Tag Archives: circular economy

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”

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Sustainability, Restorative to Regenerative

Our RESTORE Cost Action publication that records the outputs of the sustainability working group is now available to download from the RESTORE website.  This publication, with contributions from over 20 EU countries is an exploration in progressing a paradigm shift in built environment thinking, from sustainability to restorative sustainability and on to regenerative sustainability.

It presents a reference document for future work of the RESTORE Action, for other Cost Actions and for built environment academia and industry organisations.

Within this publication we have sought to describe and reinforce a new era of sustainability, one that address the impacts, pressures and challenges of our anthropogenic age. Against the background of, and within the context of rapidly changing climate we no longer have the luxury not to seek a new sustainability.

It presents a new sustainability paradigm that moves away from just reducing impact to one that is committed to doing more good, through focused restorative and regenerative strategies and actions.

We have sought to establish a language of regenerative sustainability, one that includes love, place and participation in addition to regenerative approaches to energy, water and resources.

The rise in wellbeing as an element of sustainability is highly significant with many of the main stream standards now evolving to embrace wellbeing, aligning for example with the Well Build standard, or as in the case of the Living Building Challenge recognising the importance of buildings on the health and happiness of its inhabitants.

We can go much further however, though buildings that provide salotogenic co-benefits, improving the mental and physical health of those who work, play and live within our buildings, and in doing so making a significant contribution to wider health care economies.

Through the work on definitions, a worldview of sustainability, living buildings, heritage and eco­nomy, we have identified and explored a number of ‘triggers’ necessary to move us to a future built environment that is ecologically sound, culturally rich, socially just and economically viable:

››› Language – a language for sustainability that inspires, not confuses,

››› Education – inspiring the next generation,

››› Nature – reconnecting buildings with nature that in turn can reconnect people with nature,

››› Place – living buildings that contribute to and enhance stories and culture of the past and share lessons for the future,

››› Economy – moving from limited growth to Regenerative Economies.

The working group definitions, insights, visions and triggers to move us towards a regenerative economy now sets the foundations;

››› for future RESTORE working groups to build upon and to develop,

››› for industry to adopt and implement through adopting regenerative frameworks and standards identified (such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Living Building Challenge) and

››› for education & academia to embrace and include within built environment curriculums.

The built environment is currently a major contribution to climate change, the task before us is to make the shift towards a future build environment that makes responsible contribution to climate solutions.

Welcome to a new era for sustainability

 

 

4 Laws of Ecology: Revisited

Four Lawas of Ecology

I undertook the task earlier this week of reviewing references for our upcoming RESTORE working group publication {Sustainability, Restorative to Regenerative}. One of those references was to Barry Commoner’s popular quote and definition on ecology, that the first law of ecology is that everything is connected.

This lead me to pick up a copy and re-read deeper into Commoner’s 1971 The Closing Circle and revisit the Four Laws of Ecology.  The Closing Circle describes the ecosphere, how it has been damaged, and the economic, social, and political systems which have created our environmental crises. It gives us a clear and concise understanding of what ecology means that is evermore relevant today.

And timely, Commoner’s second law – everything must go somewhere – resonates with a comment I gave to our local Lancashire Evening Post on plastic pollution. (We need to We need to be critically questioning single use plastics and acutely aware of plastics impact on health and the environment – and be aware of what happens when we throw plastic away – as really, there is no ‘away’)

The First Law of Ecology: Everything Is Connected to Everything Else. There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all. “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” John Muir

The Second Law of Ecology: Everything Must go Somewhere. There is no “waste” in nature and there is no “away” to which things can be thrown. Any waste produced in one ecological process is recycled in another. A core principle for the Circular Economy.

The Third Law of Ecology: Nature Knows Best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but any human change in a natural system is, says Commoner, “likely to be detrimental to that system” And in the context of chemicals of concern we are looking to eradicate from buildings (through eg the ILFI Red List) “The absence of a particular substance in nature, is often a sign that it is incompatible with the chemistry of life”

The Fourth Law of Ecology: There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. Exploitation of nature, will always carry an ecological cost and will inevitably involve the conversion of resources from useful to useless.

The four laws warn that every gain is won at some cost. Because our global ecosystem is a connected whole, any impact, anything extracted from nature by human effort must be replaced. There is no avoidance of this price and delay only creates the ecological disruption and biodiversity loss we are witnessing.

This reinforces statements I make so often in presentations (see Specifi Edinburgh and RESTORE Budapest for example) and within FutuREstorative, that sustainability is the point at which we start to give back more than we take, and that we no longer have the luxury to just reduce our impact but we have delayed too long to do more good to rebalance the ecosystem equilibrium.

 

 

Reimagining Construction Materials: (Waste) Food for Thought.

 

pexels-photoA new Arup publication, (The Urban Bio-Loop) aims to demonstrate that a different paradigm for materials in construction is possible, through the adoption of organic waste re-imagined as construction materials.

“Adopting the principles of Circular Economy provides the rationale for a shift from a linear (take, make, dump) disposal model – towards a circular value chain where organic waste is the main resource.

The use of organic waste in construction would possibly allow the exploitation of its untapped value with a positive impact not only from an environmental perspective but also from a technical, social and economic standpoint”

The waste and resource use profile of construction is not healthy, as reinforced by statistics within the report. For example,  60% of UK raw materials are consumed by construction and operation of the built environment and up to 30% of EU waste comes from construction. (FutuREstorative used the 40% rule of thumb for waste and resource use)

And the food waste sector is equally poor, with 0.6 billion tonnes consumer organic waste produced globally,  accounting for 5% of global green house gases.

The report suggests that “organic waste from our cities and countryside, traditionally managed through landfill, incineration and composting could be diverted – at least in part – to become a resource for the creation of construction engineering and architecture products before being fed back in the biological cycle at the end of their service life”

Intriguing and Inspiring facts and examples include:

  • Pineapple: Internal cladding and furniture
  • Rice: Brick and Block Products. Rice can be also used as raw material for board production
  • Banana fruit and leaves can be used to obtain rugged textiles and carpets. The material is 100% biodegradable. http://leoxx.nl/
  • Sunflower: floors walls and ceiling boards, made by the repurposing of waste from sunflower harvesting. They are made by just adding water, heat and pressure with no additives. http://www.kokoboard.com/
  • Peanut: Flame retardant boards, made by the repurposing of waste from peanut shells. Peanuts shell are turned into particle boards by a hot press procedure and the use of a formaldehyde-free (e.g. soy based) adhesives.

Download the Arup report from https://www.arup.com/en/publications/research/section/the-urban-bio-loop 

Regenerative thinking embedded in new DGNB System 2017.

nature globeSustainable building certification standards are immense influencers on not only the built environment sector but also commercial, industrial and domestic green lifestyles. With that influence comes a real responsibility in establishing the current direction of travel for the industry against a backdrop of climate, economic and social change.

Get it right, and we move closer to addressing major climate change issues, attaining carbon reduction targets and achieving ecologically, economically and socially just goals. Get it wrong and the negative impact ripples far beyond our built environment sector.

It is the purpose of ‘regenerative’ certification schemes not only to identify best practice requirements for design, construction and operation, but to go way beyond current best practices and establish a vision for sustainable buildings based on future requirements — with practice then measured against that vision.

FutuREstorative Working Towards a New Sustainability makes the case for regenerative building standards, using the Living Building Challenge, Well Build Standard, One Planet Living and The Natural Step as examples. Encouragingly, news of the 2017 DGNB System update, the result of an intensive internal review, could well now join that the regenerative sustainability standards family.

The following are extracts and comments are from a DGNB System update release,  illustrating its proposed alignment with current regenerative sustainability theme:

Sustainability should not be an add-on or nice-to-have. Instead, it should be seen as an integral part of every building project. Given the number of global challenges we now face and the demands of climate change, it will become increasingly important for everyone to face up to the key topics of sustainability, especially when it comes to implementing different aspects in practice. Paying lip service to sustainability or reacting simply because it looks good for marketing purposes will no longer be accepted

Health and Wellbeing: We build for ourselves – for people who spend most of their lives in buildings. This intrinsically means that people and their need for health and wellbeing must therefore be the lynch pin – the point around which everything revolves when making all the decisions that influence planning and building

 

Circular Economy: When selecting the materials to be used in a building it is necessary to consider that one day it may be disassembled or reclaimed. The DGNB certification system thus plays an important role in ensuring that material cycles are put in place so that products can be re-used or reclaimed, along the lines of cradle-to-cradle principles.

The DGNB System is therefore the first of its kind to make circular economy principles an assessable and measurable aspect of buildings. To promote the use of new methods, such solutions are rewarded with bonuses, in turn having a positive impact on certification outcomes.

Positive Contribution: The DGNB sees design quality and Baukultur (architectural culture) as a central aspect of sustainable building.  Version 2017 …looks more closely at any factors that consider a building’s contribution to its … environment.

 

Sustainable Development Goals: In 2016, the United Nations issued its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of specific and meaningful targets aimed at shaping the future development of our planet, encouraging people to think again and thus paving the way for life in a sustainable world. The DGNB supports the UN objectives and wants to encourage others to make a tangible and positive contribution to achieving these targets through certification.  All projects that achieve DGNB certification in future will also include a statement on the extent to which they contribute towards fulfilling the SDGs

 

Life cycle assessment of entire buildings. This is captured in the DGNB System in accordance with EU standards and ranges from how materials are produced to final deconstruction. It’s important that scientifically defined benchmarks are used to calculate and optimise impacts on the environment.

 

Innovation: It is the DGNB’s goal to promote new thinking and a willingness to step outside comfort zones. It was this underlying thought that resulted in a new instrument being added to the criteria contained in Version 2017: Innovation Capacities. With immediate effect, many of the criteria have been defined in a way that should motivate planners to pursue the best possible and the most sensible solutions for their project.

RelatedA case for reconstructing the world of sustainable building standards

Regenerative Disruption: Construction Materials, from Linear to Circular.

This is not Sustainable.

Echoing themes from Cradle to Cradle and FutuREstorative on impact of construction waste and materials … namely

An industry that demands over half of humanities resources

Contributes to a third of global waste

The single largest source of waste in the UK, generating over 100 million tonnes of waste every year

32% of all waste, 13% of which is new or unused.

… the YouTube promotion from Enviromate below, calling for Circular Economy approaches to material management contains powerful messages and makes an important contribution to progressing a circular economy in construction.

the enviromate mission

Designed with one core mission; to disrupt and revolutionise construction and DIY through enabling and accelerating the reuse of surplus and leftover building materials. Helping build a future where we share, upcycle and reuse surplus, reducing the impact the industry has on our environment and building toward a more resourceful, circular economy.

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

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