May 24, 2016
If you’re still confused about the proliferation of green building standards worldwide, then brace yourself. A new standard that seeks to measure the wellbeing inducing characteristics of a building has been launched as a counterpart to the WELL Building Standard developed by the Green Building Certification Institute and the International WELL Building Institute. The new standard is called Fitwel, was designed by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the General Services Administration and is overseen by the Centre for Active Design. The standard uses a scorecard that ranks buildings on over 60 criteria such as indoor air quality, fitness facilities and lobby and stairwell design. According to its proponents these criteria apply well-established scientific principles to address seven characteristics of a healthy working environment. The standard is very much a product of the US public sector at this stage and was piloted in 89 federal buildings during 2015. Its full launch is scheduled for next year. Image: Gensler / Hedrich Blessing
April 26, 2016
The World Green Building Council (WGBC) – a network of national green building councils aimed at influencing the green building marketplace – has announced that its Europe Regional Network has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help drive sustainable property development with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The EBRD works to support the development of the private sector across Europe, the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia, and the provision of modern real estate infrastructure is essential to support economic expansion and diversification in these regions. The new agreement provides a framework to cooperate on a number of areas of sustainable building practices, including promoting best industry standards and practices for energy and resource efficiency, climate resilience and building sustainability; promoting innovative zero-waste design, green urban planning and low carbon emissions; engaging in policy dialogue; and mobilisation of financial resources.
April 22, 2016
LEED certified buildings in Canada have led to a cumulative reduction of over one million tonnes of CO2e in greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of taking 238,377 cars off the road for a year. Along with this milestone the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) announced that in the first quarter of 2016 it certified the 1000th LEED Gold project in Canada. LEED Gold, the second most rigorous level of certification, now makes up 38 per cent of all LEED certified projects in Canada – the highest percentage of all levels. This is evidence of the industry’s enhanced capability to achieve higher levels of building performance. Among the most notable projects that earned LEED certification in the first quarter of this year was the certified LEED Platinum TELUS Garden Office Tower in Vancouver, BC, a one million square foot development in the heart of downtown Vancouver that features one of Vancouver’s largest solar panel collections on the office’s rooftop.
April 12, 2016
Londoners may reportedly be growing concerned over the proliferation of tall buildings, but what if they were constructed in wood, rather than steel and concrete? This is the possibility raised by researchers from Cambridge University’s Department of Architecture, who are working with PLP Architecture and engineers Smith and Wallwork, on the development of tall timber buildings in central London. The use of timber is an area of emerging interest for its potential benefits; the most obvious being that it is a renewable resource. Researchers are also investigating other potential benefits, such as reduced costs and improved construction timescales, increased fire resistance, and significant reduction in the overall weight of buildings. Mayor of London Boris Johnson has now been presented with conceptual plans for an 80-storey, 300m high mixed use wooden building integrated within the Barbican.
March 17, 2016
Adults who commute to work via cycling or walking have markedly lower body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI) measures in their mid-life compared to adults who commute via car, according to a new study in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal. Even people who commute via public transport also showed reductions in BMI and percentage body fat compared with those who commuted only by car. This suggests that even the incidental physical activity involved in taking journeys by public transport may be significant. The study looked at data from over 150,000 individuals from the UK Biobank dataset, a large, observational study of 500,000 individuals aged between 40 and 69 in the UK. The study is the largest to date to analyse the health benefits of active transport. The strongest associations were seen for adults who commuted via bicycle, compared to those who commute via car.
March 16, 2016
The Times (paywall) has uncovered some pretty remarkable statistics about the way the British consume coffee. It appears that we now buy some 2.5 billion paper cups of coffee each year, primarily from the main High Street chains. That’s about 7 million cups a day. The good news for the environmentally conscious public would appear to be that all the chains ensure that each cup is fully recyclable and so prominently displays its green cred where the consumer can’t miss it. The problem is that just 1 in 400 of the cups are actually recycled with the rest going to landfill. The firms involved may include recycling bins in-store, but that accounts for just a fraction of the disposal of the cups. As The Times points out, the companies understand that consumers are more impressed by the claim that a product is 100 percent recyclable than 0.25 percent recycled. They are swayed by the material and ignorant of the management.
March 16, 2016
Today marks the publication of a new guide which claims to help contractors and end-users deliver sustainable fit-out projects. Published by trade body the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA), the Fit-out environmental good practice on site guide (C757) claims to be a more practical guide than other publications and standards and addresses the most important challenges for those responsible for fit-outs across a range of sectors including offices, retail, education, leisure and health. The authors claim that the fit-out sector faces unique challenges that include the need for a quick turnaround of projects, the need to control costs as well as deal with project specific site constraints. The guide aims to help the managers of fit-out projects to meet these challenges as well as helping them to deliver projects that are sustainable both during the fit-out phase, occupancy and the life of the completed project.
March 2, 2016
Businesses that seek to occupy premium or grade A office accommodation are traditionally seduced by the next big thing. What was once a bespoke architectural design, then became an icon, a taller building, one made of glass and finally the inevitable iconic, tall, glass tower. Now it seems a good number of those businesses have moved on to green buildings as a must have upgrade to the skyscrapers of glass and steel. Green, it appears, is the new black. But is that really the next big thing or is being green merely the last big thing? Even worse, does going green in terms of building design actually deliver the types of benefits that an occupier or landlord was anticipating, beyond the significance of branding and an alignment with grade A quality office space? The green building narrative is a particularly powerful one and the growth of LEED and BREEAM rated buildings over the last decade is proof of that power.
February 20, 2016
In this week’s Insight Newsletter; Darren Bilsborough on why office location is as important as design; Mark Eltringham says ‘ghosting’ an employer in the manner of the Spanish civil servant who hadn’t turned up to work for six years, is more common than you’d think; how office design is in the beauty of the beholder and why the office property market continues to thrive, despite rumours of its demise. A new report finds dysfunction at the heart of the public sector workplace; the government largely ignores the self-employed; younger workers are more engaged than the middle aged; RIBA consults on the future of its HQ; and many UK commercial buildings are failing to meet energy standards. Download the latest issue of Work&Place and access an Insight Briefing produced in partnership with Connection, which looks at agile working in the public sector. Visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
February 19, 2016
Earlier this week, we reported on the surprisingly large proportion of the UK’s commercial property that emitted far more carbon than it was designed to produce. Now, a new report from Cushman & Wakefield suggests that nearly a fifth of commercial buildings in England and Wales could be barred from being let because it does not comply with new Government energy standards. The report urges owners and investors to understand their risk and where necessary make improvements to ensure their buildings exceed the minimum energy efficiency standard – or face the prospect of the value of their assets decreasing significantly. The Government’s Energy Act, passed in the last Parliament, included a provision that from April 2018 it will be unlawful to rent out a business property with an EPC rating below the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), which is an ‘E’ rating. Any building that fails to meet this requirement (rated ‘F’ or ‘G’) will be classed as “sub standard” and may suffer a substantial drop in value.
February 15, 2016
Commercial buildings in the UK may be producing an average of 3.8 times more carbon than the estimate presented at their design stage, according to research from InnovateUK. The study examined six years of data from Innovate UK’s Building Performance Evaluation (BPE) Programme. It found that only one of the 48 buildings studied produced the amount of carbon specified by its design. In some cases, total emissions were 10 times the rate calculated for Part L compliance. ‘Building Performance Evaluation Programme: Findings From Non-Domestic Projects’, identifies complex energy controls and building management systems (BMS) as significant factors in poor levels of carbon emissions, suggesting that they should be simplified. Although two-thirds of the buildings studied employed renewable energy, a significant proportion of these experienced problems that had a negative impact on their energy consumption and carbon emissions.
January 26, 2016
Over half of ‘Gen S’ workers would refuse to work for employers who have a record of using slave labour, generating high levels of pollution, employing unsafe working conditions, poor environmental performance, questionable investments and unethical practices. According to the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment’s (IEMA) annual Practitioner Survey these people see environmental roles as the career change of choice, with 42 percent of professionals who now work in these roles considering themselves “career changers”. Those entering the profession come from a variety of backgrounds including finance, operations, marketing and communications and R&D. Gen S workers are typically people in their mid-thirties, above average in their qualifications with 45 percent having a Master’s degree or doctorate, looking for more than just a career and earning money, but actively seeking a career which is primarily “ethical” in nature.