Ecologically Rethinking Construction

Jonathan Dawson, head of economics at Schumacher College, writing on Guardian Sustainable Business asked “How do we redesign a new economic theory framed by ecological systems?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA question we need to ask and start addressing within the built environment.

We are seeing a new vocabulary emerging with concepts such as biomimicry, zero or net energy, water and environmental impact, Living Buildings, biophillia, circular economy … and more … As the interest and importance of these concepts influence in the way we design, build and use buildings, do we need a new paradigm?  Some 15 years after Egan, do we need to again rethink construction to address these emergent sustainability themes. approaches and skills that once again the sector is lacking, engaging the economists, surveyors and accountants? As Jonathan Dawson comments:

Ecology offers the insight that the economy is best understood as a complex adaptive system, more a garden to be lovingly observed and tended than a machine to be regulated by mathematically calculable formulae.

A comment that makes a nice resonance with the Living Building Challenge philosophy

And of course a key element in this new thinking is the internet, web 2.0 and the power of social media.

Enabled by the growing power of information technology, whole new ways of doing business and organising society are emerging, whose strength lies not in economies of scale but in economies of co-operation and symbiosis

Over the weekend , via twitter I caught a slide via Rachel Armstrong illustrating the difference and need to move from 20th century Cartesian or Newtonian thinking into 21st complexity, emergent thinking …

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Jonathan Dawson: “This moment of history calls on us to rewrite the dictionary and create new stories, much as the generations following on from Copernicus did to reflect the new world-view that emerged from his astronomical insights”

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Simple Rules: Addressing Sustainability

Addressing climate change, environmental harm and sustainability can seem far to difficult and complex to tackle, so often we dont, or we do so with approaches that are masked by process and checklist.

Daniel Goleman, in Ecological Intelligence gives us three simple, yet remarkably comprehensive rules for reducing impact:

1. Know your impacts

2. Favour improvement

3. Share what you learn

Imagine the power of everyone in your organisation fully understanding the environmental impact of what they do, favouring improvement to address (over doing nothing) and continually sharing with colleagues, supply chain, clients and the wider industry.

In respect for sharing, social media has enabled unparalleled learning and sharing for sustainable improvement, something the built environment is just awakening to.

Does your organisation have Ecological Intelligence and a set of simple rules for reducing environmental impact?

Simple Rules:
Through facilitated workshops, we can help you explore a ‘simple rules’ approach to dramatically improving effectiveness of your processes and procedures, increase buy in whilst reducing red tape bureaucracy.
Behind seemingly complex issues there are simple rules. The concept of Simple Rules is a key principle within complexity and emergence thinking. The oft cited simple rules being those for flocking birds. 
 This blog series will explore application of simple rules to sustainability and the built environment. Based on the premise: if we were to discard all strategies , policies, processes, procedures, work instructions and checklists, what simple rules would emerge or would we need.
Next: Simple Rules for Business Improvement