Green Vision

Open Knowledge Exchange and Sharing

Category: Low Carbon Construction (page 1 of 2)

International SEEDS Conference 2017: Sustainable Ecological Engineering Design for Society – 13th & 14th September 2017



(maximum 300 words)

Healthy Environments,Buildings and Spaces: Current position and future models

Leeds Beckett University, UK 13th and 14th September 2017

The built environment has a greater impact on natural resources and produces more waste than any other industry.  However, beyond the green rhetoric research is being applied on the ground to address the balance between the built and natural environment. This holistic approach draws together the research themes of energy, building performance and physics while placing health, wellbeing and ecology at the heart of the conference.
Through research and proven practice, the aim of the SEEDS Conference is to foster ideas on how to reduce negative impacts on the environment while providing for the health and wellbeing of the society.
You are invited to submit Abstracts under the themes listed below.
Please submit Abstracts by 20th February 2017 to:
You are encouraged to submit abstracts as early as possible in order to receive prompt feedback. Early acceptance will enable you to take advantage of the ‘early bird’ rate for the Conference and make a £60.00 saving.
Seeds LOGO
Some comments from those who attended the successful SEEDS Conference in 2015/2016 included the following:
  • “Personally I consider SEEDS Conference is an excellent educational and networking event. Latin America attendants as me, will find excellent information and initiatives in order to enhance our local processes”Columbian Delegate
  • I enjoyed the range of papers presented – it made for a really interesting couple of days.  Good range of attendees from both industry and academia also.” UK Delegate
  • “Overall my experience was very positive. I especially liked the wide spectrum of papers presented. The organisation was very good at all stages and the venue was fantastic.”UK Delegate
  • “Sustainable development is crucial issue nowadays and I believe it’s rather an important matter to focus. Very well organized, very good quality of the presentation, very unique conference.” Russian Delegate
  • “Very well organised and focused in my area of research. Fantastic information gained and shared”. Irish Delegate
The conference has a strong reputation for working with established publishers. Papers will be put forward for publication with our publishing partners.

You are invited to submit Abstracts under the following themes:
Protecting nature and the natural environment
Building and environment design
Energy efficient modelling, simulation and BIM
Integrating urban and natural environment
Building performance, analysis and evaluation
Thermal comfort, air quality and overheating
Green spaces, enclosures and buildings
Green technologies and IT
Renewable energy
Energy flexibility
Energy behaviour and lifestyle
Dampness, water damage and flooding
Building surveys, thermography, building pathology
Water and air quality Education & Training
Planning and sculpturing positive change
Reducing consumption and waste
Sustainability, ethics and responsibility
Behaviour Change
Community building and masterplanning
Health benefits of alternative and natural materials
Urban heat island and mitigation
Building resilience
Sustainable cities
Zero energy and energy plus buildings
Local producers and urban environments, edible
Trees and green city landscape
Edible urban landscape
Biomimicry and Biophilic Design
Other related fields will be considered.


We RISE again! Joint awards for built environment industry and academia back for 2016


We RISE again! We are pleased to announce that following on from last year’s highly successful ceremony at the Park Plaza in Leeds, the RISE awards are back for a second year, highlighting, celebrating and rewarding the most innovative and forward thinking research and development initiatives in the built environment across four key strands; Research, Innovation, Sustainability and Enterprise.

Across the built environment, talented groups and individuals are shaping the future of engineering and construction and our awards are unique in being the first in the region to bring academic, industry and third sector groups together to showcase their work. Our awards are truly diverse with previous winners coming from a vast range of working environments, specialisms, communities and backgrounds. What matters to us is that our entrants display the passion and dedication to do things better, pushing our industry forward.

Organised by the Leeds Sustainability Institute at Leeds Beckett University, the Rise Awards are completely free to enter and submissions are encouraged from both individuals and companies working in the built environment across 12 different categories. With awards for industry leaders in energy efficiency, new technologies, products and processes, research, design, behavioural change and more up for grabs we are sure there is a category for you!

The closing date for all entries is 1st September 2016. The winners will be judged by our panel of academic and industry experts and revealed on 15th September at a prestigious gala presentation evening at the Met Hotel in Leeds. Attended by leading sector figures, the event itself will be the perfect opportunity for you to showcase your initiative, maximising your exposure and helping you to bring your expertise to a new audience.

In addition there will be plenty of opportunities for entrants to have ongoing engagement with the University and its networks beyond the awards through our Leeds Sustainability Institute research hub initiatives and projects.


Entries can be made for a project, process, product or a service. In order to enter please produce a one or two page poster outlining your product, process, project or service which addresses one or more of the category themes detailed below. Your poster should include text, images and where possible facts and figures that will provide the judges with tangible evidence of performance & outcomes against your strategic aims. *Please note, shortlisted posters will be blown up to A1 size and displayed so please ensure your submitted PDF can be resized.


For 2016 we have 12 different categories available for you to make your submission against. You can make as many submissions as you want and the same project/product or case study can be submitted into more than one category* Please indicate which categories you are applying for on submission.

Some key questions that you will need to address in your submission: 

  • What need did the product, process, project or service fill?
  • Why is it different/special/unique?
  • What challenges were faced and how were they overcome?
  • What did it achieve? What are the current and future benefits?




For ideas of completing a poster, see the RISE 2015 poster set at the following link


If you have any questions about the RISE awards please contact the CKE team on 0113 812 1902 or via email to


BDE Podcast on Passivhaus with Elrond Burrell & Chris Herring

We are delighted to be able to share with you the podcast of a unique interview conducted by Mark Wilson from Building Design Expert at our recent Constructing Excellence YH Passivhaus breakfast seminar with Elrond Burrell from Architype Architects and Chris Herring from Green Building Store . This interview explored the entire design & build process of Passivhaus with some interesting insights from our two event speakers.


Architype Architects are based in Hereford and have a passion for sustainable architecture. Hand in glover with sustainable building design is the need to reduce energy use. Architype have achieved this by adopting the Passivhaus design and building standard; with a growing reputation for use of the standard on a commercial scale with offices and school buildings, in addition to large scale and one off housing projects.

The Green Building Store represents Passivhaus design development from the contracting side of the industry, and their reputation has grown around not only their on site attention to detail with their ability to successfully implement the Passivhaus standard, but their sourcing of products and technology that will meet the rigorous performance requirements that the standard demands.

Construction21EXPO – the first virtual tradeshow for Green Buildings for the whole of EUROPE!

The “business case” for green buildings is understood by many of Europe’s leading project developers. Now we need to quickly enable design, construction and management teams to deliver the expected results for green new construction and renovation projects.

Construction21EXPO will bring together, in a cost efficient manner, green building investors, designers, solution providers and the many other important stakeholders in a two day virtual expo; saving money and eliminating travel time and associated carbon emissions with physical meetings.


We are delighted that the UK LBC COLLABORATIVE* is a key UK  partner in this exciting project that is  supported by Green Building Councils and Construction21 Chapters across Europe as well as many other expert organizations.

As such we can offer additional discounts on the Exhibitor fees, but be sure to obtain a discount code from us prior to registering.

Watch the promotional video here  and download the Construction21EXPO_ Introduction for more information,  and do not hesitate to contact the EXPO team listed in the introduction document with any questions.

The UK LBC COLLABORATIVE is driving Living Building Challenge awareness in the UK and is hosted by the Leeds Sustainability Institute, Green Vision, Fairsnape, CKE and Be2camp.

Green Vision Half-day Conference

This blog piece is brought to you by Duncan Reed, formerly of Balfour Beatty.

Duncan is a sustainability advocate with experience drawn from a career delivering schemes in a variety of market sectors as a Principal Contractor. As a sustainability champion he works to ensure that good practice and transparency is used to make a difference in the communities and to leave a positive legacy.

The spring season of Green Vision came to a fantastic end on Wednesday 17th April with the half day conference Demystifying Green Buildings. There was a venue change this time with hosts WSP providing some great facilitates for the attendees.

Claire Bowles, Project Director for Construction Knowledge Exchange and powerhouse behind the event, opened the proceedings and introduced the chair for the day – Sophie Stephens, Head of Sustainability; Delivery and Development (@SophLS78)

The first speaker up was David Symons (@DavidSymons) from our hosts WSP. He gave a wonderfully animated overview of what we thought the 21st century was going to look like for people living in the 1950s and proved the analogy that the major trends will may often be right the details can be a little off – yes where are our personal flying cars? He outlined three large changes, mega trends, which are facing the world as it strives to become more sustainable.

  1. Resources will be much more expensive than today – David highlighted the challenges faced by big business – the amount of timber IKEA consumes a year on one hand (an area the size of Switzerland!!)  yet how Interface is making carpets out of old fishing nets in the Philippines
  2. Technology will change how we work – and in what type of building. This one really caught my attention. The various levels of productivity between office and home working. We all need to interact with other people but don’t necessarily need to travel into the office. Yet home working is less efficient in terms of energy use! David cited the really novel idea of working hubs – effectively multi firm hot desking – being created above train station in the Netherlands. They looked great with the added bonus of trains outside the windows too! 
  3. A future of equals, a shift from a one size fits all approach to business to a future that is bespoke to the customer preference.

Following on from David was John Alker, Director of Policy & Communications at the UK Green Building Council (@johnalker) John took us all for a brisk walk through the current policy changes happening in relation to sustainability in the UK. There were many challenges to the delegates themselves –

  • How green do we think the coalition really is?
  • Are we supporting Green for Growth?
  • Is our professional Institution supporting the Building Magazine campaign

John finished up with a heads up of what’s coming next –

  • Part L: May
  • Housing Standards Review: May
  • Green Deal plan numbers: June
  • Allowable solutions: July
  • Energy audits: Summer
  • RHI: Summer
  • MEPs: Autumn

But my favourite bit was the slide from the USGBC conference. During the presentation from the head of the USGBC the back drop said – We Are Right. Powerful words but ones we should be using too.

Both keynotes gave us some great insights and powerful thoughts for us to consider across the rest of the afternoon sessions.

The first roundtable session I sat in was led by Jason Richards from WSP.

Jason outlined the WSP tool ReValue but conversation soon moved into a healthy discussion covering how to define levels of refurbishment (with the view that in reality there were many levels of granularity) the important need to start with a real conversation with the customer as to what was best value for them in the context of refurbishment and yet again how to unlock greater in use benefits by moving operational expenditure to support capital works. A lively debate thanks to representatives from Skanska, Race Cottam, Bottle Alley Glass, DTZ and Balfour Beatty among others.

The second roundtable I sat in Green Deal perspectives, led by Martin Brown (@fairsnape).

6 in group.

Martin highlighted how important the Green Deal is to sustainability and how it is as much to do with changing behaviour as reducing energy consumption. In the UK a huge chuck of energy use is from domestic sector but the Green Deal also is designed to combat UK fuel poverty, which is one of the highest in Europe. He also described how there are knock on effects to that people in fuel poverty are often found to be living in unhealthy buildings too. However the group was also reminded that the Green deal is fundamentally a financial model and needs to be considered this way with repayments against loans made through the property, via the meter in a very well controlled and regulated market.

The group discussed the confusion between Assessors, Providers (PM), Installers and how this was changing supply chain dynamics as well as concerns with the scheme around the thoroughness of the assessment, the use of the building and dealing with behavioural change. In many cases warmer homes meant people just wore less rather than turned the heating down! There is also evidence that as heating costs reduce overall energy sots do not as electrical costs increase.

The discussion moved onto the commercial application of the Green Deal. This is already possible, which was a surprise to much of our group. Applying the Green Deal could have major implications to the retrofit market, not just for customers and designers but also for FM providers. Lots of food for thought.

We all then gathered back into the main room for feedback from all the roundtable sessions. In addition the two sessions I attended there were two other roundtables discussions that fed back to the main group.

Financing Low Carbon Retrofit, by Christoph Harwood of Marksman Consulting.

Christoph was asking whether there are barriers to arranging finance for renewables, equipment or fabric upgrade for a building. The group found that there were different options regardless of the buildingwith it more being down to the  occupier and/or tenant, and their financing needs and strategies. With the many ways to secure finance (on balance sheet, off balance sheet, ESCO, Green deal etc) there should be no reason not to finance building retrofit.  Non-financial barriers are often bigger issues.

Better things to spend your money on, by Colin Robertson of NG Bailey.

Colin took another view on possible market barriers, centred on financial, technical and operational issues. If property as an investment is not performing well then refurbishment can be high on agenda and investing in buildings can be better for softer benefits too. In short owners need to be more aware of opportunities and the challenge was set on how to may owners and occupiers more aware..

Next up on the bill was our international speaker, Amanda Sturgeon from the Living Building Challenge.  Amanda is their Vice President and several of the audience had been lucky enough to see her present in London 3rd April (for more details of this event see ).  Thanks to some technical wizardry by Martin Brown the link was made and Amanda was able to speak to the room directly from Seattle.

Today she was sharing a case study on the Bullitt Centre, Seattle, which Amanda and her colleagues moved in to 4 weeks ago as the new home for Living Building Challenge.

Amanda described the highlights of their new building and how is met the seriously challenging requirements to be Living Building certified.

  • No parking provided. Bus line, car share, light rail.
  • Net zero energy despite being located in the most limited solar resource in US.
  • The 244kW array on the roof, still bigger than the footprint of the building but sized based on an overall 83% reduction in energy requirements through the overall design process.
  • Using daylight factor to reduce energy needs. Pretty much 100% day lighting that can be can be used.
  • Net Zero water. A 52000 gallon cistern has been provided with rainwater for potable uses. The team lobbied the local authorities to change potable water use, and to get a grey water infiltration agreement. The latter was resolved by a 400sqft bio-mediation field, a 2nd level roof garden and by a sidewalk infiltration bed.
  • No black water treatment, all dealt with by the use of composting toilets with ten composting bins in basement where the residue is used as fertiliser.
  • Health and community. Irresistible stair – big and best views to persuade people use them rather than elevators.
  • Workstations within 30ft of windows, which are openable.
  • Triple gazed Schuco windows that weren’t previously available in the US. New workshop created in Seattle by supplier Goldfinch that can now deliver this system elsewhere in the US.


Amanda described how they avoided materials on the red list. This list of 14 banned materials leads to a longer list of 362 chemicals that are not permitted under the Challenge.

The project challenged suppliers to go further with chemical transparency and more sustainable souring. For example dry wall materials were normally sourced in Mexico but the team found a  supplier in British Columbia that meant that the impact of these materials was greatly reduced. It was not without complication but could be done and proved that by challenging and tracking it is possible to achieve better results. Don’t accept the norm.

Amanda finished up by answering questions from the delegates back in Leeds.

  1. How much was the building design determined by building physics? Yes – thermal solar gain was reviewed in detail and the building was extensively modelled shading, blinds. The Centre faces west, typical for building in Seattle, but a challenge to the design.  There were extensive studies on the envelope too which helped them achieve the massive reduction in energy load. (the Bullitt Centre also complies with Passivhaus standards). Very tight envelope. However the biggest variable will be plug loads and this will be a challenge to try to keep on track.
  2. What is in place to monitor the building? Research will continue and is being studied by one tenant – Integrated Design Lab – a laboratory of University of Washington with other partners. The LVB are also designating a member of staff to monitor energy use too. For the next 12-18 months.
  3. How is the building heated? Electrical under floor heating with a small amount of domestic hot water. No combustion is allowed under the Living Building Challenge.

The audience was also reminded that there is now a Living Building Collaborative in Leeds (@UK_LBC). This is being managed jointly by Leeds Sustainability Institute  and Fairsnape.

After this thought provoking presentation the delegates were treated to two very different Pecha Kucha sessions. For those who haven’t seen this format there are just two rules – 20 slides and they auto advance every 20 seconds.

First up was Phillipa Ashbee from Glass Bottle Alley.

Phillipa showcased her business that makes recycled glass into anything from worktops, splash backs, place mats and coasters to furniture and external envelope panels – in fact pretty much anything in glass. What makes Glass Bottle Alley unique is that they fuse their crushed glass in a kiln so there is not resin added, the product is 100% and can be recycled again if necessary without any loss of quality. Phillipa showed some fantastic images both commercial and domestic with novel uses such as backlighting or colour change LEDs to further enhance their product.

The second presentation was from Martin Brown and focussed on the opportunities and the risks associated with the Green Deal.

The Green Deal is a finance model, a personal finance initiative. But there is a risk of the perfect storm of –

the untrained selling unsuitable to the uninformed

Whilst Martin agreed that energy use is very important he noted that we count solve today’s problems with the thinking that created them in the first place, we can’t just  be less bad and cited why the Living Building Challenge is so good.

The delegates were challenged how to think differently? But still being collaborative.

 Every time you make the right decision for the environment you make a profit.

Yves Chouinard.

 So what is the Green Vision network going to take from today? Some of the key points that came out in the final open discussions were

  • More information and advice on the Living Building Challenge. Materials, healthy products.
  • A broader view of sustainability, not just energy focussed.
  • .Project examples. Exemplar projects.
  • How monitor and feedback.
  • Honest appraisal of the buildings in use.
  • Sharing that knowledge.
  • It’s more than the design. Think about in the round. Not legislation driver but a business opportunity.
  • Howe do we get people to think longer term, 5,10,15 years of building in flexibility. Get owners and occupiers to understand this first.
  • Landlords making places as a destination. Not throwing everything away bit building virtuous circles.
  • Recycled content information. Is there information or a database out there?

So after an other useful, interesting and undoubtedly challenging afternoon Sophie brought the proceeding to an end with thanks to all the speakers, the organisers and the delegates.

See you all at the next event – Green Vision are presenting at GreenBuild on May 8th and then the next twilight seminar will be focussing on ‘Building Transparency ‘ on June 12th.

Leeds Sustainability Institute at Ecobuild 2013

By Professor Chris Gorse, Director of the Leeds Sustainability Institute

Having been invited to speak and take part in the “Making sustainable construction happen, Green for growth reality check” session at EcoBuild 2013, I was asked to join a panel discussion in the Arena with Rt Hon Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Enterprise.

The host was none other than Jonathon Dimbleby, who drew out a balanced debate on the challenges that are facing the industry and the measures necessary to build confidence and start to move the industry from the grips of recession.  Other panel members included  Mike Putnam, Chief Executive of Skanska UK and Co-Chair Green Construction Board  and Rhian Kelly, Director for business environment at the CBI.

While positive statements were made, clearly the challenge of delivering buildings takes much more than words, we need action from both the policy makers and industry. Yet, I do see some signs that the industry is starting to get to grips with the gap between theory and reality and what it needs to do in terms of research if it is to gain confidence in those that are investing in green construction.

I still argue for a fabric first approach, get it right and we can adequately service and build smart interfaces that are dynamic enough to respond to the environment and user needs.  The Green Deal Trial that we are undertaking in Leeds will also give us a greater understanding of what can be achieved with the existing building stock.  As far less than 1% of our current buildings meet nearly zero or passive standards, almost all of our existing buildings need an eco upgrade. If we can build confidence that is a lot of buildings for the industry to develop.

Closer to Zero – Green Vision Seminar 13 February

The recent snow, disruptive weather and congested roads turned the planned Green Vision seminar into an intimate evening at Squires Sanders last Wednesday evening.  Sue Riddlestone , OBE, founder and CEO of Bioregional, along with Dr Craig Jones principal sustainability consultant at Sustain Ltd, shared their experience and learning from the Olympics Games 2012 .

Sue described the meaning concepts behind the One Planet Living ten principles, based on the need to re-address the balance of consumption behaviour on our planet. The OPL is focused on making sustainability simple – through addressing ecological footprints – leading to a more informed holistic approach based around the ten principles

Sue currently lives and works in the bedzed zero carbon development which has achieved excellent results although at an above average build cost. The One Brighton project however was built on the OPL principles  at normal build costs and sold twice as fast a BedZed. It has also created a vibrant hub where people are happy with their sustainable lifestyles, proving that it is possible to build sustainable developments  with much improved health and community benefits without additional costs.

The ‘One Planet Olympics ‘ is an excellent example that led to huge savings in material costs through recycle and reuse strategies alongside the purchasing of materials & systems ‘on lease’ and returning them after the Olympic Games. A demonstration of Circular Economy thinking!

As the London Sustainable development commissioner , Sue was given access to the consultants on the Olympics project thanks to Ken Livingstone who provided the leadership for Bioregional influence with their ambitious sustainability strategy – the Greenest Games Ever – at the bidding  stage.  Of course , no one ever really thought the UK would win the Olympics , but when we did, the ambitious strategy became a legally binding document of the ‘One Planet Olympics’

Sue stressed the importance of contracts , strict guidance over reuse of buildings and materials from dismantled buildings on the site . Whilst there were no embodied carbon targets for the games there were strict reuse targets as there was a huge drive to dematerialise buildings. Innovative novation approaches were used such as take back schemes for air conditioning systems .

Sue summarised by giving two take away key principles:

  1. leadership and commitment to a sustainable project no matter how big ,
  2. embodied carbon must also be considered alongside health and well being.

Sue described the current environment as a clunky gear change into a more resource efficient environment.

Next, Dr. Craig Jones gave a detailed account of embodied carbon, its meaning and its impact at this time of huge growth of GHG emissions explaining the difference between embodied carbon and whole life carbon.

Embodied carbon mainly comes from energy and is also known as the carbon footprint of a material. It considers energy consumed to process, transport and fabricate a product. Taking us through the ‘cradle to gate’ approach and then further to ‘cradle to site’ including powering onsite, assembly equipment and construction waste. Managing construction waste is effective but buying less materials would be the most efficient saving to be made.

Craig indicated a few culprits such as bricks and cement in concrete as materials that could be replaced by lower carbon alternatives. In particular he drilled down into the detail of the cement low carbon substitute products (Ggbs and pfa) which were used in the Olympic Park and some of the resistance to using such materials n construction projects being down to lack of understanding and the impact on schedule of a longer curing time.

The key message from Craig was that Embodied carbon, once it’s emitted, it’s gone and we can never go back and improve the embodied carbon, its irrecoverable.

GVis members posed some interesting questions around the WRAP net waste tool which has a lack of up to date data and the open access nature of the university o f Bath embodied Carbon materials database (which is currently seeking funding to sustain maintenance and upkeep)Recommended resources from the event:

Best foot forward report 

Bath Embodied  Carbon Database 

SKA rating guidance 

Better Buildings Partnerships Guidance 

Notes from Claire Bowles Green Vision and Martin Brown Fairsnape



“We’ve done what we can in tackling carbon reduction, but this is the low hanging fruit, – the next move is tackling people and the environment – and that’s a much tougher job”. This a quote from Keynote Speaker, Janet Kidner of Lend Lease at Green Vision’s Cutting Costs & Carbon series, at Old Broadcasting House last week – and it’s a sentiment that ran true throughout the half day conference.

Run by Leeds Metropolitan’s Centre for Knowledge Exchange and the Construction Sector Network in conjunction with University of Greenwich as part of their Carbon, Control and Comfort (CCC) Research Project, the event saw over 40 construction and property professionals explore questions around Sustainable Technologies, Behaviour Change Initiatives, The Role of the Landlord and Controls Interventions, and all came back to the need to change people’s behaviour and attitudes if we really want to make headway into sustainable low carbon living.

Kidner also spoke of the importance of designing and planning spaces with optimum usage in mind – i.e building more stairways to stop people taking the lifts, but also to encourage interaction across teams, and strengthening of inter-company relations and business referrals. She also mentioned incentives such as providing staff with healthy breakfasts, running gardening clubs, and cycle to work schemes – all initiatives that help to create positive, inclusive attitudes of employees and a strong long-term approach to sustainable living. This all sounds great, but does it work? Providing examples of how productivity had risen in low carbon buildings, Kidner was confidently saying yes.

Controlling Occupant Behaviour?
Next delegates heard from Professor Keith Jones, from CCC, who re-iterated that technology alone won’t meet the CO2 targets set by government. He shared with us a case study of homes in Wales where controls were tested and occupants behaviour monitored. The outcome? That householders do not respond to heating and cooling controls in a structured way – and that it’s important to them to be able to actively manage their comfort…not the best news for energy companies hoping to install systems that remove elements of user control.

However, he also discussed the use of creative interventions, ranging from high-tech to low-tech appliances and was encouraged by the use of some of these, although advised that the most innovative may be cost prohibitive. What these interventions do achieve is an increased awareness of individual’s behaviour and the impact this has, on energy usage and the amount they pay for their bills. There is still a lot of work to do though, it seems, on defining the role of the landlord, in terms of the support offered to tenants to help and guide them in lowering their energy consumption, as constant reinforcement is required. In terms of driving a thirst for improving energy efficiency amongst tenants, benchmarking against peers was an approach that was popular with delegates as a way of encouraging competitiveness within neighbourhoods.

The Current State of Play
Speakers and delegate responses in the roundtables discussions and networking debates highlighted that in their experience whilst there was a real thirst for cutting carbon in the property sector, for many organisations, simply going through the motions of reducing energy usage was as far as they had got. From experience in the room, it was apparent that sustainable practices were becoming more integrated into everyday business, but the reach of these initiatives varied greatly. For some, it was as simple as using less heating and lighting, for others it was about generating their own, but only a small few had come across clients proactively looking to make long-term sustainable change having committed to driving behavioural change at grass routes levels. This is obviously a great step forward, but stops short of addressing the wider carbon footprint.

Creating the Demand
It was also interesting, and worrying, to hear that students going through the building colleges were not particularly engaged in sustainable practices –in fact only a few had an understanding of them, and very few had an interest in learning about them. Why is this? The roundtable discussing this was slightly bemused – but it all came back to money. Why would these students, many of whom are owners of small building practices, take an interest, just because we believe they should? We heard that their focus is on learning a trade that will provide a good income and that they don’t necessarily see sustainable building techniques as being mainstream enough yet to bother about – Quite an eye-opener. As very little of the curriculum is focused on sustainability this means there is still quite a skills gap in terms of training up the construction and property tradesmen. The group discussed that demand should be led from above, so training was required to reach landlords, to create a need that then disseminates to suppliers and installers, who would then have to respond.

Claire Walker Project Manager for Green Vision said: “These events always evoke lively debate. The feeling was that we are making headway in terms of getting the property and construction sector to address sustainable practices, but it is still very piecemeal, and often a token gesture. We need to work together as an industry to continue to move forward and address the very real challenge of behaviour change. Once we start to genuinely get under the skin of this, and start to create buildings and spaces with low carbon, sustainable living in mind from day 1 we can make a real difference. The bigger challenge however is how to deal with the existing properties in use that now need to be revisited and dragged into the future –this is where real commitment is needed and the buy in of all involved is crucial, from the construction suppliers, to the landlords to the tenants.”

“What we hope to achieve with Green Vision is to open up discussions and debates that can help delegates in their own organisations, taking learning’s back to their teams, and helping to drive change. We had a great response from all who attended and are already looking forward to the next one!”

Green Vision highlighted many diverse views and opinions, but all delegates were glued to the screen to listen to Max Richter, from Perkins & Will Architects in Vancouver on CIRS, the Center for Interactive Research in Sustainability, as he shared his experience, thoughts and findings on ‘The Greenest Building on the Planet’ via a Skype call into Leeds.

Run by Leeds Metropolitan’s Centre for Knowledge Exchange and the Construction Sector Network in conjunction with University of Greenwich as part of their Carbon, Control and Comfort (CCC) Research Project,  the event saw over 40 construction and property professionals explore questions around Sustainable Technologies, Behaviour Change Initiatives, The Role of the Landlord and Controls Interventions, and all came back to the need to change people’s behaviour and attitudes if we really want to make headway into sustainable low carbon living.

Richter reiterated this with his case study of CIRS as he talked about ‘a giant leap forward’ being required, alongside the need to develop an appetite of celebrating sustainability.

As he discussed what was involved in designing a building that has now achieved the status of being net positive in embodied carbon, making it possibly the greenest building in the world, what stood out was the unique nature of this place now it is occupied, in that it’s providing a living breathing research lab.

They see the people in the building as active participants in the building, not merely occupants. They are integrated and ingrained into the success or failure of this property being truly sustainable.

Makes perfect sense and I’m sure we’d all agree this is the way to go, but discussions from earlier in the day highlighted that whilst we all know this is the way forward, in very few instances is this actually happening. This backdrop made Richter’s presentation all the more inspiring as he told of true integration of the vision and the reality at CIRS.

Having achieved the Living Building Challenge status, lowered the carbon footprint and energy costs across the Uni campus and created what has been termed as ‘a living eco laboratory’ it’s no wonder that this project attracts a lot of attention but Richter was keen to stress it is no novelty.  He believes that the learning’s found at CIRS can be and should be transferred widely to more traditional developments.

He clearly was proud of the green construction elements that play a key role in making this building special, such as it being constructed entirely of wood. Glue-laminate beams with dimensional lumber decking are used throughout the build. We heard that while the intent was to use wood as the primary structure material, the design team compared the carbon footprints of steel, concrete or glulam for the building structure. Relative to the embodied carbon in a structural material, wood has a clear advantage over concrete and steel as trees sequester carbon dioxide as they grow. The net carbon footprint for the wood structure, including the harvesting, milling and transportation of the timber, was -0.90 Tonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2-e) per cubic meter. The project team estimated that the wood used in the building is sequestering the equivalent of 600 tonnes of CO2-e. This is greater than the 525 tonnes of CO2-e generated from the manufacturing and transportation of all other building materials used in the construction, making the construction of CIRS carbon negative.

And obviously the renewable energy sources at work such as the rainwater harvesting, the reclaimed water, living roof and heat exchange systems play a huge part in the building’s success too. We heard how one of the most important goals of the CIRS project was to achieve net-positive energy performance and how by harvesting renewable and waste energy, CIRS is able to supply not only its own energy needs but also a portion of the needs of an adjacent building, by capturing and sharing energy.

All of this and the monitoring and adaptation of these systems are invaluable but what really got Richter exited were the design elements that enable human interaction with the building and the sustainability touch points that provide a greener way of life, as a natural way of being.  Things such as more open staircases across the building so people across different business areas interact more often, free healthy breakfasts offered in a shared canteen, gardening clubs and community initiatives established and run by enthusiasts…all this brings the sustainable values to life.

They call this ‘sustainable building inhabitant interplay’. With a Sustainability Charter, Inhabitant engagement programme and assessments of inhabitants productivity, health?and happiness they really are practicing what they preach.

With CIRS being: “…An open place for researching and teaching sustainability; supporting collaborations between academia, government, industry, professionals, non-governmental organizations and the public; and spreading the seeds of sustainability through its interactions with a wide range of people” this case study provided a fantastic backdrop to the rest of the day’s events.

We were left with an understanding of what is possible and an excitement about what can be achieved. Thanks to Max for taking time out of his manic schedule to share his experience with us.

Cutting Carbon #GVischat

Another inspirational tweetchat as part of the GVisChat series took place last Thursday, covering a number of approaches for cutting carbons out of construction that included re-using buildings, visibility of reductions, QR codes on project hoardings, understanding the impact of construction, benchmarking,  and using BIM.

The full transcript with notes and links can be viewed here on Storify

Our next GVischat will be on the 20th March to coincide with EcoBuild and ask the question “what is your Green Vision”

Follow @ckegroup @fairsnape and or @gvischat to keep in touch. We can also run twitter workshops and support sessions to get you going on twitter and contributing to our tweetchats. Contact Claire for more information


Renewable Experts Bank on a Green Future

A group of renewables experts have come together at the country’s leading sustainable development, Greenhouse in support of Leeds City Region’s bid to host the proposed Green Investment Bank (GIB) which the Government plans to capitalise with £3bn in order to stimulate the green economy.

The show of support for Leeds City Region’s GIB bid was attended by Melanie Taylor of Leeds City Region, Mark Goldstone from Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, Patrick Walton, Managing Director of Yorkshire Bank, Chris Thompson of Citu, Phil Roberts of GMI Renewables, Mark Duncan of Duncan Renewables, Andrew Hudson of G&H Sustainability and Chris Tinson of Veritas Recruitment Solutions and its newly launched subdivision Renewables Recruitment.

The group is planning further events and inviting other industry leaders from the renewables sector to join them.

Chris Tinson, Managing Director of Veritas and Renewables Recruitment, which specialises in recruitment throughout the renewables sector, explains: “Leeds is home to the strongest financial base outside London and the Yorkshire region is establishing a thriving green economy with plans for a number of innovative projects being unveiled recently such as Siemens’ wind turbine factory in Hull and the world’s largest offshore wind farm at Dogger Bank.

“We recruit renewables professionals for many of the country’s leading players and have just launched Renewables Recruitment to specialise in this booming market and continue attracting leading candidates in the industry to the region. It definitely makes sense to base the GIB at the heart of a region that embraces and leads the green economy and bringing together so many professionals demonstrates our support for the bid and hopefully enhances our chances of winning.”

Mark Duncan, Managing Director of Duncan Renewables, added: “The Leeds City Region is centrally positioned and its historic role as a financial hub supporting major banks and building societies makes it the ideal location for hosting the GIB. Yorkshire was the birth place of the industrial revolution and with its leading role in the application of solar and wind technologies, it is already at the heart of the renewable energy revolution.”

Chris Thompson, Managing Director of sustainable property developers, Citu, continued: “The Leeds City Region has always been forward thinking when it comes to renewables which is why we chose Leeds for our landmark project, Greenhouse. The development is a UK first combining energy saving and renewable technologies with a sharp innovative edge, pioneering technology and internet infrastructure.

“After working with the council, local suppliers and members of the local community throughout the development of Greenhouse, and now our future projects, it’s clear that as a region we’re committed to creating a ‘greener’ future. Working in collaboration across the corporate and public sectors, Leeds is already ahead of other cities and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with businesses securing funding from the GIB.”

This article also appeared in the Yorkshire Times

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