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This week’s essential reading January 2nd through January 7th

by mel starrs on January 8, 2009

in News

These are my links for January 2nd through January 7th:

  • House 2.0: Zero carbon? Stuck on page 9 – I'm not really pitching in on the zero carbon consultation, but Mark makes a very valid point here (and yes, if more new stuff gets built, I'm still in a job, so I'm as guilty as others): "Following on from this, I am also worried that the consultation on this document will be mostly carried out by development professionals, all of whom have a vested interest in seeing new development go forward because that is how they make their living. Hence there will be loads of debate about the minutiae of zero carbon, carbon compliance levels and allowable solutions, that sort of thing, but almost nothing on whether this is a good time to be planning new developments at all, or whether we should be moving towards a very different kind of building industry, based on repair, rebuilding and repositioning what we already have."
  • Aguanomics: It’s Hard Being a Revolutionary – I'm really enjoying David's blog which I stumbled on over Xmas – he usually blogs on water (in the US) and economics – hence aguanomics, but I loved this sentiment: "I've run into that problem many times in the past. A combination of righteous fury, youthful idealism, and sang froid has always served me well, but it's uncomfortable to get the feeling that you've just sprouted another head in the other person's mind.
    Unfortunately, this is the price that one must pay upon introducing new ideas — ideas that may not survive but at least force people to reflect on their stand and alternatives in the debate."
  • CTBUH releases 11 technical papers on tall building design- 1/7/2009 11:11:00 AM – Building Design & Construction – "Architect Gordon Gill’s vision of "A tall, green future" and Yale professor Kyoung Sun Moon's breakthrough analysis on reducing material in tall buildings are among 11 new research papers published in the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat's 2nd Annual Special Edition of The Structural Design of Tall and Special Buildings."
  • 01/05/2009 Architect, Heal Thyself! Business New Haven – "In the minds of many lay people, architects are the fashion designers of built form. Because we are trained as artists first and purveyors of a process second, we have largely become a boutique profession when it comes to houses. So very few people listened to what even fewer of us were saying. A significant number of us would rather create beautiful designs than useful buildings, and see the usefulness and budgetary fit of a project as being secondary to its publication and veneration by other architects.
    Because of this predilection of ours a "star system" – dubbed "starchitecture" by critics – has been the public face of what architects do for most people. What we gain in fame we lose in street cred. Despite the fact that many of us have dedicated our careers to serving homeowners, architects have yet to change the perception that we are not a relevant or credible resource when it comes to how people evaluate their homes."
  • RSA – Carbon Limited – Personal Carbon trading – Carbon Limited final report – "The report argues that there is value in taking the idea forward in some form, initially as a structured voluntary network, but that the Domestic Tradable Quota model of personal carbon trading poses too many problems in the immediate term.
    A voluntary network supported by government and/or corporate funding, which takes a more 'community scale' view of the idea, would greatly advance it and overcome the more problematic issues of unintended inequities and the roll out of a massive personal carbon market. It could also generate valuable impetus and positive alignment with community-owned sustainable energy services and such community initiatives as the Transition Town movement. "
  • Centered leadership: How talented women thrive – The McKinsey Quarterly – centered leadership – Organization – Talent – "From the interviews and other research, we have distilled a leadership model comprising five broad and interrelated dimensions (exhibit): meaning, or finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of an inspiring purpose; managing energy, or knowing where your energy comes from, where it goes, and what you can do to manage it; positive framing, or adopting a more constructive way to view your world, expand your horizons, and gain the resilience to move ahead even when bad things happen; connecting, or identifying who can help you grow, building stronger relationships, and increasing your sense of belonging; and engaging, or finding your voice, becoming self-reliant and confident by accepting opportunities and the inherent risks they bring, and collaborating with others."
  • In China, overambition reins in eco-city plans | csmonitor.com – "If all had gone to plan, by now the first residents of China’s newest city would be unpacking boxes. An experiment in sustainable living, Dongtan was billed as a urban center where green technologies and smart design could slash the carbon footprint of up to a half-million people.
    On recent rainy afternoon, the onsite view was less electrifying: miles of sodden farms and wetlands, and not an ecobuilding to be seen.
    It’s unclear if any will be built. The state-owned developer has torn up a timetable to accommodate 50,000 residents by 2010. Some permits for the project have already lapsed.
    In a country overloaded with environmental challenges, Dongtan is a symbol of political overreach that straddles nearby Shanghai and Britain, the home base of Arup, the firm that dreamed up Dongtan. Its failings show the limits to getting bold ideas off the drawing board, even in China’s top-down political culture, where outsized schemes get traction."
  • Waste could fill many of nation’s wants by 2020, says fuel report – Times Online – Of course we should first minimise waste (which should be taken into account, otherwise we'll end up *creating* rubbish to burn for fuel, which is just daft), but the point about recycling vs. fuel use is important – no point recycling if it uses more carbon in the process. Pollution also needs to be considered of course:
    "Ian Arbon, lead author of the report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a visiting professor at the University of Newcastle, said the public were being deceived over the value of recycling. Materials such as metals were ideal for recycling but paper and plastic were worth more as fuel. "
  • AFP: Dubai dream turns sour as job losses mount – "Ex-patriate people who lose their jobs in Dubai or other Gulf countries have to pack up and leave within one month, a potential life wrecker for many families.
    Employers are supposed to notify the banks of their sacked employees about their contract termination, potentially prompting the banks to demand repayment of any loans before the employee leaves the country.
    "Our banks will be informed by February 1," said one of the Nakheel former employees, who added that he was lucky not to have loans to pay, unlike many others in the UAE who took advantage of easy credit over the past few years.
    Many Nakheel employees have invested their savings in property being developed by the company and people who are sacked face losing that money."
  • Attention: Controlling Your Attention is the New Work Ethic – One of my New Year Resolutions – don't try to pay attention to *everything*: "A person who works six hours a day but with total focus has an enormous advantage over a 12-hour-per-day workaholic who's "multi-tasking" all day, answering every phone call, constantly checking Facebook and Twitter, and indulging every interruption. It's time we upgraded our work ethic for the age we're living in, not our grandparents' age. Hard work is still a virtue, but now takes a distant second place to the new determinant of success or failure in the age of Internet distractions: Control of attention. Hard work is dead. Are you paying attention?"
  • Sustainable Energy Management and the Built Environment Project – The aim of the Foresight Powering our Lives: Sustainable Energy Management and the Built Environment Project was to explore how the UK built environment could evolve to help manage the transition over the next five decades to secure, sustainable, low carbon energy systems that meet the needs of society, the requirements of the economy, and the expectations of individuals.
    The Project has used the best available scientific evidence to develop four scenarios around the future of sustainable energy management and the built environment, outlining some major areas of future uncertainty as well as potential future challenges and opportunities.
  • Crafting a message that sticks: An interview with Chip Heath – The McKinsey Quarterly – Chip Heath interview – Governance – Leadership – Chip Heath’s research suggests that sticky ideas share six basic traits.
    1. Simplicity. Messages are most memorable if they are short and deep. Proverbs such as the golden rule are short but also deep enough to guide the behavior of people over generations.
    2. Unexpectedness. Something that sounds like common sense won’t stick. Look for the parts of your message that are uncommon sense. Such messages generate interest and curiosity.
    3. Concreteness. Abstract language and ideas don’t leave sensory impressions; concrete images do.
    4. Credibility. Very often, a person trying to convey a message cites outside experts when the most credible source is the person listening to the message. Questions—“Have you experienced this?”—are often more credible than outside experts.
    5. Emotions. Case studies that involve people also move them. “We are wired,” Heath writes, “to feel things for people, not abstractions."
    6. Stories.