Tag Archives: construction

M2020 – The Carbon Tipping Point

The ambitious but achievable carbon M2020 initiative, launched by Christiana Figueres in London this week, sets out carbon emission reduction ‘pathways’ to meet the temperature goals agreed in Paris back in 2015

Bending the curve of emissions by 2020 is the only way to limit global warming and ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals remain within our reach. It will also pave the way to delivering a just transition to net zero emissions by 2050.

The year 2020 is seen as a critical turning point in expediting the least expensive transition to a safer fossil-free economy by 2050.

M2020

M2020 sets out 6 milestones for 2020, to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and to be Net Zero by 2050. With regards to the built environment, Milestone 2 for Infrastructure is clear:

(By 2020) … Cities and states have established plans and are implementing policies and regulations with the aim to fully decarbonise infrastructure by 2050. 

Whilst this aligns with our UK Construction 2025 Vision for 50% lower emissions  by 2025, the other milestones (Energy, Transport, Industry, Land Use and Finance) would have profound impacts on the design, construction and operation of our buildings and cities:

 

M2020 2

With carbon reduction now being recognised as one of todays most important public health interventions, it is now an imperative for built environment organisations to include carbon reduction commitments and ‘pathways’ within their sustainability, responsibility and health strategies. Indeed, as John Elkington wrote in a recent article, carbon management and carbon ‘productivity’ must become, and is becoming the centre of our sustainability world, but that we don’t have the time to delay waiting for a carbon mindset shift.

And, as we have discussed in recent sustainability workshops – its time to collaboratively rethink the construction process .. planning for construction without fossil fuels. 

 

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More | Better. An alternative approach to housing.

more-better-coverDelighted to have participated in the excellent More | Better – an evaluation of the potential of alternative approaches to inform housing delivery in Wales report by Ed Green and others at Cardiff University.

The compelling More | Better report, consisting of a spectrum of case studies and commentaries from expert contributors, concludes that there is no single housing ‘silver bullet’, but that there is potential for more, better housing through a combination of innovative delivery pathways and construction techniques. And the innovative delivery pathways considered include Passivhaus, the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard, and the Living Building Challenge.

“Affordable housing is uniquely placed to benefit from the philosophy and application of the Living Building Challenge and aligns well with and will assist with adherence to the Welsh Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015)”

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In the absence of a Welsh, national mandate for zero carbon, more onerous standards including CfSH Level 6, Passivhaus and the Living Building Challenge all provide optional pathways to 43 higher standards of environmental performance. 

 

The report concludes:

Wales should lead the way by placing affordable housing and affordable warmth at the centre of national policy, with homes and places that meet our needs, now and in the future. We must stop thinking purely in terms of capital costs. Construction that drains resources should be replaced with buildings that generate resources – that are energy positive and carbon negative. This fundamental perspective shift is in line with the Wales Future Generations Act 2015.

  • By employing alternative approaches, we could be constructing new homes and neighbourhoods in a more contextually appropriate way, with greater long term value.
  • Alternative approaches have the potential to deliver affordable homes in parallel with more established methods, so long as knowledge is shared with commissioners and constructors.
  • Different delivery pathways and construction techniques could lead to more diverse housing that is better quality, more fit-for-purpose, more affordable and more sustainable.
  • Further benefits could include the growth of employment in Wales, a national supply chain, greater long term resilience, and renewable energy infrastructure as a source of income.
  • The creation and maintenance of sustainable communities could provide a new focus for post-industrial Wales, facilitating joined-up development that works at a local level.

The More | Better report should become a touch-stone housing reference for change. And as such should be on must-read lists, not only for those in the Welsh housing sector, but for anyone interested and engaged in the future of built environment sustainability standards and alternative ‘innovative pathways’

Download the More | Better full document and executive summary here

Lancashire Construction is Blooming

With the regions transformational City Deal now getting into swing there will be ‘blooming’ opportunities for those in the Lancashire built environment sector over the coming months and years. And Constructing Excellence, through its Lancashire and Regional Clubs is well placed to assist in the development and transfer of best practice knowledge and skills. These cover the core ingredients of successful built environment organisations – Productivity, BIM & Digital Construction, Sustainability and Continuous Improvement –  all geared to meeting the Construction 2025 Vision

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Whilst you are here: Supporting the Lancashire Club: We are looking for new steering group members to steer and drive the club over the coming years, a period that will be a busy, challenging but rewarding one for built environment organisations within the region. if you are interested please get in touch with our Chair, Martin Brown, our Sec, Andrea Atherton or Regional Club Coordinator Zoe Brooke 

Our … speak to us at our next event on 23rd Feb in Lancaster 

We Are Lancashire – The Place For Growth

Lancashire, Preston and South Ribble’s transformational City Deal pitched to over 100 developers, agents and investors at half-day Place North West business conference last week.

Entitled “We Are Lancashire – The Place For Growth”, the event was organised by the City Deal Partnership (including Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council, South Ribble Council and the Homes & Communities Agency), Marketing Lancashire and the Lancashire LEP. It was run in partnership with leading property news and investment website Place North West, and hosted at the Preston headquarters of accountants RSM.

At the heart of the discussions was the impact and opportunities offered by the £434m City Deal programme. The City Deal is a key initiative of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s strategic plan to create 50,000 new jobs over the next 10 years across the county.  The City Deal will help to create more than 20,000 new private sector jobs and see over 17,000 new homes built across Preston and South Ribble, as well as new school places, open green spaces and new health provision to cater for the growing population

  • Key themes which emerged throughout the sessions included how all of the Lancashire local authorities, both county and district, involved in City Deal were working closely together to ensure private investment can flourish. This included their pragmatic, joined-up approach to the planning process, and the substantial public sector support on offer to help private sector schemes get started, and completed, with a minimum of barriers.
  • Another important debate centred around the need to create a diverse mix of housing, and have different types of tenure, throughout Central Lancashire. This was to ensure families, young people, the elderly, students and recent graduates could all get access to affordable and desirable accommodation which suited their needs.
  • As well as providing suitable homes to encourage graduates to stay in the area, many of the speakers also touched on the need to retain graduate talent through a combination of suitable jobs in the region, and the creation of an attractive environment to live in. This included a need for an improved for an improved evening economy as well as strengthening its position as a visitor destination.
  • This led to a focus on the strengths and benefits of Central Lancashire’s existing regeneration and development schemes, and highlighted some of the major City Deal investments which have recently been announced.
  • These included Preston city-centre developments such as the new Harris Quarter cinema and leisure scheme, the potential for the re-development of an ‘HS2 ready’ Preston train station, the £200m UCLan masterplan, the regeneration of Winckley Square and the proposed Altus Grade A office project.
  • The major investment opportunities based around the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone site, which has now been designated as a specialist aerospace and advanced manufacturing hub as part of The Lancashire Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Cluster programme were discussed, including reference to the recently green-lighted Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre which will be based at Samlesbury.
  • The major mixed use logistics, retail and residential scheme at Cuerden, anchored by a new IKEA, was also held up as an example of how the City Deal is helping to unlock a series of complementary developments which are set to have a genuinely transformational effect on the Central Lancashire economy.

Threats and challenges to Lancashire’s growth were also debated, with issues like skill shortages, Brexit and Lancashire’s historic reputation for being a divided county all coming under discussion.

However, the general consensus from both private and public sector speakers was that Lancashire has made incredible progress over the last few years to speak with one voice showcasing its growing ambition and confidence, is looking to tackle the issue of vocational skills through a series of effective education and employer strategies, and is set to play a key role at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse initiative through a private-public partnership approach to stimulating economic growth.

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PreCycling: A gateway to the Construction Circular Economy

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Precycling is a term I adopted within FutuREstorative to describe the decision making process when specifying, procuring, ordering and calling off materials. It is the thought process, not for only the avoidance of waste but in considering net-positive and secondary uses for a product at the end of its initial use.

Precycling is defined as ‘making purchasing decisions that will ultimately eliminate, delay, reduce the need to recycle or dispose of waste” and should be at the top of all waste hierarchies, as indeed it now is with some of the organisation whom I am supporting.

I have suggested elsewhere that product or material data sheets or passports within BIM should contain deconstruction, disassembly future use options within their attributes, hence enabling and informing precycling decisions.

“Precycling is one of the gateways into a construction circular economy” and assists in making the conversion from Site Waste Management Plans (that detail methods for reducing and better management of waste) to Material Conservation Plans (that detail methods for conserving resources)

Material Conservation Plans are a Living Building Challenge requirement under the Materials imperative. A framework for UK Project Material Conservation Plans is included within FutuREstorative

In January 2017 BRE published Material resource efficiency in construction: Supporting a circular economy (FB 85) which although still having a focus on Site Waste Management Plans assists in shifting waste thinking further up stream, noting that Material resource efficiency can be applied across a construction project’s life cycle, but with the greatest benefits at early, pre-construction stages

4_fb85_165px “There is increasing awareness that improved material resource efficiency will produce benefits across the construction industry such as cost savings, reduced environmental impact and an enhanced reputation. At a construction project level, resource efficiency can be implemented at all stages (design, procurement, construction, in use and end of life) using established tools and techniques.

This guide describes the material resource efficiency requirements in BREEAM. It provides the background, drivers, benefits and practical advice to assist clients, designers and contractors in achieving higher levels of material resource efficiency. It will also be useful to product manufacturers, suppliers and waste management companies”

 

WELL & BREEAM announce alignment for credits: more good or less bad?

UPDATE 01 Feb 2017

Credit Crosswalks: BRE and IWBI have released guidance to streamline joint certification of BREEAM and WELL

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As mentioned and illustrated in FutuREstorative, we will see an alignment in building sustainability and performance standards over coming months and years. In the US we have seen an alignment between LEED and the Living Building Challenge on materials (Red List) and recently on energy and water.

On Monday 28th  Nov, we saw an announcement from The International WELL Building Institute and BRE for an agreement to pursue alignment between WELL and BREEAM will making it easier for projects pursuing both standards.

In practice this will mean documentation submitted for certain credits will be recognised by both WELL and BREEAM, saving project teams time and cost.

This will be a very interesting journey and further recognises the importance of health within building design, construction and use. WELL, like the Living Building Challenge is an excellent, robust but tough standard and one that cannot be attained without a different mind-set approach to buildings.

Key to that mindset is recognition of the impact of materials on health on construction workers and building users. An alignment or agreement between BREEAM and the LBC’s Red List would make great sense here.

It will be interesting to see how the differing philosophies between WELL (do more good) and BREEAM (do less bad) work together. Hopefully this further opens the door to a salutogenic approach to design – not just reducing ill-health but using buildings to improve health, for example, using light as medicine, as explored in FutuREstorative

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Health – the next performance gap.

I will also be watching with interest if this agreement extends to the construction process, (ie. the BREEAM MAN credits) to improve the wellness and health of those involved in and affected by construction works. This is a health and wellness area that BREEAM, LEED, WELL and the Living Building Challenge do not readily address. Yet for those whose career is spent on construction sites, it is a key health and sustainability area, and one that benefits from biophilic design considerations, for example greenery in accommodation and living walls as project hoardings.

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“This Changes Everything” Paris Agreement and the Built Environment

That the Paris Agreement has come into force today, 4th November 2016, some four years early, now ratified by the requisite number of nations, is a huge milestone and speaks volumes for the global recognition and consensus to reduce carbon emissions.

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Back in December in Paris, the built environment was recognised as a major contributor to the carbon problem as well as having a major role to play in a low carbon sustainable future. (See How significant was the first Buildings Day at COP21?)

Now, then, is the time to review our approaches to taking carbon out of the built environment, through design, through the operation of buildings and in the manufacture and construction processes.

Through ConstructCO2 we know that up to 70% of construction carbons are travel and transport related, and much of this through diesel fuelled vehicles, further adding to our air quality problems and stretched health services. Construction transport impact must now be a primary target for sustainable construction.

In the UK, our most recent industry target is within Construction 2025 Vision – to reduce emissions by 50% by 2025. Consider however that this was written when the consensus for carbon reduction was based on a 2 degree target for temperature increase. We are now looking at 1.5 degree as the emerging consensus, and that changes everything.

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There is a sense of urgency here, and as I explored and commented within FutuREstorative ‘we no longer have the luxury of being only less bad’ but need to be doing more good, and in doing so heal the future.

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In 2015 the UK Green Construction Board noted that ‘reducing built environment carbon emissions (50% from 1990 levels by 2025) is now out of reach with current practice’, and as Namoi Klein wrote in This Changes Everything (2015) “There are no non-radical approaches left before us in addressing climate change’

But we do have approaches, tools and initiatives to ensure that the built environment can contribute to a 1.5 degree future, again as explored in FutuREstorative and illustrated here in this infographic:

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As we celebrate the Paris Agreement coming into force, lets also take the opportunity to look forward and start working collaboratively within the built environment towards a 1.5 degree future. And in doing so,to address the other hugely important aspects of the Paris Agreement, adopt the Sustainable Development Goals.

Chart_of_UN_Sustainable_Development_Goals

Will Tesla solar roof tiles be an industry game changer?

Elon Musk in a quest to make solar as attractive as electric vehicles may have leap-frogged many solar building innovations and prototypes in revealing a range of solar tiles (to be in mass production soon) at a show case event at Universal Studios yesterday.

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It is not often, or at all, that building products are launched with the degree of secrecy and flair that is the domain of new cars or smart phones. But that’s what Tesla did yesterday, revealing new solar tiles and power packs on a completed detached home, to invited guests. The event was reportedly powered by the energy from the display home, and then as the sun sank, powered by the battery Powerpack energy stored from the roof tiles.

Being able to generate more energy than required, and store that energy within the building for when it is not being generated, is key to sustainable buildings.  Such breakthroughs will enable both new build and refurbished buildings to move closer to the Living Building Challenge Energy petal imperative. Generating 105% of a building’s energy from the sun. And with roof tiles rather than panels, start to address the challenges Beauty petal, removing the all-too-often unsightly post construction solar panels

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The tiles price point is still be announced, yet whilst reported to be more expensive than standard tiles, they will be cheaper than the cost of tiles and equivalent cost of energy  over the life of the tiles or building. And far cheaper than the cost of post-roof or post-construction solar panels.  The tiles will also have a longer life time than more traditional US roof tiles. (US domestic buildings have a roof replacement cycle of 20 years or so)

References:

BBC: Tesla shows off solar roof tiles

Tesla: Sustainably Power your Home or Business

Mashable: Elon Musk tied together some of the disparate threads of his company’s various grand ambitions in a product launch event here at Universal Studios Friday night.

iSite Related: at last … low cost solar power that works in the (Welsh) rain…