Tag Archives: FutuREstorative

The Business Case for ‘Sustainable’ Buildings

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Three recent reports focus on the business case for sustainability, green buildings and human-centric buildings.

Are we now witnessing the new normal, where the question of sustainability cost is flipping from, how much extra will the sustainable building cost? to, what are the real costs in not providing sustainable buildings?

The WorldGBC Business Case for Green Building: A Review of the Costs and Benefits for Developers, Investors and Occupants, examines whether or not it is possible to attach a financial value to the cost and benefits of sustainable buildings.

The report highlights how green buildings can be delivered at a price comparable to conventional buildings and investments can be recouped through operational cost savings. It also notes that with the right design features, green buildings can create a more productive workplace.

The report specifically focuses on the potential benefits of green buildings throughout the various stages of the building lifecycle, from reduced costs during the design and construction phases through to improved health and productivity of workers when a building is in use.

“This is the first time all the credible evidence has been compiled into one collective resource”

  • Asset value: Emerging evidence in some markets of green buildings being able to more easily attract tenants and to command higher rents and sale prices
  • Design and construction costs: There has been an overall reduction in the costs associated with designing and constructing sustainable buildings
  • Operating costs: The direct benefits from green buildings in use (such as reduced energy and water use and lower long-term operations and maintenance costs) typically exceed any costs premiums associated with their design and construction within a reasonable payback period
  • Workplace productivity and health: The characteristics and indoor environments of green buildings can influence the productivity and health of workers who occupy them, resulting in bottom line benefits for businesses
The UKGBC Report Capturing the Value of Sustainability, Identifying the links between sustainability and business value focuses on a wider business case for sustainability, looking at at the challenges that businesses face in trying to identify the value they derive from their sustainability initiatives.

… the purpose of this report is to empower businesses and individuals to make the business case for environmental and social impact activities and to enable them to measure and demonstrate the value their organisations derive from such practices. 

Of particular note, relevant to my current work relating to FutuREstorative and with COST RESTORE in understanding the emergence of restorative and regenerative sustainability, this report notes we are seeing the rise of the restorative enterprise within the built environment

Much has been written on how businesses are moving towards doing more good rather than less bad. The phrases ‘net positive’ and ‘restorative enterprise’ are now appearing within sustainable business circles, with both referring to businesses that put back more than they take and restore social and natural capital whilst making a profit. Such businesses may be termed as using a ‘business with impact’ approach or being a ‘purpose driven’ organisation. In this context, ‘purpose’ may be de ned as ‘an aspirational reason for being which inspires and provides a call to action for an organisation, its partners and stakeholders, and provides bene t to local and global society’.

The white paper from Buildings 2030: Building 4 People: People-Centric Buildings for European Citizens published in November 2017 notes how the buildings we live and work in are affecting our environment, our physical & mental health, our wellbeing and our productivity.

The broad alignment of environmental and health agendas presents an opportunity to not only invest in better performing buildings, but also to improve the quality of life for people using these buildings. Enhancing the health and comfort of people in buildings has a huge potential for economic and societal benefits such as better health, increased productivity, reduced sick leave and a decrease in associated medical costs We call this approach “Building 4 People.”

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Revolutionary, Regenerative Sustainability; RESTORE Training School

The UK RESTORE Training School

The first RESTORE Training School took place in Lancaster, UK between 14th and 17th November 2017 organised and facilitated by Martin Brown, Fairsnape. Over 40 trainees and RESTORE core group members attended, representing a great spectrum of sustainability disciplines, experience and EU countries. The four days were lead by trainers and guest lectures from the UK, EU and USA, but with a distinct Lancashire focus!.

The focus was firmly on Regenerative Sustainability, Biophilia, and Sustainability Education,  in four days trainees gained a deep understanding of Restorative and Regenerative Sustainability and the key topics from RESTORE working groups.

The week was very busy and very interesting, with topics and activities that went well beyond my initial scope and expectations” Trainee Report Feedback

Training school designed to progress the RESTORE Cost Actions purpose.

“I believe this was the beginning of something bigger and totally revolutionary”            Trainee Report Feedback

Discussions and agreement on sustainability definitions was a crucial start to the four day training school

“I received clear definitions and deep understanding of three basic, but important words: sustainability, restoration and regeneration. I think that this precise explanation will allow me to direct my research toward more “green direction” Trainee Report Feedback

 

“So one of the key insights to me was to understand sustainable design as a philosophy. It’s not a list of do’s and don’ts about materials, site development, and building systems. It’s a holistic ethic that includes all the stakeholders in the dialogue, encouraging feedback for continuous refinement and improvement. It seeks to imitate the efficiency and diversity of nature and create design solutions that are responsive, self-regulating, and full of spirit” Trainee Report Feedback

“Working with experts from different fields, discussing different ideas, learning about others and about their expereinces, their work, education, their side of the story – that is how you can learn so much in just few days, something that you can not learn by reading only books. I am so very glad that I was part of this Training School and I can surely say that I had a great time, but at the same time learnt a lot”  Trainee Report Feedback

“Do nothing today to compromise tomorrows generation” Also, the concepts of salutogenesis and healthy materials were introduced. These were completely new expressions to me, so besides trying to process all the information I had great times in the debate parts, where discussions among a completely heterogeneous group lead to a perfect understanding. Trainee Report Feedback

State of the Art and Visions from the working group subgroups central to the training school content

“Newly learned term: salutogenesis. The “sustainability” of the people living/working inside a building could be more important than the sustainability of the building itself”  Trainee Report Feedback

Quotes and comments shared through social media during the four days made for a good number of Regenerative Sustainability Takeaways …

“The Living Building Challenge presented itself as one of the most holistic sustainable building standards I have come across and I would really hope to get the LFA certification and aim for a LBC building in one of my future projects. I also thought the 20 LBC imperatives provide a great lens in which to scrutinise projects”. Trainee Report Feedback

Project visits to Brockholes and CVP enabled the students to witness the application of the topics covered during the training school. Planting trees at the Living Building Challenge Project ( in part to offset carbon from travel, but also to provide locally available Larch timber for any future cladding replacement of the Visitor Centre)

“New approaches were given, new ideas were born and this was only possible due to amazing hosts and organizers which knew how to keep us motivated and focused all day long… hard work was done, and great results were attained” Trainee Report Feedback

Read our Storify here 

Download our full infographic here

 

(Header Image Credits TopL JustEngland.org TopR Lancaster Uni. Bot L+R Martin Brown @fairsnape)

Regenerative thinking embedded in new DGNB System 2017.

nature globeSustainable building certification standards are immense influencers on not only the built environment sector but also commercial, industrial and domestic green lifestyles. With that influence comes a real responsibility in establishing the current direction of travel for the industry against a backdrop of climate, economic and social change.

Get it right, and we move closer to addressing major climate change issues, attaining carbon reduction targets and achieving ecologically, economically and socially just goals. Get it wrong and the negative impact ripples far beyond our built environment sector.

It is the purpose of ‘regenerative’ certification schemes not only to identify best practice requirements for design, construction and operation, but to go way beyond current best practices and establish a vision for sustainable buildings based on future requirements — with practice then measured against that vision.

FutuREstorative Working Towards a New Sustainability makes the case for regenerative building standards, using the Living Building Challenge, Well Build Standard, One Planet Living and The Natural Step as examples. Encouragingly, news of the 2017 DGNB System update, the result of an intensive internal review, could well now join that the regenerative sustainability standards family.

The following are extracts and comments are from a DGNB System update release,  illustrating its proposed alignment with current regenerative sustainability theme:

Sustainability should not be an add-on or nice-to-have. Instead, it should be seen as an integral part of every building project. Given the number of global challenges we now face and the demands of climate change, it will become increasingly important for everyone to face up to the key topics of sustainability, especially when it comes to implementing different aspects in practice. Paying lip service to sustainability or reacting simply because it looks good for marketing purposes will no longer be accepted

Health and Wellbeing: We build for ourselves – for people who spend most of their lives in buildings. This intrinsically means that people and their need for health and wellbeing must therefore be the lynch pin – the point around which everything revolves when making all the decisions that influence planning and building

 

Circular Economy: When selecting the materials to be used in a building it is necessary to consider that one day it may be disassembled or reclaimed. The DGNB certification system thus plays an important role in ensuring that material cycles are put in place so that products can be re-used or reclaimed, along the lines of cradle-to-cradle principles.

The DGNB System is therefore the first of its kind to make circular economy principles an assessable and measurable aspect of buildings. To promote the use of new methods, such solutions are rewarded with bonuses, in turn having a positive impact on certification outcomes.

Positive Contribution: The DGNB sees design quality and Baukultur (architectural culture) as a central aspect of sustainable building.  Version 2017 …looks more closely at any factors that consider a building’s contribution to its … environment.

 

Sustainable Development Goals: In 2016, the United Nations issued its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of specific and meaningful targets aimed at shaping the future development of our planet, encouraging people to think again and thus paving the way for life in a sustainable world. The DGNB supports the UN objectives and wants to encourage others to make a tangible and positive contribution to achieving these targets through certification.  All projects that achieve DGNB certification in future will also include a statement on the extent to which they contribute towards fulfilling the SDGs

 

Life cycle assessment of entire buildings. This is captured in the DGNB System in accordance with EU standards and ranges from how materials are produced to final deconstruction. It’s important that scientifically defined benchmarks are used to calculate and optimise impacts on the environment.

 

Innovation: It is the DGNB’s goal to promote new thinking and a willingness to step outside comfort zones. It was this underlying thought that resulted in a new instrument being added to the criteria contained in Version 2017: Innovation Capacities. With immediate effect, many of the criteria have been defined in a way that should motivate planners to pursue the best possible and the most sensible solutions for their project.

RelatedA case for reconstructing the world of sustainable building standards

Regenerative Disruption: Construction Materials, from Linear to Circular.

This is not Sustainable.

Echoing themes from Cradle to Cradle and FutuREstorative on impact of construction waste and materials … namely

An industry that demands over half of humanities resources

Contributes to a third of global waste

The single largest source of waste in the UK, generating over 100 million tonnes of waste every year

32% of all waste, 13% of which is new or unused.

… the YouTube promotion from Enviromate below, calling for Circular Economy approaches to material management contains powerful messages and makes an important contribution to progressing a circular economy in construction.

the enviromate mission

Designed with one core mission; to disrupt and revolutionise construction and DIY through enabling and accelerating the reuse of surplus and leftover building materials. Helping build a future where we share, upcycle and reuse surplus, reducing the impact the industry has on our environment and building toward a more resourceful, circular economy.

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:

cenex-v2g-main-image

 

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.

Taking a Living and Well Building Crosswalk

pexels-photo-305833Compliance is not a Vision – Ray Anderson

FutuREstorative explored  the case for moving towards building sustainability standards that are in their nature restorative and regenerative. That is they generate more benefit to the environment, society, community, building users and owners than simply reducing any negative impact. The four standards chosen for exploration were One Planet Living, The Natural Step, the WELL Building Standard and the Living Building Challenge.

Writing in FutuREstorative, Claire Bowles commented:

Imagine if all of the green building standards complemented each other and worked together to accelerate an overall improvement in the standard of our building stock and the quality of life for its inhabitants.

Since FutuREstorative we have seen movement in the two establishment standards (BREEAM and LEED) in seeking and agreeing alignment with elements of WELL (in the case of LEED and BREEAM) and the Living Building Challenge (with LEED)

It is encouraging to see then the recent publication of Living Building Challenge and the WELL Building Standard – Approaches for projects seeking a dual rating. The publication cross-maps each WELL feature and LBC imperative, identifying where the mapping is complete, partial or not addressed.

Download: WELL – LBC Crosswalk Document

IWBI and ILFI recognise the complementary nature of addressing holistic environmental and social impacts within the built-environment while specifically addressing health and well-being at the organisational and occupant level. Both organisations understand the value of multiple certifications for projects addressing broad sustainability issues and strive to support those efforts.

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) and the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), have agreed to work collaboratively to promote the design, construction and operations of healthy and restorative buildings. The two organisations will work together to identify opportunities to align the two rating systems, coordinate events and education offerings, and promote building practices that significantly raise the standard of what buildings should be.

phippsFew projects have achieved both Living Building Challenge and the WELL Building Standard. One project that has done so is the Phipps Conservatory, Center for Sustainable Landscapes. This project also has attained LEED Platinum and SITES 4 Star recognition, giving good right to call itself one the greenest buildings in the world. The projects website and LBC case study made for essential reading to further the important interface between the built and natural environments, further demonstrating that human and environmental health are inextricably connected.

About the Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge is the built environment’s most ambitious holistic performance standard. The program was launched in 2006 and is administered by the International Living Future Institute, a non-profit organisation offering green building and infrastructure solutions at every scale— from small renovations to whole cities. The mission of the Institute is to lead and support the transformation toward communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.

About the WELL Building Standard 

The WELL Building StandardTM (WELL) is the first building standard to focus exclusively on the health and wellness of the people in buildings. WELL is a performance-based system for measuring and certifying features of buildings that impact human health and well-being through seven concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. It marries best practices in design and construction with evidence-based medical and scientific research – harnessing buildings and communities as vehicles to support human health and well-being.

FutuREstorative Extract in GreenBiz The Case for ReConstructing the world of Sustainable Building Standards

New standard and guide for the circular economy: BS 8001:2017

Following consultant the BSI has launched a new standard for the circular economy, BS 8001:2017: Framework for implementing the principles of the circular economy in organisations, the world’s first for implementing circular economy principles.

circular economy image

I have covered the circular economy within the built environment over recent years, eg within blog posts here, through numerous presentations and workshops and of course within FutuREstorative. It is good therefore to see that BS8001 standard for circular economy guidance is now available.

The new standard is designed to be applicable to businesses of all sizes as they seek to move to a more circular model.

BSI 8001 aims to aid the navigation of the tricky transition period for businesses towards a circular model, outlining what the circular economy is and providing guidelines for the implementation of more sustainable practices.

BS 8001 is built on six principles of the circular economy – innovation, stewardship, collaboration, value optimisations, transparency and ‘systems thinking’ – with the concept that components, products and materials should be kept at their highest utility and value at all times, placing emphasis on the importance of an economy that is restorative and regenerative.

Guidance included in the standard revolves around specific issues that may hamper the transition to the circular economy, such as measurements, liability and insurance, logistical concerns and materials, and also guides on associated business models such as leasing, the sharing economy, and remanufacturing.

The principles and guidelines within the standard are not meant to be prescriptive, but are intended to be used flexibly by businesses and organisations, no matter their size or stage of transition to the circular economy, to reduce costs and supply chain risks while contributing to a low-carbon and resource efficient economy

A free download short executive briefing document has also been produced which is aimed at senior level decision makers.

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