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

On #tweetchats and future #sustldrconv conversations …

By Martin Brown and Andrea Learned

It has been huge fun co-hosting the sustainability leadership conversation since back in early 2013. This labor of love has introduced us to new ideas, leaders and friends, both in social media and in real life. However with emerging additional commitments (Martin with his forthcoming FutuREstorative book, Andrea in her new We Mean Business role) we have decided to scale back.

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What ambitiously started as monthly chats, then dropped to every two months or so. We now propose to drop to 3 or less per year, likely with Martin taking the lead and Andrea an occasional guest host.

Having given time freely to run the conversation series for a few years now, we have huge respect for others who run regular successful chats on twitter. They are time consuming and don’t happen overnight. Guests and topic are sought, questions and anticipated responses discussed, promotion and invites managed, in addition to the hosting and post chat transcripts … it all takes more time than the casual tweet-chat observer might realize.

Tweet chat hosts are by no means simply hosts. Instead, they need to be fairly knowledgeable in the topic and to know their way around, have experience in and be well known on across social media. They need to have developed a trusted reputation within their topic’s community, and thus, be able to persuade a fair number of people to take an hour from an already busy day to learn in an often very new-to-them way.

Through #sustldrconv we feel we have established a brand for sustainability conversations. We’ve held very successful conversations, connected many twitter users through excellent guests, and shared great content (see some of our Storify accounts). Perhaps most important to us, we know from feedback that we’ve moved the needle on sustainability awareness for many.

Keen to not lose that influence or brand, sustldrconv will continue, but on a less rigid footing, holding chats to meet demand, related to our own work or research and related themes. That said, the experience and skill we have developed should not go to waste. For example Martin will continue to be “for hire” as Tweetchat consultant and Andrea will be using her strengths, perhaps more behind the scenes, with her work the rest of this year.

In addition we would not be adverse for our great friends, guests and contributors to the series so far to ‘guest’ host future #sustldrconv from. If that interests you, please so get in touch.

Social media technology is changing fast. Martin has often commented that the tweet chat is the new benchmarking. No longer do we need to travel and spend to understand what others are doing. There is so much initial fact-finding that can be done from our offices or homes, with little more than an hour’s chat investment. It will be interesting to see how the tweet chat element of twitter develops or is eclipsed by new applications. (Will this year’s SXSW-emergent social media app Meerkat or twitters own Periscope replace some twitter sharing?)

We thank you for your interest in, and support of, #SustLdrConv these past years. We have enjoyed learning with you, and have felt so rewarded by perhaps getting even a handful of you more interested in the power of Twitter and sustainability.

Martin and Andrea

Twitter for Sustainable Business

17062008118“I didn’t know twitter could be used for business, I thought it was just for complaining and moaning on poor service” A comment from a recent chat on a construction site illustrates the level of understanding of twitter and social media within the sector.

OK, it is maybe more daunting to start using twitter today than it was four or so years ago when I wrote in the Guardian “Why Construction Should Engage with Social Media”, but the reasons and rationale for doing so remain the same, but now perhaps with more urgency.

I am often asked where to find the best source for up to date information and thinking on sustainability in the built environment, in design, in construction and in facilities management . My response is the same as in 2011, i.e. “There is probably no better, and certainly no more accessible, tool for keeping abreast with sustainability thinking, development, papers, case studies and failures than twitter”

We were reminded by Martha Lane Fox, in her Dimbleby Lecture this week of Aaron Swartz’s comment “It is not OK not to understand the internet anymore” and too right, its akin to not understanding or wanting to engage with email or the telephone or the radio or …

So just where would we start today? 

I liken twitter and social media to the radio, it’s live, it’s full of great comments and content, but also non stop and full of unwanted content or ‘noise’. Therefore one of the modern skills we have developed is filtering out noise from that we are really interested in – we use programme schedules, our beloved wireless sets to tune in and occasionally use the off switch. In twitter we can do this through lists, through hashtags and with suitable applications (think apps such as tweetdeck as your digital wireless) Not only is this now an essential life and business skill, for directors, managers and others in the built environment, its sadly not one included in the sector’s education and training.

There are great social media training courses out there – but many are the equivalent of the Letter Writing Courses that many us would have attended pre-email days. Informative and entertaining with many wow tips, but the content was soon eclipsed and rarely applied, which is why I continue to recommend and deliver one to one coaching over time.

Following hashtags such as #GreenBIM, #UKBIMCrew #CSRchat #sustldrconv will bring up to date thinking, links and help direct to your twitter stream. Start building your lists for great content and insight, check out the top 500 lists curated by Jim McClelland, for example: Built Environment SustainabilityGreen Infrastructure or BIMAnd keep your twitter ear open for curated lists: for example: 30 CSR Pro’s to follow in 2015 or the EcoBuild 2015 Influencers list

“Resistance to twitter is futile” as my colleague Andrea Learned wrote in her Linkedin article recently. You will start using it sometime soon, your competitors are most likely using it today, your staff are, and the most informed on built environment sustainability issues certainly are.

30 CSR Pro’s to Follow in 2015 …

This is interesting. Triple Pundit have published their list of 30 CSR Pro’s to follow in 2015 authored by @Mary_Mazzoni

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Whilst being honoured to be included within such a great community, I was particular interested in the fact that all three of the UK people listed (Jim McClelland @SustMeme, Mike Barry @planamikebarry and myself @Fairsnape) are all connected with the property or built environment sector.

Is this indicative of the change in construction, property and built environment approach to CSR, moving away from a ‘donate and volunteer’ context to one of addressing the real social and environmental responsibilities of an organisation and of the industry. Further that we can and indeed should learn from other organisations and thought leaders within other sectors.

It also illustrates the power of social media and of twitter in particular to learn and share. Within the triple pundit list there are a number of tweet chats (for example #CSRChat hosted by @susanmcp1 and our #sustldrconv Sustainable Leadership Conversation* that I co-host monthly with @AndreaLearned who is also listed)

I have commented often that I see tweet chats as the new benchmarking. No longer do we need to go through ‘benchmarking protocols’ to understand innovations and improvements elsewhere, we simply find the chat appropriate to our needs, join in engage and learn.

To help in following the CSR accounts listed by Triple Pundit I have created a twitter list here – please do follow or subscribe – if you really want the leading edge thinking and commentary on CSR you couldn’t do much better!

* a good number of #sustldrconv guests and friends (for eg @PeggyatKC @KayakMediaTweet @costrike @AmanSinghCSRalso feature within this list, which reinforces the fact we are on target with our conversation series.

A favourite twitter recipe

Twitter has changed the way we can view favourites, and indeed view other peoples favourites in our timelines.images (1)

With so much great information, comment and experiences now shared across twitter, particularly for me in the sustainability, BIM, construction and CSR spheres, the favourite button is important element of twitter. Accordingly I use the favourite button a lot, to save a reference for future reading, to flag a tweet for later action, if for example I am unable to RT or respond to there and then, or even just to acknowledge the tweet, as an alternative to Re-Tweeting.

I was asked during the week, when explaining this, how I get back to and make sense of those tweets that I do favourite, so sharing my response and solution here;

I use an IFTT (If This Then That) recipe that sends the favourite directly to Evernote

Within Evernote the Favorited tweets land within my ‘TwitterFav’ notebook which can be read when time permits, (across all devices, phone, ipad, laptop) and moved on to my main Notebook if worth retaining for reference, and importantly tagged for easy retrieval.

Easy, and for me an effective work flow for managing favourites.

Related iSite Blog posts:

Managing Social Media Flow

Why use social media in Construction 

#SustLdrConv – Update to our autumn series.

Sustainability is moving into new territories, with new leaders and leadership styles. Social media is increasingly being used as a tool for engaging, learning and sharing to further the emerging collective of sustainability leadership and organizational development approaches.

Because we realized how much “socialising” sustainability leadership could impact our sustainable future, Andrea Learned  (Seattle based writer and social strategist for sustainable business and so much more)  and I decided to collaborate, across “the pond” and a continent to develop the #SustLdrConv (Sustainability Leadership Conversation) Twitter chat.

We know that our combined individual professional expertise and solid sustainability social networks results in a thoughtful and fun transfer of sustainability learning across sectors. Since we launched the chat in July of 2013, the built environment has been the root of our explorations, but our conversations since have also included organisational leadership authors, corporate sustainability directors and open forums on women in leadership, among other topics.

Our May chat with Denis Hayes of The Bullitt Foundation was incredibly rich.

We are excited for our fall schedule that includes:

BuOSfWeIUAAG1tHAugust 5: Alison Watson of Class Of Your Own discussed how she is inspiring and educating the next generation of sustainability leaders in construction and design and more, (see storify of the conversation from Andrea Learned here

September 2: Tabitha Crawford, SVP of sustainability and innovation for Balfour Beatty Investments, and the author of Five Epic Mistakes of Sustainability in Higher Education.

October 7: We go live from #SXSWEco (guests TBA) in Austin.

***

Select archived Storify summaries of past #SustLdrConv:

Aman Singh of CSRWire (April 1, 2014)

Peggy Ward of Kimberly-Clark (February 4, 2014)

#SustLdrConv happens the first Tuesday of the month at 11 am PT, 2 pm ET, 7 pm UK.

This article also appears on Andreas blog at http://learnedon.com/

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?