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FiBRE – Breaking the Vicious Circle of Blame

by Mel Starrs on July 9, 2010

in Publications & Standards

I missed this report the first time around, but it is from RICS FiBRE (Findings in Built and Rural Environments) – Making the Business Case for Sustainable Buildings. It was brought to my attention through the UKGBC BREEAM consultation (apologies – UKGBC members only link).

A short 12 page report it is worth skimming through, but the main points can be illustrated with the graphics:

image

Which can be solved with:

image

Which leads to:

image

So where does BREEAM sit and where does it make sense for it to influence? BREEAM is not policy (not do I believe it should be), but it is a certification, which sits at the top right of the diagram. With the consultation currently ongoing, I have been taking some time to think about what the intention of BREEAM is. Still pondering…

The conference put forward five Key Messages
• Sustainable buildings are not any more expensive to build from the outset than conventional ones but their ownership can result in clear benefits for investors, ranging from drastically lower operating costs to improved marketability, longer useful life-spans, significantly increased occupant productivity and well-being as well as
more stable cash-flows which in turn have economically quantifiable benefits.
• Effort should be focused on the immense savings potential embedded in the existing building stock. Retrofitting and refurbishing the existing stock offers the most cost effective solution for reducing energy consumption.
• Unsustainable construction, investment and management practices will lead to accelerated building obsolescence and losses with regard to asset value and financial
performance.
• There needs to be a shift in marketing strategies for sustainable property towards a clear focus on user satisfaction and comfort all of which can enhance the prestige of the building.
• A truly sustainable property market needs to go beyond “green” and economic considerations and also embrace social sustainability.

Excellent messages and we’ve still got (lots of) work to do on all five.

  • http://ococarbon.wordpress.com Jamie Bull

    “I have been taking some time to think about what the intention of BREEAM is. Still pondering…”

    From where I’m standing one of the main intentions, or at least biggest benefits of BREEAM is that it makes it harder to make a truly unsustainable building. With so much to trade off against each other the potential complexity of designing and constructing a really sustainable building is beyond the majority of designers, given that there is always a limited budget for research, modelling, etc. I guess in the final diagram above, this is the two way link between researchers and assessors.

    This to me is the whole point of metrics in general. They give you a sense for the overall picture without requiring in-depth understanding of all the underlying issues. This can lead to design by ticking boxes which has to be more cost-effective than re-inventing the wheel every time.

    Quite agree that BREEAM shouldn’t be regulation, although I think it does have a place in the planning system so long as there is a degree of flexibility applied. Flexibility being needed because it’s quite possible to design a really good, sustainable building and not achieve a high BREEAM score. The new WISE building at CAT is one that springs to mind.

  • http://ococarbon.wordpress.com Jamie Bull

    “I have been taking some time to think about what the intention of BREEAM is. Still pondering…”

    From where I’m standing one of the main intentions, or at least biggest benefits of BREEAM is that it makes it harder to make a truly unsustainable building. With so much to trade off against each other the potential complexity of designing and constructing a really sustainable building is beyond the majority of designers, given that there is always a limited budget for research, modelling, etc. I guess in the final diagram above, this is the two way link between researchers and assessors.

    This to me is the whole point of metrics in general. They give you a sense for the overall picture without requiring in-depth understanding of all the underlying issues. This can lead to design by ticking boxes which has to be more cost-effective than re-inventing the wheel every time.

    Quite agree that BREEAM shouldn’t be regulation, although I think it does have a place in the planning system so long as there is a degree of flexibility applied. Flexibility being needed because it’s quite possible to design a really good, sustainable building and not achieve a high BREEAM score. The new WISE building at CAT is one that springs to mind.