Leeds Sustainability Institute

Open Knowledge Exchange and Sharing

Author: Liz Schofield (page 1 of 8)

Leeds Sustainability Institute (LSI) welcomes the Paris Institute of Technology

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A group of Executive Masters students from the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chausees, the Paris Institute of Technology, were engaged in a four day study visit from 27th to 30th April at Leeds Beckett University. The purpose of the visit was to learn about the research and work of the CeBE team working within the Leeds Sustainability Institute and also explore some of the local area.

The Dean of the Arts, Environment & Technology faculty, where the Institute sits, Professor Mohammad Dastbaz gave a welcoming address to the students who then embarked on a packed schedule of presentations, visits and activities. The students were treated to presentations on LSI research into building behaviour, thermal bridging, and closing the performance gap. In addition, Mark Warner, Sustainability Manager at Leeds Beckett University, gave an insight into the environmental improvements in the university estates and Anthony Smith presented his research on solving civil engineering problems using biomicrobial solutions.

 

The group were also treated to some activities outside of the classroom,visiting the Little Kelham development in Sheffield and the Energy House at Salford University.

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Dr Lindsay Smales also took the group on a walking tour of Leeds & the heritage town of Saltaire.

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The LSI has a long standing relationship with the Paris Institute of Technology  which continues to be highly productive & collaborative, fostering a robust exchange of ideas, knowledge & best practice on sustainable research, practices and technology.

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DEng – Study for a Doctorate of Engineering while you work

LSI 2015

The Doctorate of Engineering (DEng) is a programme of research based on the advanced study of engineering or applied sciences and professional practice in engineering, It is intended for candidates with relevant professional experience and supported by structured learning. The aim of the course is to blend the practical experience within the working environment with a part-time research degree. The key themes of the DEng are Energy, Sustainability and Building Performance.

Current Student Profiles

Stephen Wise, Technical Development Manager, Knauf Insulation.

Stephen has worked for the business for 13 years and held his current post for 6 years. His responsibilities include managing the Knauf’s research portfolio in the UK and working on CEN and British Standards Committees on subjects including product standards and in-situ testing. He also has been heavily involved in the government’s industry engagement process for the last 4 revisions of Part L. He was the chair of the Construction Products Association Technical Committee for several years standing down in 2014 and is currently chair of The Thermal Insulation Manufacturers and Suppliers Association. He has worked closely with Leeds Beckett University since 2009 notably on the development of solutions to Party Wall Bypass. Since starting his D.Eng he doesn’t have any spare time but if he did he would probably spend it working on the refurbishment of a 150 year old house in the Pennines and for pleasure he likes to walk in the hills.

Mark Burrows, BSc(Hons) MSc CEnv CEng CMVP FEI FLSI, Energy Solutions Specialist, Siemans Industry UK & I

Mark is currently undertaking a D.Eng research degree in the field of industrial energy data analytics. His research centres on analysing and understanding the barriers to the uptake of energy data analytics, as a tool for energy reduction within industrial manufacturing businesses within the UK. Day to day, Mark is an energy management specialist with varied experience in the management and delivery of energy, carbon and wider sustainability services to both public, but mainly, large-scale industrial energy users. He leads on the conception, delivery and review of energy management services for Siemens. This includes the design, management and verification of energy performance contracts. Mark is a Fellow of the Energy Institute, Fellow of the Leeds Sustainability Institute, a Chartered Engineer, Chartered Environmentalist and Certified Measurement and Verification Professional.

 

Expected Duration

4 years minimum

How to Apply

Interested parties should email Anne Stafford a.stafford@leedsbeckett.ac.uk in the first instance

Ant & Tech – LSI Biomimicry expert featured in Sunday People

Following on from Green Vision’s excellent learning from nature twilight seminar in February, we are pleased to see that Leeds Sustainability Institute’s  Rich MacCowan , one of our speakers for that event, has recently been featured in the Sunday people talking about Biomimicry and the principles behind it. As well as being the LSI lead for Biomimicry, Biophilia and Systems-thinking Richard formed the team behind Biomimicry UK in 2012 to take the research on nature-based design and finding a place for it in industry. The full article has been reproduced below;

The way busy worker ants defend their nests is being studied by scientists – to help busy human workers defend their emails.

In our hectic world of 24-hour living and instant information, it would be easy to think nature has nothing left to teach us. But top scientists know we still have plenty to learn from animals and plants. An exciting branch of science called Biomimicry uses nature to answer problems of modern life.

Ants, for example, are experts at keeping predators at bay because they are organised and share their workload across the colony. It is a principle that may work against unwanted email junk messages, which make up about 90% of emails and spread viruses. Ant colonies work like the human immune system, in which each cell is designed to fight off one or two different bugs, rather than being weighed down with every tool needed to battle all infections.

Biologist Deborah Gordon, at Stanford University in California, said: “Ants often make mistakes, and yet over evolutionary time it works out well enough that a colony can keep out all the bad guys. Because the chances are, when any particular ant of another colony comes along there will be an ant that recognises it.”

She said the same logic could be applied online. Emails are currently screened against blocklists, which stop messages from known spammers getting through. But the culprits are often skilled at staying one step ahead, and Dr Gordon says a smarter, more flexible system could be developed by studying ants. She said: “Spam filtering has evolved into a war with hackers. Once they figure out how the spam is being identified it is pretty easy to change things around so as not to be identified. What we are suggesting is a system where each part just reacts to the particular spam that it encounters.”

Ants are so amazing that even in zero gravity, when 600 were sent to the International Space Station, they stuck to their tasks and stayed organised as a colony. Teams of robots using such tactics could revolutionise search projects in dangerous environments, added Dr Gordon.

And it’s not just ants. Biomimicry has already changed all our lives and will continue to do so. The skin of sharks has inspired swimming costumes which cut drag and helped top performers such as Michael Phelps to smash records. And the shock-absorbing skull of the woodpecker, which drills trees up to 12,000 times a day with its beak, led a designer to create a super strong cardboard cycle helmet. A beetle’s ability to trap moisture from the air spurred scientists to try and grow trees in a desert. Meanwhile a fish is helping improve natural light in offices, pine cones have inspired a revolutionary clothes material and burdock plants’ hooks led to the development of Velcro. Birds’ hollow bones may improve jet plane design, while the reflective quality of butterfly wings are lengthening the life of batteries in electronic books.

Richard MacCowan, director and co-founder of Biomimicry UK, said: “It’s not just about sustainability. “It’s about what you can achieve that’s more beneficial, better for the environment, has better social impact. I t’s about tangible results, that’s why we’re starting to see improvement.”

 

Antandtech

Ever wondered how the built environment can contribute to our health & happiness?

Imagine buildings that foster net-positive health and happiness. Buildings that can actually make us healthier and feel better from working or living in them. This evening seminar, aligned with our Living Building Challenge afternoon session, will focus on the emerging importance of health and happiness within the built environment.

We are seeing built environment sustainability mature, at design, construction and facilities management stages, moving away from an approach that focuses solely on technology, energy and water performance to embrace health, happiness and even mindfulness.

This not to be missed event will feature the following speakers:

Introduction to Net Positive Health and Happiness Thinking 

Martin Brown, Chair Green Vision and LBC UK, fairsnape

Mindfulness – Training in Tranquility and Cultivating Creativity  

Dr Elliot Cohen, Senior Lecturer in Psychology,

Leeds Beckett University

An introduction to the Well Building Standard 

Victoria Lockhart, Arup Associates, Wellbeing and Sustainability Specialist, LEED AP ID+C, BREEAM AP, WELL AP

Wednesday 13th May 2015

17:30 to 19:30

Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP, 2 Park Lane, Leeds

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Earth Day 2015 – Beyond Sustainability

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Martin Brown is the Leeds Beckett Green Vision Ambassador, a Living Building Challenge Ambassador and through Fairsnape an innovative, leading consultant and advocate for built environment sustainability.

We are seeing the emergence of new sustainability thinking, one that is challenging our understanding of sustainability, one that uses expressions such as net positive, regenerative and restorative sustainability.

Patagonia company founder Yvonne Chounaird thinks we should not even use the term sustainability until we give the same or more back to nature than we take. 

At this free public EarthDay presentation Martin will provide an overview of EarthDay, from its origins back in the 70’s to its present day global celebration of the Earth, along with a backdrop for a new sustainability, focusing on how buildings and the built environment can deliver a restorative sustainability, starting to heal the future and to correct some of the sector’s past environmental damage.

We are limited to 70 places on this event so secure you place now at this FREE event by email to ckeevents@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

 

Getting serious about water

On 11th March we held the second in a series of workshops exploring the seven key performance areas of the Living Building Challenge (LBC), otherwise known as petals (more about Petals & the Petal workshops here). This session focussed on the water petal.

The purpose of the water petal is to realign how people use water and to redefine “waste” in the built evironment so that water is respected as a precious resource. Attendees to the petal workshop discussed how elements of the water standard can practically be applied using real life examples from the Bullitt Centre in Seattle. This was presented via weblink by Martin Brown, Green Vision Ambassador, who happened to be visiting the centre at the time, more info here .

We asked one of the attendees to the session to summarise some of the current thinking & initiatives around water management & conversation in the UK.

 

LouiseWalkerGuest Post by Louise Walker, Innovation Manager, water@leeds, University of Leeds

The launch of the new UK Water Partnership signals a growing awareness of the need to think seriously about this most precious of our natural resources.

Launching the new body in February, its chair Lord Smith of Finsbury said:

“There’s nothing more important than water. With expanding urban concentrations around the world and the growing impacts of climate change, we need to get better at managing water, conserving it, cleaning it, delivering it, and using it. That’s where innovation is going to be so important. The UK Water Partnership will bring together people across the UK water community to stimulate ideas and develop the products and services that will take on these challenges for the future.”

I am the Innovation Manager for water@leeds, the cross-disciplinary water research centre at the University of Leeds. With over 150 members from across the different faculties of the university, we have a wealth of talent thinking about water in all its forms and for all its purposes. We work internationally and with the UK water community to incorporate the latest research findings in those products and services that will help to meet the challenges Lord Smith mentions.

My particular interest is in ‘water sensitive design’ – that is how we can better incorporate water into our thinking for new developments, and in retrofitting, to help improve water quality, reduce flooding, provide water resources and create better places to live.

The concept of ‘Water Sensitivity’ has been embraced through holistic philosophies such as Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) in Australia and Low Impact Development (LID) in the USA. Currently, water management in the UK is compartmentalised, and surface water management in particular is not prioritised. This is not surprising, given the way in which our water services have evolved over time along with urban development. We have ensured in the UK that our cities are supplied with water, that wastewater is removed and treated to a high standard and we do our best to keep our cities well-drained (though are often thwarted by nature on this last point).

This is summarised in a neat diagram by Rebekah Brown at Monash University[1], who has considered in depth how we can move towards caring for the water resource in our urban environments whilst continuing to utilise it for our needs.

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If this illustration is seen as a timeline, we can see that we somewhere around waterways cities where we are working hard to tackle pollution, but we are a way off the future vision of a Water Sensitive City.

Innovation in the built environment will help us get better at managing our water resources and this is supported by initiatives such as the The Living Building Challenge, which is described by its American developers as ‘a building certification program, advocacy tool and philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today…’

The Challenge comprises seven performance categories called Petals: Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty.

The aim of the ‘Water Petal’ is ‘to meet all water demands within the carrying capacity of the site and mimic natural hydrological conditions, using appropriately-sized and climate-specific water management systems that treat, infiltrate or reuse all water resources on-site’.

So this is not just about getting better at managing water, but about being the best we can. The idea is to make sure all the needs for the development are met by the site. Used water must be reintroduced so that it does not compromise natural systems in any way.

Green Vision is currently looking at developing the methodology for a UK landscape. This type of thinking lays down the gauntlet for innovation in the built environment. When integrated into a holistic catchment scale approach of water management, linked to green and blue infrastructure, embracing the flexibility and adaptability to deal with future changes and aligned with the aims of each of the petals, It will help us move toward the vision of water sensitive cities. This is getting serious about water.

[1] Brown, R.R., Keath, N., Wong, T., 2009, Urban water management in cities: historical, current and future regimes, Water Science And Technology [P], vol 59, issue 5, IWA Publishing 2009, England, pp. 847-855.

You can find out more about Water@Leeds & connect with Louise and the team here

Net Positive Water – CANCELLED

PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES WE HAVE HAD TO CANCEL THE EVENT BELOW. WE HOPE TO REARRANGE THE PRESENTATIONS FOR A LATER DATE, PLS KEEP CHECKING BACK HERE FOR DETAILS

(Excerpts of this text have been sourced from “Is Water the Next Carbon?” post by Andrew Winston and Will Sarni, Harvard Business Review)

We all take water for granted. Even though water is critical for human life, ecosystems and as a major process or product input for industry, it’s a resource that very few of us think actively about managing.

Water, often referred to as the “new Carbon” is arguably the next major sustainability hurdle the built environment faces. Recent reports have highlighted some key issues;

  • Water demand is increasing while water quality is decreasing
  • Impacts of Climate change will affect water availability
  • Price does not reflect the real value of water
  • We need to collectively develop new ways to manage water.

Now then is a perfect time to consider better, perhaps even radical, approaches to the design, management & conservation of this vital resource.

How could we, as emerging standards are suggesting, move towards net-positive or closed loop water systems where all water in a building is “captured, treated, used/reused and released clean within the boundaries of the building”. Buildings as water cleansing facilites rather than buildings as water polluting facilities?

On Wednesday 11th March Green Vision will be hosting the second is their Construction and Assemby spring series focussing on a number of current approaches to help us better understand the water challenge and to improve our thinking around water design, management & conservation.

Our speakers for this event will be Louise Walker, Innovation Manager at water@leeds who will be talking about how we can better incorporate water into our thinking for new buildings & retrofit to help improve water quality, reduce flooding, provide water resources & create better places to live. This sounds ambitious but it is all part of the concept of ‘Water Sensitivity’ and has been embraced through initiatives such as Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) in Australia. Currently, water management in the UK is compartmentalised & surface water management in particular is not prioritised. How can we improve the situation and will the Water Petal of the Living Building Challenge help?

Our second speaker for this event will be Martin Brown, Green Vision and Living Building Challenge Ambassador who will be joining us live from the Bullitt Centre in Seattle for a short audio update with insights into to his visit to the “Greenest Building in the World” including their water management strategies.  “The goal of the Bullitt Centre is to drive change in the property and built environment marketplace faster and further by showing what’s possible today. The era of harm reduction, half steps and lesser evils is behind us… we need to be bold in ways that were once unimaginable”

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It’s time to Learn from Nature

Last Wednesday, 11th February, we hosted the first in our Green Vision Construction & Assembly Series, a lively event focussing on Learning from Nature introducing the concepts of biomimicry and biophilic design which generated much debate and food for thought. I think it’s fair to say we all left having learnt something new… even it is was purely the existance of dog vomit slime mould as a building tool!

Our combined write-up & storify of the event is detailed below although we encourage anyone interested in this topic & themes around it to get in touch with the team to carry on the debate. Also follow the hashtag #gvis2015 to join in the discussion online.

Our next event on 11th March is entitled Net Positive Water where we will be continuing the discussions around the circular economy & “closing the loop”, in terms of water management strategies. Full details & booking here

 

The Greenest Buildings in the World? – the Living Building Challenge

By Mark Warner, Sustainability Manager, Leeds Beckett University (first posted on Low Carbon Leeds)

George Monbiot, via his book ‘Heat’, first introduced me to the absolute truth that:

Efficiency just means you can do more with less, which equals growth!”

Or, at best, we will maintain current levels of consumption which we know is already too much (three planets to much).

Coupled with the fact that we all need to pay the mortgage, feed ourselves and our families and put clothes on our backs; how do we continue to prosper on an economic basis, reduce our environmental impact and have a positive social impact (through our buildings in this instance)?

Enter the concept of The Living Building Challenge. An American standard. A tough one at that. There are three levels of certification, listed here from easiest to toughest;

  1. The Net Zero Energy Certification
  2. Petal Certification
  3. Living Building CertificationLiving Building Challenge logo

My stats on this will be slightly wrong but there are roughly 250 projects that have achieved Net Zero or Petal certifications. But no one has achieved the Living Building Certification.

So, what’s so good about this standard? For me it’s the philosophy of buildings being restorative rather than just ‘less bad’. To get the top slot you have to generate 105% of the electrical energy consumed by the building, treat and produce 105% of the water consumed and you can only build on brownfield sites (unless you can demonstrate an educational need to be fulfilled).

There are more challenges, but these three examples highlight the point of the restorative philosophy. Simply put, you are putting more energy and water back in than you take out. Building on a brownfield site is a brave move for any organisation as there will be a number of issues that will not be attractive; hazardous waste to deal with (old gas sites for example), run down surrounding areas, potential issues of crime to name a few.

But what better way to have a positive impact on society than to build a building (and surrounding biodiverse area) that is a shining example of what can be achieved by individuals who want to make a difference?

There are advantages, lower rates and financial incentives from councils to build in these areas. Imagine starting a trend and turning an area around into a thriving, sought after, business park and making a profit as a result? This would seem to suggest that doing the right thing could be profitable…

Living Building Challenge Aspects - Petals

Sitting within the Estates Team at Leeds Beckett University we are continually pushing sustainability. All of our contractors are achieving recycling rates of 95% plus and energy efficiency is a key factor in all designs. We have made it clear that we want investment appraisals (not cost savings on the project budget) and every option is considered from a whole-life-costing point of view, we specify recycled content in materials (information on this is surprisingly scarce when you dig into the detail) and space options are filled down to ensure buildings are the right size for their purpose. We’ve achieved BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) and Passivhaus standards and everyone is pleased. Rightly so, but… I’m hoping we get the go ahead for a building that will get us the Living Building Challenge full certification for the Leeds Sustainability Institute.

If we get the go ahead I’m looking forward to challenging current standards and taking my team, the wider estates team, and the design team on an educational journey that will be continued by our post graduate and research teams as well as the people who use the facility.

The New Zealand Education Act specifically states that one of the purposes of a university is to ‘be the social conscience and critic of society’. A building built to such high standards is a good public statement of this purpose.

There are already some good examples around, with one of my favourites being the Packard Foundation HQ.

Restorative has to be the way to go. To the construction industry it must seem like the vegan equivalent for building standards but after the Living Buildings Challenge there is Biomimicary………and the truly organic building.

Mark Warner

Mark Warner is the Sustainability Manager at Leeds Beckett University.  He works within the Estates Team advising on sustainable construction, energy efficiency/carbon reduction, sustainable transport and sustainable purchasing of goods, services and materials.

It’s time to “Learn from Nature” #gvis2015

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“Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything” Albert Einstein

Green Vision recommences with our Green Construction and Assembly Spring Series

Our Spring GreenVision series will explore sustainability issues relating to the Construction and Assembly processes within the Built Environment. Aligned to our Living Building Challenge UK collaborative, the topics in this series will consider innovative restorative sustainability and net positive approaches. Join us on our evening seminars with leading sustainability thinkers and our half day GreenBIM conference in association with thinkBIM in April.

Our first twilight event on 11th February will focus on learning from our natural environment & will feature presentations & discussions around biomimicry. Biomimicry seeks solutions from nature to address sustainability in the construction life cycle, not only for materials but also systems and processes. Our speakers are;

Richard James MacCowan (Director and Co-Founder,Biomimicry UK )

Re-thinking Nature

The world that we live in faces enormous challenges such as climate change, food security, biosphere integrity and freshwater use. Nature can play a strong role to tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time. Solutions are at our fingertips, they are cost effective and we know how to implement them. Richard’s talk will focus on developments, research, case studies and future opportunities that this vital strand of sustainability can offer our industry.

Yaniv Peer (Associate – Exploration)

Radical Nature

At a time when architecture and society urgently need to reconsider their relationship to the natural world there are few more exciting and innovative ways to find solutions to our current and future challenges than the discipline known as Biomimicry. This field uses nature as a mentor, learning from its ingenious adaptations that have undergone 3.8 billion years of research and development to produce exceptionally well evolved solutions. This talk will explore three projects of the London based Exploration Architecture Ltd and how it is that they use biomimicry in their work to offer new solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face today. 

 

“Stimulating and open discussion make the events a must for construction professionals who wish to improve the performance of buildings”

Jonathan Lindh – Leda Ltd

Bookhere

Other dates for your diary

Water the new carbon

Wednesday 11th March 15, 17:30-19:30

Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP, 2 Park Lane, Leeds

 

GreenBIM Half-day Conference

Wednesday 1st April 15, 13:00-17:30

Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP, 2 Park Lane, Leeds

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