches for data collection (induction sheets, daily log-ins, plant sheets, utility invoices etc). Carbon emissions through transport are calculated through use of google mapping API .

Construction (people) travel miles are recorded for management, operatives and visitors. (With a dispersed project management team you will be surprised at the carbon footprint of a project site meeting and probably think of alternative arrangements) Material transport miles are derived from delivery notes or goods received sheets.

Where the power of ConstructCO2 lies however is in its reporting. Construction carbons can be measured in terms of co2/£project value, co2/dwelling, c02/m2, co2/bed or other, enabling benchmarking with other projects and generically through KPI’s such as those from Construction Excellence.

But simply knowing the project footprint, the construction company’s total project footprint, and where the biggest areas for carbon emission are enables action for real improvement.

ConstructCO2 is currently being used by a number of different projects in what I guess would be called a beta stage. Current projects include a large new build hotel project, a small industrial refurb project, school extension and an architect’s office.

Currently the use of ConstructCO2 as a tool is free, with a (currently optional) fee based support and training package to help contractors understand carbon issues, carbon standards requirements, measuring, benchmarking and improving carbon footprints.  So it makes sense to take the opportunity now, measure and understand the carbon footprint of one of your projects. At the moment sign up is through request via email contacts on the ConstructCO2 front page

Future developments include the option for live energy feeds from site power meters to ConstructCO2 and live exporting from ConstructCO2 to Google and Pachube for example.

ConstructCO2 is on twitter at @constructco2 and has a ning forum in development for discussion and benchmarking of project carbon issues.

Note: As an associate with Evolution-ip, I have been involved in the ConstructCO2 concept development and testing.  Evolution-IP is a be2camp partner, presenting at and sponsoring be2camp un-conference events.

If zero carbon is the answer then just what was the question?

If zero carbon is the answer then just what was the question

Is it ‘just because’ I am currently  seeing things from a different perspective as I re-read Cradle to Cradle, (which I feel  has more resonance with where we are now)  but a number of recent issues and events  have left me questioning our approach to zero, and that going to zero is not enough.   Indeed it may even be dangerous ‘just’ going to zero.

Lets consider the built environment in its widest sense, not just from design to FM but from wining raw materials through construction to end users, and consider the opening premise from Cradle to Cradle, and ask who today would allow a sector to :

Put billions of pounds of toxic materials in the air water and ground every year

Produces materials so dangerous they require constant vigilance by future generations

Results in gigantic volume of waste

Puts valuable materials in holes all over the planet

Requires thousands of complex regulations – not to keep people and nature safe, but to keep them from being poisoned too quickly

Measures productivity based on how few people are working?

Creates prosperity by digging up or cutting down natural resources and then burning or burying them

Erodes the diversity of species and cultural practices.

McDonough and Braunghart were referring to the industrial revolution in these ‘consequences’, but they do describe the construction sector oh so well.  OK so no-one today would allow such a sector which exhibited these ‘by- products’ a licence to trade, so why then do we allow the ‘built environment’ to continue doing so but at a reduced rate?  As McDonough and Braunghart comment – doing only a little good may well be doing no good.

Indeed Janis Birkeland comments in her argument for Positive Development – if we build all new buildings to the highest, greenest standards, then the net contribution to carbon reductions would be only 0.04%.

And with this in mind, the questions that kept forming last week included:

How much do we spend within the global built environment on waste management, (disposal, recycling, regulation, etc) in comparison to the amount spent on eliminating waste full stop, through for example cradle-to-cradle paradigm thinking?

A rule of thumb is that the built environment uses 40% materials, creates 40% waste and generates 40% emissions. Ed Mazria from Architecture 2030 puts this figure higher at 48.5%.  We need to monitor and watch these figures reduce, but at the moment the production of cement remains responsible for about 7% of all carbon dioxide emissions.  Am I the only one who feels guilty with these?

Indeed another rule of thumb puts the quarrying sector at a third contribution – but what proportion from this sector is used to derive materials for construction? If the Cradle to Cradle authors are correct then the consumer (end user) only deals with 5% of the total waste of a product, the remainder 95% is waste created in manufacture.

So why are zero carbon definitions largely ignoring embodied energy and putting them in the ‘too difficult to deal with box’ ?  Dealing only or mainly with a carbon zero definition for buildings in use?

Passivhaus is emerging as the aspirational darling or solution. But what is the true embodied energy of passivhaus, in particular the massive amounts of insulation, sheeting and duct tape?  Passivhaus will reduce energy requirements and costs. Excellent. But I would love to see the payback time on the total and higher than normal embodied energies and waste.

Why are plastic, polyurethane and uvpc now considered green (such products now abound at eco exhibitions and within green guides) based it would seem solely on their performance, not on the harm done during production.

Why doesn’t BREEAM and LEED make more of a  focus on embodied energy  in its scoring?

Oh and why isn’t responsible sourcing to BS6000 more widely known or enforced?

Are we trying to solve the built environment environmental problems with the same mode of thinking that created them in the first place? I have always accepted that within sustainability we will make mistakes, take dead ends and end up in cul de sacs, and that this is all part of the learning and moving forward. But is time running our too quickly, to be so ‘narrow’ and we are just storing another problem for future generations to deal with?

Are we looking down the telescope the wrong way?  Turn it around and we may see the scale and maybe solutions to our problems.

We are in a period of developing strategies, codes and defining zero carbon itself.  Now is the time for that debate to be wider, for a collaborative debate across the sectors that make up the built environment, from raw materials to end users. And here  is where I mention be2camp, as it is through web technologies (in both the widest and most specific aspects) that will allow and enable such debate and dialogue to take place.

And as the Cradle-to-Cradle sub heading says – its time to remake the way we make things

(This is a rewitten and shortened and hopefully bettered reasoned version of the rant I started at the end of last week)