Tag Archives: Regenerative Sustainability

Into 2019 …

Business as Usual Sustainability (BAUS)

Business as Usual Sustainability may well prove to be our barrier in addressing the climate change issues we face. To only ‘sustain’ is no longer enough, we now have a real urgency to embrace regenerative sustainability, to thrive … and to enable thriving.

The last three decades have given us many opportunities to embrace sustainability, but have only done so reluctantly and given the worsening CO2, air quality and health issues associated with our buildings, inadequately. So now the options available to us are increasingly radical and of necessity transformative.

The recent 2018 IPCC report has given us 12 years to avoid a painful climate breakdown and the risk of irreversibly destabilising the Earth’s climate. If we are to meet the targets in front of us, related to the 2015 Paris Agreement, the SDG’s and here at home in the UK Built Environment with our CO2 reduction by 2025 targets, we need to move way beyond Business as Usual Sustainability …

The report confirmed that we must take widespread changes to design, construction, maintenance and re-use of buildings. It reinforces buildings account for 40% of CO2 emissions with building materials such as cement and concrete accounting for some 8% of the global figure.  In essence this would require no construction, building, industry, plant or vehicles using gas, oil, coal or fossil fuels; a building products sector converted to green natural products and / or non-toxic chemistry; and heavy industries like cement, steel and aluminum production either using carbon-free energy sources or not used in buildings.

Further, the construction and use of buildings will by necessity need to be positive, not passive, neutral or negative – sequestering and capturing more carbon than emitted, generating more energy than used, improving air quality rather than polluting and improving inhabitants wellbeing rather than contributing to health problems.

The best time to start radically reducing carbon was 30 years ago, the second best time is to start today.

Its time to step up.

We can do this.

The Paris 1.5 aspiration is still within our reach – just! Thankfully the 2018 IPCC report does contain at least one positive, and that is anthropogenic emissions up now are unlikely to cause further warming of more than 0.5°C over the next two to three decades or on a century time scale.

This means that, if we stop using fossil fuels today, the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that have already been released into the atmosphere to date are not likely to warm the earth the additional 0.5°C, either by 2030, or 2050, or even by 2100.

No doubt you have read many end of 2018, start of 2019 sustainable lifestyle things we can do – from eating less meat, cycling not driving, avoiding fossil fuel energy – and these are all good, and things we should be doing. But we can do more, and in the built environment we can make significant and meaningful progress in, for example:

Educate and Advocate
As individuals, as organisations and as a sector we must educate and advocate. Many of those entering the design and construction sector over the next twelve years are still in education (many at primary school and have a whole secondary and university education in front of them)They need to be inspired and motivated for a built environment that will be radically different to the one we have today.

Reverse the Performance Gap
The performance gap between design and actual causes unnecessary co2 emissions. As with the Living Building Challenge, let’s make award of any sustainable standard only on achievement of or bettering of the agreed design intent. Perhaps planning should only be given, or priority given to buildings that positively make a contribution – on carbon, water, or air quality. A challenge for Building Regulations and Planning requirements to step up.

Grow from Thousands to Billions
Trees: “Our planet’s future climate is inextricably tied to the future of its forests,” states the 2018 IPCC report, calling for billions of trees to be planted and protected. We have the skills, materials and mindsets to design, construct and maintain buildings that function as trees. Perhaps the flagship here is the Bullitt centre, but we have thousands of buildings around the world that have regenerative attributes. Building on the title of the 2018 World Green Building Council report we can ramp this up from Thousands to Billions – to all buildings.

Monarch Butterfly (selected as cover image for FutuREstorative)

FutuREgenerative

In 2016, FutuREstorative sought to set out what a new sustainability could look like, moving thinking in the built environment from the ‘reducing harm’ sustainability business as usual approach to one that is restorative, regenerative with a connected worldview. working with natural systems, healing harm done in the past.

I must admit I shied away from using the word regenerative in the title of the 2016 edition. Within the UK regenerative has had an uncomfortable meaning, associated with ‘building schools for the future’ and other less successful programmes. As a Project Manager for a regeneration programme in East Lancashire, I saw first hand, just how uncomfortable the ‘regeneration’ label sat with local communities and the wider sustainability agendas.

I am delighted that FutuREstorative has been adopted by many practices (it has inspired at least two start-ups that I know of here in the UK), is being translated into Portuguese and has been adopted by academic organisations around the world. It has also provided the backbone for the EU COST RESTORE programme.

However, and thankfully, the world of sustainability has moved on a-pace, much has progressed from 2016, (Paris, SDG’s, IPCC and WWF reports) Increasingly we hear much more, and are seeing more examples of regenerative sustainability and ecologically principled design in relation to our buildings,  And this includes regenerative buildings that are designed to heal people and planet.  I see this as part of what Daniel Wahl refers to as ‘regeneration rising’ but are far from reaching a tipping point.

So, into 2019, my plans are to …

update FutuREstorative, reframing and possibly re-titling as FutuREgenerative to reflect current regenerative activities globally and pushing our thinking further. Over the coming weeks I will be collating regenerative stories and looking for blog style contributions from those at the sharp end of regenerative sustainability, within the built environment and beyond

further support and enable the communities of practice and discussion groups that have emerged and are growing around FutuREstorative 

If you would like to get involved in sharing your stories and experience through FutuREstorative communities of practice then please do reach out.

Together we can do this …

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Regenerative sustainability: enabling people and planet to thrive.

The Lithuanian Green Build Council conference in Vilnius, attracting over 100 from the world built environment Real Estate, Design, Contruction, Product Manufacturers, Facilities Managers and Investors, asked the question ‘Sustainability what is it’?

It was a privilege to kick-off presentations, following an opening address from the Republic of Lithuania’s Ministry of Environment, sharing insights from FutuREstorative and Cost RESTORE. It was pleasing to see that key messages of my keynote resonated throughout the day’s presentations and case studies from inspiring speakers from Europe and the USA.

The key message was that we no longer have a luxury only to be less bad but that we need to seek different approaches to sustainability that enable us to do more good. Thats more good for people health, for planet health and importantly for financial health. Only reducing impact can be seen as the foolish act of driving ever slower towards a cliff edge we know is there.

The impact we have within the built environment sector on the health of those who work live and play in our buildings is huge, and a responsibility we need to face up to, not just to ‘sustain’ but to enable people and planet to thrive.

The LTGBC event included presentations with wonderful insights into regenerative design from Emanuele Naboni KADK / RESTORE, on circular economy from Kestutis Sadauskas, European Commission on healthy materials and LCA (from Camille FABRE, Sant-Goban, into green bonds for regenerative projects from Katya Nolvall atSwedbank) and BIPV – Building Integrated PV’s from Julija Kaladžinskaitė, alongside certification schemes that push the regenerative and health concept from David Hubka and Levan Ekhvaia (DGNB)

It was also a privilege to meet with and share insights with staff and students from VGTU (Vilnius Gedimino Technical University) School of Architecture the following day.  Once again discussions and questions related to the need for collaboration with health practitioners in project design and construction. My thanks to Dr Gintaras Stauskis for the guided tour of Vilnius with insights into the city’s history and soviet architecture, and to his team at VGTU for hosting me for the day.

There were many takeaway’s over the two days and I learnt much from presentations and discussions. Conferences such as this may well be seen as a sustainability bubble of like-minded thinkers, but it is heartening to hear of the wonderful innovations and passions that are enabling us in the built environment to become key climate change solution providers, and not just part of the climate change problem.

We are learning to design and build for people and planet health, not just for function retaliation or image. And given the 12 years timeframe the IPCC October 2018 Report has given us … we need more of this.

Congratulations to Eugenis Sapel and team at LTGBC and Vesta for moderating and delivering a great event, and for keeping us speakers focused on financial aspects of regenerative sustainability.

Regenerative Sustainability Design Training School

Following the successful COST Restore Lancaster Training School in 2017, applications are invited for the second Training School to be held in Malaga, Spain in October  2018 offering a wonderful learning opportunity for students and practitioners looking to advance their skills at the interface of sustainability, #BIM, digital construction and regenerative design #CostRestore 

pexels-photo-305833

 

Regenerative Design: from Theory to the Digital Practice

The aim of the conferences and the training school is the digital implementation of Regenerative Sustainable Design principles in the transformation of existing sites. Via the use of freeware digital parametric modelling, the challenges are to improve outdoor microclimate qualities and the indoor wellbeing, operating a transformation that responds to the criteria of Circular Economy.

The research and design project will represent, in this regard, an opportunity for enhancing life in all its manifestations. This presumes shifting the focus from a solely based human-centred design process into a nature-centred one, where “people and buildings can commit to a healthy relationship with the environment where they are placed”. Such approaches are discussed in morning conferences and in the afternoon scientific driven design developments.

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The Barrio of La Luz, which was built after 1960 in Malaga is used as a reference. The site is a polluted heat-island, disconnected from sea breezes, with a spread hardscape, and with no presence of natural elements. Furthermore, the urban dwellers experience poor wellbeing due to the deprived quality of the units, being these modified by tenants often leading to obstructing natural ventilation and light. The projection of climate change will further exacerbate such outdoor and indoor conditions, and there is a need for an example of interventions that are scalable to the Spanish national level.

Trainees will form four groups that will develop four competing transformation design proposals. The design that shows a qualitative creative solution with the higher simulated performances will be awarded. Criteria for evaluation will also include the quality of the digital modelling phases and the dynamics of development of the integrated strategies. To assess the projects’ success, the jury is composed of a mix of international and local professionals and scientist, with experience in architecture, performance and modelling.

Further details and to apply by August the 5th, 2018

School Director:

Emanuele Naboni, Institute of Architectural Technology, School of Architecture, The Royal Danish Academy, School of Architecture (KADK), Denmark

Trainers:

Emanuele Naboni (KADK), Chris Mackey (Ladybug Tools and Payette, USA), Amanda Sturgeon (Living Future Institute, USA), Negendhal Kristoffer (BIG, Denmark), Angela Loder (International WELL Building Institute, USA), Martin Brown (Fairsnape, UK) , Ata Chokhachian (TU Munich, Germany), Daniele Santucci (TU Munich, Germany), Munch-Peterson Palle (Henning Larsen and KADK, Denmark), Alexander Hollberg (ETH Zürich, Switzerland), Panu Panasen (One Click LCA, Finland), Wilmer Pasut (Eurac, Italy)

 

Sustainability, Restorative to Regenerative

Our RESTORE Cost Action publication that records the outputs of the sustainability working group is now available to download from the RESTORE website.  This publication, with contributions from over 20 EU countries is an exploration in progressing a paradigm shift in built environment thinking, from sustainability to restorative sustainability and on to regenerative sustainability.

It presents a reference document for future work of the RESTORE Action, for other Cost Actions and for built environment academia and industry organisations.

Within this publication we have sought to describe and reinforce a new era of sustainability, one that address the impacts, pressures and challenges of our anthropogenic age. Against the background of, and within the context of rapidly changing climate we no longer have the luxury not to seek a new sustainability.

It presents a new sustainability paradigm that moves away from just reducing impact to one that is committed to doing more good, through focused restorative and regenerative strategies and actions.

We have sought to establish a language of regenerative sustainability, one that includes love, place and participation in addition to regenerative approaches to energy, water and resources.

The rise in wellbeing as an element of sustainability is highly significant with many of the main stream standards now evolving to embrace wellbeing, aligning for example with the Well Build standard, or as in the case of the Living Building Challenge recognising the importance of buildings on the health and happiness of its inhabitants.

We can go much further however, though buildings that provide salotogenic co-benefits, improving the mental and physical health of those who work, play and live within our buildings, and in doing so making a significant contribution to wider health care economies.

Through the work on definitions, a worldview of sustainability, living buildings, heritage and eco­nomy, we have identified and explored a number of ‘triggers’ necessary to move us to a future built environment that is ecologically sound, culturally rich, socially just and economically viable:

››› Language – a language for sustainability that inspires, not confuses,

››› Education – inspiring the next generation,

››› Nature – reconnecting buildings with nature that in turn can reconnect people with nature,

››› Place – living buildings that contribute to and enhance stories and culture of the past and share lessons for the future,

››› Economy – moving from limited growth to Regenerative Economies.

The working group definitions, insights, visions and triggers to move us towards a regenerative economy now sets the foundations;

››› for future RESTORE working groups to build upon and to develop,

››› for industry to adopt and implement through adopting regenerative frameworks and standards identified (such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Living Building Challenge) and

››› for education & academia to embrace and include within built environment curriculums.

The built environment is currently a major contribution to climate change, the task before us is to make the shift towards a future build environment that makes responsible contribution to climate solutions.

Welcome to a new era for sustainability

 

 

4 Laws of Ecology: Revisited

Four Lawas of Ecology

I undertook the task earlier this week of reviewing references for our upcoming RESTORE working group publication {Sustainability, Restorative to Regenerative}. One of those references was to Barry Commoner’s popular quote and definition on ecology, that the first law of ecology is that everything is connected.

This lead me to pick up a copy and re-read deeper into Commoner’s 1971 The Closing Circle and revisit the Four Laws of Ecology.  The Closing Circle describes the ecosphere, how it has been damaged, and the economic, social, and political systems which have created our environmental crises. It gives us a clear and concise understanding of what ecology means that is evermore relevant today.

And timely, Commoner’s second law – everything must go somewhere – resonates with a comment I gave to our local Lancashire Evening Post on plastic pollution. (We need to We need to be critically questioning single use plastics and acutely aware of plastics impact on health and the environment – and be aware of what happens when we throw plastic away – as really, there is no ‘away’)

The First Law of Ecology: Everything Is Connected to Everything Else. There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all. “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” John Muir

The Second Law of Ecology: Everything Must go Somewhere. There is no “waste” in nature and there is no “away” to which things can be thrown. Any waste produced in one ecological process is recycled in another. A core principle for the Circular Economy.

The Third Law of Ecology: Nature Knows Best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but any human change in a natural system is, says Commoner, “likely to be detrimental to that system” And in the context of chemicals of concern we are looking to eradicate from buildings (through eg the ILFI Red List) “The absence of a particular substance in nature, is often a sign that it is incompatible with the chemistry of life”

The Fourth Law of Ecology: There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. Exploitation of nature, will always carry an ecological cost and will inevitably involve the conversion of resources from useful to useless.

The four laws warn that every gain is won at some cost. Because our global ecosystem is a connected whole, any impact, anything extracted from nature by human effort must be replaced. There is no avoidance of this price and delay only creates the ecological disruption and biodiversity loss we are witnessing.

This reinforces statements I make so often in presentations (see Specifi Edinburgh and RESTORE Budapest for example) and within FutuREstorative, that sustainability is the point at which we start to give back more than we take, and that we no longer have the luxury to just reduce our impact but we have delayed too long to do more good to rebalance the ecosystem equilibrium.

 

 

Regenerative Sustainability: Co-Benefits of the Built Environment.

A number of excellent reports and papers have passed through my reading list and feeds in the last week or so, that together represent a wonderful view on regenerative sustainability co-benefits.

No Longer have luxury

Health co-benefits from air pollution and mitigation costs of the Paris Agreement: a modelling study

The Lancet Planetary Health , Volume 2 , Issue 3. Although the co-benefits from addressing problems related to both climate change and air pollution have been recognised, there is not much evidence comparing the mitigation costs and economic benefits of air pollution reduction for alternative approaches to meeting greenhouse gas targets. We analysed the extent to which health co-benefits would compensate the mitigation cost of achieving the targets of the Paris climate agreement (2°C and 1·5°C) under different scenarios in which the emissions abatement effort is shared between countries in accordance with three established equity criteria.

New Harvard Study: Green Buildings Provide Nearly $6 Billion in Benefits to Health and Climate

Harvard University examined a subset of green-certified buildings over a 16-year period in six countries: the U.S., China, India, Brazil, Germany and Turkey. Known as HEALTHfx, the study found nearly $6 billion in combined health and climate benefits.

UTC Healthfx The Impact Infographic

Related see also http://forhealth.org

The Healthy Buildings Team created the 9 Foundations of a Healthy Building as a standardized, holistic approach to understanding how buildings impact the people inside them. In any indoor space – offices, homes, schools, airplanes – these foundations can be assessed via Health Performance Indicators, or HPIs. Derived from the business term Key Performance Indicators, HPIs are metrics that provide insight into how a building is performing.

 By tracking HPIs on all 9 Foundations of the built environment, we can discover how to optimize buildings for health. We call this “Buildingomics”: the totality of factors in the built environment that influence human health, well-being and productivity of people who work in those buildings.

COBE Co-Benefits of the Built Environment

CoBE (Cobenefits of the Built Environment) is a tool to determine the health and climate benefits related to reductions in energy use. Reducing a building’s energy consumption reduces amount of energy produced by power plants, resulting in fewer emissions of pollutants that contribute to climate change and cause premature mortality, hospitalization, and lost school or work days.

Doughnut Dialogues

Welcome to the Doughnut Dialogues, inspired by Kate Raworth’s book Doughnut Economics: seven ways to think like a 21st century economist. This looks a brilliant platform to debate ideas, share links and examples, and start new conversations relating to Doughnut Economics see https://discuss.doughnuteconomics.org

BAMB Passports

The electronic Materials Passports developed in BAMB aim to be a one stop shop for material information. Materials Passports developed in BAMB are sets of data describing defined characteristics of materials in products that give them value for recovery and reuse, aiming to

  • Increase the value or keep the value of materials, products and components over time
  • Create incentives for suppliers to produce healthy, sustainable and circular materials/building products
  • Support materials choices in Reversible Building Design projects
  • Make it easier for developers, managers and renovators to choose healthy, sustainable and circular building materials
  • Facilitate reversed logistics and take back of products, materials and components

The Economics of Biophilia 

Not a new document but is now being re-published in 6 instalments. From offices and schools to hospitals and hotels, the case is made for incorporating nature into the spaces we live and work.

Sustainaspeak: A Guide to Sustainable Design Terms

The complex and evolving language used in the sustainable design community can be very challenging, particularly to those new to environmentally friendly and resource-efficient design strategies that are needed today.

Still to review this in full, but looks a good compliment to the work from COST RESTORE Working Group One Language of Sustainability report (available early April)