Bringing wellbeing to construction with Red List compliant, biophilic net-zero site accommodation.

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… making sure our employees in the field have the same wellbeing …

Readers of this blog, attendees at my presentations, and those I consult and audit with, will recognise my advocacy for implementing wellbeing aspects (that we increasingly build into our projects), for those who are constructing the projects – and into the site accommodation.

It is extremely encouraging to catch up with news from Chicago-based Pepper Construction who unveiled its Net Zero Jobsite Trailer in November at Greenbuild show at the end of last year.

The Net Zero Jobsite Traile is a 12×60-foot structure ‘designed to focus on the human experience, productivity, and quality from every aspect to make sure employees in the field have the same wellness features as those in a traditional office setting.

“Most people spend about 90% of their time indoors, and that environment has a significant impact on our health,” says Susan Heinking, AIA, LEED Fellow, Pepper’s VP of High Performance and Sustainable Construction, who led the project. “That philosophy also applies to the men and women working on our jobsites. We want our trailer to match our values.”

The ‘trailer’ is fitted out with RedList compliant furniture and materials, with recycled felt over the conference room providing sound absorption incorporating biophilic patterns through organic patterns.

Read more here.

If we in the construction sector are serious in delivering healthy buildings, then surely this approach must become commonplace on all projects – certainly those delivering to Well Build Standard, The Living Building Challenge or platinum LEED or BREEAM projects?  And of course should form a part of these standards itself, as a socially just approach.

I will be visiting Future Build in London in March, and look forward to seeing similar innovative approaches from construction organisations  (and by the way I am talking on the 5th)

Powering buildings from the carpark …

sun flower.jpgOne of the holy grails of renewables, especially solar, is energy storage. We generate but want to use energy at different times.

The Energy petal of the Living Building Challenge requires that buildings generate 105% of energy needs, storing the additional for emergency use, as for example backup to maintain freezer power supply to safeguard food storage.

In economic and political advisor Jeremy Rifkin’s thinking, we are on the verge of the next industrial revolution – one in which dramatic emergence of innovations in seemingly disconnected sectors converge to create a whole new landscape. (see FutuREstorative for further exploration of this thinking)

Recently we have seen the Tesla PowerWall and now IKEA have entered the market with a home battery offering

Ikea has partnered with renewable energy firm Solarcentury to launch a new domestic battery storage solution that could help to double the amount of solar energy used by UK households and reduce electricity bills by 70%. Source Edie

Emergence of innovation in solar energy, electric vehicles and smart homes is leading to breakthrough development and technologies of what is becoming known as Vehicle to Grid (V2G).  This will undoubtedly become more mainstream given recent news that the UK will ban fossil fuel cars by 2040 and manufactures phasing out non electric car production over the next decade.

Stored energy from electric vehicles (EVs) can be used to power large buildings – creating new possibilities for the future of smart, renewable energy – is the subject for ground-breaking battery research from WMG at the University of Warwick.

Intelligently managing vehicle-to-grid technology, energy from idle vehicle batteries used to power building or pumped back into the grid could improve vehicle battery life by around 10% and without damaging the batteries.

Cenex (UK’s first Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell technologies) describe V2G as being ‘very similar to a standard charging point’, with the difference that energy flows both to and from the vehicle, turning the vehicle into a portable battery store. This provides advantages of

  • Increasing use of localised renewables.
  • Supplying energy to energy markets.
  • Using the EV battery to provide demand shifting and reduce electricity costs.

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And, as the Cenex website illustrates there is much research and development in place within the UK and across the EU:

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Our future vehicles will power our homes, and in turn, our future homes will power our transport.

However, we need to be careful this doesn’t give licence to continue designing in a car-centric manner. Alongside the energy storage challenge, we need to make the transition to liveable, walkable, human powered and healthy buildings & cities, addressing and balancing the other LBC Place and Health imperatives.

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…

REVEALed: a new initiative to showcase and compare the world’s most energy efficient buildings.

REVEALREVEAL – a new building energy performance nutrition label and benchmarking scheme to showcase and compare the world’s most energy efficient buildings. 

Reveal is the latest programme from the International Living Futures Institute (the Institute behind the Living Building Challenge, Living Product Challenge, Declare and JUST) to provide visible and benchmark-able energy data based on real, measurable data. Reveal is aimed at certified Living Buildings, net zero buildings, LEED buildings, BREEAM buildings, Passivehouse projects – or indeed any project with accurate measured energy data. It should be of great interest to the facilities Management and Property sectors

REVEAL taps into performance based reporting – an integral part of the Living Building Challenge and Net Positive Certification to provide a new platform for projects to showcase how efficient they are relative to other buildings.

Evidence for the Reveal using the EUI – Energy Use Intensity index – would be validated from utility provider data and audited by ILFI. Reveal Labels are date stamped and will be renewed on a two-year basis to essentially become ‘nutrition’ labels for building energy performance.

Organisations can use their label on their websites and marketing materials to tout their achievement in being one of the world’s most efficient buildings – and see how their project stacks up to other exemplary projects.

Energy Use Intensity (EUI) indicator: In the absence of a standard or benchmark it is difficult to benchmark energy uses between buildings. Simply measuring the amount of energy used per a chosen time period does not take into account building size, configuration or type of use. The use of an Energy Use Intensity (EUI) indicator provides a means to normalise the way that energy use is compared between various types of buildings, and evaluate the means of reducing overall energy consumption.

When using EUI, energy use is expressed as a function of a building’s total area or “footprint”. For Reveal, as is common in the US, EUI is expressed in energy used per square foot of building footprint per year. It is calculated by dividing the total gross energy consumed in a one-year period (kilowatt-hours or kilo-British Thermal Units) by the total gross square footage of the building ie KbTu/sqft/year  In the UK and elsewhere this would be KWh/m2/year. See Calculating a Building’s EUI

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) will begin issuing the new energy label, called “Reveal,” in late 2015 according to Eric Corey Freed, vice president for global outreach at ILFI.

Entering the The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards could be good for you

SustainBus_460x276Business is evolving, organisations big and small are taking new approaches to embedding sustainability and seeing results. The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards celebrates innovation and impact in corporate sustainability and the people who are making business better.

Categories include the Built Environment but also the current themes important to innovation and impact of the built environment sustainability agenda, and regularly covered by blogs such as this: collaboration, communication, net positive, restorative sustainability, natural capital, social impact, supply chain, waste, carbon and energy and more.

Why you should enter the awards

How to enter  Entries close on 7 February 2014

The Categories …

Communicating sustainability Inspiring action on sustainability issues is key. We’re looking for stand-out examples of campaigns that have engaged and entertained. Eliciting action and leading to tangible shifts in behaviour

Net positive It is no longer enough to do less bad. Progressive businesses are seeking ways to be regenerative in their activity, this award is for those businesses that are taking tangible steps towards making a net positive contribution to communities, society and the environment.

Work Is your organisation a great place to work? Creating healthy, happy working environments is part of being a sustainable business. This award will go to an organisation that seeks to foster a culture of health and happiness for all employees.

Natural capital  From water to healthy soil, pollinators to forests, nature underpins 100% of economic activity. This is an award for an organisation that is trailblazing a strategy to appropriately account for the value nature provides it with.

Social impact Business’ has huge potential to contribute positively to society. This award is for a project or initiative that seeks to solve a challenging social issue whilst simultaneously creating shared value for the business.

Collaboration An award for a project or initiative that breaks down traditional barriers. We are looking for examples of several partners working together in non-traditional ways towards a goal that delivers truly sustainable outcomes.

Supply chain – sponsored by WRAP Global supply chains are vast and complex. This award is for initiatives that embed a respect for human, economic and environmental rights across a business or product’s supply chain.

Carbon & energy management Reducing business’ scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions is key to meeting the UK’s carbon reduction targets. This is an award for initiatives that take a holistic approach to measuring, managing and reducing emissions.

Waste From circular principles applied to design to projects achieving zero waste and re-manufacturing initiatives, rethinking waste is vital and this award is for projects or products that are at the leading-edge of that rethinking.

Built Environment – sponsored by Aecom An award for innovative re-developments or new-build projects that are at the leading-edge of approaches to reducing the built environment’s negative environmental impacts and raising its positive social impact.

Fairsnape is a media partner for The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards 

Where Greendeal should be …

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At many of the Green Deal workshops, roundtable discussions and presentations (eg More than Just a GreenDeal) I have led over the last year or so , I have challenged thinking with the question, how did we get to 2013 without a clear strategy in improving the efficiency of our existing buildings?

Its as though we waited for Green Deal then set about finding solutions. I know there has been masses of research and development in this area – but no clear agreed solution or strategy.

Many of the solutions are presenting themselves as technology or renewable solutions, rather than behavioural approaches. Have we put energy consumption behavioural science in the ‘too difficult’ or ‘not enough profit’  box?  The hottest new thing in energy efficiency may not be solar panels, wind turbines or eco bling — but computers. ( See Big data analytics and smart meters are allowing utilities to use more renewable power while reducing energy waste)

Encouraging then to see the Guardian Sustainability Business report “The power of behavioural design: looking beyond nudging” describing the powerful integration of big data, behaviour insight and mobile technology in pursuit of reducing energy consumption in homes and buildings.

The American energy software company, Opower, uses a powerful combination of big data and behavioural design to make consumers use less energy

The ambition of the collaborative project between Warwick Business School and Honeywell Building Solutions is to reduce the energy consumption of organisations by applying a combination of relevant technology and behavioural design

And this is just where Green Deal thinking needs to be thinking, on a hierarchy of behaviour, fabric and renewables – not the other way around as we appear to be at the moment – and quickly.

Water Energy Nexus – a built environment mindfulness

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As a lead-up to Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, January 13-17, Masdar is sponsoring a blogging contest called “Engage: The Water-Energy Nexus.”

The winner will be invited to Abu Dhabi as VIP media to cover the week’s high-profile events.

The following is my entry. Please vote for me here

Water Energy Nexus – a built environment mindfulness

Could we be facing a near perfect storm within the built environment, as our sustainability efforts, our energy and water performance efforts, or perhaps lack of effort hit an environmental cliff.

Consider:

  • 85% of buildings that will be in use in 2050 are already standing today, and many many of them, commercial, leisure and domestic were designed and constructed prior to any meaningful sustainability guidelines. Buildings that are water energy cavelier, designed and managed with a cornucopia view of resources
  • The built environment sector is often called the 40% sector on account of using 40% of the worlds resources, energy and water whilst generating 40% of the worlds waste.
  • Increasingly our lifestyles, workstyles and infrastructure styles are demand evermore energy and water.
  • We are making poor, behind target progress on energy reduction, water conservation and carbon reduction through our design, construction and use of buildings
  • Even today in 2012 water lacks behind energy in performance import for new build and refurbishment
  • We have a facilities management profession that adopts a status quo maintainence basis, often with low level SLA’s demanding same focus as water and in some cases energy performance
  • We are entering a future of big data, where rational, cold evidence based approaches will dominate, driven by Building Information Management. Whilst a very welcomed performance improvement for the sector we may be in danger of loosing the experience intuitive.
  • The dominating sustainable construction codes such as BREEAM and LEED are in danger of becoming corporate checklists, often criticised for the ability to trade water performance points against cycle travel provision points.

Addressing a Water / Energy Nexus

Looking forward the built environment should be looking for both strategic data-driven leaders and managers balanced with strategic creative leaders. This is particularly the case in facilities management sector, where the intuition that comes from deep knowledge of how buildings use water and energy, once a key skill of the building facilities manager that we are sadly loosing and one of the key green skills to rekindle.

We have a need for ‘Mindfulness’ in the built environment. A deep green understanding of the buildings relationship with nature, guided by building codes and green sustainability standards. And as a designer, as a builder as an inhabitant, develop an in-the-moment awareness connectivity or dis-connectivity with the nature and water / energy resources.

We need a move away from assessments looking at impact on the environment, but rather turning tables to look at how the facility connects with nature and its environment.

We can see standards such as the Living Building Challenge as a way forward with each building regarded as a flower, using only the water and energy that falls on the building.

We need new levels of engagement and relationship between building and user. For example the CIRS Vancouver UBC building, itself a LBC accredited building, refers to its users as inhabitants – requiring each to sign a charter that recognises the engagement expected

As I wrote in an earlier blog we need 3 New ‘R’s for built environment sustainability, and its impact on the water energy nexus

Re-Design. No longer are transactional efforts in conserving water and energy enough. Radical revolution in design thinking needed that encompasses Cradle to Cradle thinking, Circular Economy,

Re-Connect. Time to rethink our relationship with nature, a relationship that is deeper, that is deep green mindfulness. A direction that Living Building Challenge promotes – every building contributing to, not taking from its environment.

Re-Kindle. Time to rekindle the sustainability water / energy debate – moving away from the negative, harassment to doing less bad, to encouraging a move towards a positive new world of doing more good, better. Fostering Resilience.