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Going Circular or just going round in circles? Thoughts from our #gvis2016 event on the Circular Economy

CircularEconomyCollage-gvisheader

On Wednesday 10th February 2016,  Green Vision kicked off our 2016 events programme with a half day conference exploring the concept of the Circular Economy and it’s practical application in both the public and private sector. Attendees were also treated to a networking lunch as well as a tour of the Bright Building, home of the Re:Centre and the first University building to attain Breeam Outstanding status.

The event was opened by Green Vision Ambassador, and event chair for the afternoon, Eddie Murphy, who gave a brief overview of his new venture, Ollio Consultancy, a brand new sustainability and building performance consultancy, with reference to the key themes for the afternoon; circular economy, bioeconomy, designing for reuse  and  going beyond sustainability. The more I hear, the more I feel sustainability is really not an adequate term. It is not strong enough – we need whole scale systematic change and frankly the word sustainability doesn’t encapsulate this.

Following Eddie’s introduction, we then welcomed Peter Hopkinson to the floor. Peter Hopkinson is Head of Circular Economy initiatives at Bradford University and was one of the principal leads in the construction of the Bright Building. Peter, at the audience’s request, gave a warts and all account of the building’s construction including areas where the final outcome may not have been as successful as hoped i.e., the useability of the light switches! However, it was clear that the technology behind the Bright Building is extremely clever particularly in the areas of heating, ventilation and acoustics and in the use of locally sourced hempcrete as the main building material.

Peter was followed by Bridget Jackson, Corporate Sustainability Director at PwC who gave a fascinating account of the real practical steps that PwC have taken in order to meet their target of 100% of their waste materials reused, repurposed or recycled. Bridget was keen to stress that this had to start with design, she was only interested in using materials throughout the business that could be repurposed. One particular example I enjoyed was uniforms – there are over 3300 uniforms used throughout PwC’s operations and Bridget has ensured that these could either be reused as uniforms, or broken down to be used as industrial rags or insulation. Umbrella’s are still a challenge though…!

Our final two speakers for the day were Martin Brown, Green Vision Chair and Owner at Fairsnape who talked about Design for Deconstruction and Maggie Smallwood at BioVale who delivered an interesting  presentation on the Bioeconomy. The four speakers then reconvened for a panel debate which will be summarised in separate blog post at a later date.

Overall the conference provided much food for thought and I, along with many of the attendees, left full of ideas of how it can be applied at home and in the workplace. The challenge, which every speaker alluded to, is engagement. How do we get our companies, organisations as a collective to get on board? How do we ensure we are going circular instead of going round in circles? Let us know your thoughts.

Our summary of the event, including the best tweets and images can be found in our event storify below,

Heros and Texts for a Built Environment based on #CSR

“suddenly the air smells much greener now”

This post, written for Green Vision by Martin Brown @fairsnape was also published to his fairsnape blog 

Listening to ‘These Streets’, lyrics by Paolo Nutini summed up the brilliant, inspiring Green Vision conference in Leeds – exploring CSR within the built environment.

A mix of talks, presentations, round table discussions and pecha kuchas from Mel Starrs, Eden Brukman, Tamara Bergkamp, Eddie Murphy, Martin Brown, Faye Jenkins, Claire Walker, Rick Hamilton, Mark Warner, Pedro Pablo Cardoso-Castro, Andy Ainsworth, Paula Widdowson and many others showed that there is real emergence and a future for a Built Environment founded on social responsibility principles.

The air smells much greener …

We heard of excellent progress being made by individuals, projects and organisations on the CSR journey, and how behind these are great influential thinkers, often outside of the sector, many, unsurprisingly, related to the ‘outdoor’ sector.

Many of the speakers were enthusiastic in sharing CSR heros and recommended CSR reading. So here, as a summary, or reading list are those mentioned during the day.  I wonder how many of these are on the reading list within design, construction and fm education? (Book titles link to Amazon)

Yvon Chouinard

Rock climber, environmentalist and outdoor industry businessman, noted for his contributions to climbing, climbing equipment and the outdoor gear business. His company @Patagonia is widely acclaimed for its environmental and social focus. According to Fortune magazine, Chouinard is arguably the most successful outdoor industry businessman alive today.

The Responsible Company What we have learnt in the first 40 years at Patagonia by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley (see my blog)

 Let My People Go Surfing  Yvon Chouinard – Probably the ‘must read book’ to understand CSR in Business

(On my blog: How can construction learn from Patagonia?)

Ray Anderson

Founder of Interface Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of modular carpet for commercial and residential applications and a leading producer of commercial broadloom and commercial fabrics. He was known in environmental circles for his advanced and progressive stance on industrial ecology and sustainability.

Ray was was posthumously awarded an Outstanding Achievement award at this year’s Guardian Sustainable Business Awards in 2012. (There is a related, must watch, video here: John Elkington describing the work and legacy of Ray Anderson)

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose: Doing Business by Respecting the Earth (2009) Later released in paperback as Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist in 2011.

Paul Hawken

 An environmentalist, entrepreneur, and author. Ray Anderson of Interface credited The Ecology of Commerce with his environmental awakening. He described reading it as a “spear in the chest experience”, after which Anderson started crisscrossing the country with a near-evangelical fervor, telling fellow executives about the need to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

Hawken’s book, Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (1999) coauthored with Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins, popularized the now-standard idea of natural capital and direct accounting for ecosystem services, a theme revisited by Rio +20 and likely to become more mainstream across the built environment.

Janine Benyus

Her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature defines Biomimry as a “new science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems”. Benyus suggests looking to Nature as a “Model, Measure, and Mentor” and emphasizes sustainability as an objective of biomimicry.  Key thinking in the Living Building Challenge principles, as is

E O Wilson 

Edward Osborne Wilson an American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author. In the mid 80’s developed the concept of Biophilia, the connection between humans and nature, which translates into architecture and the built environment as comfort, well being and productivity through exposure to natural light and natural surrondings or imagry.

Anita Roddick

Dame Anita Roddick, human rights activist and environmental campaigner, best known as the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company producing and retailing beauty products that shaped ethical consumerism The company was one of the first to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the first to promote fair trade with third world countries. Roddick was involved in activism and campaigning for environmental and social issues, including involvement with Greenpeace andThe Big Issue.

John Elkington

John Elkington @volansjohn is a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development. He is currently the Founding Partner & Executive Chairman of Volans, a future-focused business working at the intersection of the sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovation movements

His latest book The Zeronauts, Breaking the Sustainability Barrier  describes many of todays inspirational leaders : “Just as our species broke the Sound Barrier during the 1940s and 1950s, a new breed of innovator, entrepreneur, and investor is lining up to break the Sustainability Barrier”

Jorgen Randers

2052: What will the world look like in 2052 

Jeff Hollender, 

Jeffrey Hollender is an American businessperson, entrepreneur, author, and activist. He was well known for his roles as CEO, co-founder, and later Chief Inspired Protagonist and Executive Chairperson of Seventh Generation Inc., the country’s largest distributor of non-toxic, all-natural cleaning, paper and personal care products.

Gary Hirshberg, 

Gary Hirshberg is chairman and former president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm, an organic yogurt producer, based in Londonderry, New Hampshire. Now part of the Danone group.

Published in January 2008, Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World is a book about socially minded business that calls on individuals to realize their power to make a difference in the marketplace, while doing business in ways that adhere to a multiple bottom line – one that takes into consideration not only finance, but the environment and health as well.

Jeffrey Swartz, 

Jeffrey Swartz is the president and CEO of The Timberland Company an organization that believes that doing well and doing good are inextricably linked. Timberland’s commitment is to reducing global warming and preserving the outdoor environment.

David and Claire Hieatt,

Founders of Howies a clothing company based in Cardigan Bay, Wales produces eco-friendly T-shirts, jeans and sportswear, and aims to have ethically correct practices. Howies use natural fabrics as alternatives to petrochemical-derived modern fabrics. Examples include organic cotton, Merino wool and recycled cotton. Howies T-shirts often have images or slogans with political or environmental themes

Dee Hock

Dee Ward Hock is the founder and former CEO of VISA , described systems that are both chaotic and ordered, and used for the first time the term “chard” and chaordic,combining the words chaos and order.

More?

Over to you –

Follow the discussion on twitter with the #GVis2012 hashtag.

Who are your CSR Heros and CSR Texts to add to this Built Environment inspirers list?

What additions or comments would you make to the entries above?

A full record (video, blog, tweets, presentations, storify) of the Building CSR Event is being curated on the be2camp event page here.

 

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