Tag Archives: waste

UK Government 25 Year Environment Plan is … disappointing.

nature globeThe UK Governments 25 Year Environment Plan (A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment) released yesterday should, on the face of it be a very significant document. Leaks and pre-issue comments from Gove in particular, hinted at great things in respect to addressing plastic, aligning health benefits of nature with healthcare and restoring nature in light of housing and infrastructure developments.

The Plan identifies six key areas:
Using and managing land sustainably (chapter 1).
Recovering nature and enhancing the beauty of landscapes (chapter 2).
Connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing (chapter 3).
Increasing resource efficiency, and reducing pollution and waste (chapter 4).
Securing clean, productive and biologically diverse seas and oceans (chapter 5).
Protecting and improving the global environment (chapter 6).

And of note for the built environment,

‘Embed an ‘environmental net gain’ principle for development, including housing and infrastructure. (Chapter One)

High environmental standards for all new builds. New homes will be built in a way that reduces demands for water, energy and material resources, improves flood resilience, minimises overheating and encourages walking and cycling. Resilient buildings and infrastructure will more readily adapt to a changing climate.

And, to improve existing green infrastructure by encouraging more investment while making sure there is a presumption for sustainable development.

However what we have is low on ambition and nothing more than a plan to plan. Each action is peppered with “consider”, “explore”, “promote”, “help” etc … and to work with others if they would care to.

25 yr plan quote

The fact this is a 25 year plan, in 2018, it takes us through to 2043 – firmly into the next generation that will undoubtedly be severely compromised by what we do or don’t do today.  One only has to compare other initiatives with target dates within this timeframe to see how low on intent this plan is. Compare with the WorldGBC plans for zero carbon new buildings by 2030 and all buildings zero carbon by 2050, or the auto industry to move away from fossil fuels.

As commented by many, there is an ‘extraordinary omission’ in the plan: there is no mention at all of fracking. Given that the only sustained solution to the environmental and climate crisis is leaving fossil fuels in the ground, the continued support for extracting yet more through fracking cannot be justified in the light of the this report.

We are now acutely aware that  we do not have the luxury only to explore, to consider and to just reduce impacts … that is not sustainable. We require more direct leadership, commitment and action to do more good, to restore and regenerate the environment.

George Monbiot commented ‘ Those who wrote (the plan) are aware of the multiple crises we face. But, having laid out the depth and breadth of our predicaments, they propose to do almost nothing about them”

Stephanie Hilborne, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, “unless more leadership is shown, wildlife will continue to decline & with it our mental health as more people become isolated from benefits of contact with nature’

What we do have however, and should take action on, is further recognition that the environment  and connection with nature is severely affecting the health of the planet, of ourselves and of other species. Gove is trying to secure commitment to an Environment Act in the next Queen’s speech and we should help to secure this as there is not yet full government support, but there certainly needs to be more leadership, direct action and targets in this 25 year plan.

The Plan is available to download from here 

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Reimagining Construction Materials: (Waste) Food for Thought.

 

pexels-photoA new Arup publication, (The Urban Bio-Loop) aims to demonstrate that a different paradigm for materials in construction is possible, through the adoption of organic waste re-imagined as construction materials.

“Adopting the principles of Circular Economy provides the rationale for a shift from a linear (take, make, dump) disposal model – towards a circular value chain where organic waste is the main resource.

The use of organic waste in construction would possibly allow the exploitation of its untapped value with a positive impact not only from an environmental perspective but also from a technical, social and economic standpoint”

The waste and resource use profile of construction is not healthy, as reinforced by statistics within the report. For example,  60% of UK raw materials are consumed by construction and operation of the built environment and up to 30% of EU waste comes from construction. (FutuREstorative used the 40% rule of thumb for waste and resource use)

And the food waste sector is equally poor, with 0.6 billion tonnes consumer organic waste produced globally,  accounting for 5% of global green house gases.

The report suggests that “organic waste from our cities and countryside, traditionally managed through landfill, incineration and composting could be diverted – at least in part – to become a resource for the creation of construction engineering and architecture products before being fed back in the biological cycle at the end of their service life”

Intriguing and Inspiring facts and examples include:

  • Pineapple: Internal cladding and furniture
  • Rice: Brick and Block Products. Rice can be also used as raw material for board production
  • Banana fruit and leaves can be used to obtain rugged textiles and carpets. The material is 100% biodegradable. http://leoxx.nl/
  • Sunflower: floors walls and ceiling boards, made by the repurposing of waste from sunflower harvesting. They are made by just adding water, heat and pressure with no additives. http://www.kokoboard.com/
  • Peanut: Flame retardant boards, made by the repurposing of waste from peanut shells. Peanuts shell are turned into particle boards by a hot press procedure and the use of a formaldehyde-free (e.g. soy based) adhesives.

Download the Arup report from https://www.arup.com/en/publications/research/section/the-urban-bio-loop 

Regenerative Disruption: Construction Materials, from Linear to Circular.

This is not Sustainable.

Echoing themes from Cradle to Cradle and FutuREstorative on impact of construction waste and materials … namely

An industry that demands over half of humanities resources

Contributes to a third of global waste

The single largest source of waste in the UK, generating over 100 million tonnes of waste every year

32% of all waste, 13% of which is new or unused.

… the YouTube promotion from Enviromate below, calling for Circular Economy approaches to material management contains powerful messages and makes an important contribution to progressing a circular economy in construction.

the enviromate mission

Designed with one core mission; to disrupt and revolutionise construction and DIY through enabling and accelerating the reuse of surplus and leftover building materials. Helping build a future where we share, upcycle and reuse surplus, reducing the impact the industry has on our environment and building toward a more resourceful, circular economy.

London Environment Strategy and the Built Environment

On 11 August Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, published his draft London Environment Strategy for public consultation (open until 17th November) The Mayor is taking a range of  actions to ‘improve the environment now, setting London on the path to create a greenercleaner future’

LES Aims

Construction, buildings and the built environment feature large in this strategy to bring together approaches to every aspect of London’s environment, including

•    Air quality:  Construction contributes to air quality as a major sources of local PM pollution with high volumes of dust and emissions from transport, the strategy looks to reducing construction traffic by five per cent by 2020, and reducing the number of freight trips during the morning peak by ten per cent by 2026. And that monitoring on construction sites to inform operators when additional measures are required must be improved.

“Non-road mobile machinery used in the construction and infrastructure building sectors currently accounts for approximately seven per cent of NOx and eight per cent of PM10 emissions in London.”

•    Green infrastructure

London will be a National Park City where more than half of its area is green; where the natural environment is protected and the network of green infrastructure is managed to benefit all Londoners.

•    Climate change mitigation and energy

To minimise carbon dioxide emissions from construction and future operation of the building and to achieve the Mayor’s zero carbon development target, the energy hierarchy wording will be updated to:

  1. be lean: use less energy and manage demand during construction and operation
  2. be clean: exploit local energy resources (such as secondary heat) and supply energy efficiently and cleanly
  3. be green: generate, store and use renewable energy on site

Ninety per cent of construction industry professionals responded to a survey stating that they would benefit from better embodied carbon guidance and support.

•    Waste

Aim : London will be a zero waste city. By 2026 no biodegradable or recyclable waste will be sent to landfill. – “waste” refers to any substance or object which the holder discards, intends to discard or is required to discard

•    Adapting to climate change

LES Water

Download the London Environment Strategy from here

Consultation is open until Nov 17th  for individuals –Talk London surveys and discussions and organisations to respond to  survey with evidence and ideas

Lean BIM: Six reasons why construction needs to embrace BIM alongside Lean Thinking

Combining Lean Construction thinking (in the shape of Last Planner approaches) and BIM (Building Information Management) on construction projects can enable big reductions on time, cost, waste and stress, and in doing so improve profits, capability, staff wellbeing and reputation.

Improving construction: we need to swap out the inefficient square wheels of yesterday for todays round wheel thinking.

Improving construction: we need to swap out the inefficient square wheels of yesterday for todays round wheel thinking.

My recent ‘Lean BIM’ lecture at Leeds Beckett, explored and discussed with case studies, how achieving the 30% construction strategy cost saving target is within reach.

Lean thinking and last planner approaches should be seen as collaborative working preparation for BIM. Both share similar aims – ‘producing  the right product at the right time in the right quantity for the customer and to produce exactly what you need and nothing more’.

Here are 6 of the many compelling reasons for adopting ‘Lean BIM’ …

  1. BIM in conjunction with lean construction (ie Last Planner approaches) can get construction activity closer to the Honda expression of “everything we do … goes into everything we do” (Currently only 40-60% of what we do in construction goes into what we do, ie what we get paid for or hand over to our customers).
  2. BIM, like lean construction thinking forces us to focus on the end game first, understanding client value and pulling that value through design and construction.
  3. BIM, like Last Planner will reduce firefighting and stress on project management team.
  4. BIM will drive lean and predictable programming and material sequencing.
  5. BIM will streamline the supply value stream for materials, enabling just in time supply, adding value and reducing unnecessary costs.
  6. BIM will greatly assist in improving information flow and communications, between project partners and supply chain. Techniques such as the TQM / Toyota ‘5 whys‘ repeatedly shows communication as the root cause of many if not all costly problem

However,  embracing  both BIM and Lean has a number of essential pre-requisites, for example

  1. BIM and Lean construction both need construction leadership at organisation and at project level.
  2. Contractor core processes (eg design and construction) need to be shaped around Lean Thinking and BIM requirements.
  3. BIM Is a people collaboration mindset. Even on BIM projects, approaches such as last planner are essential to ensure people (the last planner) involvement in project short-term planning and improvement, and
  4. Early contractor and supply chain involvement with strong collaborative culture must be in place.

“The construction aspects of projects is the easy bit – “a doddle”  … The harder, more complex bit is the collaborative working ‘glue’ that surrounds the design, build and operation of the facility, whether BIM is used or not” John Lorimer (In PPP Publication)

Living Building Challenge 3.0 Released

International Living Future Institute refines and upgrades the building certification program to raise the bar even higher for restorative design. 

PORTLAND, Ore. — May 22, 2014 —The International Living Future Institute™ today
released the next iteration of the Living Building Challenge.

Widely considered the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard,
Living Building Challenge, the 3.0 version represents an important step forward in the
program’s evolution, with several new innovative elements as well as important
refinements.

“These changes reflect the many discussions and compelling feedback provided by
Living Building Challenge project teams pursuing certification,” says Amanda
Sturgeon, the International Living Future Institute’s Vice President in charge of the
Living Building Challenge. “We believe the 3.0 version of the program helps advance
our goal to rapidly diminish the gap between current limits and the end-game positive
solutions we seek in the built environment and beyond.”

On initial reading, I am (perhaps not surprisingly) impressed with the more headline improvements, reinforcing that there is more to built environment sustainability than just the building.

  • The Site Petal renamed the Place Petal, reflecting deeply held belief in viewing each project location as a place with unique and important  characteristics.
  • A more clearly defined Equity Petal, which integrates with JUST™. This is encouraging, not only reflecting the current interest in Equity issues as a key component of sustainability, but embedding within the standard.
  • The Car Free Living imperative becomes Human Powered Living, including “Advocacy in the community to facilitate the uptake of human powered transportation”
  • Water and Energy is simplified, for water ‘net zero water’ redefining water as a precious resource’ and for energy ‘net zero energy’. One hundred and five percent of the project’s energy needs must be supplied by on-site renewable energy on a net annual basis, without the use of on-site combustion. Profoundly simple, profoundly challenging.
  • Happiness is added to the Health imperative, this is a great move, taking the sector responsibility beyond just healthy buildings. A built environment salutogenesis – focus on what makes people happy and healthy – rather than the causes of ill health or sick building syndrome.
  • Appropriate Sourcing strengthened to Living Economy Sourcing in respect of location for materials and services.
  • I am not so sure about renaming of Conservation and Reuse as Net Zero Waste.  A strength of the 2.0 imperative was that is was not called Waste, moving the focus upstream to deal with causes of waste.  The strengthening of circular economy, cradle to cradle thinking is to be to welcomed with the requirement to find ways to integrate waste back into either an industrial loop or natural nutrient loop.
  • Imperative 18 is a big focus on the JUST programme, requiring at least one  project team members must have a JUST Label for their organisation. But why is the contractor not one of those required to do so is surprising. It is more likely that the contractor will have the least just practices, thinking for example of diversity within construction organisations and unacceptable labour practices on football stadium in Qatar. An opportunity missed?
  • Another opportunity missed may be in the education imperative. One of the most powerful means of communicating and sharing sustainability lessons and advances is through social media. It’s great that every project should have an educational website, but also real-time sharing through blogs and (eg) twitter could be a very powerful advocacy platform.

More observations and insights to follow, but once again the Living Building Challenge raises the bar, but there is more to come …

In response to the growing need for sustainability solutions that move across industries and scales and better address the social and environmental crises humanity now faces, the International Living Future Institute™ has created the Living Future Challenge ™.

Based on the elegant and profound architecture of the Living Building Challenge, utilising nature as the ultimate end-game metric for success, the Living Future Challenge will extend to all aspects of society as various programs are launched over the next few years: Living Buildings, Living Communities, Living Products, Living Food, Living Enterprises, Living Lifestyles. 

Living Building Challenge 3.0 can be found here.

Further Reading and Blogs

Living Future “unConference” Sets New Model of Shared Resources by @PaladinoandCo

What You Need to Know About the Living Building Challenge 3.0 by @KatieWeeks

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