Why did I seek to put GreenBIM into Room 101?

Why did I seek to put Green BIM into Room 101 ? Did I not tweet only this week that Green BIM is one of the more important developments in the built environment?

greenBIM 101

The label, or hashtag for GreenBIM is so riddled with issues, I was only able to skim during the 2 mins allowed in the ThinkBIM / Green Vision Room 101 session, and in fact is pre-occupying a lot of thought and space in my forthcoming RIBA book.

However, in 5 bullet points … here goes.

  • BIM (and digital construction) is the most powerful of improvement and collaborative programmes for decades, if not in the history of construction – all BIM should be green – all BIM should be pushing the boundaries and doing more good, not happy just to maintain a business as usual, a sustainability status quo or be incrementally less bad.
  • Every BIM is a core enabler in achieving Construction Vision 2025 through sustainability and carbon targets – requiring net positive approaches. Construction 2025 is not just for GreenBIM’s.
  • One of the fast emerging sectors within the world of sustainability, with a predicted market value in the billions, is the circular economy – every BIM, not just GreenBIM’s should be addressing this concept. In particular, where one building becomes the food, the material farm, for the next building. Am I in danger of creating a new hashtag and meme here: #CEBIM _ Circular Economy BIM anyone?
  • Looking through (BIM) product data sheets we see products and chemicals that are scientifically proven carcinogenic – the formaldehyde, the PVC’s, the styrene – all BIM’s should address these issues on health and wellbeing grounds, not just GreenBIM. It is estimated to take 8 hours per material on Red List transparency to determine exact ingredients – and ensure no redlist prohibited materials, at present this doesn’t make material or product specification through BIM a viable option for LBC, Well Building standard or indeed LEED4 where the Red List thinking is applied
  • Green Vision has embraced Living Building Challenge – where, for accredited projects like the Bullit Centre there are no energy performance gaps – this is what a BIM should achieve on every building, green or not, and fast. Lets seek a net-positive performance gap. This is Construction Vision 2025!

Conclusion: My reason for putting GreenBIM into 101 is more out of frustration than annoyance. We would all agree that all BIM’s should be GreenBIMs, so do we need another label, perhaps, perhaps not, but what we do need to do is to take the agenda from ‘GreenBIM’ sessions to all other BIM events, initiates, software, projects, and make every BIM Green.

I also blogged on this very issue back in 2013 – Do we really need ‘Green BIM’?

It was encouraging to see the Circular Economy feature in a number of presentations at the Green BIM event. For more on circular economy and BIM see my take here: RegenerativeBIM … moving the GreenBIM debate

And, by coincidence or serendipity, I had presented to and participated within a panel debate at Runshaw College on Circular Economy the day before:

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What does good ‘Facilities Management Sustainability’ look like? And why aren’t we doing it now?

I was honoured to be invited to the EuroFM ReseCGb8As1WsAA4i1varch Symposium as a guest of EuroFM, held at the recently completed Technology Innovation Centre at Strathclyde University in Glasgow.

As promised, here are my thoughts from the day, and further links to the issues I raised during the day, in conversation or in the panel presentation/debate:

  • We do not have luxury to continue being incrementally less bad, and with the built environment’s 40% negative impact, the facilities Management sector, (led by the research community) has a huge opportunity and responsibility to flip to being more good.
  • We have been talking about Sustainable FM for at least a couple of decades, but still we haven’t made any real progress. The environmental impact of how we manage facilities is huge,FM Restorative Sustainability but remains something we struggle to fully understand, to measure and to address.
  • It was good to see Restorative Sustainability language within Keith Alexander’s opening presentation – laying down a challenge to the sector to adopt different thinking for sustainable FM
  • However it was disappointing to see FM research updates or proposals that start from a very dated perspective. Starting from Brundtland’s definition is last decades thinking – and has an odd message, perhaps giving licence to do nothing …. far better to adopt Yvon Chouinard’s (Patagonia) approach – ‘ Sustainability means we give back more than we take” – Restorative or Net Positive FM!
  • I did question the “in depth studies into sustainable building schemes” that have not picked up on the relatively new thinking standards such as Living Building Challenge, Well Building Standard, Cradle to Cradle, Circular Economy and so on. FM research has to be credible and leading edge for practice to listen and adopt.
  • Research proposals presented missed the huge opportunities for FM to engage with the wider sustainability agendas, in particular on people and health issues. (Note: the days theme being People Make FM)
  • Indeed the claim that FM contributes to the health and wellbeing of people needs to be backed up with evidence. Anecdotally, it is possible that FM ( and the wider built environment) could be putting people’s health at risk – through continued inclusion of toxic materials in buildings, (PVC? Formaldehyde glues?), a lack of biophilic thinking, promoting lifts over stairways, standing desks, poor air quality, lighting quality and so on. It is on these ‘health’ issues that the Well Building Standard should be a fundamental part of the sustainable FM agenda.
  • I did note that on the tour of the 3 month old BREEAM Excellent TIC Building, prior to the symposium, many of the FM delegates commented on the ‘new building smell’ – unfortunately now an indicator that chemicals may have been used in the finishes and adhesives.CGa3mDhWgAAPrZI
  • It was good to see the work in development on Smart Cities and Internet of Things from Prof Keith Jones at Ruskin University, showing the collaborative joined up research necessary to address complex (as in complexity theory) and wicked problems of sustainable smart cities.
  • Research to Practice was the theme for the end of day panel session where access to research by FM practice was discussed. I still wonder why research is blind to social media? As an example there were only two of us tweeting (myself @fairsnape and Iain @IainMurray) – but still our tweets reached approx 20k accounts, all researchers, would I am sure, like to have seen their research message reach 20k accounts.
  • It was, as ever, a real delight to introduce Living Building Challenge thinking and the Bullitt Centre to the EuroFM Research to Practice panel session. This is where sustainable EuroFM Sustainability FM thinking needs to be, driving a wedge into the future, demonstrating what is possible, not wrestling with a dated definition of sustainability.
  • the World FM Day on 10th June celebrates Building Resilience for the Future as an online debate throughout the day – a great opportunity for the FM Research community to engage and share their work.
  • Also on the 10th June the Brightest Greenest Buildings Europe virtual expo opens – again a free to attend event giving an opportunity to learn, share and engage with others across Europe.UK_collaborative_logo
  • And, also on 10th June, (a busy day!) our Living Building Challenge UK Collaborative meets at Leeds Beckett to explore the issue of healthy and materials.

If any of the above comments seem a little negative and critical, forgive me, but the intention is to be constructively so, and after all, one of the Living Building Challenge advocacy messages is to ‘stir the pot’, … o challenge current thinking.

Related Links:

Living Building Challenge

Well Building Standard (see also Vicki Lockhart Well Building presentation here)

Bullitt Centre  @bullittcentre  and (see also my interview with Denis Hayes)

Bullitt Centre added value report: Optimizing Urban Ecosystem Services: The Bullitt Center Case Study

Bullitt Centre – From Roots to Canopy

Cradle to Cradle

Circular Economy – Circulate

Responsible Business – Yvon Chouinard

Research and Social Media: Rethinking Sustainability Research: Eight Global Challenges and  my presentation to UCLan CSD 

Restorative Sustainability: Future Restorative

Living Building Challenge UK follow @livingbldgUK

Brightest Greenest Buildings EU  – the EU Virtual Expo for Built Environment (opens 10th June)

World FM Day – 10th June – Building Resilience for the Future

Tesla’s Powerwall: a game changer for BIM and Built Environment Sustainability?

Following the announcement from Elon Musk, we have seen energy and sustainability commentators proclaiming the new Tesla PowerWall a game changer for energy management, and for good reasons, moving from centralised energy to local energy management.tesla-demand

Tesla estimate that with only 9 million Powerwall devices, carbon targets to address climate change can be achieved and that’s not such a big number given the number of cars in the world. What happens when every home, office, building has a Powerwall (or similar: there will be others) enabling local energy management, connected to the internet of course.

The Information Age Is Over. Welcome to the Infrastructure Age.

The Powerwall has also be heralded as an example of the emerging ’world view’ age, we are leaving the Age of Information to enter an Age of Infrastructure. An age that will focus on the way not only energy but how information is managed, transported and communicated, constantly and in real time – the Infrastructure of Information.

Imagine future Building Information Management models that up date instantly and constantly based on incoming data feeds from building’s internet of things , from weather, from other BIM’s building user data and so on

The age of Infrastructure, in which the internet of things is a key element will mash up physical and cyber spaces. Will BIM’s also start to blur the boundary between physical and web space, making Augmented Reality the tip of an iceberg. Building Infrastructure Management anyone?

But of course there is the security aspect:

There are the inevitable dangers that come with infusing physical space with all the vulnerabilities of cyberspace. People will hack your building; they’ll inject malicious code into delivery drones; stealing your phone might become the same thing as stealing your car.

Whilst this could well give us near perfect buildings and facilities, it could also take us one step closer to the Blade Runner vision of cities and buildings that is the antithesis of the environment, restorative sustainability thinking movement, and a danger “We’ll still be mining unsustainably to support our glorious batteries and photovoltaics and smart dance clubs”

It is shaping up to be an incredible fast paced journey ahead for the built environment and even more reason for sustainability watchdogs, and for educational focus.

Sources/Credits:

Tesla’s new Powerwall battery could be world-changing

Tesla Powerwall: Game-changing batteries for homes and businesses, starting at $3,000

The Information Age Is Over. Welcome to the Infrastructure Age.

The Internet of Things (IoT)— an integrated fabric of devices, data, connections, processes, and people.

Backcasting for a future sustainability.

The UK Living BuildiUK_collaborative_logong Challenge Collaborative hosted at Leeds Sustainability Institute at Leeds Beckett University is currently  working through the Standards petals and imperatives to develop a UK translation or ‘overlay. It is therefore timely to revisit and remind us of Mel Starrs insightful review of the Living Build Challenge following her visit to our Green Vision conference that focused on aspects of the LBC.

“For those who might not have come across the Living Building Challenge yet, it is a deep, deep green target based certification scheme. The ‘challenge’ is described as ‘the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to diminish the gap between current limits and ideal solutions’. The International Living Future Institute, who operate the scheme, have approached green building certification from the opposite end than say BREEAM or LEED. Rather than starting with where we are today and adding incremental improvements, they have ‘backcasted’ from their ideal end point.

Full article here

SnapseedIndeed it was this idea of backcasting and in particular this image shared via twitter from an ILFI conference some years back that really ignited the formation of the UK Living Building Challenge Collaborative. Backcasting cos sustainability can be seen as an approach that sets future restorative and visionary end points with required practices and imperatives in order to back cast a path and encouraging rethinking of current approaches for getting there. Rather than as with current mainstream sustainability standards, that focus on making current practices a little less harmful through incremental improvement steps.

The Collaboratives exploration of the Petals continues on 11th March with Water and then 22nd April with Energy. More information of these, past sessions and future dates can be found here.

Entering the The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards could be good for you

SustainBus_460x276Business is evolving, organisations big and small are taking new approaches to embedding sustainability and seeing results. The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards celebrates innovation and impact in corporate sustainability and the people who are making business better.

Categories include the Built Environment but also the current themes important to innovation and impact of the built environment sustainability agenda, and regularly covered by blogs such as this: collaboration, communication, net positive, restorative sustainability, natural capital, social impact, supply chain, waste, carbon and energy and more.

Why you should enter the awards

How to enter  Entries close on 7 February 2014

The Categories …

Communicating sustainability Inspiring action on sustainability issues is key. We’re looking for stand-out examples of campaigns that have engaged and entertained. Eliciting action and leading to tangible shifts in behaviour

Net positive It is no longer enough to do less bad. Progressive businesses are seeking ways to be regenerative in their activity, this award is for those businesses that are taking tangible steps towards making a net positive contribution to communities, society and the environment.

Work Is your organisation a great place to work? Creating healthy, happy working environments is part of being a sustainable business. This award will go to an organisation that seeks to foster a culture of health and happiness for all employees.

Natural capital  From water to healthy soil, pollinators to forests, nature underpins 100% of economic activity. This is an award for an organisation that is trailblazing a strategy to appropriately account for the value nature provides it with.

Social impact Business’ has huge potential to contribute positively to society. This award is for a project or initiative that seeks to solve a challenging social issue whilst simultaneously creating shared value for the business.

Collaboration An award for a project or initiative that breaks down traditional barriers. We are looking for examples of several partners working together in non-traditional ways towards a goal that delivers truly sustainable outcomes.

Supply chain – sponsored by WRAP Global supply chains are vast and complex. This award is for initiatives that embed a respect for human, economic and environmental rights across a business or product’s supply chain.

Carbon & energy management Reducing business’ scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions is key to meeting the UK’s carbon reduction targets. This is an award for initiatives that take a holistic approach to measuring, managing and reducing emissions.

Waste From circular principles applied to design to projects achieving zero waste and re-manufacturing initiatives, rethinking waste is vital and this award is for projects or products that are at the leading-edge of that rethinking.

Built Environment – sponsored by Aecom An award for innovative re-developments or new-build projects that are at the leading-edge of approaches to reducing the built environment’s negative environmental impacts and raising its positive social impact.

Fairsnape is a media partner for The Guardian Sustainable Business Awards 

Are you running on Square Wheels?

Have we wasted a good crisis?

In an earlier blog post I used the expression of pedalling squares to illustrate how progress and development in sustainability is often a clunky and inefficient activity. Recently, for a number of workshops and presentations I also revisited a cartoon I had used in previous ‘business improvement’ roles and TQM days  – the very clever square wheels approach from squarewheels.com

There is so much we can talk about here:

The obvious is that we struggle with square wheels and clunky approaches, when the more efficient round wheels are available –  we know about them – but they are just used.

Within construction we have some great new round wheels available to us that will improve our business, our services to clients and image, for eg BIM, Social Media, Circular Economy and Restorative Sustainability to name a few. These nice new shiny round wheels – carried and not used – are necessary in a construction organisations baggage – we need to use them in PQQ, PR and interviews to demonstrate a sense of being tuned into current industry improvement programmes.

But looking closer, the poor leader is up front dragging this inefficient cart – hopefully with a sense of direction, usually based on profit, turnover and immediate customer needs, but lacking real vision and foresight – otherwise the new round wheels would be used.

Behind the cart we have employees, pushing with the energy sapping stop/start rythym that only square wheels can give, but unable or not allowed to see ahead and understand where the business is heading.

Not an efficient model. Does this describe your view of construction or your organisation?

Many organisations have started to do a wheel change – some encouraged through the never waste a good crisis thinking – seeing the lean times as time for investment in the future, some through Innovation Vouchers or other funded support.

Think about starting 2014 with a more efficient approach by understanding how organisations – often your competitors – are implementing new wheels.  Find out more.

Related:

Sustainability: in equilibrium … or pedalling squares?

A TQM for the social media, digital age?

Towards a Responsible and Sustainability Construction Economy

Increasingly we hear more and more on emerging sustainable, responsible, collaborative economies. For example:

Patagonia, following on from Chouinard’s Responsible Business have launched their Responsible Economy initiative, and wisely, not having the answers shape the programme with the mission to start the debate – and ‘catch the wave‘.

Recently the TSSS and Earthshine launched an interesting and influential paper, BluePrints for a Sustainable Economy whose aim is to share a journey with people around the world, to help generate greater awareness of the issues and possibilities, to promote debate, to provide a sense of hope for what might be, and how we could all make the transition towards a more sustainable economy.

In the introduction to Towards New Innovative Collaborations  I wrote “Our built environment collaborative working journey is now venturing into new territories. The future for a responsible built environment will increase both  pressure and opportunities beyond collaboration and partnerships to co-collaborate and co-create hybrid projects, moving to open innovations that in turn stimulate further opportunities. 

So, what would a responsible, collaborative and sustainable economy for the construction sector look like?

Lets have the conversation.

How do we move from being the 40% negative sector to the 40% positive sector? How do we heal the future?

Untitled

“We can not call it a sustainable construction economy when we take more from nature than we give back”

We are seeing a number of excellent initiatives emerging, particularly in the area of restorative sustainability, converging on a sustainable construction economy – but what are the barriers, where are the leaders and drivers who will get us there?

This is just one of the topics planned in our Sustainability Leadership Conversations – join our Google+ community and participate in our twitter based conversations. The next conversation on Nov 5th with Eric Lowitt explores the Collaborative Economy.