When a wall is looking this good you’ve got to love it!

Amidst grand sustainability strategies, the upcoming virtual green build expo and the recent corporate green build events, its sometimes easy to overlook the core basics of good green sustainable construction. I was reminded of this just this week by the nice people at Greenstone in Todmodoren, with an email and invite for their straw bale and cob building and courses this summer.

When introducing Living Building Challenge (as I did this week at the Lancs Construction Best Practice Clubs Earthday event and at GreenBuild EXPO) I love introducing concepts of biophilia to people, as often it’s new, an area not on most construction people’s sustainability radar at the moment. It’s a point in the presentations where people always come alive, ask questions and jot down the references to E.O.Wilson or Last Child in the Woods.

However, in addition to biophilic aspects in design that create better, healthier buildings to live or work in, and indeed in addition to applying biophilic considerations for temporary site accommodation, we need to understand better and promote biophilia in construction, working with natural materials that not only have no health hazards, possibly have health benefits, give real joy and satisfaction in construction as well as all the good local and community benefits.

 

Greenstone are running a series of self-contained green building courses, led by the wonderful Emma Appleton, with a focus on Straw Bale and Cob Building as part of building a new straw bale classroom at a local school in Todmorden. Courses are running in July and August, for more information contact info@greenstone-design.co.uk or check out the twitter accounts for GreenStone and Emma

Now I need to find the space in my diary and try to get to one of these courses!

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Biomimetics and Biophilia – the new sustainable construction?

There is a new language and lexicon emerging within the world of built environment sustainability, from circular economy to biophilia,  indicating a maturing of construction’s approach, moving from better waste management to circular economy thinking, from biodiversity management to biophilia.

I participated in a brilliant tweetchat yesterday evening, under the hashtag of #CityofLife, hosted by Melissa Sterry (http://melissasterry.com) and others with some very knowledgeable contributors from Northern Europe and elsewhere, exploring the concepts of Biomimetics in buildings and cities. There will be a transcript soon and more debates, so watch this #CityofLife space.

It did strike me though, whilst being comfortable with these new terms in sustainability, many readers and subscribers to this blog may not be, so here is a quick primer.

Biomimetics –  learning from nature as models for building design and construction. See Building a Bionic City (Intriguingly George Mokhtar (@GeorgeMokhtar) tweeted  yesterday before the chat “biomimetics, basically the reason I started using 3D models” proving, maybe, a foundation link with BIM?)

Biomimcry, imitation of nature for the purpose of solving complex problems. Perhaps the best source of information can be found at Biomimicry38  and the Janine Benyus  Biomimicry TED talk

Biophillia, exploring the intrinsic bond between humans and nature, most commonly from a health and well being perspective of building users and occupants.

lbc biophillia

Biophllic thinking is core philosophy for the Living Building Challenge  and suggests the adoption of Richard Kellert’s Six Biophilic Design Elements, (roughly 70 design attributes,  from egg-shaped buildings a historical connection to place)

Suggested reading:

E.O. Wilson, Biophilia 1984 (There is a very useful primer on Ecology, based around E.O Wilson work, within the iBooks (ipad) series from the Open University, with texts, videos and workbooks)

Last Child in the Woods: Richard Louv

Building for Life: Richard Kellert

Case Study Cities: Melissa Sterry, Sustain Magazine

Suggested people to follow on twitter

@melissasterry @thefuturemakers @StefanoSerafi11

@amandasturgeon  @livingbuilding @livingbldgUK

@JanineBenyus @RichLouv @biomimicry_uk @AskNatureTweets

Other Links:

Bios – Flipboard Magazine 

Biophilia in the Real World

Biophilic Design Solutions and Effect

Sustain – my flipboard magazine 

Heros and Texts for a future Built Environment based on #CSR

“suddenly the air smells much greener now”

Listening to ‘These Streets’, lyrics by Paolo Nutini summed up the brilliant, inspiring Green Vision conference in Leeds – exploring CSR within the built environment.

A mix of talks, presentations, round table discussions and pecha kuchas from Mel Starrs, Eden Brukman, Tamara Bergkamp, Eddie Murphy, Martin Brown, Faye Jenkins, Claire Walker, Rick Hamilton, Mark Warner, Pedro Pablo Cardoso-Castro, Andy Ainsworth, Paula Widdowson and many others showed that there is real emergence and a future for a Built Environment founded on social responsibility principles.

The air smells much greener …

We heard of excellent progress being made by individuals, projects and organisations on the CSR journey, and how behind these are great influential thinkers, often outside of the sector, many, unsurprisingly, related to the ‘outdoor’ sector.

Many of the speakers were enthusiastic in sharing CSR heros and recommended CSR reading. So here, as a summary, or reading list are those mentioned during the day. I wonder how many of these are on the reading list within design, construction and fm education? (Book titles link to Amazon)

Yvon Chouinard

Rock climber, environmentalist and outdoor industry businessman, noted for his contributions to climbing, climbing equipment and the outdoor gear business. His company @Patagonia is widely acclaimed for its environmental and social focus. According to Fortune magazine, Chouinard is arguably the most successful outdoor industry businessman alive today.

The Responsible Company What we have learnt in the first 40 years at Patagonia by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley (see my blog)

Let My People Go Surfing Yvon Chouinard – Probably the ‘must read book’ to understand CSR in Business

(On my blog: How can construction learn from Patagonia?)

Ray Anderson

Founder of Interface Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of modular carpet for commercial and residential applications and a leading producer of commercial broadloom and commercial fabrics. He was known in environmental circles for his advanced and progressive stance on industrial ecology and sustainability.

Ray was was posthumously awarded an Outstanding Achievement award at this year’s Guardian Sustainable Business Awards in 2012. (There is a related, must watch, video here: John Elkington describing the work and legacy of Ray Anderson)

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose: Doing Business by Respecting the Earth (2009) Later released in paperback as Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist in 2011.

Paul Hawken

An environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author. Ray Anderson of Interface credited The Ecology of Commerce with his environmental awakening. He described reading it as a “spear in the chest experience”, after which Anderson started crisscrossing the country with a near-evangelical fervor, telling fellow executives about the need to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

Hawken’s book, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (1999) coauthored with Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins, popularized the now-standard idea of natural capital and direct accounting for ecosystem services, a theme revisited by Rio +20 and likely to become more mainstream across the built environment.

Janine Benyus

Her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature defines Biomimry as a “new science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems”. Benyus suggests looking to Nature as a “Model, Measure, and Mentor” and emphasizes sustainability as an objective of biomimicry. Key thinking in the Living Building Challenge principles, as is

E O Wilson

Edward Osborne Wilson an American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author. In the mid 80’s developed the concept of Biophilia, the connection between humans and nature, which translates into architecture and the built environment as comfort, well being and productivity through exposure to natural light and natural surrondings or imagry.

Anita Roddick

Dame Anita Roddick, human rights activist and environmental campaigner, best known as the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company producing and retailing beauty products that shaped ethical consumerism The company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the first to promote fair trade with third world countries. Roddick was involved in activism and campaigning for environmental and social issues, including involvement with Greenpeace andThe Big Issue.

John Elkington

John Elkington @volansjohn is a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development. He is currently the Founding Partner & Executive Chairman of Volans, a future-focused business working at the intersection of the sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovation movements

His latest book The Zeronauts, Breaking the Sustainability Barrier describes many of todays inspirational leaders : “Just as our species broke the Sound Barrier during the 1940s and 1950s, a new breed of innovator, entrepreneur, and investor is lining up to break the Sustainability Barrier”

Jorgen Randers

2052: What will the world look like in 2052

Jeff Hollender,

Jeffrey Hollender is an American businessperson, entrepreneur, author, and activist. He was well known for his roles as CEO, co-founder, and later Chief Inspired Protagonist and Executive Chairperson of Seventh Generation Inc., the country’s largest distributor of non-toxic, all-natural cleaning, paper and personal care products. www.jeffhollender.com/

Gary Hirshberg,

Gary Hirshberg is chairman and former president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt producer, based in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Now part of the Danone group.

Published in January 2008, Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World is a book about socially minded business that calls on individuals to realize their power to make a difference in the marketplace, while doing business in ways that adhere to a multiple bottom line – one that takes into consideration not only finance, but the environment and health as well.

Jeffrey Swartz,

Jeffrey Swartz is the former president and CEO of The Timberland Company an organization that believes that doing well and doing good are inextricably linked. Timberland’s commitment is to reducing global warming and preserving the outdoor environment.

David and Claire Hieatt,

Founders of Howies a clothing company based in Cardigan Bay, Wales produces eco-friendly T-shirts, jeans and sportswear, and aims to have ethically correct practices. Howies use natural fabrics as alternatives to petrochemical-derived modern fabrics. Examples include organic cotton, Merino wool and recycled cotton. Howies T-shirts often have images or slogans with political or environmental themes

Dee Hock

Dee Ward Hock is the founder and former CEO of VISA , described systems that are both chaotic and ordered, and used for the first time the term “chard” and chaordic,combining the words chaos and order.

More?

Over to you –

Follow the discussion on twitter with the #GVis2012 hashtag.

Who are your CSR Heros and CSR Texts to add to this Built Environment inspirers list?

What additions or comments would you make to the entries above?

A full record (video, blog, tweets, presentations, storify) of the Building CSR Event is being curated on the be2camp event page here.