How significant was the first Buildings Day at COP21?

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In coming years, hopefully very significant. This was the first time that the built environment has been recognised as important in any global, United Nation climate change summit.

We now have the recognition that buildings and construction have a major impact and influence on climate changes, being part of the problem but also key to climate change solutions

My thoughts from following inspiring feeds from Paris and elsewhere, through the twitter hashtags of #COP21, #BuildingsDay #BuildBetterGreen #BackClimateAction and others:

I felt ashamed by the approach of our government in weakening and dismantling sustainability strategies for homes and buildings whilst others around the world are deepening their green building strategies

That the built environment players (leaders, companies, advocates, agencies, academics) all need to collaborate to ensure a sub 2 degrees warming path is central to sustainability strategies

Not once did I see BIM mentioned or cited as part of the building environment solution. BIM needs to engage with the leaders and decision makers who are shaping the design, construction and operation of buildings.

Encouraged to hear of net positive approaches, being restorative and regenerative in built environment sustainability approaches. Not only for carbon reduction but for social and health strategies to be ‘net-positive’

Encouragingly there have been many great pledges from GBC members around the world – including the UK.

Whilst major contractors and manufacturers were visible in making commitments or presenting the built environment world of contracting, of SME’s and supply chains right across the sector still needs to engage, and understand that business as usual may not be that usual in the coming year.

Finally – with the built environments impact on climate change, often quoted as 40% of the problem, making the real change to get on a sub 2 degree global warming path may seem impossible. Globally, through design and construction we need to reduce emissions by 84 GtCO2 by 2050 – thats taking over 22.000 coal fired power stations out of service.

Yet impossible is only a challenge – and as Steve Jobs said – its kind of fun to do the impossible.

What Is COP21?

Understand COP21 in these 7 graphics (via Green Biz)

France is chairing and hosting the 21 th Conference of Parties to the Framework UN Convention on Climate Change (COP21 / CMP11) from 30 November to 11 December 2015. This is a crucial conference since it must lead to a new international climate agreement, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2 ° C.

18 countries (Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Senegal, Singapore, Sweden, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America), and over 60 organisations launched an unprecedented Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction to speed up and scale up the sector’s huge potential to reduce its emissions and literally build greater climate resilience into future cities and infrastructure.

Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction to Combat Climate Change

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Improving key elements in SME sustainability practices

Environmental Leader reports on a new guide from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants that sets out 10 best practices to help SME’s use sustainability to benefit the environment, their bottom line, customers and society.

Each tip is backed up with case studies and links for further information. Built Environment case studies include the likes of Billington Structures.

The tips are very apt and useful for construction SME’s moving beyond environmental issues and a sustainability approach that still rests within the health and safety arrangements.

  1. Take a broad view of sustainability.  SME’s should look beyond environmental issues.
  2. Define in detail what sustainability means to your company. This will help your company focus on the right goals.
  3. Engage all stakeholders. Include customers, suppliers, investors and employees in the discussion.
  4. Remember that you are not alone. National, international and industry-wide initiatives exist that help businesses become more sustainable.
  5. Establish responsibility and communicate widely. Make sure senior management drives the policy, appoints sustainability champions and communicates the importance of sustainability to every level of the company.
  6. Take it step by step. This is an evolution.
  7. Walk the talk. Back up your company’s intent with meaningful actions. Never make the mistake of seeing sustainability as a marketing exercise.
  8. Tie sustainability to profit. Make the link between consuming less water and electricity or producing less waste and improving profits clear within your business.
  9. Measure, monitor and review. Develop clear metrics to track your progress and review them regularly.
  10. Invest in the future. Many SMEs say the biggest investment is management time.

Improvement through PAS 91

PAS 91 has recently been updated to align with the Government Construction Strategy.

PAS91-CoverHere are some of my thoughts on recently providing PAS91 support (training events, webinars and live bid support)

As with all bidding the trick is to:

 “delight the client to attain maximum scores and score higher than your competitors”

Easy?

PAS 91 used properly could significantly improve the SME contracting sector, on topics such as Diversity, Quality Management, Environmental Management and of course Building Information Modelling.

The scoring I have seen to date heavily favours certification – to ISO 9001, ISO1400 and PAS1192. Providing these certificates scores full marks, and exempts the bidder from completing a large number of questions in an attempt to describe arrangements that meet the standards, and only score eg 75% of available scores. (in one case up to 12 sides of A4 are expected!)

A contractor without these standards in place are already scoring less than those who have, before they start to articulate their practices.

It makes attaining these accreditations a no brainer, whilst of course providing the benefits of accreditation. From a clients PAS91 perspective it allows further in depth questions in the Specific Questions Module, for eg delivering value, evidence of localism, sustainable material procurement.

The BIM optional module in PAS 91 contains some tough questions, but also provides a useful guide as to what bidders should be preparing for.

Top tips for maximising PAS 91 points:

  • Get a (free) copy of PAS 91
  • Practice, prepare and fine tune  your responses, get them internally and independently checked.
  • Ensure you provide complete responses to all parts of the questions
  • Evidence, Evidence Evidence – use real evidence (think business storytelling) to support.
  • Be consistent between what you say in the bid, demonstrate on your projects and say on your website and or social media (watch those linkedin profiles!)

We will be providing further training, public and one to one webinars, and live PAS 91 consultancy support over the coming months. Do get in touch 

We are also developing 91Cloud a PAS91 portal due to launch soon – watch this space

Also in addition in conjunction with ibepartnership we have developed a low cast but high value package for achieving ISO 14001 for smaller SME contracting organisations. Again, please do get in touch