Tag Archives: Living Building Challenge

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)

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Knowing the plastic numbers …

With the focus on plastic avoidance, reduction and recycling, do we really know the plastics that we use everyday and incorporate into our buildings, often without second thought to their impact on human and planetary health.

I am often asked by projects and offices what plastics are safe and or recyclable when looking to adopt responsible recycling or procurement approaches in reducing or removing plastics, or to address Red List compliance.

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Plastics are stamped with the now familiar ‘recycling’ chasing arrows triangle, encompassing  an identifying number.  However this does not necessarily mean the plastics are recyclable or indeed ‘safe’ to use in all circumstances. The numbers within the arrows, from 1 to 7, tell a different story, and are key to understanding specification, manufacture, use and disposal ofplastics.

But as even when recycled plastics only break down into smaller components, that as ‘micro-plastics’ cause greater environmental issues, the best plastic strategy maybe to avoid.

#1 – PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

Polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PETE or PET. Usually clear in color, the vast majority of disposable disposable beverage and food containers and bottles are made of #1 plastic. Another common place you’d find #1 is in your household cleaning product containers. This plastic is relatively safe, but it is important to keep it out of the heat or it could cause carcinogens (like the flame retardant antimony trioxide) to leach into your liquids. Hence the warning on water drinking bottles to keep out of sunlight. Plus, the porous nature of its surface allows bacteria and flavor to accumulate, so avoid reusing these bottles as makeshift containers.

Products made of #1 (PET) plastic can be recycled but not reused.

#2 – HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)

HDPE plastic is the stiff plastic used to make milk jugs, detergent and oil bottles, toys, and some plastic bags. HDPE is the most commonly recycled plastic and is considered one of the safest forms of plastic. It is a relatively simple and cost-effective process to recycle HDPE plastic for secondary use.

Products made of HDPE are reusable and recyclable.

Red List: HDPE and LDPE are excluded from the Red List. However the Red List includes Chlorinated polyethylene and chlorosulfonated polyethlene (CSPE)

#3 – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC is a soft, flexible plastic used to make clear plastic food wrapping, cooking oil bottles, teething rings, children’s and pets’ toys, and blister packaging for myriad consumer products. It is commonly used as the sheathing material for computer cables, and to make plastic pipes and parts for plumbing. Because PVC is relatively impervious to sunlight and weather, it is used to make window frames, garden hoses, arbors, raised beds and trellises.

PVC, although tough in terms of strength, it is not considered safe for cooking or heating. PVC contains softening chemicals called phthalates that interfere with hormonal development.

PVC is dubbed the “poison plastic” because it contains numerous toxins which it can leach throughout its entire life cycle. PVC’s vinyl chloride monomer building block is a known human carcinogen. Almost all products using PVC require virgin material for their construction; less than 1% of PVC material is recycled.

PVC is a common, strong but lightweight plastic used in construction. It is made softer and more flexible by the addition of plasticizers. If no plasticizers are added, it is known as uPVC (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride) or rigid PVC.

Products made using PVC plastic are not recyclable.

PVC is a widely used plastic found in piping, electrical wire sheaths, and window frames.  It contains phthalates, which are also components of flexible vinyl products, sealants, and finishes.

  • There isn’t a great alternative to PVC wire sheaths.  Metal-sheathed wiring (“armored” cable) can be used, but it is harder to work with and much more expensive.
  • There are a few alternatives to PVC pipes.  Metal (copper, steel, or ductile iron) pipes, which can be used for some purposes, are heavier, susceptible to corrosion, and typically more expensive to buy and install.  Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) and other related plastics are now being used to make flexible, convenient, and cheap pipes that do not contain PVC.  Unfortunately, PEX cannot be recycled and its health effects have not been definitively studied.  PEX degrades with sun exposure and may be more permeable to chemicals than other types of piping.
  • Wood, aluminum, and fiberglass are common alternatives to PVC window frames.  Wood requires additional maintenance, while aluminum frames should be used with some sort of thermal break to insulate the window and prevent condensation.  Prices vary, and the environmental impact of manufacturing should also be considered.
  • Avoid vinyl flooring, cords and hoses, shower curtains, artificial leather, pool liners, or paints made with phthalates.  There are many alternative plasticizers.

Red List: PVC and Phthalates are included on Red List

#4 – LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene)

LDPE is often found in shrink wraps, dry cleaner garment bags, squeezable bottles, and the type of plastic bags used to package bread. The plastic grocery bags used in most stores today are made using LDPE plastic. Some clothing and furniture also uses this type of plastic.

Products made using LDPE plastic are reusable, but not always recyclable.

Red List: HDPE and LDPE are excluded from the Red List. However the Red List includes Chlorinated polyethylene and chlorosulfonated polyethlene (CSPE)

#5 – PP (Polypropylene)

Polypropylene plastic is tough and lightweight, and has excellent heat-resistance qualities. It serves as a barrier against moisture, grease and chemicals.  PP is also commonly used for disposable diapers, pails, plastic bottle tops, margarine and yogurt containers, potato chip bags, straws, packing tape and rope. Polypropylene is considered microwave-safe because it is heat resistant and therefore won’t get warped in the microwave. This does not mean it is healthy for you to consume foods which have been microwaved in it! It is always best to microwave in glass containers
PP is considered safe for reuse.

#6 – PS (Polystyrene)

Polystyrene is an inexpensive, lightweight and easily-formed plastic with a wide variety of uses. It is most often used to make disposable styrofoam drinking cups, take-out “clamshell” food containers, egg cartons, plastic picnic cutlery, foam packaging and those ubiquitous “peanut” foam chips used to fill shipping boxes to protect the contents. Polystyrene is also widely used to make rigid foam insulation and underlay sheeting for laminate flooring used in home construction.

Because polystyrene is structurally weak and ultra-lightweight, it breaks up easily and is dispersed readily throughout the natural environment. Beaches all over the world have bits of polystyrene lapping at the shores, and an untold number of marine species have ingested this plastic with immeasurable consequences to their health.

Polystyrene may leach styrene, a possible human carcinogen, into food products (especially when heated in a microwave). Chemicals present in polystyrene have been linked with human health and reproductive system dysfunction.

Recycling is not widely available for polystyrene products. Most curbside collection services will not accept polystyrene, which is why this material accounts for about 35% of US landfill material. While the technology for recycling polystyrene is available, the market for recycling is small. Awareness among consumers has grown, however, and polystyrene is being reused more often. While it is difficult to find a recycler for PS, some businesses like Mailboxes Etc. which provide shipping services are happy to receive foam packing chips for reuse.

Polystyrene should be avoided where possible.

#7 – Other (BPA, Polycarbonate and LEXAN)

The #7 category was designed as a catch-all for polycarbonate (PC) and “other” plastics, so reuse and recycling protocols are not standardized within this category. Of primary concern with #7 plastics, however, is the potential for chemical leaching into food or drink products packaged in polycarbonate containers made using BPA (Bisphenol A). BPA is a xenoestrogen, a known endocrine disruptor.

A new generation of compostable plastics, made from bio-based polymers like corn starch, is being developed to replace polycarbonates. These are also included in category #7, which can be confusing to the consumer. These compostable plastics have the initials “PLA” on the bottom near the recycling symbol. Some may also say “Compostable.”

#7 plastics are not for reuse, unless they have the PLA compostable coding.

Red List: Bisphenol A (BPA) used to manufacture polycarbonate (clear, hard) plastics and epoxy resins is included on the Red List

 Sources

Red List: https://living-future.org/declare/declare-about/red-list/

The ILFI Red List contains the worst in class materials prevalent in the building industry that may not be included in materials used in construction that seeks to meet the criteria of the Living Building Challenge (LBC).T

The commonly-used chemicals on the Red List are:

Polluting the environment
Bio-accumulating up the food chain until they reach toxic concentrations
Harming construction and factory workers

Plastics by the Numbers: EarthEasy – https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/plastics-by-the-numbers/

GreenSpec http://www.greenspec.co.uk/building-design/toxic-chemistry-health-environment-pollution/

The Seven Types of Plastic and What they mean for your health. https://www.nontoxicrevolution.org/blog/7-types-of-plastic

Green Building Alliance https://www.go-gba.org/resources/green-building-methods/materials-red-list/

 

 

 

Health and Wellness Rating System Comparison

This very useful comparison infographic was published recently on Building Green.  Although US and LEED based, it demonstrates the scope of the emerging rating systems that address, measure and promote healthy building and facility approaches, in planning, design, construction, building in use. Note the infographic on Building Green is interactive with more information.

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More:

Living Building Challenge 3.1 Standard

Well 2.0

Fitwel

BREEAM / Well CrossWalk 

 

Modern Slavery : There can be no sustainability in an unequal world

As emphasised in FutuREstorative, sustainability is only possible within an equitable and socially just sector. Whilst we continue to have instances of unjust practices, of Modern Slavery, within our projects, supply chains and organisations, we simply cannot call ourselves sustainable, or worst, label our projects Excellent, Platinum or Outstanding.

FutuREstorative highlighted many innovations, inspirations and approaches that will help us with the transition towards a regenerative and sustainable future. Yet no innovation, technology, biomimic, biophilic or digital thinking will really progress our sustainability performance if we do not have a matched and parallel improvement in equality, equity, diversity and justice.

no sustainability in an unequal world

And now, as we strive for a 1.5°C cap on global warming and the attendant carbon reduction, we need to ensure that equity and equality remain at the top of every sustainability agenda. There can be no sustainability in an unequal world. Indeed sustainability should embrace the three E’s of ecology, economy and equality. As we now recognise that we need a new level of consciousness in the way we relate to nature for design and delivery of healthy, sustainable buildings, we need a similar ‘worldview’ recognition in how we respect those who produce our materials and buildings.

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

We need a change in the narrative and address Modern Slavery in the wider context of a truly  ‘Just’ built environment, through for example mapping and monitoring against the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Modern slavery is currently blowing holes in 11 of the 17 SDG targets.

At a recent workshop we explored the causes of modern slavery, and in addition to the nature of our construction industry, (high labour, short-term contracts, geographic locations, fragmented supply chains), it is our continued drive for lowest cost, particularly in labour dominant work-packages that was seen as a real problem.

A powerful action we can take today is to embed modern slavery aspects within built environment sustainability standards and certifications. As for example JUST (Making Social Justice Your Business)  is embedded within the Living Building Challenge.

I closed FutuREstorative by repeating the most important and powerful of the Living Building Challenge’s aims: the transition to a socially just, ecologically restorative and culturally rich future.

This is a revisited version of the closing Epilogue within FutuREstorative. 

 

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Martin is recognised in the 100 modern slavery influencers index  

 

 

Introducing: Living Future Institute Europe

After many years in discussion and planning, the LIVING FUTURE INSTITUTE EUROPE was launched at a number of events in Berlin and London last week.

In December of 2015, world leaders came together to find a path down the greenhouse gas mountain on which the world continues to climb. Calling for new investments in clean energy and water efficiency, world leaders collaboratively succeeded in establishing a new era of climate awareness. The resulting Paris Accord committed national governments to ask for and accept bold private sector investment and action. Incremental change will not provide the solutions we need in the built environment within the timeframe established in Paris.

The Institute’s mission will hasten the change and provide needed direction towards a regenerative design transition in Europe. It is actively pursuing European market alignment and adaptations of the Living Building Challenge (LBC). This work is unfolding on multiple levels, including:

  • Forming partnerships with sponsors, organizations, and developers aligned with LBC principles
  • Identifying modifications to Declare program components so they meet European product testing and reporting conventions
  • Developing customized European zones for LBC Imperative 13, Living Economy Sourcing – See Example
  • Resolving critical issues in wood certification standards – FSC vs. PEFC
  • Building and supporting local Collaboratives

“Despite the introduction of many sustainability rating systems for green buildings and their development on the market, our progress towards EU goals has been minute and barely recordable, if compared with the rate of change that is required to avoid the worst effects of climate change. Incremental change is no longer sufficient. The Living Building Challenge fosters restorative sustainability and leads building projects to move beyond merely being ‘less bad’ and to become truly regenerative.”
Carlo Battisti, COST Action RESTORE, Italian Ambassador

CARLO BATTISTI
Interim Executive Director, ILFI Europe
Owner, Sustainable Innovations Managements & Consulting

EMMANUEL PAUWELS
Green Building Consultant, Green Living Projects

MARTIN BROWN
Sustainability Provocateur, Fairsnape

 

 

www.https://living-future.org/living-future-institute-europe/

Bullitt Centre 5th Anniversary: An Environmental and Commercial Success

Five years old on Earth Day 2018, the Bullitt Center is surpassing its lofty environmental goals, as well as meeting its commercial objectives.

“The Bullitt Center is proof that profitable, zero energy Living Buildings are possible,” said Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, which owns the Bullitt Centre. “To meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, all buildings need to do the same,” he added.

Some of the highlights of the first five years in operation include the following:

The building is 100% leased with a diverse mix of tenants that include Sonos, Intentional Futures, PAE Consulting Engineers, University of Washington’s Center for Integrated Design, International Living Future Institute, and Hammer & Hand.
Brett Phillips, Vice President of Sustainable and Responsible Investments at Unico Properties, calls the Center “one of the best net income performers on a square foot basis that Unico manages.”

Seattle City Light buys energy the building does not use (“negawatt-hours”) for a total of approximately $50,000 each year. This is rebated to tenants who meet their energy goals as an incentive for energy efficiency. Seattle Mayor Durkan expanded this pilot to 30 buildings on April 11, 2018.

More than 25,000 people have toured the building, including the largest residential real estate developer in the world, the President of Bulgaria, Mayor of Copenhagen, U.S. Secretary of Energy, EPA Administrator, U.S. Senators and Governors, along with thousands of architects, engineers and builders.

A growing list of projects cite the Bullitt Center as an influence, including the Obama Presidential Library, Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech, Rocky Mountain Institute headquarters, American Geophysical Union building, Santa Monica City Hall, and the Mosaic Centre.

Business leaders have visited to learn about the building from companies that include Costco, Etsy, Google, Microsoft, REI, and Starbucks.

Of course, the Bullitt Center has also surpassed lofty expectations for environmental performance, generating 20 percent more energy than it used every year since it opened, using only one-third as much energy as a well-run LEED Platinum building, and using 95 percent less water (1 gallon per square foot per year) than the average office building in Seattle, despite having showers on every floor.

The University of Washington, State of Washington, King County, City of Seattle, Skanska USA, Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft, and REI, among 2,500 others, all signed a statement committing to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Despite the success of the Bullitt Center, the vast majority of new construction does no better than meet the bare bones requirements of building code.

As Hayes often remarks, “A building built to code is the very worst building that it is not against the law to build.”  Hayes continues, “To avoid a climate catastrophe, we all have to aim much higher. We’ve now shown that it’s possible to develop comfortable, attractive buildings that meet ambitious energy goals and also deliver strong financial performance.”

Bullitt Center

A 52,000 square-foot commercial building at the intersection of Capitol Hill and the Central Area in Seattle, the Bullitt Center is designed, built and operated to be the world’s greenest office building. Owned by the Bullitt Foundation, the building is a market-rate, Class-A commercial office building with 90 percent of its space leased to commercial enterprises. It was developed to show what’s possible today and to demonstrate a path forward for other real estate development projects. For more information visit http://www.bullittcenter.org.

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Based on press Release from BRAD KAHN  |  GROUNDWORK STRATEGIES http://www.groundworkstrategies.com

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