January 12, 2017
The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has announced the launch of its first Innovation Lab, which it claims offers ‘a radical new approach to innovation in the built environment’. The Lead Partners for the programme are: Canary Wharf Group, Land Securities and Marks & Spencer. The Innovation Lab aims to identify and address what it calls the systemic challenges facing businesses within the sector, and co-create innovative and highly sustainable solutions.
Head of Leadership and Innovation at UK-GBC, Cat Hirst, said: “Research and Development levels across our industry are painfully low; the UK currently only spends £43m on construction R&D. The risks to a single company of investing in developing a solution for such a high-cost industry is often seen as prohibitive. But we desperately need to find ways of working together to achieve radical change if we are to challenge business as usual and transition to a sustainable way of working.
“At UK-GBC we’re seeking to catalyse this change by using our unique position to convene our member organisations to work together to address the issues our industry faces. We want to ensure there is the time, space, and structure for open innovation to occur for the built environment.
“The Innovation Lab is not just about finding one solution to one problem, it’s about fostering a more open and collaborative approach to problem solving as an industry. We need to build the capacity of our industry to innovate and find the right approach to being creative and collaborative within a commercial setting.”
The Innovation Lab began last month with a workshop to identify the ‘breakthrough challenge’ which will form the focus of a 9-month programme of work. In order to arrive at the challenge, the UK Green Building Council is working with the Lead Partners and thought leaders from the wider UK-GBC membership to explore future trends for the built environment as well as key environmental and social challenges, and pain points for business. The initial workshop highlighted key industry challenges around climate change resilience, resource use, shifting demographics, technological advancement and health and wellbeing.
Over the coming weeks, the breakthrough challenge will be refined in consultation with the Lead Partners. The next workshop will be on 1 February, where Innovation Lab participants will begin to respond to this challenge by mapping existing innovations and, where a gap is identified, generating new innovative solutions to solve the challenge.
December 22, 2016
A new study from researchers at Harvard claims to establish a link between those standards for green buildings with an indoor environmental quality (IEQ) component and the wellbeing and productivity of employees. The study, The impact of working in a green certified building on cognitive function and health, has been published in the journal Building and Environment. Based on a study of 109 subjects in ten ‘high performing’ buildings compared to staff from the same firm in uncertified buildings, it found that respondents enjoyed a 26.4 percent uplift in cognitive performance, a 6.4 percent increase in sleep quality and 30 percent fewer symptoms. The accreditations used in the study were LEED New Construction 2009, Green Star Office v3, BREEAM New Construction 2012, BCA Green mark for new non-residential buildings v4.1 2013, and DGNB New Office v2012
November 22, 2016
One in seven UK employees commute over two hours or more each day. This represents an increase of nearly a third (31 percent) over the past five years, which claims the TUC, is due to a combination of low wages, high house/rental prices and the government’s lack of transport infrastructure spending, According to a new analysis by the union to mark Work Wise UK’s Commute Smart Week, in 2015 3.7 million workers had daily commutes of two hours or longer – an increase of 900,000 since 2010 (2.8 million). In 2015 one in seven UK employees (14 percent) travelled two hours or more each day to and from work, compared to one in nine in 2010 (11 percent). UK workers spent 10 hours extra, on average, commuting in 2015 than they did in 2010. This is the equivalent of an extra 2.7 minutes per day. London (930,000) has the highest number of employees who make long commutes, followed by the South East (623,000) and the East of England (409,000); while workers in Northern Ireland (+57 percent) have experienced the biggest rise in long commuting, followed by the South East (+37 percent) and the West Midlands (+27 percent).
November 12, 2016
Ten countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, India and US announce plans to recognise zero carbon emissions buildings
The World Green Building Council’s goal to ensure that every building produces zero carbon emissions by 2050 took a major step forward this week as Green Building Councils in 10 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, and the US) made progress on their plans to introduce net zero certification or designation schemes within their own countries, at COP22. Specifically, the Green Building Council of Australia, Canada Green Building Council, the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), India Green Building Council and the US Green Building Council all announced their intention to introduce schemes that recognise and reward net zero carbon buildings, with some announcing target dates by which they will introduce them. These schemes could be either stand alone net zero certification schemes, or a net zero designation within existing certification schemes.
November 7, 2016
A global business case for healthy green building design and management has been provided ‘for the first time’ in a new report from the World Green Building Council with examples of the benefits to employers, building owners, designers and developers. The new report Building the Business Case: Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Green Offices highlights ‘the global momentum behind healthy and green office design and operation’ and showcases over 15 buildings from around the world. The research provides further evidence in the ways that green offices keep staff healthy and happy, improves productivity and boosts business’ bottom line. Steps like improving air quality, increasing natural light and introducing greenery – those which typically have environmental benefits such as using less energy – may also have an impact on the bottom line by improving employee productivity and reducing absenteeism, staff turnover and medical costs, according to the report.
November 1, 2016
You’re probably aware of the experiment performed by Stanley Milgram in which volunteers were asked by men in white coats to administer what they believed were electric shocks to another person, who they could not see, but could hear, from behind a screen. Around two-thirds of the volunteers agreed to deliver what they were told to be potentially fatal shocks to the subject, who they could hear screaming and begging for them to stop. What they didn’t know was the person they were agreeing to inflict this on was in fact an actor. Milgram’s experiment stands as the most famous example of a series of studies that have attempted to highlight the willingness of humans to bow to authority figures and comply with group norms irrespective of what their own morals might tell them. One of the most telling of these was carried out by two American researchers called John Darley and Bibb Latane in 1968.
November 1, 2016
By achieving the lowest embodied carbon footprint ever recorded for an office refurbishment in the UK, the new headquarters in Central London for the UK Green Building Council is designed to inspire and encourage employers, landlords and occupiers alike to set the bar high when upgrading their office spaces, according to the organisation. It claims that the project is an exemplar for sustainable office refurbishment and features a range of wellbeing measures. UK-GBC says it hopes that this landmark project will also demonstrate that even a 160m² floorspace can deliver commercial, social and environmental value if each decision is challenged and scrutinised. Wellbeing measures have been incorporated into the design in order to improve staff satisfaction, productivity and overall health and wellness. These measures include: a living wall with over 1,500 plants; an innovative ventilation system, which has delivered a 750 percent increase in background fresh air; an automated low-energy LED lighting system; and products and finishes that minimisepollutants from the air.
October 24, 2016
Corporate real estate sector continues to make progress in energy consumption, carbon emissions and water use
The world’s leading corporate real estate owners and managers are making significant progress in reducing energy consumption, carbon emissions and water usage in their buildings, according to a new report from the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Greenprint Center for Building Performance. The Greenprint Performance Report, which measures and tracks the performance of more than 5,400 properties owned by Greenprint’s members, demonstrates a 3.4 percent reduction in energy consumption, a 3.9 percent reduction in carbon emissions and a 4.8 percent reduction in water use between 2014 and 2015. According to the study, since Greenprint started recording building performance in 2009, the energy consumed by members’ properties tracked by Greenprint has dropped 13.7 percent. Carbon emissions from those properties have decreased 16.5 percent; and water usage has dropped by 10.6 percent. The reductions occurred even as building occupancy rose, suggesting that greater space usage does not necessarily cause a decline in building performance.
October 7, 2016
New evidence which supports the argument for the Well building concept as new research suggests that compared to people in high-performing buildings without a green certification, occupants of high-performing, certified green buildings had nearly a third (30 percent) fewer sick building symptoms, a 6.4 percent higher sleep quality score and a 26.4 percent higher cognitive function score. The new study from Harvard University and SUNY Upstate Medical University, supported by United Technologies suggests that there may be an even greater benefit to working in green certified buildings than originally thought. “The Impact of Working in a Green Certified Building on Cognitive Function and Health,” demonstrates the importance of green-certified buildings to the health of occupants – particularly for office workers whose health, productivity, decision-making, and sleep could greatly benefit.
September 29, 2016
The level of transparency in the reporting of the environmental performance of commercial real estate is growing across the world, but the pace of new sustainable building regulations remains slow. That is the key finding of JLL’s Real Estate Environmental Sustainability Index, which measures the availability of a range of environmental transparency tools in 37 countries. Whilst 17 countries have improved their overall scores since the last survey two years ago, 13 have remained static and three have declined. Half of all country index improvements have been driven by the introduction of voluntary minimum energy efficiency standards for existing buildings. This year France topped the Index for the first time, thanks to the consistent roll-out of mandates to transition to a low carbon economy. Japan has moved up from the transparent group to join France, Australia and the UK in the highly transparent group.
September 19, 2016
While building owners, developers, managers and investors in North America are showing increasing interest in practices that prioritise the physical, mental and social well-being of tenants and occupants, European buildings have fewer spaces created with wellness in mind. The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings 2016, by Dodge Data & Analytics and the World Green Building Council, produced in partnership with the Canada Green Building Council and Delos, says the top five healthier building features currently in use include better lighting, products that enhance thermal comfort, spaces that enhance social interaction, enhanced air quality and products that enhance acoustical comfort. However, in an analysis of global trends in health and wellbeing, European respondents reported less frequent use of spaces that enhance tenant mood, spaces that enhance social interaction or spaces that create opportunities for physical activity than their North American or Asian counterparts.
September 14, 2016
A much publicised but occasionally troubled green city in the United Arab Emirates without light switches or water taps has much to teach people around the world about saving energy and precious resources, claims a new study from researchers at Birmingham University. With its low-rise and energy efficient buildings, smart metering, excellent public transport and extensive use of renewable energy, the 2,000 citizens of Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, are living in a place which is a ‘green’ example to city planners around the globe, claims the report. There are no light switches or water taps in Masdar City. Movement sensors control lighting and water in order to cut electricity and water consumption by 51 percent and 55 percent respectively. Masdar is a mixed use development that is the world’s first city designed to be ‘zero carbon’ and ‘zero waste’. Masdar City is a large-scale mixed use development which lies 17 kilometres south-east of the city of Abu Dhabi.