Industry comes together to collaborate on Whole Life Carbon Roadmap project

Industry comes together to collaborate on Whole Life Carbon Roadmap project

roadmapThe UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has announced four new task groups and a Steering Group which will support the development of the Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the Built Environment. More →

FM industry favours quick wins over long-term strategic climate change planning

FM industry favours quick wins over long-term strategic climate change planning

climate changeResearch by VINCI Facilities claims that the UK facilities management sector does not possess a thorough, detailed strategic approach to combatting climate change. In the autumn of 2020 VINCI Facilities asked over 200 decision-makers how far their organisations have progressed in developing a coherent strategy for the environment. More →

Employees call for help to reduce cost and environmental impact of working from home

Employees call for help to reduce cost and environmental impact of working from home

environmentalNew research by environmental charity Hubbub suggests that workers want to almost double the time they work from home compared to life before COVID-19 arrived – from 35 percent to 63 percent of their working week. However, the increase in household energy use associated with working from home is a cause for concern. More →

Sustainable office design will not be possible until we are clear about a few things

Sustainable office design will not be possible until we are clear about a few things

sustainable office designMany organisations make bold claims about their zero carbon ambitions. Even if they don’t, most have sustainability statements. Yet the environmental impact of office furniture and sophisticated approaches to sustainable office design seem to be way down the ‘pecking order’. During the last year, we have read considerable commentary about the office – starting with its death but moving onto predictions of the ‘new dawn’ with more versatile and healthier workspaces. More →

Siemens commits to making Smart Infrastructure HQ carbon neutral by 2023

Siemens commits to making Smart Infrastructure HQ carbon neutral by 2023

SiemensSiemens Smart Infrastructure plans to transform its global headquarters in Zug, Switzerland, into a carbon neutral location by 2023. To achieve this, a comprehensive renovation of an existing building on Theilerstrasse 1c will commence in May 2021 for a period of two years. Siemens has earmarked around EUR 63 million (CHF 70 million) for the refurbishment works. More →

New guidance for renewable energy procurement and carbon offsetting

New guidance for renewable energy procurement and carbon offsetting

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has published Renewable Energy Procurement and Carbon Offsetting Guidance for Net Zero Carbon Buildings. This guidance provides clarity for the property and construction industry on the procurement of high-quality renewable energy and carbon offsets for net zero buildings and organisations in the UK. More →

We need to talk about Red Industries

We need to talk about Red Industries

red industriesWe need to talk about Red Industries. More specifically we need to talk about the firm’s Walley’s Quarry landfill site in the town of Newcastle-under-Lyme.

First up, a disclaimer. I am a native of the town. Fairly recently, I returned to live there after many years away. Most importantly in the context of what I am about to write, my mum was laid to rest in the town. Her grave lies in the main cemetery of the village of Silverdale.

Silverdale has a population of a little under 5,000 people. The Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme is largely formed from a number of similar villages and has a total population of about 130,000.

Yet this small village in this small town is the source of more complaints to the UK’s Environment Agency than any other location in the country. Last weekend alone the council received around 2,000. Many hundreds more were made to the EA (exact numbers are vague although the EA admits it was a record number). Those complaints include one of my own. All referred to the polluting stench of sulphurous rot emanating from the landfill site in the village, owned by Red Industries.

Call the EA reporting hotline and the first question you are asked before saying anything else is whether the complaint is about Walley’s Quarry. That tells its own story.

 

The wider problem

Among the complainants were local schools, Keele University and the local hospital. To put this into context, the hospital is 2.5 miles away from the landfill and the stench was reported inside the building. My own home is around 2 miles away and my complaint about Red Industries and its hell hole was made from there.

My mother’s grave lies 100 yards from the entrance to the site. I now cannot visit her without heaving.

God alone knows how awful it must be for mourners at funerals. And how much worse for those who live nearby. Although you can get some idea from the activist Facebook Group set up to tell their stories. Those stories have amped up since the site was granted a new licence last year. That doesn’t seem a coincidence.

I could say the Environment Agency is pussy footing around the issue, but they are not even doing that. Last weekend’s deluge of complaints to the agency coincided with the introduction of new monitoring equipment at the site. On Monday it became apparent that this equipment wasn’t even turned on.

And so, the suggestion from MP Aaron Bell that the weekend should be considered an incident in its own right can be dismissed by the very people supposedly responsible for protecting the environment. I don’t know what they make of his raising the issue in Parliament.

And the response of Red Industries to what is happening? It is to hide behind regulations and the skirt tails of the useless EA, refuse to acknowledge the problem and write intimidating letters to the MP.

A new motion put forward to the council suggests that the site needs to close while a better plan is formulated. The leader of the council has called on the local head of the EA to resign and for the site to be closed permanently. His organisation is now actively at loggerheads with the EA. This is getting very real, very quickly.

Something needs to change and soon. The site as managed by Red Industries is – at the very least – worsening the daily lives and wellbeing of tens of thousands of people. It may well be affecting their physical health. These people are being let down by the Environment Agency which needs to be far more proactive and possibly aggressive in its dealings with Red Industries. Already there have been minor protests, including one man chaining himself to the gates of the site. But if local people cannot rely on the agencies that should be protecting them, we might expect those protests to ramp up.

This is a personal post, but it’s very important to me. It will stay online but not appear on the homepage.   

The link between wellbeing and green design is driving material innovation

The link between wellbeing and green design is driving material innovation

wellbeing and green building designOne of the most interesting developments in the way we talk about the design of buildings in recent years is how the issue of wellbeing has found an overlap with environmental concerns. We know instinctively that these are natural partners. What is good for the environment almost always has a direct beneficial effect on people’s physical and mental health, as well as their productivity. More →

UKGBC launches framework for defining social value

UKGBC launches framework for defining social value

frameworkThe UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has published a Framework for Defining Social Value in the Built Environment, designed to help built environment practitioners define and deliver social value on their projects. Social value is often considered especially hard to define for built environment projects, as each project serves a different community with their own unique set of requirements.  More →

Workers hatred of Mondays and Fridays threatens post Covid-19 environmental dividend

Workers hatred of Mondays and Fridays threatens post Covid-19 environmental dividend

workersWith the Government setting out its roadmap for the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, workers are set to return to offices later this year. However, new working practices mean they will still split their time between the office and home. More →

A new mindset on climate change is emerging from the pandemic

A new mindset on climate change is emerging from the pandemic

wellbeing and climate changeOf all the opportunities for positive change driven by the pandemic, the most important may be the least talked about. And that’s in spite of the fact that both workers and organisations as well as governments and other bodies around the world are aware and in favour of it and its consequences are most far reaching, affecting us all. It is, of course, the chance to do something significant about climate change and the environment. More →

Four new companies join WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment

Four new companies join WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment

Net Zero CarbonWorldGBC has announced four new companies as signatories to its Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (the Commitment), signalling global industry leadership to decarbonise the built environment and combat climate change. The Commitment now has a total of 132 signatories, with 98 businesses & organisations, 28 cities and six states & regions. The businesses and organisations signed up to the Commitment now account for over 5 million (tCO2e) of portfolio emissions. More →

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