The Great Construction Green Reskilling

Last night I attended an interesting and informative “The future green skill needs of the construction industry” Round Table discussion, hosted by The Guardian.

The panelists Mark Farrar, CITB, Brian Berry, FMB, David Bownass, WSP and Gareth Jones Carbon Zero UK, were chaired by Jane Dudman from the Guardian.

A full report of the round table will appear in the Guardian on 16th Nov, but here are my thoughts on construction green skills future needs

Understandably the attention and focus was on trade green skills and the green deal which Mark Farrar from CITB referred to as a ‘targeted hot spot’ for the industry.

And yet the need for green skills in construction will permeate to all levels and roles and is far wider than the Green Deal although this may well be the catalyst, even a trojan horse.

Leaders and directors will need the skills to be able to act as role models, embedding green thinking across the organisational value chain,  to be able to look at all aspects of construction and  the organisation, including the organisations future direction through a sustainability lens.

Unless construction board rooms have a green agenda, commitment to addressing organisational skill needs could be transient. (See A Low Carbon Diet for Construction Boards)

Those involved with procurement, finance and quantity surveying will need skills to balance costs and value with sustainability, appropriate sourcing and social localism issues, and, be able to make informed decisions

Site managers, planners and supervisors require skills to balance sustainable construction, lean construction, reduced waste, reduced carbon, understand closed loop resources with the time old juggle of bringing the project in to quality cost and time. All this along side understanding increasingly complex constructions and green installations.

At trade green skills level the panelists agreed on the need for multi-skilled, multi competent persons and approaches, all needing a new approach to supervision and planning.

Getting it right first time, a systems thinking approach to quality along with closed loop resource concepts remain alien to the bulk of construction practice, training and education.

The re-skilling of the industry looks like a mammoth task when one considers the training implications, again not only of trades but of under graduates, management courses and CPD from the institutions

The environment skills map drawn up by IEMA represents a useful approach to environmental management skills that in the main can be read across to construction management.

But green skills are not the only future skills required, as we move to BIM, IPM, Collaborative and Lean construction … We need to ask why has our training investment, training organisations, education systems and institutes not delivered the needed skills on the correct scale.

Sustainability has been on the agenda for at least a generation since Brundtlands Sustainability Development definition in 1987.

Its nothing new.

Back in 2007  Rob Hopkins in the Transition Handbook forecast –

In 2011, the Government initiated the concept of the Great Reskilling in the training of construction industry workers.

Are we nearly there?

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government to focus on 50% construction waste reduction

Waste and recycling minister Jane Kennedy has revealed that tackling business waste is to be a “top priority”

as reported on www.letsrecycle.com

Ms Kennedy explained that the Government would now develop proposals aimed at supporting businesses to look at ways they could reduce, reuse and recycle their waste, with a particular focus falling on small businesses. She added that the government hoped to offer support in light of Envirowise research which claimed businesses spend 4% of their annual turnover on waste disposal.

One area that the minister said that she hoped to make some real headway with regards to waste reduction and recycling was the construction and demolition sectors, with Ms Kennedy keen to build on targets to halve the amount of waste generated in these sectors by 2012.

Identifying work already done in this area, the minister said she believed the 2007 Waste Strategy for England had “rightly identified” construction and demolition waste as in need of action, leading to the Sustainable Construction Strategy launched in June and the legal requirement for each business to have a Site Waste Management Plans, which the minister believed would play a part in keeping focus on waste at this time of economic instability.

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All good news, but reliance on Site Waste Management Plans to acheive 50% reduction in waste is not the way forward and more empahsis should be on eliminating waste, not simply finding better ways to mange waste after it has been created.

In addition one of the biggest moans from site contractors I hear at the moment, across the country, is the lack of real engagement from clients in driving Site Waste Management Plans

And as to spending 4% of their annual turnover on waste disposal this seems very low for the built environment sector when the real cost of skips is estimated at £1500, not the £100 costed for, and the estimated waste in the sector is at 30%, and DEFRA suggesting that one third of solid materials delivered to a project is wasted.

Previous isite related posts:

resource efficiency could save construction industry millions

beyond waste management

carbon management and waste management event

UKGBC task group too important to be so narrow?

sustainable construction commitments launched

isite radar and roundup monday 23rd june

Last week was a busy one so not too much posting here, but below are a few of the items that caught my eye

Bristol is to become the first cycle city with 11 others – York, Stoke, Blackpool, Cambridge, Chester, Colchester, Leighton Buzzard, Southend, Shrewsbury, Southport and Woking – named as demonstration areas for the scheme. They will be added to the current six demonstration areas – Aylesbury, Brighton, Darlington, Derby, Exeter and Lancaster.

Last Saturday I led a benchmarkwalks walk in the English Lake District for a group of Facilities Management people. Great discussions over usability, eco towns, fm sustainability, fm in Cape Town shanty towns and the future of fm.  An emerging topic from the conference earlier in the week, and continued on the walk – the need for Aggressive Facilities Management

On blogs, Mel’s excellent article over at Elemental on Global air conditioning while Phil at ZeroChampion has an interesting post on Should we carbonize interest rates? and Pam over at Public Works talks from the trenches on investing in infrastruture in the face of credit crunch.

The Guardians articles that ‘revealed‘ the UK Governments blue print plans for a tougher approach to climate change. Many of which involved housing or buildings. Now why was this not included within the UK Government Strategy for Sustainable Construction. Joined up thinking, just in time thinking?

On a similar line a German town forces homes to fix solar tiles

Eco towns seem to be never out of the news with google alerts working overtime – has the opposition changed, from ‘we cant build zero carbon’, to ‘nimbyism’ to what now seems to be the ‘tescopolising’ of eco-towns. Next weeks headline? Eco towns ate my cat.  But today the Guardian reports on the forthcoming report that criticizes eco town proposals:

The choice of sites put on a shortlist to be England’s first ecotowns has been strongly criticised for their lack of adequate public transport links and other shortcomings by a government advisory panel.

George Monbiot on coalWe must leave the fossil century behind to reach the golden age of renewable energy, Mr Brown – making the important comment that its not what we do but what we stop doing

And finally, for now, much blogging and twittering of the planned be2camp event in London in October. here here and here