Sustainability made Cool? Day one at #EXPOC21

Well, day one of the Virtual Green Build EXPO was fun – and a success.  From chats within the show, comments across twitter and elsewhere the comments from visitors have been very positive indeed.

BnmBaoYIAAEl1RDAnd importantly I sensed green build and sustainable construction had been made cool.

The EXPO hosted by Construction21 on the HyperFair platform has attracted just under 200 exhibitors from all corners of Europe and hopes to attract up to 20,000 visits to the show. Steve Borncamp, driving force behind the show commented  “it was exciting to see people interact in this new medium from so many countries & consBnltphoIEAAvTn2truction disciplines”

As soon as the doors opened at 7.30 this morning, visitors were taking snaps of their avatars and booths and sharing on twitter, claiming firsts and the virtual-selfie was born. (There is a photo comp with prizes being coordinated by our friends at Green Vision)

Observing the avatar arrivals to the EXPO,  there was a period where they customised appearance, read any notices and instruction notes and then zipped off into the Reception area, or vanished, teleporting to the stands or auditorium.

Visiting the stands was actually easier and more enjoyable than a real show, being able to chat and pick up brochures, watch videos and read posters with ease. I had numerous business card exchanges and agreements to get in touch after the show to discuss possible collaboration on Living Building Challenge, sustainability, green schools and social media, including a future discussion to be had on possible funding. I would have considered it a very good day at any real life show.

BnloKNQIMAIxn7oAside from the stands there was a brilliant programme of debates and expert videos running throughout the day. I watched a couple, impressed with the “Time for a sustainable buildings performance directive?” panel debate and learnt from  Coert Zachariasse CEO at Delta Developments who combined Cradle to Cradle with BIM and commented that “Buildings are just material banks” Brilliant Stuff!  WorldGBCEurope who coordinated the panel debate series observed We had some great debates as part of the first day. Speakers from industry, policy-makers and NGOs. Now looking forward to day two”

During the day I held a few in-show twitter chats which illustrated the enthusiasm of those attending This kind of event is definitely the future! Exhibitions are tiring & have not questioned their concept for ages” commented Philippa Rogers at InterfaceUK, adding ” I’ve immediately adopted this virtual concept as I have to admit I’m not a big fan of traditional exhibitions”

And that experience was shared by others as Elrond Burrell explains Attending the virtual expo was a novel experience. I visited virtual stands, browsed exhibitors brochures & exchanged virtual business cards & chatted with other attendees via the web interface. It’s a bit clunky to navigate but also kind of fun. I quickly resorted to teleporting rather than virtually walking around though! I think it is an interesting step to have a virtual expo but is still aiming to be a virtual representation of a real expo, rather than completely embracing web tech and rethinking what an expo actually is, if it takes place virtually”

And the show has a nice innovative sustainability touch beyond the virtual – Steve Borncamp again we want our virtual event to have a physical legacy in the form of a building project that will offset the c02 of this event and inspire a much higher level of ambition for our buildings and communities in Europe and for the world” (exhibitors have been able to offset the carbons they would have emitted in travelling to real shows).

Day Two opens at 7:30am UK time with sign up and log in here. And who knows, could  a post event virtual tweet up be on the cards?

 

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Greening the construction site cabin environment for health and wellbeing

Cutting my teeth on construction sites as a green horn QS back in the 70’s was an introduction to the frozen feet, sweating head, un-insulated site cabins, with their austere, bleak and unwelcoming work environment.

Fast forward and today, yes we have insulated cabins with PIR sensors, and occasionally you come across plants in the site cabin, windows providing decent daylight or sparks of innovation, like the free fresh fruit for site personal provided daily, but generally the internal working environment hasn’t changed much since the 70;s. Even co-location spaces on large projects are often tucked away in the bowels of a building with no daylight.  We tend to think of these offices as temporary, but temporary can be anything up to a few years, and many site personnel spend careers in temporary, accommodation

In a word, grey, not green.

Encouraging then to read  Australia’s first green construction site, a partnership with 202020 Vision, a programme seeking to increase urban green space, and bringing the greening concept into the site office.

“Incorporating green space into our site offices is part of our broader plan to create high performance workspaces. International research shows developing green space within office environments not only significantly boosts the health and wellbeing of staff, but also increases productivity,” says Lauren Haas, Brookfield’s Australian sustainability manager, and 202020 Vision advocate.

“Through introducing a Plant Plan, we envisage seeing the same or better improvements in our own staff that is integral to delivering high performance buildings for our clients as well as being an employer of choice.”

The 202020Vision programme is also conducting pre and post occupancy tests on the site team to see if their ‘green environment’ improves health and wellbeing.

We know from (eg the latest World Green Building Council’s Business Case for Green Building report) that biophilia, greenery, views to nature through windows, can improve worker well-being by reducing stress levels, less frustration, increased patience and improved overall satisfaction. The Living Building Challenge, Health Imperative, founded on biophilia principles requires daylight to all working spaces … And all this should apply to construction offices not just the buildings we design and construct.

Hopefully as contractors develop in line with Sustainability, CSR and HR best practice we will see more attention to biophilic thinking, creating green healthy inspiring places to work, enabling construction of green buildings. And, coupled with the rise in interest of mindfulness thinking for site staff, are we heading into a new era of contracting?

lbc biophillia

Healthy building concepts should apply to construction site offices as well as buildings we construct.

 

 

Related:

Biometrics and Biophilia – the new sustainable construction?

Have we picked the low hanging fruit of Sustainable Construction?

Sustainable Construction 10 years on – plus ca change?

Sorting through old papers over the holiday break, I came across this call to action from 2004

So why is the construction industry so slow in adopting sustainability principles?  There is more than enough sustainability knowledge in the marketplace to help organisations become more innovative, save costs and deliver a better product for their customers.

Business leaders and individuals are just not sufficiently engaged or enthused.

New entrants to our industry are beginning to expect high levels of ethical environmental and social performance. Clients are also beginning to expect higher standards and suppliers too are waking up to a better way of working. Organisations that do not adopt a sustainable approach will find it increasingly difficult to attract employees, clients and suppliers.

Now is the time to make the change and become more sustainable in everything we do.

The 2004 drivers for sustainability were based on risk management, driven in the main from client requirements (recall for example the influential MaSC – Managing Sustainable Construction programme launched that year) and we still ask the question if Business leaders and individuals are sufficiently engaged or enthused.

We have seen many strategies, targets and new drivers in the world of sustainable construction, the significance and danger of carbon wasn’t on the agenda back in 2004, the climate change wasn’t the issue as it is now, we barely understood CSR and social sustainability and we didn’t have social media as the powerful communication, learning and sharing tool.

And yet the approach to sustainable construction from contracting organisations remains the same. All too often I hear that “we only do it when the client or project demands it” And I notice increasingly that BREEAM (Very Good) projects seem to be losing the drive to change the way we sustainably construct – its business as usual for many working on such projects.

Going into 2014  we need to remain optimistic. Over the holiday period I have also been browsing some of the works of Richard Buckminster Fuller and struck by his quote

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

we need that new model now in construction, not one that challenges the existing – but makes a new way of doing things far more attractive and compelling on all counts. We can see a hint of this new model within the Living Building Challenge, Circular Economy and Restorative Sustainability thinking. For many reasons the built environment is known as the 40% sector, consuming 40% raw materials, producing 40% of total waste, contributing 40% traffic on roads, using 40% energy generated and so on.

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Lets flip these negatives into positives and heal the future.

We can only describe what we do as sustainable when we take less from the environment and when we contribute more to society than we take.

(We will be discussing this theme in our monthly Sustainable Leadership Conversation tweetchat on Tuesday 7th Jan at 7pm UK / 11am PST – follow the #sustldrconv hashtag on twitter)

Ecologically Rethinking Construction

Jonathan Dawson, head of economics at Schumacher College, writing on Guardian Sustainable Business asked “How do we redesign a new economic theory framed by ecological systems?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA question we need to ask and start addressing within the built environment.

We are seeing a new vocabulary emerging with concepts such as biomimicry, zero or net energy, water and environmental impact, Living Buildings, biophillia, circular economy … and more … As the interest and importance of these concepts influence in the way we design, build and use buildings, do we need a new paradigm?  Some 15 years after Egan, do we need to again rethink construction to address these emergent sustainability themes. approaches and skills that once again the sector is lacking, engaging the economists, surveyors and accountants? As Jonathan Dawson comments:

Ecology offers the insight that the economy is best understood as a complex adaptive system, more a garden to be lovingly observed and tended than a machine to be regulated by mathematically calculable formulae.

A comment that makes a nice resonance with the Living Building Challenge philosophy

And of course a key element in this new thinking is the internet, web 2.0 and the power of social media.

Enabled by the growing power of information technology, whole new ways of doing business and organising society are emerging, whose strength lies not in economies of scale but in economies of co-operation and symbiosis

Over the weekend , via twitter I caught a slide via Rachel Armstrong illustrating the difference and need to move from 20th century Cartesian or Newtonian thinking into 21st complexity, emergent thinking …

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Jonathan Dawson: “This moment of history calls on us to rewrite the dictionary and create new stories, much as the generations following on from Copernicus did to reflect the new world-view that emerged from his astronomical insights”

Construction Localism – how do you compare against benchmark?

Construction ‘localism’ is currently high on the agenda. And set to grow in importance.

There is, rightly, much talk and focus on localism within construction projects and frameworks at the moment, based on the principle of keeping project spend local. And of course realising other benefits such as reduced travel and transport distances, reduced carbon emission, improved productivity and more.

But how do we compare and benchmark ‘localism’? How local is your project? As a client how can you know if your contractor is addressing your ‘localism’ requirements?

The benchmark being set through ConstructCO2 can provide a starting point. How do you compare? Do you know your project stats?

Construction Localism by Zone

Measuring and understanding your localism (and CO2) footprint must be a key measure, a KPI, as part of your sustainability and CSR programme. Going beyond the measuring it’s essential we monitor trends, make the comparisons, understand the causes and, take action.

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It is one of the more important impact and influence areas your construction project has on sustainability and the environment.

For more on measuring your construction project carbons and project localism check out constructco2 or please do get in touch.

Sustainability beyond the low hanging fruit

My sustainability lecture to UCLAN SNBE and CSD 31/1/2013
Links referred to in presentation:
Please share your thoughts? Have we picked the low hanging options, what next for built environment sustainability?
For any clarifications or more information on the topics raised, or to keep in touch with UK developments on Living Building Challenge and HPD Standard, please get in touch (email or twitter) or subscribe to this blog

Managing sustainability knowledge across social media.

fs social media workflow

After last weeks UCLAN Centre for Sustainable Development,  Social Media launch session I was asked how to ‘manage’ and ‘filter’ what you can learn and share across the world of social media sustainability.  It was not too easy to summarise in a few minutes on notepaper, so here is my ‘work flow’ and the five key applications used:


Inwards …

Twitter

Most of my inflow arrives via twitter or twitter based apps, eg tweetdeck or hootsuite. I have a number of established feeds or filters established which enables me to keep a real time watch on activity relating to the topics I am concerned with, or related to my clients interests.

Google Reader

Blogs and websites I follow are RSS subscriptions into Google Reader

Flipboard

Described as a social magazine, Flipboard is a brilliant feed application that enables me have a one stop ‘viewing’ place. In addition to having twitter searches feeding into Flipboard, I also have Google Reader, linkedin groups I follow, hub feeds such as the Guardian Sustainable Business and 2degreesnetwork. (Feeds also include cycling, outdoor, walking and weather interests.)

Managing …

Instapaper

Instapaper works across many platforms and is my main ‘receptacle’. It is used to collect and tag articles for later reading. Train journeys and waiting times are great Instapaper reading catch up time. From here I retweet, and / or move to Evernote for keeping or further reference.

Evernote

Rapidly became my everywhere note book. I am drafting this in Evernote! Articles or extracts in Instapaper wanted for reference are exported to Evernote and filed away with tags. These can be for future reference, inspirations for blog posts or, importantly topics on which I can hone, improve or enhance the services I provide for my clients across the built environment.

Outwards …

Tweets can be made either direct from Instapaper or buffered through Buffer which enables some interesting time lapse tweets, or repeated tweets to catch differing time zones. (Care is needed with buffer however to be sure to react to responses!)

My Blog

From Evernote and within Evernote I can easily then compose and curate articles and  for this and other (eg Green Vision) blogs

So there you have it. This has been an established work flow a quite a while now and one that  works for me. It would be interesting to know your work flow and what works for you.

Having a strategy or plan to deal with social media is critical to making effective use of your time online. Building on the support provided to organisations  to date on similar social media strategies, we can help you hone your social media plans, with one to one face to face sessions, or on online via (eg) skype.

In addition coffee shop based, sustainability related, social media clinics will kick off  very soon. Watch his space, subscribed to this blog, follow on twitter or drop me an email