Green Vision ambassadors and professionals gathered at Squires Sanders at 2 Park Lane in Leeds on Wednesday evening for another engaging Green Vision event. An excellent panel of speakers, chaired by Martin Brown at Fairsnape, covered the practicalities of Specifying Green Products and highlighting excellent resources and online tools available for use by construction professionals.John Gelder presented a well-organised, seamless systematic review of Environmental Specification throughout the stages of a Project Timeline. Brian Murphy introduced our members to a parallel world to NBS taking us on a quick tour of Green-Spec Studio and the CAP’EM tool. Finally Sophie Stephens from Balfour Beatty showed us what they have been doing with Green Materials in practice.

John holds the position of Head of Content Development and Sustainability for RIBA Enterprises and whilst this title implies Sustainability as a bolt on, John presented the opposite: Sustainability as an integral consideration throughout the project lifeline of the RIBA Plan of Works (2013). The information was extensive and precise highlighting key environmental considerations for each stage providing the relevant standard, guidance along the way. Interestingly John was adamant that this is ‘Not just carbon, not just ‘all about us’, and not necessarily negative’ encouraging us to take a positive view of our natural environment and impacts.

Brian Murphy focused our attention on Green Spec Studio, an online free access design and specification assembly tool with over 600 registered users and 859 elemental assemblies and secondary elements. Whilst NBS software and Green Spec are parallel worlds, both will continue to grow, converge and perhaps meet in the middle at some point in the not too distant future. Brian hinted at future development of Green Spec to reclassify to suit Uniclass2012 at the next update.

Sophie, Environmental and Sustainability Manager at Balfour Beatty stressed the importance of specifying green materials in order to meet the clients ever growing demands for BREEAM buildings as 12.5 percent of the BREEAM score is down to sustainable materials procurement. Sophie highlighted difficulties in identifying chains of custody and the importance of getting evidence to prove that materials are sustainably sourced and hinted that whilst BREEAM is a great tool for stimulating demand for greener buildings, they have in fact been able to produce buildings that perform to a higher environmental standard on projects that are not working towards a BREEAM certficiation.

A lively Q and A followed covering a variety of issues such as Consistency Green Specification tools and guides, barriers to specifying green products and continued specification of ‘violet’ materials and the recurring issue of OPEX CAPEX as a barrier to specifying green materials. All good food for thought for more in-depth focus at our GVis Conference on Dec 12th at Greenhouse, see you there! Slides from the presentations can be found here