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Links for March 11th through March 15th

by Mel Starrs on March 17, 2009

in News

These are my links for March 11th through March 15th:

  • The Building Futures Game – Building Futures – The Building Futures Game is the outcome of 3 years research and development work carried out by the Building Futures team, CABE and architectural practice AOC. The toolkit emerged through a shared desire as to how one might enable communities to think about the future of their neighbourhood, while providing stakeholders with an interactive and alternative way of consulting with a wide variety of groups on their concerns and aspirations.
  • Disney Aims for Zero Carbon Emissions, Zero Waste in New Environmental Goals | GreenerBuildings – "The corporate responsibility report lays out seven long-term environmental goals for the company:
    • Zero waste.
    • Zero net direct greenhouse gas emissions from fuels.
    • Reduce indirect greenhouse gas emissions from electricity consumption.
    • Net positive impact on ecosystems.
    • Minimize water use.
    • Minimize product footprint.
    • Inform, empower and activate positive action for the environment"
  • T-Zero – "T-ZERO is a free internet tool that provides independent sustainable refurbishment advice to users, with the option of linking directly to the suppliers, manufacturers, and installers of any measures you choose. It is designed for those refurbishing their own homes, homes they manage, or the homes of clients, taking you through a series of simple steps."
  • How to Grow Your Own Fresh Air – TED 2009 « GreenSpaces Blog – More 'healthy' plants (I'm slightly obsessed with the original NASA study – spider plants are *good*). Mother in Law's tongue for bedroom, and Areca Palm for living room.
  • Welcome to YouCanPlan – via Be2Camp and then EcoBuild: "Our idea is based on the concept of ‘enabled self procurement’ or ESP to help build new sustainable communities. ESP is a process where future residents of communities are supported as the developers of their own homes, combining the choice of self build with the efficiency of speculative development."
  • Green for go: sustainability in the JCT contract – Building – "Following an industry-wide consultation, it published Building a Sustainable Future Together, a guidance note which is principally concerned with how sustainability in design and construction is provided for in contract documents. It also includes new contract clauses that extend those currently in JCT contracts, such as the Framework Agreement. The two principal new clauses are:
    1) The contractor is encouraged to suggest economically viable amendments to the employer's requirements which, if instructed as
    a variation, may result in improvement in environmental performance in the carrying out of the works or of the completed works
    2) The contractor shall provide to the employer all the information that he reasonably requests regarding the environmental impact of the supply and use of materials and goods which the contractor selects."
  • A second look at solar power on roofspace « lightbucket – Lightbucket doesn't blog often, but when he (she?) does, they're worth reading.
    "Averaged over the year, rooftop PV can exactly match England’s electricity sales, but there is a huge seasonal variation. During the summer, PV output is higher than the full-year average, but electricity demand is lower, so PV can supply more than twice the total demand. The situation reverses in midwinter. In December, the month of lowest insolation, rooftop solar PV can meet only 20% of electricity demand. Additional capacity will be needed to meet winter demand. Energy storage technologies can smooth out variations in output over a 24-hour timecale, and maybe longer, but certainly not over 6 months.
    If we had solar photovoltaics on all roofspace in England, we could comfortably meet England’s summertime electricity use, but only a fifth of wintertime electricity use."
  • Ten things to manage in a recession: 4 – executive costs « pwcom 2.0 – Paul illustrates Charles Handy's 'Hollywood' model perfectly: "… some AEC professionals have already opted to work as freelances or as independent consultants, undertaking a succession of contracts of their own choice instead of working for an employer. Particularly in the consultancy sector, just as small firms might combine with others with complementary skills and/or resources, so experienced individual professionals could combine with other independent practitioners to compete for work and then form part of the multi-disciplinary team appointed to undertake the project. …. Being formed of a group of independent ‘e-lances’ or ‘tech-nomads’, the operational overheads of such a multi-disciplinary consortium are also likely to be lower, making their services more cost-effective – an advantage likely to be underlined if the team also uses low-cost collaboration technology to manage and share its data."
  • You are the weakest link, goodbye – Joan has a list of funny/tragic redundancy stories.
  • cityofsound: Work and The City, Frank Duffy (2008) – Good review of Duffy's book: "In particular, Work and the City convincingly details how this has led to a grossly inefficient under-utilisation of resources with damaging effects on individuals, corporations, and almost all aspects of urban ecosystem."
  • Sustainability Consulting: What is it, and am I qualified? Part I « Bright Green Talent Musings ( – And I count myself amongst those who say sustainability is NOT a discipline: "As individuals from all kinds of backgrounds and industries push into the field of sustainability consulting, it can become murky as to what that work even entails. This is especially true when considering the different perspectives and methodologies that are employed and adding even more complexity is the variability among clients and their needs. Thus, this quote sums up for me what sustainability consultants are trying to do – they help businesses address and redress the way in which they operate so that they will be better positioned for the market of the future a la decreasing their negative impact on the natural environment. Some argue that like the trends of international business and e-commerce, sustainability will at some point cease to be its own discipline and assume its rightful place within all of business practices."
  • » Perpetual beta SuDoBE — Sustainable Design of the Built Environment – Chris makes a great point: "What would happen if we treated buildings as being in perpetual beta state? How would this change things in the construction industry? Perhaps developers and the design team would make a long term commitment to upgrading the building in line with occupants’ (and others’) experiences after the building’s initial release.
    Of course buildings, like most artefacts are in perpetual beta. There are always ‘bugs’ to iron out and features that don’t work. Many of our new low and zero carbon buildings will fail either from the outset or a few months or years down the line. It would be a real step forward if we could admit that now and put in place the mechanisms that will allow us to decide whether they are working as intended, to fix them when they aren’t and to pass on what we have learned to Carbon 2.0. Would the industry allow us to do that? Do we need to ask?"
  • Robinson Low Francis to slash staff pay 12.5% – Building – I'm sure this is just the same as cutting salaries by 20-40% – surely they'll just end up doing a similar amount of work, in fewer (probably longer) days (was my experience of working part-time, anyway): "At engineer Scott Wilson, some senior staff have agreed to work three- or four-day weeks, according to Jerome Monro-Lafon, its UK managing director."
  • Survey confirms building control officers enforce regs – Building – "The LABC’s survey looked at 2000 projects to see how many potential contraventions would have occurred if a building control officer hadn’t stepped in and enforced the regulations. It found Part A attracted the most enforcement action with building control officers asking for remedial action in 18% of projects followed by Part L at just over 16% and Part B at just under 16%. Part G which deals with hygiene attracted enforcement action in just 1.5% of the surveyed projects."
  • Natural lighting and sustainability | Sustainable Building Blog – Building Sustainable Design – "The tightening regulatory allowances placed on artificial lighting are already beginning to push the limits of what lighting technology can deliver. Our regulatory framework must not become unworkable or breed dull, unhealthy and uninteresting visual environments. The lighting community must steer regulation through better government lobbying, but we should not forget the place natural light has in avoiding the need for regulation in the first place."
  • Pursuing the Elusive Goal Of a Carbon-Neutral Building by Richard Conniff: Yale Environment 360 – "But Kroon is also a reminder of what even some of the best hearts and minds in the sustainable design movement cannot yet achieve. For a “green premium” unofficially estimated at about 5.7 percent of construction cost, the Kroon design team managed to reduce projected energy use and emissions by 61 percent below the levels for a comparable building of conventional design. The biggest savings came not from sexy new technologies but from figuring out how to make the design function like an old-fashioned cathedral, with a slender profile for maximum daylighting, an east-west orientation for greater solar gain on the long southern exposure, careful use of shading, and plenty of stone and concrete to store thermal energy. A solar photovoltaic array and geothermal wells will supply much of the remaining energy load. “We got damned close to carbon neutral,” boasted a construction manager…"
  • Sustainable Cities – The most useful output I've seen from CABE – sustainable cities website. A feast of information and examples: "This website gives expert advice on planning, designing and managing a sustainable place. It cuts through the complexity with clear priorities for action. And it shows which places are getting it right."
  • Constructing Excellence in the Built Environment » Blog Archive » Reverting to type (by Don Ward) – Don Ward has a great post: "The industry loves lowest price tendering – it invented it, and back in 1963 codified it in the NJCC’s code of practice for single stage tendering. Large parts of the industry have since conspired with clients over the years to continue with lowest price tendering – it is easy, and it means you don’t have to work too hard to deliver on value. But let’s face it, it usually knowingly sets the project up to fail. It’s a bizarre process – as a questioner said at a conference the other day put on by the Universities of Reading, Loughbrough and Salford, construction must be the only industry that competes to deliver the same thing for the client rather than something different? And is it the only industry that thinks it’s clever to make its money by screwing the client and/or the supply chain?"