Join us for the first #gvischat of 2014 focusing on Living Building Challenge

Join us on the 6th February where, as part of the UKGBC’s Pinpoint programme taking place 3-7 Feb to increase awareness of The Living Building Challenge in the UK with UKGBC members, we will be hosting, with @UKGBC Pinpoint, a conversation with Amanda Sturgeon, VP of the Living Building Challenge at the International Living Futures Institutein Seattle.

The tweetchat will run for 60mins and provide ample opportunity to post questions to guests, share your experiences and comment on the subject matter.

The conversation starts at 11am PST, 2pm ET and 7pm UK. Please use the the #GVischat hashtag to join in.

Becoming Mindful in Management

The room became completely silent.  Just for a few moments, seconds even.  And yet within that silence was a deep calm, magnified even because of the number of people in the room.  The deep calm felt nourishing and rich and resourceful.

‘Whaaaaat??’ I hear you cry ‘You think this has something to do with management??’ ‘When we have targets to meet, customers to satisfy, staff to lead – and all sorts of other challenges every day!’

Yes I do.  It is well known that human beings live in a ‘Performance Paradox’ – this has been most brilliantly articulated by Tony Schwartz amongst others.  Whilst a stretch for the imagination against what seems to be the law of Physics, human beings can often achieve more by doing less.  It is the antithesis of the use of machines.  Many studies show that rather than achieving more by doing longer hours (like a machine would), a human being achieves more by doing less and responding to the rhythmic needs of their human systems.

In other words if a human being becomes very busy and overloaded, their optimal levels of performance start to diminish.  And over time this gets worse.  You may notice that a relentlessly ‘busy’ person often starts to use 50 words to explain something where 10 will do.  They may do several things at once and yet this makes each single task take longer or is done less well.  A very calm person may be incisive and cut through the weeds, bringing effectiveness to everything they do.

It doesn’t stop there.  The human stress response which is activated by lots of ‘doing’, and by multiple ‘doing’ is felt in other human ways – ones that are physical and emotional as well as mental.  Poor sleep ensues for example which adds to the loop of poor concentration, fragmented thoughts and stirred up emotions.

In a knowledge based economy where your thoughts and intellect is what adds the value to your work then the performance of your brain and your whole human system is what will give your best performance.  And this is a beautiful place to be.  The state of being  relaxed whilst alert is an optimal operating level for a human being – and it feels good!  It is often experienced as a state of ‘flow’ which is a great immersion in a task – you may even call it part of ‘employee engagement’ and, because it feels so good and achieves such great things, once you have experienced this, you may want it again and again!  This is great because achieving a state of ‘flow’ regularly programmes this into your brain and it becomes easier and easier to access.

‘Mindfulness’ and ‘Mindful Leadership’ are proving to be the antidote to 21st Century living for many people who have been experiencing the negative effects of ‘Bigger, Faster, Stronger’ and want to introduce greater depth, quality and intelligence into their work in a way that is much more sustainable over protracted lengths of time.

This can be learnt.  If learnt by one person it positively impacts those around them just as a stressed person negatively impacts those around them.  It is a 21st century set of skills and experiences drawn from ancient wisdoms of 3000 years old. 

You can learn it.  You, your team and your employer can all benefit.  You may find that as you do – your mind and body breathes a sigh of relief…..

And then, watch this space….

Anne Parker, Anne Parker Ltd:

About Anne: Anne is a highly experienced Management Development Facilitator and coach who draws from her own mindful practices and disciplines to deliver her sessions

Interested in finding out more? Leeds Metropolitan University are running an 8 week course with Anne on Mindful Management starting 19th February 2014 (evenings 6-8:30pm)

Further info and booking details here

JUST: a social justice label for construction …

Taking built environment sustainability deeper into the responsibility agenda, the International Living Future Institute are launching (Oct 2013) a new and important transparency initiative for the built environment to sit along side the Living Building Challenge and Declare. Just will provide clients, specifiers and procurers with ‘a view of how participating organisations treat their employees and where they invest their profits’

Just will cover the important areas of gender and ethnic diversity, salary equity, gender pay equity, community involvement, responsible investing and more, taking it beyond other programmes in the built environment sector. (And arguably areas that the UK Considerate Constructors Scheme should be addressing?)

The Press Release from ILFI reads:

In today’s global economy, it’s difficult to know what your consumer dollars are really supporting. JUST gives you an insider’s view of how participating organisations treat their employees and where they invest their profits. JUST works seamlessly with the International Living Future Institute’s Declare™ materials label and the next iteration of the Living Building Challenge™ (Version 3.0 — coming spring 2014).

By providing participating companies with a clear, elegant and informative equity ‘nutrition-label’, JUST aims to transform the marketplace through transparency and open communication. It aligns with the Institute’s Declare™ materials label to provide a holistic picture of both the products a company produces and the human story behind those products.
To participate in this voluntary disclosure program, an organization must submit documentation that asks for in-depth information about twenty distinct aspects of workplace equity and justice.
We’ll be launching the JUST label and searchable database FALL 2013. Join us in this critical initiative!

Living Building Challenge Infographic

Spotted this excellent infographic explaining the Living Building Challenge recently covered on Treehugger

“The Living Building Challenge is the toughest green standard out there, but it is seriously gaining traction as people get to understand it”

Lloyd Alter writes “Skanska prepared what they call an infographic to help explain the Living Building Challenge. It’s not really; it is more like a Powerpoint presentation glued together, light on non-verifiable numbers, heavy on written content. It is the most concise summary of the LBC that I have seen yet”


We are currently preparing the fist UK Living Building Challenge newsletter with exciting news, events, workshops, client interest and possibly the first UK registered LBC project!  To ensure you receive a copy follow @UK_LBC on twitter, leave a comment here or email us.

A Green Vision for Social Media at Green Build Expo

logoBe2Camp returns to Greenbuild Expo in May with Green Vision.

This year’s session, taking place on 8th May at Manchester Central from 1pm, will be the most exciting  yet, with an amazing line-up of speakers (see below for programme).

GreenBuild Expo itself attracts over 4,000 built environment professionals and takes place on 8th and 9th May. It features over 100 free seminars and workshops on all aspects on sustainable buildings, from integrating renewable energy and BIM for beginners to skills for Green Deal and strategies for climate change adaptation. Speakers include UK Green Building Council, Energy Saving Trust, Warm Up North, Manchester City Council and many more. For free registration visit


The speakers will include some of the top presentations from Green Visions last three years’ programme, along with BE2 friends old and new. Join us for the whole afternoon, or one of the three great sessions we have planned.

1.00 Welcome

1.15 – 2.00 Green Knowledge – how social media can help us learn, share and advance green sustainability knowledge, including essential tips on promoting your green credentials

2.15 – 3.00 Green Materials – transparency in green and healthy materials, featuring presentation from Kelly Grainger, Interface and Philippa Ashbee from Bottle Glass Alley.

3.15 – 4.00 Green Futures – what’s emerging in the world of green building, featuring ‘Green Towns’’ Prof Angus McIntosh from Oxford Brooks University, and Paul Toyne, Global Head of Sustainability at WSP and a keynote live presentation from Amanda Sturgeon, VP Living Building Challenge, from the recently completed Bullitt Centre in Portland, called by many the greenest commercial building in the world (Not one to miss!).

Do you have something to share, Pecha Kucha style (thats 20 slides, each 20 seconds) that will fit one of the above sessions? We will keep one slot free for ‘on the day’ contribution But if you are interested please let the Greenbuild Expo organisers know in advance. (1st come, 1st served ….)

As in previous years, our afternoon session will be live streamed and web enabled allowing real global sharing from and into the event.

BE2 (Be2Camp) are Greenbuild Expo’’s social media partners, and a social media advocacy for built environment sustainability and collaborative working

Green Vision, part of the Leeds Sustainability Institute and Centre for Knowledge Exchange and committed to driving sustainable change for construction professionals

Demystifying Green Buildings

The transcript, Storify style,  of the excellent Green Vision half day conference can be read here

Catch up with the comments and tweets through the day, revisit presentations and explore the numerous links shared during the event. Also read through tweets and observations from the day’s round table discussions

  • Financing Low Carbon Retrofit
  • The Real Green Deal
  • Better things to spend your money on
  • The business case for commercial retrofit
  • Revalue – Assessing the Improvement Fundamentals of Buildings

A sample of the presentations delivered include: John Alker

and Amanda Sturgeon live from the Bullitt centre

#GVis Demystifying Green Buildings: The Opportunities of Retrofit

A packed out room of Construction professionals gathered for yesterday’s Green Vision seminar at Squires Sanders.  Nigel Banks, Group Sustainability Director for Keepmoat   gave a compelling presentation on the Green Deal and the current Governments’ approach to tackling Fuel Poverty. George Munson Energy and Climate Change Manager at Leeds City Council highlighted the excellent retrofit programmes being delivered by the Leeds City Region and the tangible energy savings and health benefits achieved by household residents. Whilst Karen Stafeckis, Area Manager for Turner and Townsend  discussed the process and business case for adopting low carbon retrofit projects in the public and private sectors.  .

Nigel titled his presentation somewhat tongue in cheek as ‘Selling Fuel Poverty’ highlighting the importance of fuel poverty as a key priority for government. Yet despite it being high on the government agenda we are currently in our first government since 1970 which does not have a government programme in place to tackle the issue of the fuel poor.  The Green Deal with its 7% interest rate could prove off-putting for poorer households, and fuel-poor consumers could miss out altogether. Nigel argued that the Green Deal will not stop fuel poverty rocketing as fuel prices rise.

Nigel advocated the importance of understanding and working solutions appropriate to the house and occupiers when looking to improve social housing stocks on a whole estate basis . He also emphasised the importance of these upgrades being offered at Low or no cost helping residents move out of extreme fuel poverty in tough times when fuel bills have tripled. Keepmoat have done extensive work and research around solutions and technologies and how they work together , delivering savings of up to 80% on carbon in some properties and demonstrating considerable cost savings to residents . Nigel said the Green Deal has excited the construction industry but it may only bring benefit and be appropriate for a tranche of the market with its 7% interest rates and can’t be seen as a solution to tackle Fuel Poverty as the bottom 20% may not even be eligible for the Green Deal finance.

George Munson shared Leeds City Councils learning of delivering the green deal in the Leeds City Region on the Green Deal Demonstrator programme which started in October 2012. The programme emerged following on from DEEP and Wrap upLeeds.LeedsCityregion agreed to collaborate for the 2.6 million green deal demonstrator programme involving a small framework of suppliers. The programme was set up with the primary aims of testing the green deal with a longer term agreement to work on a 3-8 year green deal programme  . This project was a test bed to investigate the appetite for loans and test the market for new niche housing types  of solid wall properties and hard to treat cavities. George indicated the first project of external insulation to 1960s properties as a real success with great take up and low impact in terms of intrusion and high impact in terms of comfort improvements. Great way to transform an estate. The second part to the demonstrator is testing the appetite for loans which when offered at 0% enquiries have been flooding in. There is a third element to the programme in the pipeline which will look at Victorian terraces where internal  insulation would not have been possible had the  Government not just released its new planning guidance whereby external wall insulation is permitted unless in listed buildings or conservation areas.  George brought his presentation to a close by drawing out key learning to date indicating an appetite for loans, an appetite from the market yet the need for an alternative to the Green Deal finance. Leeds City Region will be looking ahead to their long term Green Deal offer to deliver improvements on 450,000 properties over the next 3-8 years.

Karen Stafeckis shifted the focus of the evening from housing to an in-depth look at Retrofit of non domestic buildings , both Public and Private, highlighting the importance of optimising energy performance in existing occupied buildings. Karen saw social and economic pressure driving businesses towards the low carbon retrofit agenda change alongside increased movements around CSR and increased consumer demand for optimised buildings.  She delivered a clear message around the process of measurement, benchmarking, setting realistic energy targets and bundling of buildings to optimise paybacks.  Karen shared her experience of the Mayor of London’s public Sector initiative RE:FITwhich was first launched in 2008 and guarantees energy savings achieved through low carbon retrofit. 5 years into the scheme and it is achieving guaranteed savings typically up to 28% pa and payback periods typically less than seven years.   .

Karen concluded with discussion of the recently launched World Green Business Council’s ‘Business Case’for Green Buildings, and a strong message that optimising energy efficiency can deliver economic as well as environmental benefits.

GVis members posed some excellent questions around occupier behavior and its impact on the Green Deal. Also good points raised on multi occupancy buildings and a shift towards community heating systems. Green Deal finance was a hot topic as ever raising the questions around interest rates, saleable value of homes under the Green Deal.

Green Vision 2013 #GVischat Tweet Chat Schedule

This year sees our third year of Green Vision tweet chats under the #GVischat hashtag. Previous tweet chats have included discussions exploring CSR, Retrofit, Cradle to Cradle and Green Materials amongst many other topical sustainability themes.

We are delighted to announce our 2013 Green Vision series, which we hope will settle into a regular Monday 8pm slot. Topics to date are:

Jan 28th 8pm       Are we getting closer to Zero?

Feb 25th 8pm       ThinkBIM chat #tbimchat

March 18th 8pm    Retrofit Revisited

April 15th 8pm       Living Building Challenge

May 20th 8pm        ThinkBIM chat (using #tbimchat)

June 24th 8pm       Green Vision

More dates and topics will be announced in the summer. Details on how to tweetchat can be found here.  Transcripts of previous tweetchats can be found on the fairsnape storify site.


A Built Environment without Ash?

Can we even start to imagine a Built Environment without Ash, or Scots Pine for that matter? Or a built environment with severe restrictions on movement and transportation of timber, where design and construction, from necessity has to be focused on local timber sources.

A built environment we may have to face up to and prepare for, fast, argues Martin Brown @fairsnape:

There has been a huge amount of coverage in the media, and indeed across social media on Ash dieback disease, but little as yet related to the built environment, and the role we may have played in the spread of the disease or the potential impact it may, no will, have on the built environment.

Despite the UK Government (DEFRA) slow response, not to mention odd instructions to wash boots dogs and children after visits to the countryside, the causes of Ash Dieback seems to be emerging as:

  • Climate Change
  • Bio Security, or lack of
  • Demand for instant landscaping

The built environment is accountable for around 40% of climate change issues (waste, transport, carbon, energy etc) but its the increase in demand for instant green that may be our biggest contribution.  Odd isn’t it that efforts to plant trees and plants to provide green landscapes and green roofs in response to CO2 and biodiversity issues may have opened the door to yet bigger problems.

There is of course a great example of complexity theory at play here, we can no longer rely on cause effect thinking, but need to consider wider, biodiversity consequences. As Muir is quoted as saying ” when we tug at one part of nature we tug at the whole of nature”

  • We face a tidal wave of diseases with over 30 damaging pathogens identified poised, ready to threaten UK trees and plants. See Guardian article.
  • We face movement and transport restriction on timbers from Ash, Scots Pine and other plants, both in landscaping and use in construction, finishes and furniture.
  • We need to rethink, and fast


I am reminded of my visit to UBC CIRS building in Vancouver last year and the gorgeous timbers in the atrium and main hall, timbers ‘salvaged’ from local forests affected by pine beetle disease and closely monitored by the Living Building Challenge.

As we launch Living Building in the UK with a UK collaborative, it may well be that the certification of future green buildings in the UK is through standards such as the Living Building Challenge, that give hard earned recognition to buildings and facilities that, like plants, contribute to making the world a better place.

The CIRS Building was recently profiled in our CKE Green Vision series with a presentation from Max Richter at Perkin+Will.

Green Vision is a key driver in launching Living Building thinking into the UK. Look out for more announcements at the next Green Vision conference event on the 12th Dec in Leeds and across the web. (Hashtag #GVis2012)

For more information on the Living Building collaborative in the UK, leave a comment, get in touch or pop over to our Living Building UK Collaborative page on Facebook and say hello.

(This blog originally appeared on the fairsnape blog)