Into 2019 …

Business as Usual Sustainability (BAUS)

Business as Usual Sustainability may well prove to be our barrier in addressing the climate change issues we face. To only ‘sustain’ is no longer enough, we now have a real urgency to embrace regenerative sustainability, to thrive … and to enable thriving.

The last three decades have given us many opportunities to embrace sustainability, but have only done so reluctantly and given the worsening CO2, air quality and health issues associated with our buildings, inadequately. So now the options available to us are increasingly radical and of necessity transformative.

The recent 2018 IPCC report has given us 12 years to avoid a painful climate breakdown and the risk of irreversibly destabilising the Earth’s climate. If we are to meet the targets in front of us, related to the 2015 Paris Agreement, the SDG’s and here at home in the UK Built Environment with our CO2 reduction by 2025 targets, we need to move way beyond Business as Usual Sustainability …

The report confirmed that we must take widespread changes to design, construction, maintenance and re-use of buildings. It reinforces buildings account for 40% of CO2 emissions with building materials such as cement and concrete accounting for some 8% of the global figure.  In essence this would require no construction, building, industry, plant or vehicles using gas, oil, coal or fossil fuels; a building products sector converted to green natural products and / or non-toxic chemistry; and heavy industries like cement, steel and aluminum production either using carbon-free energy sources or not used in buildings.

Further, the construction and use of buildings will by necessity need to be positive, not passive, neutral or negative – sequestering and capturing more carbon than emitted, generating more energy than used, improving air quality rather than polluting and improving inhabitants wellbeing rather than contributing to health problems.

The best time to start radically reducing carbon was 30 years ago, the second best time is to start today.

Its time to step up.

We can do this.

The Paris 1.5 aspiration is still within our reach – just! Thankfully the 2018 IPCC report does contain at least one positive, and that is anthropogenic emissions up now are unlikely to cause further warming of more than 0.5°C over the next two to three decades or on a century time scale.

This means that, if we stop using fossil fuels today, the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that have already been released into the atmosphere to date are not likely to warm the earth the additional 0.5°C, either by 2030, or 2050, or even by 2100.

No doubt you have read many end of 2018, start of 2019 sustainable lifestyle things we can do – from eating less meat, cycling not driving, avoiding fossil fuel energy – and these are all good, and things we should be doing. But we can do more, and in the built environment we can make significant and meaningful progress in, for example:

Educate and Advocate
As individuals, as organisations and as a sector we must educate and advocate. Many of those entering the design and construction sector over the next twelve years are still in education (many at primary school and have a whole secondary and university education in front of them)They need to be inspired and motivated for a built environment that will be radically different to the one we have today.

Reverse the Performance Gap
The performance gap between design and actual causes unnecessary co2 emissions. As with the Living Building Challenge, let’s make award of any sustainable standard only on achievement of or bettering of the agreed design intent. Perhaps planning should only be given, or priority given to buildings that positively make a contribution – on carbon, water, or air quality. A challenge for Building Regulations and Planning requirements to step up.

Grow from Thousands to Billions
Trees: “Our planet’s future climate is inextricably tied to the future of its forests,” states the 2018 IPCC report, calling for billions of trees to be planted and protected. We have the skills, materials and mindsets to design, construct and maintain buildings that function as trees. Perhaps the flagship here is the Bullitt centre, but we have thousands of buildings around the world that have regenerative attributes. Building on the title of the 2018 World Green Building Council report we can ramp this up from Thousands to Billions – to all buildings.

Monarch Butterfly (selected as cover image for FutuREstorative)

FutuREgenerative

In 2016, FutuREstorative sought to set out what a new sustainability could look like, moving thinking in the built environment from the ‘reducing harm’ sustainability business as usual approach to one that is restorative, regenerative with a connected worldview. working with natural systems, healing harm done in the past.

I must admit I shied away from using the word regenerative in the title of the 2016 edition. Within the UK regenerative has had an uncomfortable meaning, associated with ‘building schools for the future’ and other less successful programmes. As a Project Manager for a regeneration programme in East Lancashire, I saw first hand, just how uncomfortable the ‘regeneration’ label sat with local communities and the wider sustainability agendas.

I am delighted that FutuREstorative has been adopted by many practices (it has inspired at least two start-ups that I know of here in the UK), is being translated into Portuguese and has been adopted by academic organisations around the world. It has also provided the backbone for the EU COST RESTORE programme.

However, and thankfully, the world of sustainability has moved on a-pace, much has progressed from 2016, (Paris, SDG’s, IPCC and WWF reports) Increasingly we hear much more, and are seeing more examples of regenerative sustainability and ecologically principled design in relation to our buildings,  And this includes regenerative buildings that are designed to heal people and planet.  I see this as part of what Daniel Wahl refers to as ‘regeneration rising’ but are far from reaching a tipping point.

So, into 2019, my plans are to …

update FutuREstorative, reframing and possibly re-titling as FutuREgenerative to reflect current regenerative activities globally and pushing our thinking further. Over the coming weeks I will be collating regenerative stories and looking for blog style contributions from those at the sharp end of regenerative sustainability, within the built environment and beyond

further support and enable the communities of practice and discussion groups that have emerged and are growing around FutuREstorative 

If you would like to get involved in sharing your stories and experience through FutuREstorative communities of practice then please do reach out.

Together we can do this …

The Connected Construction Generation

F U T U R E S T O R A T I V E  Extract Page 139

CHAPTER SEVEN: A DIGITALLY FUELLED RESTORATIVE FUTURE 

The rise of social media has led to a communications shift in the way construction industry professionals share information and participate in conversations. In many ways, this new social dimension – based on engagement, relationships and trust – is at odds with the historical construction industry approaches of competitiveness and fear of sharing.

bridge-bricks-steel-cables-suspension-bridgeWe are seeing the emergence of a new ‘connected construction generation’ sharing information in real time across organisations, sectors and countries, and forming digital communities of practice. Good examples are the influential #Be2Camp and #UKBIMCrew, cross-organisation communities sharing social media and BIM knowledge.

Groupings of conversations with a focus on sustainability, BIM and collaborative working are creating communities whose participants are both ‘Generous and Expert’. That is, they are …

FutuREstorative – Working Towards a New Sustainability

 

(Enabling) Sharership is the new Leadership

17062008118“Sharership is the new Leadership” Sylvie Sasaki Property Plan A project manager at Marks and Spencer blogging today in Building reminded me this great comment from Jim McLelland @SustMeme), illustrating how social media has progressed to a powerful medium for sharing valuable information  Something not fully recognised or acknowledge by many construction organisation leaders.

Indeed what is key for leadership is to ‘enable‘ sharing through social media, yet many leaders don’t encourage, even actively discourage the use of social media, presenting a negative rather than positive role model. And this presents problems for a digital construction future. I  still hold by comments I made in the Guardian Sustainable Business pages back in 2012:

The biggest barrier to social media take up lies at board and director levels. Most staff within construction organisations will use social media in some personal capacity, a skill and resource to be harnessed for organisational good.

The first and perhaps the most dynamic step an organisation can therefore take in embracing social media and in preparing for Building Information Management, is to ensure that construction directors and boards understand the benefits that managed social media strategies can bring, and enable real open sharing and collaboration.

Sylvie Sasaki Property is right to warn against online networks becoming silos. Yet we can see an emergence of a new connected construction generation, connected in real-time across organisations, sectors and countries, indeed across existing silos, often under the umbrella of hashtags, forming digital communities of practice.

These groupings of sharing conversations, with focus on sustainability, building information management and collaborative working, with participants that are both generous and expert. Helping others long before and after help is needed and in one or more areas that others value and acknowledge. A prime example is the #UKBIMCrew digital community

And all this represents additional pressure on leaders, and on the importance of having robust social media strategies and protocols in place for staff.  Indeed the rise of social media has led to a communications shift in the way construction shares information and participates in conversations. Now based on engagement, relationships and trust, replacing the historical construction approaches of competitiveness, and fear of sharing.

Please do get in touch: Knowing where to start with social media as a construction director or leader can be confusing, but we can provide a no nonsense introduction and strategic approach.  This topic is explored further in my article to be published in Construction Innovation: Information, Process, Management later this year.

Co-collaboration

So what is co-collaboration?images (1)

In a recent publication, Towards New Innovative Collaborations, on recent blog posts, and I dare say in workshops and presentations,  I have used the term co-collaboration. It’s a clumsy term I know, one I have been taken to task on and one that needs clarification, but in my mind, describes the emerging collaboration brought about by increased used of social media and networks

It is now widely excepted that collaboration on a project is a key success factor, its no longer a nice to have skill, but a capability must have.  Its more often than not a high scoring topic in bids and PQQ’s.  (But, incidentally, poorly measured and monitored throughout the project, unless that is things go wrong and relationships revert to un-collaborative type)

Learning and sharing within a collaborative team is an essential, but our industry is moving towards the point where this is not enough. There is a growing expectation to share experiences, share lessons learnt, often within the context of ‘stories’, beyond the project team, beyond company barriers, for the good of the not only our built environment sector but also our clients sector. And it is in this exciting area where I find myself working more and more.

Communities of practice are growing, freely sharing and co-creating  to advance understanding and development. For example in the BIM arena with UKBIMCrew, in social media with BE2Camp, the networks associated to twitter tweetchats on CSR (#CSRChat) the Bathroom and Kitchens tribe (#kbtribechat) and our own sustainability leadership conversations (#sustldrconv) and many other social / un-conference groups

As individuals, we are increasingly are contributing to and sharing more on industry wikis such as designing buildings wiki and through industry, organisation and company blogs.

And it is this emergence I refer to as co-collaboration, a mashup or co-creating + collaborating

“We must harness the collective power of unconventional partnerships to dramatically redefine the way we thrive in the future” Hannah Jones, Nike

Yet recognition of the importance of this co-collaboration is slow, with leaders seemingly reluctant to move from keeping best practice in house or wrapped as PR when communicated. It may well be a future success factor for leading organisations  who embrace the ‘value of what we know is in sharing it” ethos.

Related:

Collaboration makes construction lean  In this excellent article by Karen Wilhelm which mashes up collaborative working, lean, BIM, 3D and 4D design, collaborative contracts, value chains ….

Sustainable futures require collective power of unconventional partnerships Early today I came across this excellent quote* from Hannah Jones, Nike’s global head of sustainability and innovation …

Towards New Innovative Collaborations  November 1 2013 Our recent publication “Towards New Innovative Collaborations” exploring PPP Public Private Partnerships and Collaborative Working within a changing built environment is now available through Amazon …

Team Building in the Age of BIM May 1, 2014 http://www.architectmagazine.com/ Building Information Modeling (BIM) by itself does not cultivate meaningful engagement. Collaboration skills and processes are essential, and they transcend technology and tools. I would underscore the point that it is the less tangible elements of collaboration—a nuanced and subtle skill set—that provide the magic that transforms the most challenging projects into great works of architecture.

 

 

 

 

keeping communities of practice alive

This week I find myself involved with and or facilitating four communities of practice (CoP) , two new and getting started like the Leeds Sustainability Forum and Green Drinks Lancashire ( which after the second ‘gathering’ is becoming a useful green business network) one well established like the BAE FM CoP, and the Constructing Excellence Collaborative Champions Group which is looking to move into a web 2.0 environment for communication and collaboration. And of course regular participation in the be2camp and twittering communities.

In preparation for the four CoP’s I dug out a paper from Harvard Business School that I had referred to back in 2005 when starting the FM CoP , Seven Principles for Cultivating Communities of Practice that describes and discusses approaches to evoke a community’s ‘aliveness’, to bring out its own internal direction, character, and energy:

  1. Design for evolution – Remember communities are dynamic; changes can create new demands or reshape the community; “‘Alive’ communities reflect on and redesign elements of themselves throughout their existence.”
  2. Open a dialogue between inside and outside perspectives – effective community design is “built on the collective experience of community members” and “brings information from outside the community into the dialogue about what the community could achieve.”
  3. Invite different levels of participation – Three main levels of community participation: a core group engaged in regular, intensive activities (usually 10-15% of the group); the active group (another 15-20%); and peripheral members, who rarely participate.
  4. Develop both public and private community spaces – “orchestrate activities in both public and private spaces that use the strength of individual relationships to enrich events and use events to strengthen individual relationships.”
  5. Focus on value – “Rather than attempting to determine their expected value in advance, communities need to create events, activities, and relationships that help their potential value emerge and enable them to discover new ways to harvest it.”
  6. Combine familiarity and excitement – “combine both familiar and exciting events so community members can develop the relationships they need to be well connected as well as generate the excitement they need to be fully engaged.”
  7. Create a rhythm for the community – Vibrant communities have a rhythm, a tempo, ideally somewhere between breathless and sluggish. “There is no right beat for all communities, and the beat is likely to change as the community evolves.”

(I should note a word of thanks to Paul at ExtranetEvolution who also blogged on this earlier)