3 R’s for rethinking built environment sustainability

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Its over ten years since rethinking construction became the driving force for improving the construction industry. Back then, in 1998, sustainability wasn’t on the agenda for many construction organisations, and didnt feature in Egans influential report.

Now at the close of 2012, it is of course one of the key challenges for construction.

But is it now just a ‘must do, tick box’ matter, rather than a real agenda for improving, reducing costs and reducing our impact?

Earth2.0 Hub in an excellent blog post ( The Future of Business – inspired by and in harmony with nature.) provides a framework and the language of 3 R’s for future businesses working in harmony with the earth .  And its a framework we should learn from, borrow, adopt or adapt  at project and business level in rethinking built environment sustainability; Re-Design, Re-Connect and Re-Kindle.

Re-Design. Not only design of buildings, but to re-design the way we build. No longer are transactional efforts (reducing waste, conserving energy and recycling) enough.

How?: Take a look at Cradle to Cradle thinking, Circular Economy, Designing out toxic materialsDesigning out Landfill

Re-Connect. Time to rethink our relationship with nature. However just including nature as a natural capital to be costed is not meaningful approach. We need a relationship that is deeper, that is deep green thinking.

How?: take a look at Living Building Challenge – what if every building, like a flower, contributed to its environment. Or the One Planet Living ten principles

Re-Kindle. Time to rekindle the sustainability 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. Resilience.

How?: Learning and benchmarking from other industries and sectors, for example Patagonia, or closer to the built environment, Interface Flooring

This blog, since 2005, has had as a tagline built environment improvement and its connectivity to the natural world . Since then, it has been a core philosophy within fairsnape.

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Since 2005 we have organised and facilitated benchmarkwalks, discussing sustainability issues , across and within sectors, whilst walking in the natural environment. Rather than in the conference of training room. You would be amazed how diffierent, how green, sustainability discussions when conducted in the great outdoors. Try it !

Cradle to Cradle, Circular Economy, Healthy Products Standard, Designing Out Landfill , Interface UK, and the UK Living Building Challenge all featured in our #GVis2012. Green Vision Conference in Leeds on the 12 Dec 2012.

>>> See Green Vision event material, links, blogs and more here  <<<<

<<< Read the Cradle to Cradle tweetchat transcript here <<<

The Living Building Challenge UK Collaborative will be ‘launched’ at this event on the 12th.

And, Cradle to Cradle is the book-topic for our Dec #GVisChat tweetchat on Dec 10th at 8pm.

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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.

Property Sector Commits to Green Vision for 2012

Cutting Costs and Carbon
Kicking off a new series of seminars and knowledge sharing, Green Vision, the sustainable networking organisation for the property and construction sector, is hosting its first event of the year this week, with ‘Green Building Drivers 2012’, on Thursday 2nd February at Squire Sanders in Leeds.

Part of the 2012 programme of ‘Cutting Costs and Carbon’ this event, to be held at Squire Sanders office on Park Lane from 5.30pm – 7pm, will respond to issues raised in Green Vision’s first tweet chat of the year. This saw representatives from both local and international organisations uncover many questions and uncertainty about the logistics of sustainable building and asset management for 2012, in line with government objectives. It explored Green Deal, potential threats to SMEs, and highlighted that many in the industry remain nervous, fearing the ‘real cost of carbon reduction’, whilst feeling financial strains of the recession.

Bringing in a speaker who advises ministers on meeting the UK’s climate targets, the Green Vision team is keen to set the scene nationally informing delegates of the sector’s challenges as whole, before exploring what can be done locally, within the Yorkshire region. The intention is to provide support for delegates, and to help make 2012 a year where sustainable practices become better understood and more elevated on the corporate agenda.

The programme is as follows:-

18.00 Delivering Carbon Budgets: What will it mean for consumers and fuel poverty, by independent government advisor Dr Ute Collier, Head of Buildings, Committee for Climate Change

18.15 New 2012 Legislation & Policy for carbon reduction and energy use in building, to inform delegates of key legalities coming up this year, by Anita Lloyd, Squire Sanders

18.30 The Whole-Life Measurement of Carbon & Taxation, looking at how we need to tackle carbon reduction in the commercial sector, by Prof Angus McIntosh, who brings his 10 years experience at King Sturge (he was former head of research at King Sturge, now working for Real Estate Forecasting Ltd)

18.45 Intervening to reduce domestic carbon emissions, Dr Emma Hinton, Research Associate, Kings College London, presents findings on the human aspect of occupant behaviour

The session will then conclude with a Q&A session to the panel, followed by open networking For more information on the speakers or to book tickets please visit http://www.green-vision.org.uk/

Supported by the Construction Sector Network; global legal firm Squire Sanders; social media and sustainability consultancy Fairsnape; Leeds College of Building and EPSRC (research project on carbon comfort and controls), Green Vision is committed to sharing knowledge, experience and best practice on Low Carbon Buildings and Property within the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Targeted at property and construction professionals from across the region, as well as engaging with the wider business community on sustainable development, Green Vision is run by Leeds Metropolitan’s Centre for Knowledge Exchange and the Construction Sector Network. It brings together academics with business, to address challenges and opportunities presented by sustainable building practices.

With the recent expansion of the network this year there are now additional opportunities available for companies interested in supporting Green Vision as a corporate sponsor. Any interested parties should contact C.Walker@leedsmet.ac.uk.

Further spring Gvis2012, events are also planned: 1st March sees another evening seminar, on Carbon Reduction Strategies, led by Richard Francis, Head of Sustainability, at worldwide construction consultancy, Gardiner and Theobald. In addition, Vassos Chrysostomou co-founder at ConstructCO2, will explore the social, environmental as well as economic responsibilities that construction contractors have towards carbon reduction.

This series will conclude on 29th March at Old Broadcasting House with a half day conference, where industry leading keynote speakers and expert roundtable discussions will consider topics such as behaviour change, energy monitoring systems and guidance for landlords, set within the wider debate of how to cut costs and carbon. A feature of the event will be a live international presentation from ‘the world’s greenest building’ in Vancouver and through social media partner be2camp the conference will be web enabled to allow real global input and sharing.

Claire Walker Project Manager for Green Vision, said: “Following the success of the GVis2011 Series, Green Vision has attracted considerable interest as a leading Knowledge Exchange network, supporting and informing regional markets in best practice for sustainable building. We are excited about our forthcoming series as it addresses very real issues and concerns, real opportunities and threats, and will provoke debate and discussion around what will be a big year of change with respect to low carbon policies. It’s important to better understand, as a sector, how we can work towards a low carbon future and these event are a great catalyst for this.”

Attendees to GVis2012 series will connect with leading sustainability thinkers from the UK and overseas, share regional, national and international views on the future of energy in buildings and identify opportunities for partnerships, both within the sector, as well as on a wider scale.

–      Ends –

Notes to Editors:

  • Images are available:
  • Claire Walker is available for further comment
  • Dr. Ute Collier is Team Leader for Buildings and Industry at the Committee on Climate Change, the independent body advising the UK Government on setting and meeting carbon budgets and targets. She also leads the Committee’s forthcoming (April 2012) advice on the role of local authorities in delivering carbon budgets, as well as its work for the devolved administrations. Prior to joining the Committee in April 2009, Ute was based at the Greater London Authority as manager of the London Energy Partnership. Previously, she held a number of different roles in the public sector, NGOs and academia.
  • Dr. Emma Hinton is a research associate working on an EPSRC-E.On strategic partnership consortium project called ‘Carbon, Control and Comfort: User-centred control systems for comfort, carbon savings and energy management’, with colleagues from eight other universities.  As a social researcher, her role in this project is to understand the ways in which householders use energy and practice comfort in the home, and conditions under which these practices might change.  Emma holds a PhD in Geography (King’s College London), an MSc in Natural Resource Management (Cranfield University) and a BSc (hons) in Environmental Biology (University of Nottingham).  Outside academia, she has worked in a number of environment-focused roles in the third sector and the civil service.

For More Information Please Contact:

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