Tag Archives: ecobuild

Equality, Respect, Image, Sustainability … all connected.

‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe’ John Muir

With todays International Womens Day, falling mid week of the National Apprentice Week and concurrent with Eco Build, here are my thoughts on the inter-connectivity of equality, respect, image with sustainability.

Earlier this morning I shared on twitter what I thought was a  brilliant quote, seen within a full page ad in todays papers for International Womens Day under the #RewritingtheCode hashtag

“Because none of us can move forward if half of us are held back” #IWD2017 #RewritingTheCode

This is a topic dear to me, and as I concluded within FutuREstorative …

There can be no sustainability in an unequal world. Indeed sustainability should embrace the three E’s of ecology, economy and equality.

As part of our sustainability journey, the language of construction also needs to evolve – from one that is perhaps too combative, technical and confrontational to one that is mindful, and embraces a language of collaboration, sharing, care and love.

I return to and close, for now, with one of the most important and powerful of the Living Building Challenge’s aims: the transition to a socially just, ecologically restorative and culturally rich future.

These points were emphasised just last week in my talks at a Baxall supply chain workshop that focused on Sustainability, the Sustainable Development Goals, Modern Slavery and FIR, Fairness, Inclusion and Respect

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Slide from Sustainability, Modern Slavey and FIR Presentation

So, as Eco Build progresses with Redefining Sustainability then it is important and encouraging that the wider sustainability aspects of health, just, equality, respect and inclusion are taking center stage. A sustainability stage that will see the rather passive Brundtland definition replaced by the positive and proactive SDGs.

SDG

Connecting the Dots …. The Sustainability Development Goals. 

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EcoBuild launch a vision for a Built Environment future …

Ecobuild, in association with Building has published ‘Future of the Built Environment’ as part of the launch for EcoBuild 2015.  The white paper, a collection of thought pieces from leading industry players, assesses the future of the sector, painting a very useful picture for a not-so-far into the future built environment.

It is set of future scenarios, encompassing beauty, circular economy, health, equity and eco systems. And in this respect closer to the regenerative sustainability philosophy of Living Building Challenge and the Well Building Standard than it is of current, more energy performance focused BREEAM and Regulations.

Jane Henley, Chief Executive Officer, World Green Building Council sees the next chapter for green building as one of health, wellbeing and productivity, arguing that business may be less interested in the mechanical and energy issues of a building than they are on how investing in better indoor environments will lead to better returns on their greatest asset: people

Rick Willmott, Chief Executive, Willmott Dixon sees a contracting future as one of climate adaption, carbon targets and collaborative construction with a leadership that ‘digs deeper’. The circular economy will be key, offering industry tremendous opportunities. Willmott cites the rising energy costs and depletion of finite natural resources that will lead to a mushrooming market for recycled materials, and a move to designing buildings with deconstruction in mind from the outset.

Munish Datta, Head of Plan A & Facilities Management, Marks & Spencer sees the future being about beautiful buildings, “We spend 90% of our time in buildings so why shouldn’t they be beautiful”, delivered from an industry that is holistic,where every role, from developers to facilities management, is incentivised to design, build, operate and re-use buildings for their life.

Paul King, Chief Executive Officer, UK Green Building Council sees that there is a great deal a new government, of whatever hue, can do to create the conditions in which a sustainable built environment industry can thrive. It can save more money than it needs to spend, it can set clear and consistent policy direction, and it can lead by example. “Frankly, to do anything else would be to squander an opportunity for growth the UK simply cannot afford”

Sarah Richardson, Editor, Building, sees the sector on the cusp of a radical transformation, with a growing sense that new technologies are not just an optional extras but key to delivering necessary efficiencies. However, to realise any transformation, a shift in the demographic of the sector itself is required, to attract a broader mix of talent that can imagine a future free from the constraints of the past.

Peter Caplehorn, Deputy CEO, Construction Products Association sees a key challenge for the industry being to get out of buildings the performance we design into them

Ike Ijeh, Architectural Critic, Building and Building Design describes  a future sustainable environment as one which has established a holistic vision for integrated urban development where every aspect of the city is specifically planned and designed to maximise social, economic and environmental benefits for its inhabitants while at the same time minimising its ecological footprint. The city itself no longer relies on an ecosystem, it becomes one.

Recommended reading for all in the sector, the EcoBuild paper can be downloaded from here

Counting construction carbons with ConstructCO2

This blog has reported on numerous occasions (eg here and here) on the need to measure and improve carbon emissions from construction activities separately from that of the building itself or the facility in use. And the need for an easy, simple to use tool.

As noted many of the available applications for calculating carbons were linked dubiously to carbon offsetting schemes.  Of note for use in construction were the Google Carbon tool (but not construction specific enough) and the Environment Agency tool (but is proving to be too detailed and cumbersome for most projects)

Measuring and improving carbons on site is increasingly important as more and more projects seek higher standards to BREEAM and Code for Sustainable Homes (and soon Non Dom Buildings).  One recent project set ‘damages’ for the contractor not achieving the ‘management points’ (for waste, CO2 and considerate constructor standard) for CSH at £40k per point. (See the CSH Technical Manual for more on this)

Recently at EcoBuild Paul Morrell, Construction Tsar commented  that focus on carbon emissions should be a number one site priority as it is measurable and addresses other areas of ‘waste’ in the industry

And yet the majority of contracts just do not know their project carbon footprint, whether its close to 1tonne or over 100tonne. We do not have a feel for the magnitude of emissions, or indeed what 1kg of CO2 actually looks like.

So it is good news to see the release of ConstructCO2, developed through Evolution-ip, by construction people for construction use.

ConstructCO2 is a simple carbon calculator based on the premise of keeping it simple and easy to use on site. It makes use of existing site approaches for data collection (induction sheets, daily log-ins, plant sheets, utility invoices etc). Carbon emissions through transport are calculated through use of google mapping API .

Construction (people) travel miles are recorded for management, operatives and visitors. (With a dispersed project management team you will be surprised at the carbon footprint of a project site meeting and probably think of alternative arrangements) Material transport miles are derived from delivery notes or goods received sheets.

Where the power of ConstructCO2 lies however is in its reporting. Construction carbons can be measured in terms of co2/£project value, co2/dwelling, c02/m2, co2/bed or other, enabling benchmarking with other projects and generically through KPI’s such as those from Construction Excellence.

But simply knowing the project footprint, the construction company’s total project footprint, and where the biggest areas for carbon emission are enables action for real improvement.

ConstructCO2 is currently being used by a number of different projects in what I guess would be called a beta stage. Current projects include a large new build hotel project, a small industrial refurb project, school extension and an architect’s office.

Currently the use of ConstructCO2 as a tool is free, with a (currently optional) fee based support and training package to help contractors understand carbon issues, carbon standards requirements, measuring, benchmarking and improving carbon footprints.  So it makes sense to take the opportunity now, measure and understand the carbon footprint of one of your projects. At the moment sign up is through request via email contacts on the ConstructCO2 front page

Future developments include the option for live energy feeds from site power meters to ConstructCO2 and live exporting from ConstructCO2 to Google and Pachube for example.

ConstructCO2 is on twitter at @constructco2 and has a ning forum in development for discussion and benchmarking of project carbon issues.

Note: As an associate with Evolution-ip, I have been involved in the ConstructCO2 concept development and testing.  Evolution-IP is a be2camp partner, presenting at and sponsoring be2camp un-conference events.

sustainability now champion

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Phil Clarke at Building Mag @zerochamp has asked me to be a  champion for the forthcoming Building magazine’s Sustainability Now virtual event taking place 13 and 14 May.

Still awaiting details, but I will be online in the discussion lounge on the 14th May and look forward to chatting with you there (and hopefuly drinking virtual champagne with Mel and others?) 

 

I will be in great company with fellow green bloggers:

  • Lucy Pedler, an architect founder of the influential body The Green Register, which has a membership of 600 influential sustainable professionals
  • Principal at green consultancy Inbuilt and green blogger Mel Starrs, who writes at Elemental
  • One of the sector’s most popular figures on Twitter, blogger Su Butcher – a practice manager at architect Barefoot & Gilles who blogs at Just Practising.

A detailed agenda for the event should be available next week. In the meantime here’s a bit of a snapshot of the type of content at the show:

  •  Live seminar on refurbishing existing houses with the Energy Saving Trust
  • Discussions on issues such as PassivHaus design, the zero carbon definition and the CRC
  • Videos from Ecobuild 
  • Some content from Bioregional on their views on sustainable legislation and updates from their projects
  • A survey on BREEAM 2008 

More here 

To take part in the online event sign up here  Its Free ! with the benefits you’d get from major conferences without the travel and from your home / office computer.

sustainability – barriers or opportunities?

As expected a number of mixed and potentially confusing announcements made at Eco Build question progress towards zero carbon construction, question the defintion of carbon zero while setting more targets for (non domestic) zero carbon construction by 2020.

Founder of the UK Green Building Council, Dr David Strong is right to question the focus on carbon reductions – we need to remember the ecological footprint as well. Unfortunately the carbon footprint is easier to comprehend, and to address that the wider ecological aspects. Yet we are heading for a skewed future if we do not. See the One Planet Living principles for an approach that encompasses carbon zero through to health and happiness as an example of the wider issues.

Perhaps Simon McWhirter, WWF-UK, a member of the newly announced carbon industry task group headed by Barratts boss Mark Clare to redefine zero carbon will remind this group (once again) of the wider issues?

I also see the barrier of cost being raised again in achieving these targets –“a cost premium for anywhere between 5% to 30% extra”. Now isnt that the estimated cost of waste in our industry, or lost time through uncollaboartive working ?

At a recent best practice club presentation I used a green scale – from grey to bright green – to help illustrate different views to the environmental concerns. Delegates agreed the UK built environment is stuck as accommodationalists – only just turning green from grey  defined as ‘do as little as possible, be led by legislation , but no need to change core behaviour’

I cant help but think of the green build movement in the USA that is just getting on and doing it – talking about achievements and benefits of being green (including cost benefits) rather than talking about definitions, barriers, problems and more legislation to ‘help us’.

(Take a look at the buzz and the near evangelical speeches and presentations at the recent USGBC Green-build Conference – still on line for viewing ! – where it was reported that LEED Platinum accredited buildings produce 45% improvement in energy usage – its not anecdotal any more we have the proof said USGBC CEO)

Thanks to fellow blogger Phil Clarke and Building for news from Ecobuild – nearly as good as online !