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)”

more-better-standards

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

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Healthy Buildings and Wellness: 12 Insights

Alison Nicholls, Associate Director, Constructing Excellence, put together the following, excellent summary of the recent Heathy Buildings and Wellness event held on the 31st January 2017.  The event was hosted Aecom at their Aldgate Tower offices, designed to meet the very latest standards in healthy buildings and wellness.

The business case behind healthy buildings and investing in standards such as WELL, BREEAM and the Living Building Challenge, as well as the demand for healthy buildings and the practicalities of delivery in both new and existing buildings and future implications for regulations and law were explored.

Here are the top things learnt during the workshop:

  1. Changing buildings is a great opportunity to instigate healthy changes
    Dave Cheshire from Aecom looked at how making making healthier choices easier for employees could help make them healthier, more productive and more resilient to stressful life and work events. Aecom are implementing solutions to encourage people to live well, both for their own staff and on client projects.
  2. Take the investment conversations up a level
    Dave’s top tip for making the business case was to take the conversation up a tier to those who have a more holistic view of the business investments. Engaging the Human Resources department at can help justify expenditure that might add cost to the capital budget but will save significant amounts over the long term occupation of the building.
  3. Circadian rhythms – mimicking nature
    As part of the British Antarctic Survey project Aecom looked at how intelligent lighting solutions could mimic natural daylight patterns in order to trigger the hormones that set our natural body clock. This is particularly important in a building where it’s pretty dark for six months of the year, however this learning can equally be applied to night workers or office buildings where natural light doesn’t penetrate deep into the building floor plates.
  4. People don’t always understand the risks
    Isabella Myers gave a public health perspective on the link between buildings and health and wellbeing. She flagged up the risks of delivering interventions when occupants were often resistant to changes and not necessarily convinced of the risks to their health from problems such as leaky boilers and fuel combustion. This can come in many forms including deaths from carbon monoxide and neuropsychiatric symptoms from long term exposure to toxins.
  5. Our strategies to save carbon may have made it worse
    Isabella reminded us that some of the strategies that have been employed to save energy and carbon dioxide have led to more airtight homes and buildings have caused the build-up of toxins that can impact people’s health.
  6. Healthy Buildings attract premium tenants
    Anita Mitchell Head of Sustainability for Lendlease Europe spoke about increasing market demand for healthy buildings. On a recent project in Sydney major clients in the financial services and blue-chip companies were demanding high levels of WELL Buildings Standard. Eventually this could lead to devaluing property that does not support health and wellbeing.
  7. Speculative developments can still be healthy
    The strategy to deliver WELL-Ready core and shell schemes enables tenants to implement their own health and wellbeing strategies in order to meet the WELL Building Standard.
  8. Health & Wellbeing cuts across the political divide
    Health and wellbeing impacts on social and economic sustainability, therefore both sides of the political divide can support the agenda, on the one hand it benefits society and on the other it delivers bottom-line economic benefits.
  9. Don’t forget the construction process
    Martin Brown from Fairsnape reminded us that whilst the end product needs to support wellbeing there is a requirement not to forget how the built environment is constructed, the toxicity of materials used and the people who build them. While we have made huge progress in terms of onsite health and safety, the industry has one of the highest mental health and suicide rates after agriculture.
  10. Biomimicry
    There is a lot we can learn from nature and how it functions in order to reproduce natural patterns and deliver healthier and better performing buildings. For example the Living Building Challenge certified Bullitt Centre in Seattle mimics the effect of a tree canopy to limit exposure to overheating and solar glare.
  11. Data can help
    By mapping physical data sets from BIM with biological datasets from the health sector and fitness trackers etc. a really rich picture of how buildings and the built environment are impacting on people’s health and wellbeing is emerging, and providing data for health improvement. There are lots of ways in which existing buildings can be improved to increase the health and wellbeing of the occupants. BRE is carrying out a research project on a real life Biophilic office refurbishment assessing the health and wellbeing of occupants before and after various interventions.
  12. WELL & BREEAM setting the standard
    BREEAM and WELL have been working together to establish common factors and areas of mutual recognition for elements of their respective standards. Chris Ward provided an overview of progress including an initial mapping exercise that has been published in a technical guidance document.This will lead to further collaborative work to ensure that health and wellbeing are an even more integral part of the BREEAM standard going forward.

The group will meet again in April to look at how innovative, healthy and sustainable materials are being specified and how that process can be improved to ensure that clients and specifiers increase their understanding and demand innovative products and materials.

The original constructing excellence post and presentations can be viewed here 

Related:

FutuREstorative – Working Towards a New Sustainability

WELL & BREEAM announce alignment for credits: more good or less bad?

Mindfulness, Biophilia and Salutogenesis: a powerful triptych for improving construction health and happiness

 

Talking, Sharing, Launching

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My 2017 diary is shaping up with some great and exciting presentations & talks, sharing insights from FutuREstorative, introducing the Living Building Challenge, launching more collaboratives in the UK and launching RESTORE, our European COST restorative sustainability research programme. And more…

Jan 11th Preston
Sharing insights from FutuREstorative, Living Building Challenge along with healthy buildings topics such as biophilia and salutogenesis with the UCLan Healthy University Group in relation to the University Master Plan Development

Jan 25th Manchester
Book Talk. Sharing insights from FutuREstorative at Constructing Excellence Manchester, Breakfast Meeting
Archive

Jan 31st London
Sharing insights from FutuREstorative at Constructing Excellence Sustainability Working Group event: Healthy Buildings and Wellness
Archive

Feb 6th London
Intro to Living Building Challenge Talk and the Launch of a Living Building Challenge Collaborative for London in association with Mott MacDonald
Archive

Feb 23rd Lancaster
Lancashire Green Drinks
Book Talk. Green Build and Green Coffee. Sharing insights from FutuREstorative. With Ian Steel, Atkinsons Coffee at the Hall, Lancaster
Details and Registration

Feb 24th  Glasgow
Intro to Living Building Challenge Talk and the Launch of a Living Building Challenge Collaborative for Scotland in association with The Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA)
Details and Registration

March 9th Brussels
Kick Off Meeting: After 2 years writing submissions and developing the EU COST Action with EU colleagues Carlo Battisti and Emanuele Naboni, we finally kick off RESTORE, our EU COST Research Programme

March (tbc)
Sharing insights from FutuREstorative and Construction Carbon (with Carbon Trust) at Constructing Excellence Lancashire

April (tbc)
Sharing insights from FutuREstorative and Construction Carbon (with Carbon Trust) at Constructing Excellence Liverpool

April 26th  Trento, Italy
Supporting Regeneration Edition 3 Living Building Challenge Competition. Applications still open
Details and Registration

May, London Be2camp style book event with FutuREstorative contributors.

November 10th Leeds
Talking, a little way of yet but delighted to be a guest speaker for the CIBSE Yorkshire Awards Dinner in Leeds

More soon …

WELL & BREEAM announce alignment for credits: more good or less bad?

UPDATE 01 Feb 2017

Credit Crosswalks: BRE and IWBI have released guidance to streamline joint certification of BREEAM and WELL

….

As mentioned and illustrated in FutuREstorative, we will see an alignment in building sustainability and performance standards over coming months and years. In the US we have seen an alignment between LEED and the Living Building Challenge on materials (Red List) and recently on energy and water.

On Monday 28th  Nov, we saw an announcement from The International WELL Building Institute and BRE for an agreement to pursue alignment between WELL and BREEAM will making it easier for projects pursuing both standards.

In practice this will mean documentation submitted for certain credits will be recognised by both WELL and BREEAM, saving project teams time and cost.

This will be a very interesting journey and further recognises the importance of health within building design, construction and use. WELL, like the Living Building Challenge is an excellent, robust but tough standard and one that cannot be attained without a different mind-set approach to buildings.

Key to that mindset is recognition of the impact of materials on health on construction workers and building users. An alignment or agreement between BREEAM and the LBC’s Red List would make great sense here.

It will be interesting to see how the differing philosophies between WELL (do more good) and BREEAM (do less bad) work together. Hopefully this further opens the door to a salutogenic approach to design – not just reducing ill-health but using buildings to improve health, for example, using light as medicine, as explored in FutuREstorative

salutogenesis-slide
Health – the next performance gap.

I will also be watching with interest if this agreement extends to the construction process, (ie. the BREEAM MAN credits) to improve the wellness and health of those involved in and affected by construction works. This is a health and wellness area that BREEAM, LEED, WELL and the Living Building Challenge do not readily address. Yet for those whose career is spent on construction sites, it is a key health and sustainability area, and one that benefits from biophilic design considerations, for example greenery in accommodation and living walls as project hoardings.

living-walls-construction-hoarding

REGENERATION17 – Your Invited …

“our responsibility must be to inspire the next generation to become better than us and to reach higher than we have” Martin Brown in #FutuREstorative

reach-higher

The Italy Collaborative through Macro Design Studio  is organising the third edition of REGENERATION, the European design competition entirely based on the Living Building Challenge sustainability certification standard .

IMG_2334Having supported the first two editions of REGENERATION as an LBC tutor and presenter, I can wholly recommend this event as truly enriching and inspiring,  not only in learning about the Living Building Challenge in applied detail, or being hosted in a wonderful region of the Italian Dolomites, but making a positive contribution through regenerating a local municipal facility.

The competition is open to professionals (architects, engineers, environmental sustainability and landscape experts) in Europe, under 35 years old. The deadline for the request of participation is next January 31st, 2017. We will select the best 15 on the basis of the documentation submitted.

The event (which will take place at CentIMG_2350rale Fies, Dro (Trento – Italy), on April, 26th to 29th, 2017.) is a 64 non-stop hours of integrative design in which each team, assisted by tutors expert of LBC, will compete in designing the best redevelopment project of an existing local public building. There will be side events i.e. a final conference open to the public on the issues of LBC as well as the final presentation of the projects, with the proclamation of the best project by an international jury.

One goal is to have the most various participation possible, in terms of European countries represented. 

More information about REGENERATION:

– REGENERATION web site: regenerationcompetition.eu
– The REGENERATION Facebook group

The deadline for the request of participation is next January 31st, 2017. 

Administered by The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) based in Seattle (WA), a hub for visionary programs that promotes a sustainability that is Socially Just, Culturally Rich and Ecologically Restorative SMILFI is partner and scientific advisor of Macro Design Studio and the Living Building Challenge Collaborative: Italy in organizing REGENERATION.

Living Building volunteer opportunities …

The project team at Cuerdon Valley Park Visitor Centre have three offers out for summer volunteer / interns to support the Trust in pursuit of the Living Building Challenge standard.

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UK 1st Living Building Challenge project at Cuerdon Valley Park, Lancashire

These are unique opportunities for sustainability and environment students:

  • Participation with potentially the greenest building in the UK, the 1st UK Living Building Challenge project.
  • Working with the UK foremost advocates who are pushing the boundaries of green build towards a restorative, just and healthy sustainable future.
  • Discover, first hand, more about the Living Building Challenge, related programmes and topics such as biophilic design.

Role details and contact information are in the following outlines:

Carbon Tracking

Communications Support

Materials Tracking

Biophilic Design & Rewilding- the secret sauce of sustainability?

Biophilia is emerging as the secret sauce of sustainability. It is not just about being able to see trees and fields from our windows, or having green plants within rooms, but something deeper and more profound.

The Cuerdon Valley Park Visitor Centre in Lancashire, the first UK project to be registered for and working towards Living Building Challenge certification, recently staged a project team biophilic design workshop (1), led by Joe Clancy using the Terrapin Bright Green guide ’14 Patterns of Biophilic Design’ (Joe, as an intern with Terrapin Bright Green was part of the guide team and co-author)

The workshop reviewed the design, construction and operation of the building from a new perspective, through each of the 14 patterns, covering aspects from light through to the layout of chairs and food to be served in the cafe.

 

Biophilia translates as love of nature and in design terms the consideration of how our innate relationship with nature can be addressed within buildings. We have evolved as part of nature, and as such the human mind and body function with greater efficiency and performance when natural elements are present. Biophilic design is ensuring that these elements and patterns are present.

Biophilic elements enhance wellbeing, foster the feel good factor, reduce building related illness and even improve health. For example light as in daylight, circadian lighting, differing light spectrums is being considered as a form of medicine, not only to reduce illness, but to improve and maintain health.

ReWilding
There is much talk of rewilding at present, and as rewilding nature and environments is not just about reintroducing wolf, lynx or other top of the chain predators but more about restoring or regenerating the natural environment ‘creating conditions that allow the emergence of natural responsiveness and development’(2)

We should learn from and apply rewilding thinking to our built environment,and in doing so rewild people, those who inhabit buildings, creating the conditions, through for eg biomimicry and biophilic applications, that allow (new and existing) buildings to breathe and to respond to natural and bioclimatic cycles. We are losing or removing our natural barometers from buildings, increasingly replacing them with SMART technologies, to satisfy a blinked focus on energy performance. In turn, this has weakened our intrinsic relationship with nature.(3)

It is recognised that a lack of connection with nature reduces our tolerance to respect the environment. However, enabling biophilic conditions that ‘rewild’ our built environment will improve user behaviour and increase respect for the sustainable function of buildings.

Biophilia could, therefore be a root cause solution to addressing our buildings sustainability performance, closing performance gaps, providing salutogenetic improvement on the health & well-being of those using the building, and providing business benefits relating to people costs and productivity

And, biophilic workshops are not just for green building design, but should be part of the start-up activities for any project, considering in addition to the building in use, the biophilic aspects of the construction process. Biophilic thinking applied to construction environment can address the stress, mental health and safety, productivity, enthusiasm and wellbeing of those working on our construction projects. Therefore, biophilic thinking could be a key to improving construction quality, environmental and safety compliance, productivity and hence costs.

On two, very recent, project sustainability review/audits, it has been encouraging to hear of construction organisations increasing awareness of biophilia through training related to health, sustainability and design.

(1) Report available soon.

(2) George Monbiot in Feral

(2) extract from FutuREstorative

Lynx Kitten Image:   www.conservationjobs.co.uk

Rewilding Building Image: Cuerdon Valley Park Visitor Centre

Rewilding People image – see – Last Child in the Woods Richard Louv

Images from Sense of Urgency presentation available on Slideshare.