Patagonia Worn Wear – UK Tour

“Let’s all become radical environmentalists” commented Patagonia chief executive Rose Marcario “As individual consumers, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to keep our stuff in use longer. This simple act of extending the life of our (stuff) through proper care and repair reduces the need to buy more over time, thereby avoiding the CO2 emissions, waste output and water usage required to build it.”

This remains in my mind, one of the more useful of circular economy thinking approaches

Patagonia’s Worm Well bus will be setting up temporary workstations at venues across the UK to repair garments, free of charge.

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Worn Wear at Kendal Film Festival 2015

The UK leg is part of a wider five-country mission across Europe to extend the life of outdoor enthusiasts’ clothing. It starts on 15 April in the UK and Germany before moving on to other European countries.

Dates and details are on the Patagonia Worn Wear website.

It would be great to see this extended into other areas, more built environment related areas, for example, FM organisations holding free equipment repair workshops in buildings they operate, construction and consultancy organisations returning to their buildings and providing free sustainability advice and repair service … The opportunities based on circular economy business models are huge.

Put simply, if it’s broke, fix it! Dont replace it

Related previous post: (2012) Construction CSR Makeover: can construction learn from Patagonia?

Ready for a Circular Economy?

IMG_1100My recent talk at Green Vision Circular Economy event held at the Re:Center, University of Bradford, focused on Design for DeConstruction principles and raised a number of questions, for example;

  • The Circular Economy is not just simply new generation waste recycling – are we rethinking design and construction systems and processes. (slide 2)
  • How can we convert Site Waste Management Plans to Material Conservation Management Plans? (slide 3)
  • Is BIM ready to embrace design for (secondary) reuse, after the first design purpose?How well do we understand the difference between Material Passports and Product Data Sheets? (slide 5)
  • How can we remove toxic materials from buildings so that we do not build in more health problems for future use, future buildings and future generations? (slide 7)
  • Are we limiting circular economy potential through greater integrated Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing systems? (slide 15)
  • Is there really a place in construction 2016 for Substances that are Hazardous to Health? (slide 24)

Related Post: Circular Economy and the Built Environment

Circular Economy and the Built Environment

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Updated: Ready for a Circular Economy?

This coming week sees a number of circular economy events, for example Green Vision 10th Feb  (#GVis2016) in Bradford and ConstructCE 12 Feb (#cethinking) in London. Also see the Build Well 2016 Feb 10/11 event in the USA.  If you are at all interested in learning more about Circular Economy and its current popularity in construction, get along to at least one for these, and, engage via their twitter streams

This blog has mentioned and covered concepts of Circular Economy, Cradle to Cradle and related themes on many occasions, including the 2008 Constructing Excellence Lancashire Waste is Stupid event and presentation for that asked the question when did the construction Take Make Dump become acceptable, and why it remains so.

Whilst we see an increase in interest and a hunger to understand, an occasional interface with mainstream sustainability (as represented by BREEAM) and with BIM (GreenBIM), circular economy thinking struggles to gain any real traction within the built environment.

Research shows that the circular economy could be worth up to £29billion to the UK economy. It remains unclear how much of this would be construction related, but is this another area we can apply the rule of thumb 40% factor to, making a significant impact on the sector?

The Living Building Challenge provides a great framework for circular economy thinking, requiring for example, Conservation Plans not just Site Waste Management Plans, and pulls on the DfD (Design for Disassembly or Design for Deconstruction) principles as a guide for material selection and management within Living Building Challenge projects.

And it is DfD principles that will form the core of my talk at the Green Vision circular economy with examples from recent visits in the UK, Europe, Canada and the US.

Circular Economy and DfD principles present great opportunities and challenges for todays design and construction within the world of BIM. Can we for example design buildings with materials and components that have a secondary designed life after the first? and, how can we incorporate materials and components that are already insitu within existing buildings? The Alliander company ‘new’ HQ building in the Netherlands demonstrates it is possible, using concepts such as Material Passports to incorporate 80% raw materials from existing buildings and have designed re-use potential for 80% of the new building.

However, if we are serious in designing and constructing buildings with circular economy thinking, with a planned lifetimes reaching to 250 years, as for example in the case of Bullitt Centre, is it acceptable or responsible to specify or include unhealthy or toxic chemicals or materials?  We would be potentially locking risks into many years of use and potentially many future buildings. A good place to start is to ensure the buildings are LBC Red List compliant. The Bullitt Centre has demonstrated toxic material free buildings are possible in six-storey, city centre commercial buildings.

The era of just harm reduction should really be history, and, in an age of responsible construction, the Precautionary Principle (to do no harm where evidence of health or ecological risk exists), should be forefront in design. And if unhealthy or toxic materials are really unavoidable, then project Deconstruction Plan’s must detail the designed replacement rationale and methodology as soon as healthy alternatives become available.

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Circular thinking and DFD are explored within my upcoming RIBA publication FutuRestorative as inspirations and challenges for a new sustainability in the built environment.

Event Links:

Green Vision 10th Feb   Hashtag #GVIs2016 @lsigreenvision

CE Thinking 12 Feb  Hashtag #CEthinking @constructCE 

Build Well 2016 Feb 10/11 @BuildWELL_EBNet

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?

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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:

Circulate News Launched

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has launched Circulate, an online platform for news and thought-leadership on circular economy thinking, providing a central location for information and news on circular economy related topics.

Content on Circulate falls into three distinct types:

  • fortnightly featured articles with a journalistic focus, from a range of writers;
  • daily updated news articles from various industries and on a number of subjects, accompanied by comment from the Circulate editorial team;
  • and suggested reading material recommended by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation team.

Circulate has a twitter account at @circulatenews

The next chapter of construction business?

Construction business has moved a long way from Milton’s ‘the only purpose of business is business’ with many seeking to adopt more of a socially responsible approach, sometimes through choice, more often through client driven procurement requirements. But can businesses rooted in capitalism really morph into something that drives a more responsible sector, one that embraces a collaborative, sharing, responsible economy?

John Friedman @JohnFriedman writing in Huffington Post ‘The Next Chapter of Capitalism‘ thinks so,

In boardrooms and executive suites around the world, business leaders – those people who are truly leading and not just managing their companies – are writing a new chapter of capitalism.

The new chapter seeks to preserve (and expand) the gains in quality of life, longevity, health and well-being and prosperity that are the best results of this economic system while working to ensure that those benefits are universally shared and they do not come at the expense of the Earth’s vast – but finite – natural resources.

The next chapter of capitalism is where the performance of the private sector is in harmony with the progress of society.

The test for the ‘next chapter in capitalism’ will be when social metrics such as CSR, Community Engagement, Sharing, Responsible and Restorative Sustainability, gain a place on the construction board room agenda equal to or over riding the historic cost and profit metrics.

And, as John Friedman questions who will write this next question in capitalism, so we should ask who will write the next chapter in construction business.