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

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Future Pathways to Zero: Specifi Bristol Services

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It was a real pleasure to share insights from Future Restorative and other initiatives at the Specifi Services and Facilities Management event in Bristol last night.

The event was also billed as part of the World Green Build Council’s Green Build Week, focusing on re-imagining carbon to address the World GBC’s call for all new buildings to be zero by 2030 and for all buildings by 2050. A very ambitious call, but as the recent report From Thousands to Billions points out, we already have thousands of zero buildings, we just need to learn from these climate hero buildings and scale up for the remainder.

To do so, we have some awesome solutions and proven approaches now available to us – for example in Paul Hawken’s Project Drawdown, William McDonough’s  Reimagine Carbon work, (Nature: Carbon is not the Enemy) the Well Build and Living Building Challenge standards – all of which indicate future pathways to zero.

My keynote “We Eat Carbon for Lunch‘ focused on carbon positive aspects of two Living Building Challenge projects – the Bullitt Centre in Seattle and the Cuerdon Valley Project in Lancashire. Very different projects indeed – but climate heroes both, demonstrating that restorative sustainability is possible. Much of this work and thinking is being explored by the EU COST Restore action, a network of researchers and practitioners from across the EU and beyond, exploring how Rethinking Sustainability leads to Regenerative Economies.

Questions following my keynote from the audience indicate important themes for future keynotes at upcoming Specifi events

  • What is the Living Building Challenge?
  • What are the financial considerations for restorative sustainability?
  • What one (services) climate solution could we implement tomorrow?
  • Just what is Biophilic Design?
  • What clients and organisations are adopting Restorative Sustainability approaches?

Specifi events are unique, providing an opportunity to listen and to learn from inspirational speakers, an opportunity to learn and share in an informal networking format with leading exhibitors and industry colleagues, and then to discuss in more detail over a three course meal. (All included in the free attendee ticket price!)

The Bristol event was in partnership with CIBSE YEN (Young Engineers Network) – these are the young engineers of the future, hungry with an appetite to learn more, on restorative sustainability, but also from the services and facilities organisations exhibiting.

Future events in 2017 include Glasgow (Landscape) Newcastle, (Design) Birmingham (Landscape) and London (Design and Services)

I am delighted to be part of the Specifi Team – curating keynotes and talking at events throughout 2018, so I look forward to continuing the discussion with the Services people in Bristol next Feb and to meeting you at your next local Specifi event soon.

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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.

Back to School with Restorative Sustainability

What is Restorative Sustainability and why is Education so vital?

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Working with Class of your Own, it is a pleasure to be organising and directing the first Training School for the RESTORE Cost Action to be held in Lancaster, between 14th and 17th November 2017.

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The RESTORE Action aims at a paradigm shift towards restorative sustainability for new and existing buildings, promoting forward thinking and multidisciplinary knowledge, leading to solutions that celebrate the richness of design creativity while enhancing users’ experience, health and wellbeing inside and outside buildings, in harmony with urban ecosystems, reconnecting users to nature.

Applications are now invited for the school that will focus on Restorative Sustainability, Biophilia, and Sustainability Education.  In four days students and practitioners from across the EU will gain a deep understanding of Restorative Sustainability and learn about key topics from RESTORE working groups.

Training School trainees (students, educators, and practitioners) will participate in

  • Introduction Seminars
  • Action Learning
  • Presentations (Team and Individual)
  • Designing and Delivering a School Sustainability Education workshop
  • Study Tours / Interviews with Living Building Challenge Project Teams
  • Report Writing
  • Evening seminars

We expect the school to be oversubscribed, so get your application in now! Full details, selection criteria and how to apply can be found on the Cost RESTORE website.

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Topics to be covered include:

  • PLACE:  Relationship with place, ecology, nature, soils, bio-climate,
  • ENERGY: restorative and regenerative energy, net-zero, carbon-neutral, energy storage
  • WATER: net positive water, building influence, floods, drought, water stress
  • WELLBEING: health, happiness, Salutogenesis, biophilia, mindfulness, air, light, comfort
  • CARBON: science based targets, 350ppm, 2Deg, 1.5Deg, social impact,
  • RESOURCES:  healthy materials, responsible, transparency, conservation, circular economy,
  • EQUITY: equality fairness, inclusion, respect,
  • EDUCATION: behaviour, next generation, next project, development,

The outline agenda for the four days:

Day One (TUESDAY, November 14)

  • Inductions, Welcomes and Arrangements
  • Introduction to RESTORE
  • Restorative Sustainability Thinking
  • FutuREstorative Module
  • Introduction to Biophilic Design and Impact on Sustainable Behaviour
  • Production of Biophilic Design Plan (for Birth Center (Design or Refurbishment)

Evening

  • Guest Lecture Sustainable and Traceable Coffee – Presentation and Coffee Tasting
  • Dinner

 Day Two (WEDS, November 15)

  • Introduction: Sustainability Education, Inspiring the next generation
  • Planning An Education Workshop
  • Site Tour Lancaster Castle + Refurbishment Works
  • Working Group One: Faro Papers, Intro and Discussion
    • Social Wellbeing, Behaviour
    • Restorative Heritage
    • Regenerative Buildings
    • Economics, Resources ‘the circular economy’
  • Guest Lectures (eg Heritage, Biomimicry, Circular Economy)

Evening

  • UK ReWilding Guest Lecture
  • Dinner

Day Three (THURS, November 16)

  • Running a Live Sustainability Education Workshop at Local School (tbc)
  • Education Workshop Feedback from students and teachers
  • Finalisation of Reports/Presentations
  • Public event with sustainability, built environment professionals
  • Training School Presentations to Core Group
  • Training School Q&A Panel Session (chair tbc)
  • Dinner

Day Four (FRIDAY, November 17)

Study Tours to RESTORE demonstration Buildings

  • Building Relationships with Place and Nature: Brock Holes (Preston) BREEAM Outstanding
  • Site Visit – Living Building Challenge Project, CVP, Lancashire
  • Living Building Challenge Design Issues,
  • Designing and Building with Natural Materials
  • Training School Debriefing
  • Post Course requirements

Full details, selection criteria and how to apply can be found on the Cost RESTORE website.

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

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.

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Connecting the Dots …. The Sustainability Development Goals. 

More | Better. An alternative approach to housing.

more-better-coverDelighted to have participated in the excellent More | Better – an evaluation of the potential of alternative approaches to inform housing delivery in Wales report by Ed Green and others at Cardiff University.

The compelling More | Better report, consisting of a spectrum of case studies and commentaries from expert contributors, concludes that there is no single housing ‘silver bullet’, but that there is potential for more, better housing through a combination of innovative delivery pathways and construction techniques. And the innovative delivery pathways considered include Passivhaus, the Fabric Energy Efficiency Standard, and the Living Building Challenge.

“Affordable housing is uniquely placed to benefit from the philosophy and application of the Living Building Challenge and aligns well with and will assist with adherence to the Welsh Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015)”

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In the absence of a Welsh, national mandate for zero carbon, more onerous standards including CfSH Level 6, Passivhaus and the Living Building Challenge all provide optional pathways to 43 higher standards of environmental performance. 

 

The report concludes:

Wales should lead the way by placing affordable housing and affordable warmth at the centre of national policy, with homes and places that meet our needs, now and in the future. We must stop thinking purely in terms of capital costs. Construction that drains resources should be replaced with buildings that generate resources – that are energy positive and carbon negative. This fundamental perspective shift is in line with the Wales Future Generations Act 2015.

  • By employing alternative approaches, we could be constructing new homes and neighbourhoods in a more contextually appropriate way, with greater long term value.
  • Alternative approaches have the potential to deliver affordable homes in parallel with more established methods, so long as knowledge is shared with commissioners and constructors.
  • Different delivery pathways and construction techniques could lead to more diverse housing that is better quality, more fit-for-purpose, more affordable and more sustainable.
  • Further benefits could include the growth of employment in Wales, a national supply chain, greater long term resilience, and renewable energy infrastructure as a source of income.
  • The creation and maintenance of sustainable communities could provide a new focus for post-industrial Wales, facilitating joined-up development that works at a local level.

The More | Better report should become a touch-stone housing reference for change. And as such should be on must-read lists, not only for those in the Welsh housing sector, but for anyone interested and engaged in the future of built environment sustainability standards and alternative ‘innovative pathways’

Download the More | Better full document and executive summary here