Leeds Sustainability Institute

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Tag: CO2

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

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

 

Low carbon diet for construction boards

Question:  who on your board is really championing sustainability and the low carbon agenda?

Board members, as Lucy Marcus reminded us at construcTALKs last month, need to balance continuity with change, to embrace changes in technology with established, proven ways ….

From my experience in (small-medium) construction organisations boards are perhaps too focused on looking back at performance, rather than forwards, and when looking forward tend to do so with the risk-eye of past problems.  And sustainability, only discussed when necessary, as part of a ISOO 14001, project, incident issue.

Too often, as 14001 sits with Health and Safety, sustainability takes a back seat.  Rarely construction boards view sustainability in its widest sense as a critical strategic, opportunity issue, but simply one to be dealt with at project level.

Yet the world is moving forward, and increasingly so towards a low carbon environment and economy. Only those with proven performance and attitude of low carbon approaches may well survive.

All the more reason to have board members to champion change. Non execs tend to provide an independent financial and governance role, but increasingly they should drive the organisation towards change, and give direction towards a low carbon construction economy.

To quote from Lucy, boards need to be both Grounded and Stargazers.

Are construction boards so grounded they go underground? Or do they at least from time to time stand on a hill and gaze the stars to wonder and then to understand what is out there?

Comments appreciated ….