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Links for July 2nd through July 8th

by Mel Starrs on July 9, 2009

in News

These are my links for July 2nd through July 8th:

  • Woobius Scribbles — Bottom-up collaboration in the construction industry – Excellent post on collaborative working by Woobius and the curse of email:"You know that feeling. You’ve just set up the best collaboration system ever. You have all the processes documented and approved. Everyone’s agreed to use the system. Things couldn’t be better. Then, the project kicks off and there comes that sinking feeling when you realise that everyone is bypassing your carefully tuned system.
    Everyone is sending emails instead."
  • If zero carbon is the answer then just what was the question? « isite – Martin has an excellent rant and takes on Passivhaus amongst other issues pertaining to zero carbon: "Passivhaus is emerging as the aspirational darling or solution. But what is the true embodied energy of passivhaus, in particular the massive amounts of insulation, sheeting and duct tape? Passivhaus will reduce energy requirements and costs. Excellent. But I would love to see the payback time on the total and higher than normal embodied energies and waste."
  • Tellytubby land: BedZed revisited – Building – Fantastic review of BedZed 7 years on. I was fully aware of the situation with the CHP, but less so with the allotments and car use issues. A long article, but very worthwhile reading.
  • Climate change odds much worse than thought – MIT News Office – More doom, but presented in pretty roulette wheels. I ought to stop reading all this doom, but am strangely compelled to keep checking for confirming evidence. Behavioural economists, make of this what you will.: "The new research involved 400 runs of the model with each run using slight variations in input parameters, selected so that each run has about an equal probability of being correct based on present observations and knowledge. Other research groups have estimated the probabilities of various outcomes, based on variations in the physical response of the climate system itself. But the MIT model is the only one that interactively includes detailed treatment of possible changes in human activities as well – such as the degree of economic growth, with its associated energy use, in different countries."
  • The orders figures and public spending fears point to industry chaos ahead – need it be so? (Brickonomics) – I'm in broad agreement with Brian on this:"What firms should be doing now is assessing what they are good at and what they are not good at, what makes them profit, what costs them time and resources unprofitably.
    They should focus on quality of earnings not volume of earnings.
    They should focus effort on what they are good at and judiciously shed the operations that are weak….
    That however does not alter the reality that this recession will be cruel and that the industry has no choice but to retreat. Turnover overall must fall. Competition does need to be taken out of the market.
    It is better that firms recognise their weaknesses and retreat from them than seek to bid unrealistically against those better placed.
    The worst of all outcomes would be to lose good firms because of the woeful bidding by weak operations desperate to win work at any price."
  • We don’t know what is coming next – so get ready – The Regeneration Blog – Jackie's advice on getting ready for a potential change in administration: "But in the meantime, my current advice is this: you know not what is coming next, so get as ready as you can. Have a total clear out (in every sense), trim down, strip back everything and establish your priorities.
    Swot up on localism and reconnect with your bottom-up roots. If you are able to deliver decent outputs (notably jobs or homes) you will be safe even if – or perhaps especially if – as we suspect, the RDA's get wiped away and their responsibilities are given to County Councils and the like. "
  • Sustainable Design Tools Exhibited at AIA 2009: AECbytes Feature Article – Excellent review of the latest 'sustainable design' software tools available on the market, including Ecotect (aligned with Autodesk and therefore AutoCAD – very popular with architects), IES (my favourite) and TAS and Hevacomp (which are now both owned by Bentley (the home of AutoCAD rival Microstation). Whatever happened to Cymap? Seem to have been left behind…
  • PlanningBlog: When did everyone get so cynical? « – "Regeneration is quite often seen as big business riding roughshod over local people’s wishes. It’s eyed with suspicion and written off as ‘ a waste of taxpayers money’ before it’s even come out of the ground.
    This all ties in with the wider anti-politician backlash currently sweeping the country. Politicians and anyone in authority are seen as ‘out to line their own pockets’ and anything they propose or champion is therefore, by association, a bad thing.
    Of course we should question authority and challenge things we don’t agree with but whatever happened to taking something at face value? A much needed regeneration of an area might actually be just that, not a conspiracy or an attempt to get one over on the general public.
    I’m not sure what the answer is to this. … Perhaps the problem is with the politicians themselves and only political reform can ‘reconnect’ and re-build trust between the people and those in authority."
  • Government ends energy bulbs scheme – The IET – Some sensible news: "Power companies will no longer be able to mail out millions of energy-saving light bulbs to meet their targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions from homes.
    The Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has announced changes to the Government scheme requiring energy suppliers to cut emissions from homes, including an end to the direct mail out of low-energy light bulbs by January 1, 2010."