“Achieving Sustainable Development and Construction within the UK Built Environment”
Name: Degree Scheme: Year of Study:
I, hereby state that this thesis titled â€œAchieving Sustainable
Environmentâ€? is an original work and is authored solely by me (Insert name).
I would like to take this opportunity to thank
The term ‘Sustainable Development’ addresses problems such as environmental pollution, depletion of non-renewable resources and most importantly, climate change. These are liable for causing an adverse influence on the prospects for our future generations. Our actions today will allow future generations to develop healthy and content lives. The UK construction industry has yearly revenue of about 100 billion pounds and accounts for 10% of the UK’s GDP. It is the main user of natural resources within the UK. About 2 million people are hired within the industry, equating to a large chunk of the UK working population. The industry plays a vital role in securing the social and economic development of the UK. This industry is responsible for the use 50% of fresh-water supplies globally and accounts for about 50% of all CO2 emissions. Thus this industry is very closely connected to the issue of sustainability. Therefore it is ideal that it be the responsibility of the industry to take the lead role in achieving a sustainable environment in order to improve the quality of life for all. Sustainable development within the UK built environment means the application of sustainable construction and materials to combat the economic, social and environmental challenges linked with sustainability. The Lancaster University affiliated Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts’ (LICA) building pools education and research activities in Art, Design, Film Studies, Music and Theatre studies in an innovative environmentally-responsible built facility. The 10 million pound project won the honour of being the first higher education building to accept an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM rating for both the design phase and the post building stage. This building is now deemed as a yardstick for ideal sustainable architecture in new building developments for educational purposes. This three storeyed building only has an annual carbon footprint of only 10.3 Kg carbon-dioxide per square metre, In this study, the relationships of sustainability and climate change have been examined and their associations with UK’s construction environment have been studied. Finally, the sustainable building environment of the Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts, winner of the 2012 BREEAM Higher Education Award has been analysed. 4|Page
INDEX TOPIC SECTION I: THE CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABILITY
SECTION II: SUSTAINABLITY IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT • • • •
The History of Urban Development Effects of Urban Constructions of the Natural Environment Sustainable Building Environments Examples of Sustainable Practices
AIM OF THE STUDY
04 04 05 08 10
SECTION III : GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE •
Climate Change- An Economic Approach
Sustainable Practices May Counteract Climate Change
SECTION IV: THE UK- AGENDAS FOR SUSTAINABILITY • • • • • • • • • • • • •
DECC DEFRA The Triple Bottom Line Theory The Five Capital Model Sustainable Construction in the UK Targeting Waste Generation Incentive to Adopt Energy Efficient Systems Conserving Resources Adapting to Climate Change The Green Deal Scheme The RICS Property Life Cycle The Role of the BRE BREEAM
SECTION V: CASE STUDY: LANCASTER INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY 5|Page
21 22 22 23 24 24 25 26 27 29 29 33 33
SECTION VI: FUTURE PLANS
I THE CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABILITY
A RUSH FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT One of the major concerns in the current world scenario is the urgent want to prevent the deterioration of the natural environment. With the ever-steady increase in population and the corresponding advances in development for a more comfortable lifestyle, there is an immense pressure on the Earth’s natural resources. Keeping in mind the urgency of this situation as well as the understandable need for social and economic development, in 1987 the World Commission of Environment and Development of the United Nations proposed the term ‘Sustainable Development’. In this Brundtland Report, sustainable development is defined as following:
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The report further discusses the finer nuances of the concept of sustainable development. It states that development is largely inclusive of improvements and changes in the societal and economic structure of a nation. However, in the current scenario, the expenditure in the form of natural resources far out weights what world can ecologically afford (Our Common Future, OUP, 1987). In striving towards this goal, the city of Stockholm reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% since 1990 and plans to be free from usage of fossil fuels by the year 2050. Stockholm was awarded the European Green Capital Award in 2010. (Brochure, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2010) The instance of large scale mining in Ecuador had been one of the most environmentally irresponsible cases of development. After the approval of the World Bank, Ecuador passed the Technical Assistance Project for Mining Development and Environmental Control (PRODEMINCA) and the 1991 Mining Law to promote private investment. By the year 1997, 2.8 million hectares of land was subjected to prospecting and exploring for mining purposes. This has led to widespread pollution of land and water as well as land disputes amongst the people. Recent research has shown that the large scale mining policy implemented in Ecuador today is responsible for generating 384 million tons of waste in order to obtain 11.8 million ounces of gold (Hurtado, Social Watch, 2012). One of the unparalleled instances of environmental foolhardiness is Mao’s Four Pest Campaign in China in the late 1950s. In an inexplicable war against nature, the Chinese politician ordered all sparrows in China to be killed along with three other common household pests. People from all over the country took up the mantle of responsibility to willingly destroy the common sparrow. Although fortunately, they were unsuccessful in eradicating the bird from China, this action caused an ecological imbalance that 8|Page
China will never forget. Due to the scarcity of predators like the sparrow, Chinese crops were attacked by swarms of locusts which damaged all the food crops. What followed was the worst famine the world has ever seen and in the successive years (1959-1961) as many as fifty million Chinese died of starvation. (Shapiro, Cambridge University Press, 2002) The United Kingdom is not without examples of gross environmental irresponsibility. A study by Allchins et al revealed a significant contamination of rivers in the UK by industries which indiscriminately dump poly- brominated- di- phenyl- ethers (PBDEs) in the water. These compounds are used as flame retardants in a variety of products and are extremely stable. Therefore, they persist for a long time in the environment. The study revealed high concentrations of PBDE in fish and shell-fish tissue as well as fish liver. The ability of the compound to climb up the food chain was also found when PBDE residues were obtained from the tissues of predatory birds as well as human adipose tissue. This is believed to be a result of eating contaminated fish. Thus, pollution of water by dumping industrial waste is not only a cause of endangerment of species of fish and birds but is also a current threat to human life. (Allchins et al, Environmental Pollution, 1999) Another study examined the effect of acid rain on the forest ecosystem in the UK. It found that there have been increased sulphur and nitrogen depositions in the soil. In spite of some mitigation effects, the impact of soil pollution as a result of air pollution is still damaging the ecosystem. The study showed that increased dissolved nitrogen and potassium levels were linked to abnormal aphid and caterpillar infestation. In conjunction with the approaching climate change, damage to crops by insects is likely to become more damaging with increased sensitivity to chemicals. The study also revealed a fall in density of Sitka spruce trees. Analysis of soils from various UK forests showed high soil content of aluminium and low calcium to aluminium ratio which results in root mortality of the Scots pine. Abnormal minerals in the soil are also related to poor nutritional status of the trees leading to mortality (Vanguelova et al, Environmental Pollution, 2010). Such examples as the above serve to highlight the immense urgency in the need for sustainable growth and development. The Environment Agency reports that the city of Londonâ€™s per capita consumption of water per day is twenty litres higher than other parts of the country. A recent survey showed that London has had the highest air pollutant level in four years and this may be a cause for the alarming increase in asthma levels amongst the population. Therefore, the crushing crises of global energy, scarcity of food and drinking water and the impact of climate change warrant immediate action towards preservation of the ecology.
The United Kingdom certainly holds its own amongst other nations in matters of sustainability and economic development. The EIRIS Global Sustainability Report, which assess the sustainability of over 2000 global companies, states that more than one-fifth of UK corporations scored the highest in sustainability in environmental, social and governance issues outstripping its other European, Asian and American counter-parts. It also reported that the oil, gas, industrial mining sectors are the least sustainable of all (EIRIS Sustainability Report, 2012) The UK construction industry is responsible for more than 10% of the countryâ€™s GDP and therefore holds a very important place in shaping its economy. Recent statistics have shown that up to 50% of UKâ€™s carbon emission can be accounted for by its construction industry. The industry is also responsible for 36 million tonnes of wastes being buried in landfills per year. Thus, it is apparent that mitigation of environmentally negligent practices in the construction industry alone may go a long away in offsetting UKâ€™s carbon dependency. This project scrutinizes the concept of sustainability and climate change taking into account the global economy and the possibilities of an unmitigated approach to global warming. The project discusses the social importance of a building environment and then delves into the depths of the need for sustainability in the construction industry in the United Kingdom. This thesis recognizes the importance of sustainability in these times of global climate change, economic development and an unprecedented rise in green-house emissions while acknowledging that human needs and economic progress must also be prioritized. It then discusses the measures being taken by the Government of UK to mitigate as well as to adapt to climate change. Finally, the roles played by institutions like the BRE has been analysed in the form of a critical review of the Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts which received the BREEAM Outstanding Award.
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II SUSTAINABILITY IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
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THE SUSTAINABLE BUILT ENVIRONMENT The term ‘built environment’ refers to the spaces modified or constructed by human beings in order to suit their lifestyle and activities.
The History of Urban Development According to history, the concept of built environment has existed since before the early fifth century BC. Hippodamus of Miletus who is regarded as the ‘father of urban city planning’ re-developed Greek cities using grid maps after the Persians destroyed it 494 BC. Hippodamus’s principles of urban planning formed the basis of The City Beautiful Movement in the late 1800 led by Daniel H. Burnham. A progressive reformist, he believed in beautifying American cities to enhance the moral standing of society and encourage the rich to invest in urban planning and development. The architects proposed the use Renaissance-inspired styles of architecture to construct public pieces of art such as grandiose buildings, fountains etc. They then proposed the development of the city to serve the society instead of individual tastes (Moffet et al, Lawrence King Publishing, 2003).
Effects of Urban Constructions on the Natural Environment The importance of built environments cannot be understated. Leyden explains this in his publication by saying that the built environment affects the degree to which citizens are involved in their community. An ideally built environment should promote community ties. They harbour social networks and build trust and reciprocity amidst the people (Leyden, American Journal of Public Health, 2003). Therefore, keeping in mind not only the immense amount of public funds and natural resources that are invested in constructing a built environment but also the social impact it has, it is essential to consider its environmental implications. The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) of the United Kingdom has identified four primary sources of pollution in the construction process. They are listed below: 1. Production of large quantities of waste and wastage of unused resources 2. Emissions from vehicles degrading the quality of air 3. Release of particulate matter in to atmosphere which not only affects the environment but is also a health concern 12 | P a g e
4. Noise pollution adversely affects ecosystems and causes health issues (Building a Better Quality of Life, Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, UK) Additionally urban development leads to deforestation, habitat alteration and may endanger species and pollute ground water. It also causes concern for future environmental responsibility as urban planning directly determines the kind of transportation people might choose. For example, poorly connected areas promote the use of personal vehicles as opposed to bikes or public transport and thus encourage air pollution by emission of greenhouse gases and an increased dependency on fossil fuels. Similarly, a construction activity on previously undeveloped land causes loss of habitat and subsequently, the loss of indigenous species of fauna as well as flora. Construction of impermeable surfaces such as roads and concrete surfaces reduces percolation of rainwater into the ground water and lowers the water table significantly. Further, this run-off from the impervious surfaces cause erosion of soil and may alter regular stream flow. One such example is explained in the Journal of Experimental Biology where Hayes et al studied a population of boreal toads in Del Puerto Creek, CA, USA. These toads bred every year in isolated pools in this area. However, in the last 10 years, with development of housing, agricultural area and recreational spots, there has been a change in the water flow at the Del Puerto Creek. This has resulted in destruction of breeding area by filling some ponds with sand and connecting some isolated breeding ponds to the main water stream. Although, adult boreal frogs can still be seen in this area, no reproductive activity has been observed in the last four years. (Hayes et al, Journal of Experimental Biology, 2010) Therefore, it is not surprising, that there is a call for sustainability in construction of the man-made environment.
Sustainable Building Environments The built environment has a profound ripple effect. It not only affects people interacting with it but is also responsible for extensive use of resources. It is therefore natural to consider sustainability in the construction a built environment to reduce the tremendous environmental impact it has. A true sustainable building environment keeps in consideration social, economic and environmental concerns through the stages of planning, construction and demolition and provides a final product that is economical, accessible and environmentally responsible (Sev, Sustainable Development, 2009). Aysin Sev comments that there are three principles of sustainable development. They are listed further: 13 | P a g e
Resource Management Building activities use vast quantities of resources obtaining most of which affect the ecology of the earth. Aggregate collection involves concentration and re-distribution of many natural resources such as minerals, water and energy. Therefore, resource management is an important facet of sustainable construction. The review by Aysin Sev recommends some common guidelines which may assist builders in sustainability. It suggests using proper insulation to avoid heat loss in cold regions and passive heating and cooling through proper orientation. This will facilitate independence from artificial carbon-intensive heaters and coolers. Secondly, provision for rain-water harvesting will go a long way in re-using and recycling water. Proper mindful planning for raw materials is also necessary to avoid wastage (Sev, Sustainable Development, 2009). Design of Life-cycle The building industry is unique in the sense that its final product has a very long life-cycle. Therefore, it must bear in mind requirements for long term sustainability. Life cycle assessment is the best way to determine the overall economic and environmental impact of a building. It helps evaluate risk assessments and the overall economic cost of the design when compared to the estimated lifetime of the building (Wang et al, Building and Environment, 2010). The life cycle energy analysis is a calculation to account for all energy intensive actions performed on the building during its lifetime. This involves the stages of construction, occupation and finally, demolition. This divided the net energy usage of a building in to several parts. The term ‘embodied energy’ refers to the energy consumed during the construction stage. At this stage, materials are harvested from the earth, processed and transported to the construction, processes which all need energy. This fraction is termed as ‘initial embodied energy’ and is the amount needed for the initial construction. Some parts of the building may not have a lifespan as long as the building itself and overtime will need to be replaced. ‘Recurring embodied energy’ is the amount of energy needed for repair and maintenance of a building after it has been constructed. ‘Operational energy’ is the amount of energy needed to run the building. This involves daily fuel costs like electricity, heating or cooling, ventilation and other domestic comforts. Finally, ‘demolition energy’ defines the final amount of energy necessary to destroy the building and transport the waste to the landfill or recycling unit. Therefore, the life cycle energy of any construction is equal to the sum of its initial embodied energy + recurring embodied energy + operational energy + demolition energy (Ramesh, Prakash and Shukla, Energy and Buildings, 2010). It is important to bear in mind flexible designs that allow future changes cost-effectively with low environmental impact. Builders must also consider provisions for waste management and recycling. Adaptation in buildings keeping in mind further global warming is also a concern. Finally, builders must 14 | P a g e
select an easily accessible, low environmental impact site of construction and use long-lasting non-toxic materials (Sev, Sustainable Development, 2009). Considerations of human and environment It is important to remember that one of the key-points of the concept of sustainability is to maintain human standard of living while also conserving the environment. Maslow, an American psychologist, in 1943 developed a theory known as ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’. According to this theory, the priority of a man’s needs would lead to his behaviour. Therefore, only when their most primary needs of hunger, thirst, physical comfort followed by emotional needs of love and acceptance are fulfilled will he be able to consider other factors such as the environment and biodiversity. (Rakowski, Grin, 2011) Therefore, the builder must consider the dwellers comfort, psychological and physiological needs and well as provide a suitable pleasant environment which promotes recreation and productivity. Preserving the natural surroundings goes a long way in maintaining the aesthetics of the construction. The microenvironment must be preserved along with its indigenous biodiversity to harbour a sense of uniqueness. Risks of polluting the air and the water table must be kept in mind during the building process. A study in Malaysia studied the effect of the natural environment on the development of pre-school toddlers. The research revealed that the allowing children to simultaneously experience both the natural and man-made settings stimulated cognitive development. Playing outside more often, also resulted in better social and physical skills. Scientists also claim that the complexity of the natural environments triggers curiosity and imagination in children. Not surprisingly, children have been shown to use their natural habitat selection instincts and prefer a natural outdoor setting to a man-made playground. (Azlina and Zulkiflee, Procedia- Social and Behavioural Sciences, 2012) It is also necessary to respect cultural aspects by taking care to preserve tangible representations of a culture. This is of course an overwhelming task taking in consideration the plethora of cultures to which people may belong. Therefore, it is important to reach a comfort zone, which provides satisfaction to a majority of customers. Maintaining adequate ventilation and thermal comfort at the same time is a daunting challenge but it must be taken care of to provide the best living comfort and at the same time reducing usage of heaters and coolers. Builders must also ensure that dwellers receive sufficient natural light inside the building. Efficient planning in this sphere will go a long away in reducing usage of electricity during sunlight hours and indirectly reduce the carbon footprint (Sev, Sustainable Development, 2009), (Kubba, Handbook of Green Building Designs and Construction, 2012). 15 | P a g e
In view of the predicament of depletion of natural resources and climate change, Madurwar et al the possibility of developing construction materials from waste generated by the agricultural sector. According to this review waste-create bricks (WCB) have been constructed using a fixed quantity of cement (10%) with varying quantities of waste generated from paper recycling mills and cotton waste. Tests then indicated that the WCB were thermally stable and met the minimum requirement of standards. (Madurwar et al, Construction and Building Materials, 2012) Similarly, in an effort to attain energy efficiency, the Chinese construction industry has begun a trend in building apartments with a solar heating system and an energy recovery system to avoid fuel intensive heaters. The industry also attaches importance on landscapes to ensure the prevalence of the natural environment around the apartments (Zhu et al, Sustainable Development, 2012).
Examples of Sustainable Practices I. An excellent example of sustainable construction is the Building Research Establishment (BRE) in the United Kingdom. The goal of the BRE is to promote sustainable architecture and it has chosen its own building as their first goal. 1. Recently the BRE has replaced energy inefficient machines with efficient ones and estimate that this move will save about 54,000 kg of carbon dioxide emission per year as well as a 10,000 pounds saving in running costs every year. 2. The BRE now recycles 62% of its office wastes out which 38% is supplied to an energy recovery facility. Remarkably, this energy facility is responsible for producing energy that is sufficient to power 48,000 homes. 3. Between the years 2008 and 2012, the BRE has refurbished its waste recycling unit and went from sending 55% of its non-hazardous waste to the landfill to 0.2%. The team decided to upscale recycling and began a stringently monitored waste segregation system. 4. Food waste was assiduously diverted to anaerobic composts. 5. The contractor in charge of local waste also diverted 99.5 % of non-hazardous construction site waste sent to his unit. 6. Along with active recycling the BRE has also been successful in reducing the amount of waste in generates by 8% since 2011. 7. Another stupendous achievement by the Building Research Establishment is the dramatic decrease in their fuel consumption. By the year 2011, the BRE has reduced its energy expenditure 16 | P a g e
at a rate of 5% per year and its usage of gas by 3% per year when compared to 2007. This has saved the environment more than 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. 8. Further, the BRE has installed solar panels to harvest energy from the sun in the form of solar radiation. This project is expected to save about 15,200 kg of greenhouse gas emissions as well as generate an income of 220,000 pounds in the coming twenty five years. The BRE has set for itself certain goals for the coming future. It aims to reduce its water consumption by at least 25 % as well as a decrease in non-hazardous wastes by 10% by the year 2015 keeping the readings from 2011 as a baseline. The BRE sets an example of single-minded focus and commitment to a cause and the wonders a team with time, passion and energy can do to change the planet. (Blofeld, IHS BRE Press, 2012), (Barlow, Riba Publishing, 2011), (Cinquemani and Prior, IHS BRE Press, 2010)
II. Natural England is a non-executive public body affiliated to the Government of UK. It aims to protect and restore Englandâ€™s natural environment and get the public to be involved with their surroundings. Natural England sets a prime example of responsible environmental practices through its policies of sustainable contribution to the society. 1. Natural England limits it timber purchases to sellers who can guarantee that the timbre is sustainably harvested and legal. 2. It aims to increase its energy efficiency by 30% by 2020 compared to its efficiency in the year 2000. 3. By the same year, it also expects a 25% reduction from 2005 levels of generated waste. 4. This must correspond to a 75% increase in the amount of waste which is recycled. 5. It also aims to reduce its dependence on water consumption by 25% from 2006 levels. 6. Natural England ensures purchases made have been developed and delivered with minimum environmental impact and organizations with which they are associated follow rules set by the International Labour Organization. Natural Englandâ€™s policies enable the implementation of sustainable practices in every sphere. They have not only targeted a sustainable code of practice for their own actions in terms of reducing energy wastage and water consumption but they have also set rules for procurement of raw materials. Natural England ensures that the material they use has been harvested responsibly. This policy goes a long way in reducing the net carbon â€“ footprint for the entire organization. (Brochure, Sustainable Procurement Policy, Natural England) 17 | P a g e
AIM OF THE STUDY
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The aim of this thesis is to study the importance of sustainable development in the context of global climate change. Further, the intent is to identify the role of the construction industry in this scenario and explore the possibility of creating sustainable building environments in the UK. Finally, one such example of a sustainable building environment in the UK has been analysed and conclusions to its sustainability have been reported.
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III GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
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CLIMATE CHANGE- AN ECONOMIC APPROACH
In 2006, Nicholas Stern, an economist at the London School of Economics discussed the effect of global warming and climate change on the world economy. In this widely acclaimed review, Stern scrutinizes the already visible effects of the global warming and calculates possible outcomes of a â€˜business-as-usualâ€™ approach. This, as the name reads, follows a blindfolded approach to global warming wherein no offset measures are taken to mitigate the impending disasters. (Stern et al, The Economics of Climate Change, 2006) The Economics of Climate Change cites that the average concentration of greenhouse gases before the industrial revolution in the late eighteenth century was 280 parts per million (ppm) carbon-dioxides. This concentration has now reached 430 ppm and is alone responsible for a 0.5 degree centigrade rise in temperatures. The presence of global warming is all too evident by the advances in nesting seasons of birds and the early arrival of migrant bird populations across the Arctic. Both birds and butterflies have shown an increased distribution towards the north indicating a warmer clime. Further evidence is found in the Alps where plants have been shown to migrate upwards by one to four metres per decade and plants adapted to the frigid temperatures at the peak have disappeared (Omann et al, Ecological Economics, 2009). Stern then predicts a 5 degree centigrade rise as the greenhouse emissions treble by the end of the current century. This foretells catastrophic events to be set-off. The Indian Sub-continent, the Andes, South America and parts of Asia will be at a risk of severe water crises. The African continent will be the first to face starvation and decline of harvestable food crops followed by a global food shortage with a 3-4 degrees increase of temperature. Glaciers will melt and cause a rise in mean sea level as a result of which, low lying coastal areas such as London, New York, Tokyo, Bangladesh etc. will be at a risk of submergence. Increased temperatures, imminent floods and malnutrition will prove to be breeding grounds for vector borne diseases. With only 2 degrees rise in temperature, up to 40% of the worldâ€™s ecosystem runs a risk of extinction, thus severely hampering the food-chain. Increased carbon-dioxides in the air will not only cause corrosive acid rain but also get dissolved in ocean water and destroy marine ecosystems. Nicholas Stern et al further state that rate of inflicted damage due to climate change will only accelerate as the temperatures rise and will soon take on mammoth global proportions. He claims that economies across the world will topple if climate change is not dealt with immediately. Although, an increase in temperatures may mean less cold related deaths in the tundra as well as increase food crop production 21 | P a g e
for a short duration, the long-term effects are nothing short of disastrous. In Climate Change Economics, Nordhaus agrees with Stern in that due to global warming, 8.7% increase in wind speed can be expected which will cause an increased damage by 113%. This is likely to cost the United States an additional 10 billion US dollars in annual hurricane costs (Nordhaus, Climate Change Economics, 2010)
Figure 1: Predicted outcomes of the business- as- usual approach to climate change. [Adapted from the Stern Review, 2006]
In 2007 the United Kingdom faced one of the most devastating floods in its history. The British Parliament then mandated Sir Michael Pitts to conduct an independent review of the 2007 floods. It is revealed from this study that the floods caused damage upon 55,000 properties around the UK. Due to disruption of the Mythe water treatment plant, approximately 350,000 people without drinkable water for up to two weeks. Although there are disputes as to whether the floods were directly related to global warming, it is agreed that they were an anomaly in the British climate.
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Figure 1 depicts a flowchart of some of the after-effects of unmitigated global warming predicted in the years to come However, Sir Pitts is in accordance with Stern when he claims that the 1 billion pounds expended as damage control may increase to 27 billion pounds by the year 2080 if there are no acute measures taken against climate change. (The Pitts Review, UK) The Pitts review team also stated that the year 2007 saw 200 major floods affecting 180 million people around the world. The net damage to life was 8000 people and more than 40 billion pounds loss financially.
Figure 2: Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in scenarios of no mitigation (dark blue), target levels of 450 ppm (light blue) and 550 ppm (brown) carbon- dioxide. [Baveye et al, Springer Publications, 2009]
The Stern review also studies the costs of climate change mitigation. The paper states that the goal is to stabilize greenhouse emissions at 500- 550 ppm of carbon-dioxide. Negligence of environmental responsibilities for the next ten years will ensure that this goal is out of reach. It is estimated that lowcarbon measures implemented at earliest will cost approximately 1% of the worldâ€™s annual gross domestic product until 2050 as opposed to a loss of up to 20% per- capita consumption if no action is taken.
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To ensure a stable planet, global emissions will have to be cut down to up to 25% by the year 2050 keeping in mind that as the planet heats up it may lose it ability to absorb carbon. This will involve slowly reducing the gross emission per year until it falls below the target levels. Figure 2 represents the atmospheric greenhouse gas levels to be expected in the coming years in three scenarios- a business as usual (dark blue trend line) approach which will end in carbon- dioxide levels of more than 1500 ppm. This scenario will result in climatic changes beyond the scope of human experience and will probably not support life. The other two scenarios depict emission levels if changes are to be made keeping target levels of 450 and 500 ppm carbon- dioxide. In both cases, the climate will stabilize with greenhouse gas level between 500- 550 ppm carbon- dioxide and may result in at least 2 degree rise in mean temperature. Climate change is no longer a hazard of the future. In 2003, 35,000 people in Europe died of unexpected heat waves and agricultural losses amounted to 15 billion US dollars. Instead, it is a danger already looming over mankind and has the power to end life on Earth as we know it.
SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES MAY COUNTERACT CLIMATE CHANGE
One of the most pressing concerns today, in the phenomenon of climate change. Apart from the uncontrollable causes such as plate tectonics, change in ocean currents, change in the magnetic intensity of the earth etc., human development is largely responsible for the shift in climatic conditions. Stirling and Parkinson reported in the journal Arctic that shrinkage in the sea ice is responsible for the reducing population of polar bears. (Stirling and Parkinson, Arctic, 2006) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that an average 1.8 mm/year rise in global sea water level from 1961 to 1993 followed by a drastic increase up to 3.1mm/year rise from 1993 to 2003. (IPCC, World Meteorological Organization, Geneva) Figure 3 is a representation of past and projected changes in sea level over three hundred years. The grey shaded area is an estimate of sea water levels during 1800- 1870 since no recorded measurements are available. The red line depicts the sea water level measured by tide gauges while the green line represents
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the same as measured by satellite. The red shaded area represents margins of errors and the purple
shaded area is an expected rise in case of average medium emissions.
Figure 3: Past and Projected Global Sea Levels [Source: IPCC, 2007] 25 | P a g e
This is further evidence of climate change which cries out for the adoption of sustainable developmental policies. Climate change adaptation is one of the pillars of the concept of sustainable development. Caring for Climate, an UN affiliated organization defines it as follows: “Initiatives and measures to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems against actual
or expected climate change effects.” This concept calls for a balance between consumption and resource use. It also involves developing a ‘greener’ economic policy which no longer adds pressure on the existing ecosystems and niches in the world. In 1991, Kofi Annan rightfully pointed out the Butterfly Effect whereby a relatively innocent decision is likely to produce to mammoth end- results (Annan, Nobel Lecture, 2001). A seemingly insignificant event can set in motion a chain of events with a proportionally larger end result. James Olmsted claims that an innocuous action such as a light bulb burning unnecessarily has disastrous effects leading to global warming. Even a single degree rise in global temperatures will lead to a chain of events which include natural disasters, loss of habitats, and species invasion to newer biomes. This then causes ecological stress, loss of biodiversity and finally extinction of species (Olmsted, Environmental Affairs Law Review, 2011). In an independent study conducted in 1996, Martin states that the biological diversity of the planet is under threat of climate change. The main cause of loss of biodiversity according to this publication is the population explosion of the human race. Humans contribute to defacing the natural environment for selfish needs of comfort and this is the primary cause of climate change. In his paper, Martin writes that deforestation in tropical forests advances at the rates of 15.4 million hectares per year. Therefore, the tremendous amount of loss of floral and faunal species can only be imagined. Martin states that saving a few representations of the species and keeping them aside in natural preserves and forests are emergency measures humans are being forced to take. However, if global warming increases at a steady rate due to unmitigated man- made causes, natural reserve establishments will also be affected by climate change and therefore will not be enough to protect the species from extinction. He also predicts a doubling of carbon- dioxide levels in air in fifty years and expects areas higher in latitude to be hit harder by climate
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change. Therefore, national parks and preserves maintained in northerly areas of higher latitude run the highest risk of being affected (Martin, Forest Ecology and Management, 1996). Therefore, all evidence points towards a possible global catastrophe in the next few years. Climate change is no longer a future concern but is a part of our day- to- day life. It is important to remember that every environmentally irresponsible action will add to the possibility of this disaster which if unmitigated, a tiny change in climate has the capacity to wreak havoc over the economic and social systems in the world in the form of droughts, flash flood, and food crisis. Rank
Figure 4: The total CO2 emissions by volume (in billion tonnes) of the top 15 nations [Duplicated from Stambouli and Traversa, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2002]
Stabilization of the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is vital to achieve a level that matches the Earthâ€™s natural capacity to utilize or remove them. In 2000, Reddy and Parikh estimated that introduction of energy efficient practices in India can save up to 87.7 million tonnes of carbon- dioxide emissions by 2010. (Reddy and Parikh, Energy Policy, 1997) The Stern Review discusses that according to projections, the current target stabilization level 500- 550 ppm carbon-dioxide, which is already 80% less that the gross annual emissions. Contradicting Sternâ€™s view, Matt Vespa states in Ecology Law Currents that since greenhouse gas levels of 500 ppm carbondioxide will herald in dangerous and unknown climatic conditions, the end- target should be greenhouse gas levels of 350 ppm carbon- dioxide. Figure 4 depicts the carbon- dioxide emitted (in billion tonnes) by the top 15 nations in the world. (Vespa, Ecology Law Currents, 2009) From a purely economic point of view, adopting pro- climate policies has the advantage of being profitable in the future. The market for low- carbon products is estimated to be worth 500 billion US dollars in 2050. Thus, companies and shareholders adopting these policies are at a position of benefit.
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Apart from actively reducing greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere and therefore counteracting air pollution, these policies can help bring about reduced expenditure. Inefficient energy systems which not prove to be environmentally irresponsible as well as a financial burden can be replaced with energy efficient machines. They will also help save billions of dollars which are annually expended on energy subsidies. Energy efficient lighting adopted at the University of Melbourne saved almost 65% of the original energy expended as well as an average of 20,000 Australian dollars per year (Stefano, Energy, 2010). A study published in Public Health in 2012, stated that if only fifteen million inefficient gas stoves in India can be replaced by energy efficient one, approximately 1 billion tonnes of emitted carbon- dioxide can be avoided in a period of ten years (Haines, Public Health, 2012). Adopting economical energy efficient technique will reduce net cost and therefore relieve the global market off the demands of products which are emission intensive. With fossil fuels reserves almost depleted and the daunting goal of stabilizing carbon- dioxide emissions, there is no choice but to adopt clean sources of fuel. Adopting alternate sources for clean, carbon- free power has become one of the most widely accepted climate change policies. It is feared that primary energy demands will increase almost three fold by the year 2050 (Stambouli and Traversa, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2002). The most important energy intensive sectors are electricity, transportation, heating, cooking and industries. In 2006, electricity production alone accounted for 40% of the worldâ€™s CO2 output. Fossil fuels still serve as the primary source of energy. In a review published in 2011, Yuksel and Kaygusuz show that in the year 2006, 3053 million tonnes of oil equivalent worth of coal was burned as fuel. If fossil fuels are not conserved and consumed at the current pace, approximately 1000 giga- tonnes of carbon will be released into the atmosphere by 2030 (Yuksel and Kaygusuz, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2011). One of the most popular sources of renewable energy is hydroelectric power which contributed to about 90% of electricity produced from renewable sources in 2006 (Yuksel and Kaygusuz, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2011). Due to zero fuel requirements, renewable sources of energy have low running costs. However, capital costs can be high in order to acquire the correct machinery. Renewable sources of energy are also extremely sensitive to fluctuations. For instance, the earth receives 170,000 TWh/year of energy from the sun. However, tapping in to this energy is difficult on cloudy, rainy and stormy days as well as night. Similarly, wind turbines can be operated on only the perfect wind conditions (Evans et al, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2009). In a very interesting review by Geoffrey Heal, he shows that a ton of coal approximately produces 3.5 tonnes of emitted CO2 with a social cost of up to 300 US dollars. On the other hand, adopting renewable energy saves as much as 5c/kWh. 28 | P a g e
In the same paper, Heal estimates that replacing 25% of coal dependency by wind energy would cost the US Government 1% of its GDP annually for 15 years or 15% of one year’s GDP. This switch would contribute to reducing one billion tonnes of carbon- dioxide emission annually. Therefore, in spite of the intermittency and initial cost of adopting renewable sources, it is a better deal both environmentally as well as economically (Heal, Review of Environmental Economics and Policies, 2010). In 2005, the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty agreed upon in 1997 came in to force. The countries under this plan committed to cut short their greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt towards sustainability. The treaty targeted six greenhouse gases –carbon –dioxide, methane, sulphur hexa-fluoride, nitrous oxide, HFCs and PFCs. The Kyoto Protocol stated its three methods as –Emissions trading, Joint Implementation and Clean Development Mechanism. It aims to achieve the afore-mentioned goals by promoting technology and skill transfer to stimulate sustainability, emissions trading to help countries committed to the Kyoto protocol to maintain their greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the same in another country and finally by encouraging developing countries and the private sector towards the common goal (Website, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The Kyoto Protocol has often been criticized for failing to state how the ratifying countries could reduce their carbon- dioxide emissions. The financial loss which may occur as a result of emissions trading was not estimated. It is now known that in 2001 carbon footprints could be worth trillions of dollars. Secondly, the Kyoto Protocol exempted the developing countries to allow them to grow. But the developing countries are responsible for a large part of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, there is a clash in the interests of the industrialized and developing nations. Thirdly, many economists and scientists believe that the Kyoto Protocol was too weak a treaty in a time when stringent laws are required to mitigate climate change. These drawbacks result mainly from an attempt to harness environmental sustainability within the boundaries of international law may be a reason for the failure of the Kyoto Protocol (Website, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) (Victor, Princeton University Press, 2001).
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IV THE UKUK- AGENDAS FOR SUSTAINABILITY
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AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABILITY – A LOOK AT THE UK The UK organisation ‘Forum for the Future’ defines sustainability as –‘a dynamic process which enables all people to realise their potential and improve their quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the Earth’s life support systems’. (Brochure, the College of Estate Management) The United Kingdom realized the dangers of global warming relatively early on and began undertaking offset measures against climate change. The UK has been successful in reducing its global greenhouse emissions by almost 18% since 1990. However, in 2009, the climate change trends for UK showed an increase in summer temperatures of South England by 2 degree centigrade by 2040 and by 3.9 degrees in another forty years (2080). Additionally, the projections predicted a 22% reduction in average summer rainfall and a 16% increment in average winter rainfall in the North West by 2080. In 1992, the UK participated in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, alternatively known as the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro. The Government of UK has formed ministerial bodies like the DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) and the DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) which have taken up climate change mitigation and adaptation to climate change as their primary responsibilities. These departments aim to deliver UK in to a safe and sustainable future with a minimal dependency on fossil fuels and other natural resources and a switch to energy efficiency and adoption renewable sources of energy. The DECC and the DEFRA believe that the key to a successful transition to a low-carbon economy lies in UK’s strengths in the field of research and innovation. Policies developed by these departments are based on research findings and the DECC and DEFRA publish reports of the same on at least a yearly basis. The UK Climate Projections, 2009 published by the DECC is a publication depicting the future trends in UK’s climate which is likely to characterized by warmer and wetter winters and hotter and drier summers and possibilities of severe weather like risks of flooding. These projections were published to provide hard evidence to organizations and companies that climate change is indeed a real and on-going phenomenon and to provide them with the much needed incentives to adopt green practices (DECC, 2009). Similarly, published results appraising the triple bottom line theory, helps the government in building assessment frameworks on sustainability and also to evaluate the environmental sustainability of their policies with the social and economic aspects of the nation. The use of the triple bottom line theory in government policies also proves to be an incentive to rope in businesses in following sustainable practices as an ideal policy following the theory promises long-term profits. 31 | P a g e
Therefore, following their own methods of scientific assessment and evaluation of all aspects of sustainability, the Government of the United Kingdom has proposed a five-pointer plan to propagate sustainable practices. These five principles attempt to: a)
Respect the limits of the planet and improve natural resources, environment and biodiversity. Preserving natural resources will ensure that our future generations have an equal chance at survival as us as well as allow other species on the planet to grow and thrive and contribute to the invaluable natural capital.
Promote social and individual well-being by creating equality and harmony. Respect and accommodate communal and cultural diversities to harbour a mutual feeling of cohesion and brotherhood. It is imperative that the global challenge of climate change be met as a team so that it allows equal opportunities and facilities for people of all backgrounds.
prosperity through sustainability while holding a polluter liable for damages. Building a strong, dependable economy while maintaining sustainability will usher in a peaceful and co-operative society. The polluter pays concept which holds the polluting party responsible will ensure that businesses are aware of their environmental responsibilities and the financial liabilities to be met if environmental standards are not met. d)
Govern fairly and effectively harnessing the potentials of all the branches of the Government. The Government must act as one body to ensure the comfort and contentment of its people while keeping a track of economic developments and prosperity and at the same time continue its efforts towards green practices and climate change mitigation. A successful harmony of all three aspects must be the Governmentâ€™s prime concern.
foundation upon which to base policies, while keeping in mind the importance of public opinion and scientific uncertainty. All policies and plans must be based on strong scientific research and supported by empirical data. However, the precautionary principle; which states that there is a social responsibility to protect the public in case of scientific doubt regarding any matter; must be strictly adhered to. (DEFRA, 2005) Apart from the five directives for sustainability, the Government passed the Climate Act in 2008 which proposes to improve UKâ€™s carbon footprint and direct the countries towards a low-carbon economy 32 | P a g e
along with show strong leadership on the international front. This led to formation of committees to monitor the carbon- dioxide emissions and the setting up of carbon-budgeting system and targets to reduce the dependence on carbon- dioxide emitting practices. A study on the UK oil and gas companies revealed that 21.2 % of the industry is promoting energy efficiency and reduced waste generation along with recycling. 18.8% of the surveyed companies worked at providing sustainable working environment while 15.15% adopted measures to reduce the stress on the natural capital. 9.09% of the industry combated air pollution while a significantly lower fraction, only 3.03%, ensured sustainable procurement of raw materials. However, 12.12% of the oil and gas companies reduced their carbon footprints by limiting the amount of travel undertaken by their employees. The study concluded that UK companies have a strong optimism towards adopting sustainable practices. (Yusuf et al, International Journal of Production Economics, 2012) DECC: The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) formed in 2008 is a ministerial department at the Government of UK. It focuses its effort towards ensuring sustainable and costeffective sources of energy for the UK. It also aims to establish climate change policies to ensure on its behalf global security from unprecedented disasters of global warming. The DECC sets its goal on reducing greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050. Secondly, it aims to replace 15% of its energy needs with renewable sources of energy by 2020. The DECC aims to prioritize the implementation of the Green Deal by which it plans to encourage home and office owners to replace carbon-intensive features in their building with energy efficient ones. Regulations by the DECC which have necessitated the use of energy efficient boilers in buildings have saved approximately 800 billion pounds in energy savings in 2012. It also aims to modify all UK buildings to have a zero emission footprint by 2050 by decarbonising heating and cooling systems (Adapting to Climate Change â€“ UK Climate Projections, 2009).
DEFRA: The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is a government department in the UK formed in June 2001. Its main priorities are the natural environment, biodiversity, green economy, environmental protection and pollution control. It is also responsible for mitigating global warming in sectors like forestry, agriculture, water and waste treatment etc. The DEFRA advices better landfilling techniques to offset the 3% of the UKâ€™s total greenhouse emissions which is produced from methane gas escaping landfills. The policy also states that current UK forests remove up to 3 million tonnes of carbon- dioxide/year. It advices greater forestation in UK as an effective mitigation measure as an increase of 4% in total forested land can reduce an extra 15 million tonnes of 33 | P a g e
carbon- dioxide per year. Additionally DEFRA has imposed restrictions on commercial fluorinated gas producing products like refrigerators and air conditioners. It also aims to promote the concept of judicial uses of water to the public. Further, DEFRA provides advice and consultancy services to clients in the construction business with regards to target setting and measuring and reporting performances. By 2020, DEFRA aims to bring about a reduction of 1.1 million tonnes of carbon emissions from commercial and public sector buildings (DEFRA’s Role- Mitigating Climate Change, Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK)
The Triple Bottom Line Theory: The term Triple Bottom Line was coined by John Elkington; a cofounder and chair-person of SustainAbility- a sustainable business consultancy; in 1997 in his book ‘Cannibals with Forks: the Tripe Bottom Line of 21st Century Business’; According to the Triple Bottom Line Theory, the success of any organization has to be measured by three yardsticks namely- financial profit, social and ethical performance and finally environmental impact and responsibility. The social aspect of this concept focuses on the influence the organization has on the community it works in. The environmental assessment includes an assay of the amount of natural resources the organization uses, methods used to obtain the resources and finally the amount of waste it generates. In the United Kingdom, it has been deemed protocol for fund managers to demand reports of sustainable practices from the top two hundred listed organizations (Hubbard, Business Strategy and the Environment, 2009). The Centre for Sustainable Accounting (CenSA) works with the DEFRA in order to assess the carbon- footprint of organizations using the (triple bottom line) TBL tool CenSA has developed. Two of the most important criteria while TBL accounting which are taken in to consideration are all the direct effects of the organization in question as well as the indirect effect which is spread over a large chain of suppliers. The Triple Bottom Line Theory introduces the concept of shared responsibility. This concept encourages complete participation of all agents in a supply chain since it divided the environmental impact amongst every member. Therefore, every supplier is affected by its partner upstream of it and in turn affects the recipient downstream to it. This encourages an active co-operation between consumers and producers and helps identify areas of maximum environmental impact. (Research Report 07-02, Weidmann and Lenzen, ISAUK) In 2007, CenSA authorized a triple bottom line and footprint analysis of World Wildlife Federation -UK – the Panda House. 34 | P a g e
House made financial decisions worth 35.1 million pounds in 2005 which increased by 23% to 42.9 million pounds in 2007. b)
Social Responsibility: For every employee hired at the Panda House, WWF-UK helped create another job at another organization. It helped create a profit worth 3.1 million pounds in other organizations.
Environmental Impact: WWFUK created about 1968 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. 3% of this was a result of in-house activities while the majority was due to purchases and off-site decisions made by WWF-UK. The WWF-UK is also responsible for generating 16 tonnes of air pollutants and 200 kg of lead emissions as well as a usage of 200 tonnes of paper, 300 kg of pesticide. WWF-UK also had significantly high costs of publishing.
This analysis reflected that WWF-UK consumes 68% less energy than other such organizations. Its ecological impact is also 83% lower than the average. However, its performance in the social sector is below par. WWF-UK employs a lower number of people as well as pays lesser salaries than other organizations. As a response to this Triple Bottom Line assessment, CenSA recommended WWF-UK to prioritise their suppliers such that they not only consider the expendable amount of money but also their own relative environmental impacts. They also suggested that allowing the environmental expenses of their suppliers and off-site agents to influence WWF-UKâ€™s purchasing decisions might go a long way in encouraging sustainable practices. (Research Report 09-02, Weidmann and Barrett, CenSA) The Five Capital Model: The five capital model was developed in the UK by the organization Forum for the Future. It serves as a framework for sustainability. It has been developed to help companies make decisions which prove to be sustainable in the future. According to this model, there are five distinct types of â€˜capitalâ€™: a)
Natural Capital: This includes natural resources that are used by domestic and industrial settings as well as processes which enable the production and delivery of products, such as forests and oceans which not only are important sources of raw materials but also absorb and neutralize a large amount of wastes generated. For example, trees neutralize carbon- dioxide produced as a by- product of developmental processes.
Human Capital: This includes human aspects such as motivation, skill, knowledge and intellectual capacity of a generation.
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Social Capital: The social capital adds value in the form of human relationships, partnerships and trusts. This is necessary to function in a stable society.
Manufactured Capital: This term refers to material good produced by an organization as well as the infrastructure controlled by them. Not only does the manufactured capital add to the financial value of a company but also helps reduce dependence on the natural capital.
Financial Capital: This is simply economic wealth in the form of currency as well as shares and bonds. (Brochure, Forum for the Future) (Brochure, the College of Estate Management)
Sustainable Construction in the UK The gross added value of the construction industry of the UK in 2011 was 89.5 billion pounds which was about 6.4% of the net gross added value of UK and employed 2.04 million people in 2012, according to the report in the House of Commons Library (Maer, House of Commons Library, Department of Information Services, UK). Therefore, understating the importance of the construction industry in the growth of UKâ€™s economy will be foolhardy at best. The construction industry plays a very important role in enhancing the quality of life for its people. Proportional to its scale, the construction industry is also responsible for consumption of natural resources, and needs to be aware of mitigation measures it can take to ensure a sustainable built environment.
Targeting Waste Generation The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), developed a strategy to ensure sustainable building practices in UK. One of the primary objectives of this strategy is to reduce waste generation. 1.
Studies have shown that in construction up to 10% of materials are wasted from which at least 13 million tonnes per year are raw materials delivered to the site but discarded unused.
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Better foresight and planning can go a long away in reducing wastage. In case of excessive left overs, re- using the waste can prove to be a cost- effective technique.
Segregation and recycling of waste products are also central to adopting sustainable development. This will indirectly reduce the cost of disposing construction wastes in landfills.
Similarly, the strategy aims to influence the quarrying industry to reduce demands of primary raw materials as well as waste products.
It also encourages the use of efficient machinery and by using environment friendly techniques to extract aggregates.
The Minerals Planning Guidance 6 (MPG6) recommends authorities to set up permanent and semi- permanent recycling plants of a minimum size of four to six hectares to efficiently segregate and store raw materials and recycled final products.
(The Minerals Planning Guidance 6, Welsh Office, UK, 1994) (Building a Better Quality of Life, Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, UK) The report of the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund in England (2002- 2007) lauds Coleman & Company, a company based in Birmingham which obtains demolition and construction waste product from its sister companies and recycles them to produce recycled sand and gravel sized aggregates of excellent quality. At its peak, the recycling unit can produce 120,000 tonnes of recycled product per year which is then re- used in pipe beddings and pre- cast concrete etc., (Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund in England (2002- 2007), Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK).
Incentives to Adopt Energy Efficient Systems Due to increased urbanization, a vast amount of land is under building services in the UK. The DETR claims that about 6500 hectares of land is annually converted for rural to urban land use. Therefore, there is an immense process of energy consumption during the construction. Half of the energy produced from non- renewable sources is utilized by the construction industry. Figure 5 depicts the fractions of total energy consumption used by the building industry of the UK. In an aim to combat greenhouse emission, the DETR has set for itself certain goals: 37 | P a g e
The DETR strategy encourages the use of efficient energy sources by imposing a levy on energy usage for businesses. According to this scheme, the users of renewable energy will be exempt from the tax.
The Government also allotted a hundred million pounds for capital investment on renewable or energy efficient systems and an additional fifty million pounds to support renewable energy sources.
To ensure lesser wastage and better output on quarrying sites, an aggregates levy was introduced relative to the approximate environment costs of aggregate quarrying.
(Building a Better Quality of Life, Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, UK) (Rethinking Construction, The Construction Taskforce, DETR, UK, 1998)
Figure 5: Energy consumption of building materials industry as a proportion of total UK industry energy consumption [Duplicated from Building Research Establishment, UK, 1996]
Energy Consumption of the Building Industry Manufacture of Building Materials Transport of Building Materials Other Industry
Conserving Resources The use of mineral resources is necessary for economic growth and therefore to ensure development of the nation, it is essential that the construction industry continues to receive steady supply of mineral
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resources. However, extraction of minerals may have tremendous environmental impact and is often responsible for destruction of the natural environment. The Minerals Planning Guidance 6 (MPG6) released by the British Government in 1994 sets for itself objectives for conservation of natural resources: 1.
It is recognized that while there may be adequate supply of naturally occurring minerals, they are likely to become depleted in the near future. Keeping in mind the limited quantity of reserves, the MPG6 recommends use of alternate sources of minerals such as recycled aggregates, marine dredged and from coastal super quarries. For example, in bituminous layers up to 10% of recycled bituminous material can be safely used.
London makes alternate provision for about 1 million tonnes of land won aggregates per year until 2016. 3.
Wastage of minerals should be avoided at all costs since it increases the environmental impact by increasing volume of extraction.
Low grade materials should be used where they can sufficiently replace high quality environment intensive products. Research has shown that in road construction, the Department of Transport specifications were overshot for fear of taking risks. Suppliers supply primary material at low costs which allows wastage of large quantities. The MPG6 recommends companies stay within the specifications and use innovative design and techniques to reduce demands of primary aggregates.
It is essential to protect marine ecosystem from after- effects of actions like obtaining aggregates by marine dredging and from coastal super quarries. Permits for these will only be granted after careful consideration.
(The Minerals Planning Guidance 6, Welsh Office, UK, 1994) (The London Plan, Greater London Authority, London, UK, 2011)
Adapting to Climate Change The effects of climate change are already visible. The mean temperatures of the earth are already higher than the 1800s. Even if greenhouse gas emissions are brought to a halt, levels of CO2 already present in 39 | P a g e
the atmosphere will cause changes in climate for at least another 30 to 40 years. Sustainable development ensures adaptation unavoidable climatic situations as well as taking advantage of the change. In the publication ‘Adapting to Climate Change’ by DEFRA, a series of images guide readers on how best to adapt to the rising temperatures and change in weather patterns. Since the climatic trends for the UK predicts increased rainfall and rise in sea level, the major focus has been on flood conditions. Figure 6 is an example of the ‘Future Worlds’ guidelines published by DEFRA. Among others, these guidelines recommend: 1.
positioned wisely to allow easy access to people in conditions of floods. 2.
Houses are constructed at a slightly elevated surface to protect from floods.
Building is equipped with a rainwater harvesting unit to recycle and re- use rainwater.
Rooftops of building are covered with solar panels to harvest the solar energy to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
Reforestation is a major goal towards carbon sequestration. Land needs to be managed efficiently to ensure water drainage and prevent soil erosion.
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Figure 6: Guidelines for adapting to climate change. Image depicts excerpts of construction of sustainable farm [Source: Adapting to Climate Change, DEFRA, UK]
Heat pumps are installed in buildings to use heat from outside to warm the inside and vice versa for cooling to avoid depending on fuel intensive heaters and coolers.
Driveways are built of permeable material to allow water to percolate through and replenish the ground water table.
instructed to use reinforced materials resistant to hotter temperatures and floods for building dams, motorways, railways and bridges etc.
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Carbon capture storage power plants need to be set up and the carbon- dioxide produced are injected in to aquifers and depleted oil or coal reserves.
The Green Deal Scheme The Green Deal Scheme is a new initiative by the Government of UK. It targets home-owners, tenants as well as business owners and encourages them to introduce environment-friendly measures into their homes and offices. According to this scheme, it is possible to install up-to-date ‘green’ technology in homes and offices without paying for it. The idea behind this scheme is that the energy saved with the energy efficient machine will compensate for the cost of the machine. The scheme intends to modify 26 million buildings in the next twenty-five years. Another novel aspect of this scheme is that the investment is on the property itself and so if the occupants move, the bill stays with the new owners at the same property. The scheme mandates that for this deal to valid, the expected financial savings in a period of twenty-five years must be greater or at least equal to the cost of installing the machine. The Government has also appointed ‘Green Deal Assessors’ who visit the property and assess the change required and finally an allocated amount of money is spent in increasing the energy efficiency of the building. The ‘Green Deal Assessor’ also helps the owners and tenants to learn more about the energy efficiency schemes of their buildings and ways to increase the efficiency. For example, buildings built prior to the 1920’s have solid walls but no cavity walls. This leads to a large amount of heat loss due to poor insulation and necessitates the use of external fuel-intensive heating systems. The Green Deal Scheme proposes to install solid wall insulation in these building to save on heating. This will allow a saving of approximately 475 pounds a year. (Website, Green Deal Initiative)
The RICS Property Life Cycle The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors introduced a set of guidelines known as the RICS Property Life Cycle. These underline the importance of sustainability through the life cycle of a building. This system has identified five main stages in the life cycle of any construction –Greenfield/ Estate Management, Planning and Procurement, Construction, Occupancy and Use, and, Demolition and 42 | P a g e
Remediation. It is evident that there is an intentional overlap of these guidelines with those that also underpin the Triple Bottom Line Theory. Further, the RICS guidelines assess different aspects of a building environment and try to assess each stage of the life cycle in its context. Some are discussed below: Social and Financial Aspects: Amenities
Recreational facilities are important in a societal setting. They promote health and well-being. They also act as carbon-sinks in a commercially built environment. In the near future, these areas will serve to provide shade and cool while mitigating the urban-heat island phenomenon. During the planning of buildings with a near-by park etc. it is important to include a system which allows rain water to percolate through the soil, use brown or green surfaces to enhance biodiversity and ecology by blending in. Secondly, it is of vital importance that during the construction and/or demolition of the building, the park or recreational area not be disturbed and restored to its original condition after construction. Community:
community enhances feelings of social responsibilities. It is necessary to provide facilities like recreational centres and social gathering spots to harbour this. More importantly, relations with local communities during the construction and demolition stage must be maintained by ensure minimal impact on their lifestyle as a result of the new building environment. Crime and Security: One of the
most important aspects of constructing a stable building environment is to provide security. Measures like CCTVs, security personnel and good lighting as well as publicly announcing measures to be taken against crime may go a long away against vandalism and theft during the construction process and also during occupancy. Discussing and assessing the crime-situation is mandatory before beginning construction. Engaging the local community may also help. Cultural
requires an assessment as to the possible archaeological value of a construction site. If the land has promise as an excavation site, it must be excavated and the artifacts recorded before any construction process can begin. Similarly, if the building is close to many historic monument or site, the impact of materials used must be assessed. Health and Safety: This includes
the concept of Indoor Environmental Quality. The use of proper ventilation, day-lighting and non-toxic paints and adhesives contribute to an enhanced indoor environment. For the overall well-being of the occupants, their safety with regard to hazardous areas in the building risking 43 | P a g e
falling or slipping must be taken care of. Additionally, the safety and well-being of workers during the construction and demolition process must be of prime concern. Human Rights: It is important
to ensure fair working conditions for the construction workers at the site as well as that at least the minimum wage is being paid to them. Team leaders must carry out checks at intervals to ensure that no malpractices are taking place. Finally, the building developer must be sure their procurement and delivery of resources from off-site industries or companies doesnâ€™t add to unethical labour practices. Environmental Aspects: Biodiversity: The importance of
preserving the biodiversity of a construction site cannot be stressed enough. Biodiversity forms a significant part of the natural capital of the earth. Therefore, the RICS guidelines require a stringent assessment of the flora and fauna of Greenfields and other natural areas around the construction site. It is recommended to take measures to not disturb the ecological site at all but in case the construction team predicts an impact on the biodiversity of the region, strict measures to relocate the life-forms should be taken. This policy also hold true for the demolition process. RICS encourages an Environment Impact Assessment to determine the flora and fauna of a region. Finally, the construction team along with an ecologist must make a comprehensive report about the substrate material and compatible flora and fauna must be encouraged to colonise. Climate Change: Since climate
change is a reality in the current times, it is necessary to protect buildings against the three main threats in the UK â€“floods, water scarcity and temperature rise. It is necessary to keep in mind the essentials of sustainability during the construction and demolition stage by obtaining resources in a manner which has minimal environmental impact, limiting water use wherever possible, using energy efficient machines and generating the minimum waste possible by reusing and recycling. Additionally, carbon- intensive facilities for the building must be replaced with energy efficient ones without reducing the thermal comfort of the occupants. Measures to mitigate against flooding and options to harvest rainwater must also be provided. Drainage: The serious risks of
floods must be taken in to consideration. It must also be acknowledged that old drainage sites are under duress because most construction areas have hard surfaces which allow water to run-off and not percolate. Therefore, measures like underground storage of storm water, rain-water reuse must be promoted. Natural areas in and around the building may also help in drainage by absorbing water in to the soil. 44 | P a g e
Energy: Usage of energy is
perhaps the primary concern of sustainability. RICS encourages minimization of energy in a cost effective manner, use of renewable energy and obtaining â€˜greenâ€™ energy from energy grids. The building team may consider developing additional land with wind turbines if the conditions permit and also the use of technology like solar cells in a remote site. A passive design is the most useful way to reduce energy expenditure. To ensure minimum energy usage, there must be minimum energy wastage and this must be designed appropriately by considering the climate and the materials used in construction. During modelling, the human factor coupled with inhabitation of varying periods of time must be considered to arrive at a realistic picture of energy usage. Geology: The soil is not only the
link to ground water but also harbours many different species of the animal kingdom. Thus, there must be minimum damage to the soil during the construction process. It must be ensured that no chemicals are added which may leach in to the ground water and contaminate the already scarce drinking water supplies. In case of unforeseen contamination the soil must immediately treated for remediation. If soil is dislocated from the construction site, it must either be replaced or reused in an off-site location. Land Use: Natural land use will
obviously be influenced by considerations like deforestation, soil use etc. Other than these aspects, the effect of other building sites on the construction site must be examined. This must be done before the construction process begins to ensure minimum wastage of energy and resources. Material
impact of a building is largely determined by the materials it has used and the carbonintensiveness of obtaining them. Transport distances and the carbon cost of travelling to procure the resources must be a factor of consideration. The problems of resource depletion, pollution and contamination must be addressed. Sustainability in obtaining the raw materials while also staying with the prescribed specification and avoiding dangerous and sub-standard goods must be attached paramount importance. Visual
recommends using the surroundings of any environment to enhance the quality of life. Nearby natural areas help in increasing the aesthetic quality of the building. Secondly, building in a way which utilises the topography will diminish earth movements and reduce future costs of excavation. Waste: The cost of waste is
equivalent to operating profit for a construction company. Innovative design decisions will go a long way in minimizing waste. The wastage and environmental impact of packaging materials is 45 | P a g e
also a big concern. Recycling and re-using the waste products of the construction site can also be profitable for the construction company by saving on raw material cost. Facilities of recycling must be provided for the occupants and its use must be encouraged. Water: To counteract the effects
of water scarcity, facilities for rain-water harvesting for non-potable use in toilets and gardens must be provided. To ensure no contamination and a subsequent health risk, buildings need to have dual plumbing to separate potable from non-potable water. Low-water toilet furnishings may also help reduce the dependency on water. Use of water during the construction process must be minimized and in unavoidable circumstances, the developer must seek permission to harvest water from an aquifer. (Brochure, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, 2009)
The Role of the Building Research Establishment The Building Research Establishment (BRE) was founded in 1921 as the Building Research Station. It provides a wide array of services such as consultancy, certification of sustainability and safety and it also conducts research on the built environment. The headquarters of the BRE are in Watford while it has regional branches are all around the UK and Ireland. The BRE has an international North American office in Ontario, Canada. Its prime focus is green construction and sustainable development. The BRE also interests itself in developing measures of national and international standards and building codes. UKâ€™s Building Regulations have also been formulated by the BRE. (Homepage, BRE, UK)
The BREEAM The Building Research Establishmentâ€˜s Environment Assessment Method (BREEAM) was developed in 1990 as a tool to assess environmental impact. Since its launch it has rapidly become one of the most widely used and powerful methods of environmental risk assessment. It aims to provide a credible analysis of the sustainability of a building. Its power lies in the fact that the assessment is independent and free from any influencing sources as well as the fact that a label of sustainability by the BREEAM is recognized worldwide and proves to be an asset in the global market. All BREEAM standards are developed through robust scientific research and good sustainable practices. It also actively encourages builders and construction managers to adopt the guidelines for sustainable construction. Additionally, it also helps clients and builders understand the need for a suitable life- cycle design. 46 | P a g e
The BREEAM assessment is carried out in multiple stages. After the appointment of a BREEAM Assessor; who is to be qualified for the proposed building scheme and should belong to a licenced firm; and a BREEAM Accredited Professional; who must have the skill set required for sustainable architecture, green design and must also have previous experience in the assessment proves; there is a preliminary assessment of the building plan. In this pre- assessment the Assessor explains the process of BREEAM issues and credits. This is generally followed by a collaborative effort to estimate which environmental aspects can be addressed best. Once this assessment is passed, the project can be registered. However, the project is then closely monitored by the BRE and follow- up assessments are conducted of the design structure and post construction stage. In the design stage assessment, the Assessor tests the willingness of the client to follow the standards set by the BREEAM guidelines with respect to the evidence presented and this influences the BREEAM score to a large extent. In the final post construction assessment step, the Assessor visits the building site and compares the newly constructed building against the promised standards in the design plan. The credibility of the BREEAM lies in there strict expectations that high environmental standards be maintained and those projects that end in a failure to live up to the promised design do not get awarded the final credits. During its assessment processes, the BREEAM Certified Assessor takes in to consideration a variety of responsibilities that the builder must take up. The BREEAM assess resource management, maintenance of indigenous ecological standards, facilities for energy efficiency and sustainable use of water. The BREEAM expects facilities for the active reuse and recycling of waste and the use of low impact but long lasting construction materials. Additionally, low levels of noise and air pollution during the construction process as well as following green construction practices such as ensuring percolation of surface waterrun-off, score high BREEAM points. Similarly, access to cycle paths and public transport are also important factors of a sustainable development. Finally, the Assessor looks in to the overall comfort and well- being of the occupants in order to reach a final score. In 2008, the BREEAM inserted a last clause in their score card. According to this, innovative designs for sustainability and above par performances surpassing BREEAM’s current standards of good construction practice are awarded extra credits. The final credits awarded at the end of the post construction assessment are then totalled and a weighting is established to obtain a Category score which is expressed as a percentage. A score below 30 per cent is failed and a BREEAM label is denied. Scores between 30 or more and 45 per cent are graded as a ‘Pass’ while percentages equal or more than 45 to 55 get a ‘Good’ grade. A ‘Very Good’ is awarded to scores between 55 and 70 per cent. Building scoring between 70 and 85 per cent on the BREEAM assessment are labelled ‘Excellent’. An ‘Outstanding’ grade awards those constructions which score an 85 per cent on the assessment and meet exemplary building standards.
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The advantage of the BREEAM development code over other risk assessment tools is the fact that it doesnâ€™t expect immediate solutions to issues like climate change. Instead it serves to simply reduce the impact the building has on the environment. Lock and key solutions to individual issues for each building would have additional overhead costs and might also prove to be carbon- intensive. Instead the BREEAM focusses on general easy to follow practices that are more efficient. The BREEAM standards also never compromise on quality and consumer comfort and interests which make them an extremely popular tool for sustainability. (Barlow, Riba Publishing, 2011), (Cinquemani and Prior, IHS BRE Press, 2010)
The construction industry is a massive one and therefore, to bring a radical change in it is not an easy task. However, it is evident that the British construction industry takes climate change as a serious subject and is taking long term measures towards mitigation as is evident from figure 7 which depicts the gradual increase in amount of recycled waste from 1999 to 2005. DEFRA estimates that 46 million tonnes of waste was recycled in 2005 in England and another 15 million was spread on exempt sites such as infrastructure projects and agricultural improvement project. Additionally, the waste generation in England had been successfully stabilised at 90 million tonnes per year from 2001- 2005.
Figure 7: Construction and Demolition Waste Management in England [Source: DEFRA Archives, UK]
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V CASE STUDY: LANCASTER INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ARTS
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LANCASTER INSTITUTE FOR THE CONTEMPORARY ARTS (LICA)
The Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts is a branch of the Lancaster University which specializes in teaching and research in the fine arts disciplines of Design Studies, Films, New Media, Music, Theatre and Art. In 2008, the UK Government awarded it the third place in its assessment of the best art and design research opportunities in the UK and 80% of its research work was classified as nationally and internationally leading (Homepage, Lancaster University of Contemporary Arts). The Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts was awarded the Higher Education Award at the BREEAM awards, 2012. Justifying the award the Director of Facilities at the Lancaster University, Mark Swindlehurst commented that the LICA was “a truly outstanding building that fully meets our commitment to sustainability”. The Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts construction project cost the university about 1274 pounds and an annual carbon footprint of only 10.3 Kg carbon- dioxide per square metre. In all, the construction is 4840 square metres in size and over cost amounted to 10 million pounds (Website, Architects Journal). The Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts received a score of 85.16% and a BREEAM rating of ‘Outstanding’. The LICA is a permanent base for about 160 people with a great number more as temporarily using the building as undergraduate students, postgraduate students, academicians and visitors. Therefore, the building has been designed to incorporate the interests of a vast diversity of people. (Public Sector Sustainability, Volume 2, Issue 4) The team responsible for the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts project was headed by the architectural firm Sheppard Robson and they have kept in mind the three main aspects of sustainable development as explained by Aysin Sev in her review publication. As discussed before, the review listed the three key points of sustainable construction:Sustainable
Life- cycle design and,
Integrating human comfort and interests in the design
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(Sev, Sustainable Development, 2009). Flexibility of Design: One of the most attractive aspects of the building is that it integrates itself to the needs of the people using it. It has a new- fangled look yet is unobtrusive enough not to interfere with the Art and Design that is created with its walls. As the visitors walk through the front foyer, they enter an area which is a mix of a reception and an informal gathering place. The colour scheme of this area is neutral at best and is combined with easy- to- move furniture and a lighting rig (Public Sector Sustainability, Volume 2, and Issue 4). Why is this sustainable? The neutral and modifiable reception area allows it to be converted in to themed events such as exhibitions and performances. The loose furniture allows it to be stacked and moved as is required by the event. Allowing an area to be modified and re-used over and over again will help save costs of building temporary arrangements for events like exhibitions. This then saves utilization of raw materials to build structures like sheds. Additionally, this idea keeps in the mind the comfort of the people visiting the event which may have been compromised upon if temporary arrangements had to be made. The presence of the lighting rig allows light to be modulated where it serves its best purpose without the need for extra energy- intensive lighting systems. This is energy efficient since the lights can be switched off and stowed away when not required. The neutral colour palette makes it easy to use the walls as an exhibition space as it allows it to be painted over, drawn over or simply used as a display wall while saving on the environmental and financial costs of investing in canvases (made of wood) and paper. Similarly, the Imagination Lab, which is primarily designed as a creative space, also ensures full flexibility with respect to the userâ€™s interests. This space has been equipped with folding partitions and loose furniture. There are plenty of interactive boards supplied along with chalk board to inspire students. Additionally the floor has been equipped with internet connection and power supply outlets (Public Sector Sustainability, Volume 2, and Issue 4). Why is this sustainable? The Imagination Lab is a perfect example of how the consumersâ€™ interests and comforts can be included in the quest for sustainability. The foldable partitions and loose furniture are perfect to create space whenever it is required making the Imagination Lab clutter- free to stimulate thought and creativity. Interactive boards and chalkboards inspire students to draw on the walls making it re- usable. The abundance of power and data cords provides easy access to the outside world.
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Integrating the Natural Environment: The interior-designing team responsible for the interiors of this building made it their aim to show their clients how best to live with the environment. For this purpose, the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts has wide open spaces through which daylight bathes the rooms. The Event Space also opens out to the Plaza which is a semi- outdoor stage complete with a grassy slope which can be used for outdoor performances (Public Sector Sustainability, Volume 2, and Issue 4). Why is this sustainable? Abundance daylight not only creates the effect of a natural surrounding but to a large extent saves the use of artificial light energy by providing natural light during the day. It also enhances the indoor air quality of the building. The construction of an outdoor stage creates an aesthetic and appropriate environment for the practise of the fine arts. It has also saved carbon- dioxide emission by utilising the naturally present grassy slope and saved the money and energy of building a complete indoor amphitheatre. Finally, the Plaza is a perfect adaptation to future climate change. Global warming will lead to a warmer climate and therefore an outdoor facility will prove to be ideal in the sunnier clime and save future costs of artificial cooling the building inside for stage performances. Resource Management and Energy Efficiency: The builders have used pre- fabricated and crosslaminated timber which has been finished with light colours. The building is also equipped with photovoltaic cells as well as a rainwater harvesting and composting system (Public Sector Sustainability, Volume 2, Issue 4), (Website, Architects Journal) (Brochure, BREEAM Outstanding at Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts ). Why is this sustainable? Timber is an excellent sustainable source since the trees have sequestered carbon which will remain captured till decay. The total amount of timber used in this construction was equivalent to 9730 trees. The total amount of carbon- dioxide sequestered for the next 80 years in this building is 4606 tonnes. At the end of the life- cycle of the timber, it is capable of generating fuel energy worth2, 590,000 kWh. The energy cost of timber is significantly less than producing steel or concrete and has the benefit of being bio- degradable and recyclable. Cross- laminated timber saves overall cost on the lifetime of the building by reducing the risk of injury to workers. Secondly, cross- laminated timber is assembled off-site whereby it reduced noise pollution and disruption at the construction site. The multi- panelled timber also ensures a low U- value i.e. reduced 53 | P a g e
heat loss from the building reducing the necessity for artificial heating. The light colour finishes on the timbers serve to reflect light and create an effect of a bright and large surrounding. The presence of solar panels harnesses the solar energy and reduced dependence on fossil fuels for energy intensive tasks like heating and cooling. Rainwater harvesting recycles rainwater for domestic use in sanitary systems and together with the lowwater sanitary system reduces pressure on freshwater supply. UK is likely to witness an increase in rainfall in the future years. Harnessing this water for use is a practical way of adapting to climate change. A good composting system creates useful natural fertilizer from bio- degradable waste and also successfully traps methane emission during the decomposition process. (Trada, Wood Information Sheet) (Webpage, Designing Buildings) The building boasts of intelligent lighting, low- water sanitary fixtures and a thermal wheel heat recovery system. It is also equipped with day- light linking systems, and displacement ventilation systems. LICA also provides facilities for cyclists (Public Sector Sustainability, Volume 2, Issue 4), (Website, Architects Journal). Why is this sustainable? The state- of- art lighting system is equipped with presence detectors to minimize wastage. They are also provided with the option of being dimmable for the same purpose. Daylight- linking control panels allow lighting providing exactly the output needed and therefore saves on usage of electricity. The thermal heat recovery system at LICA has an efficiency of 75%. This technique involves the use of a rotor system that absorbs heat energy from the air efflux vent and transfers it to the air influx. Therefore up to 75% of the heat energy is recycled saving carbon costs of heating. (Webpage, Live Building, Queen's University)
Variable displacement is the ventilation system wherein fresh air is introduced at the bottom of the room and exits the room from close to the ceiling. Not only is this energy efficient as heated air (due to body heat) naturally rises upwards but it also doesnâ€™t mix with the fresh air increasing indoor air quality. The Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts has an occupancy linked ventilation system such that the airflow is variable with respect to the number of people in the room and therefore maintains an appropriate temperature as well as reduces energy expenditure on unnecessary ventilation (Halton- Care for Indoor Air, Design Guide). Encouraging cycling leads to low dependence on fossil fuels and serves as an excellent health benefit.
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An added bonus of this project was the fact that the crew took time to spread the word of sustainability. Digital display units in the building provided real- time information about the energy harnessed and water saved by the solar panelling and rainwater harvesting system. Additionally, the pre- construction and construction process was interspersed with a close liaison with the client through presentations, workshops and an active feedback process. Therefore, it is clear that the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts is a fine example of a sustainable building environment and integrates with itself all the necessary principles of green construction through an innovative passive design. The BREEAM Assessment awarded the following scores to the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts. Sustainability of water received a score of 100%, mitigation of pollution and reduction of waste received 90.91 and 83.33% respectively. A score of 86.67% was awarded for responsible procurement and choice of materials and 83.33% for effective use of energy. The team found that applying BREEAM guidelines during the pre-construction and design process allowed them to effectively predict parameters like energy usage and waste generation. The energy score for the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts has the lowest rank along with reduction in waste generated. It is possible that these two factors are related as better re-utilization of waste products may have contributed towards less usage of carbon-intensive methods at a different level increasing the score on both aspects. The BREEAM awards extra credit for zero- energy and negative energy buildings. However, it is unrealistic to expect an institution as large as the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts to efficiently run on no external energy input. Secondly, keeping in mind the generally wet and cloudy weather of Britain, the effects of the solar panels are likely to be dimmed. The real time display at the institute showing the amount of rain water harvested and electricity produced from solar cells is an excellent measure to promote a feeling of inclusion amongst the people and motivate them further to adopt green practices. It is possible that using secondary products from recycling of primary raw materials and using them in the construction in places like the outdoor stage would have increased LICA’ score by a small percentage. Along with the occupation linked variable system, LICA has benefitted from installing a fabric-first approach to insulation. Using timber not only sequestered large amounts of carbon, but also gave way to an efficient insulation system with low Uvalues. It would perhaps, have been better to install an ‘open-able’ windows system as that would further reduce the need for ventilation and cooling during warm days. However, one of the strongest features which set LICA’s building team apart has to be the fact that they actively involved the people at LICA and promoted awareness of sustainable practices by hosting regular 55 | P a g e
meetings and updating the clients about energy savings and the environmental costs which were being avoided. All in all, the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts deserves the BREEAM award for an exemplary construction which kept in to consideration the limits of the environment and sustainably harnessed raw materials for judicious use. It also leads other building in recycling, energy-efficiency and preparedness for climate change
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VI FUTURE PLANS
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PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
The concept of global warming and climate change is no longer a myth but indeed a reality in the current scenario. The concept of â€˜cause and effectâ€™ will ensure that the society is held liable in the future for its actions today. The effects of climate change are already being felt around the globe in the form of floods in south-east Asia or an unparalleled warm year in the western hemisphere. The United Kingdom is too has paid the price of uncontrolled carbon emissions in the past for instance, London has a record number of asthma cases due global warming. The government of the UK has already begun taking stringent mitigatory measures against global warming and has imposed guidelines and principles to ease UK in to adaptation to climate change. It has especially stepped up its efforts to reduce the pressure applied on the environment by UKâ€™s construction industry. The UK is one of the first nations to recognize the benefits of a sustainable construction process. A sustainable building not only adopts environmentally responsible measures during its construction but may contribute in offsetting carbon emissions throughout its life-cycle.
Below listed are some suggestions for further measures that may be adopted by the construction industry in the UK: 1. The government should impose a levy which is proportional to the amount of waste during the construction process which is sent to landfills. This will ensure construction agencies to try to recycle or re-use as much waste as possible. 2. Alternatively, an imposition of a law that at least 20% of all raw materials used in the construction process must be recycled products from within the UK will also reduce the stress on the natural capital. 3. They should also ensure that the timber used in the construction is sourced from sustainable sources. This could be done by imposing rules that require documents proving the sources of raw materials before construction is approved. 4. The environmental cost of transportation of raw materials is in the form of carbon intensive fuel burnt in shipping. Raw materials sourced responsibly and locally will result in only a fraction of the carbon emissions for shipping. Subsidized raw materials for contractors who choose responsibly will encourage businesses to choose from local sources.
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5. In order to encourage sustainability, the government and the BREEAM should offer a reduction in taxes which is proportional to the BREEAM score. 6. The BREEAM assessment should be made compulsory in order to keep an accurate account of the carbon dependency of the buildings. 7. The government should legislate an increase in the price of carbon i.e. a substantial tax which is proportional to the amount of carbon emissions by the project. This will discourage businesses to ignore their carbon footprints. 8. The concept of carbon sequestration in the form of timber must be propagated as should be the use of steel. Unlike timber and concrete, steel is 100% recyclable and has a very low carbon footprint. Apart from being infinitely recyclable, it is also lightweight and very strong which may provide a relief in storm and hurricane prone areas. However, it heat conduction properties may be a challenging aspect especially in very hot or very cold areas. 9. The government should offer incentives such as lowered land cost and property tax if the owners adopt the green designs and replace carbon- intensive appliances with energy efficient ones. 10. Planners must not only take in to considerations global emission levels during construction but also the fact that there will be a rise in temperatures in the next few decades. They must therefore, design in a manner which will allow future changes (e.g. installation of coolers) easily without the need for unnecessary re-construction processes. 11. The public must be convinced of the realities of global warming and their participation in the offset measures has to be ensured. This can be achieved by targeting educational institutes to demonstrate sustainable construction measures or by requesting public opinion and feedback on government policies on global warming.
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DISCUSSIONS The 1992 Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil set the global stage for the concept of sustainable development. At this historical event, powers around the world agreed to work together towards mitigating climate change. Since then, there have been plenty of international forums wherein governments across the globe meet in order to support and encourage the need for sustainability to ensure our future generations and equal, if not better chance at survival. Some examples landmark events are the Habitat II conference in Istanbul (1996) where the UN appealed to city representatives and local authorities to work towards sustainability and adequacy in shelter for all people; the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (2002) where strategies to achieve sustainable energy and transport use and the situations of global hunger and poverty were addressed; and the World Urban Forum 3 in Vancouver (2006) where representative of states and cities discussed the most frightening fall- outs of global warming (Holden et al, Habitat International, 2008). The term ‘sustainable development’ was coined in 1980 by the IUCN’s World Conservation Strategy. Now, the topic of sustainability is a by- word and of concern all over the world. From the time of conception, the term sustainable development has now come to encompass three major aspects of growth namely ‘social’, ‘economic’ and ‘environmental’. The first article of the Rio declaration states the ultimate goal of sustainability by saying “Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable
development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature” (Moldan et al, Ecological Indicators, 2012). Apart from the need to harmonize human socio- economic development and to maintain a suitable living planet for future generations, a key point of sustainable development is the need to meet man’s needs. The psychologist Maslow developed a pyramid of needs which works in such a way that only when the most fundamental requirements are fulfilled and can a higher desire become relevant. According to the hierarchy of needs, only when all of man’s primary needs are satisfied, can he act in an unselfish manner for the benefit of others (Rakowski, Grin, 2011). These needs begin with the physiological needs of the body like food, water, shelter, warmth followed by the need for security which then awakens the need for a sense of belonging and love. This then arouses a need for respect followed by the final need for a sense of self- fulfilment. Therefore, before the human species can be expected to act in a non- self- centred manner; towards an ecologically responsible goal of mitigating climate change for other species and our future generations; all the needs must be met. This thus highlights the underlying concept of social and economic stability in order to achieve environmental sustainability. The call for sustainability acted as a wake- up call to nations around the globe and alerted them to the current conditions of global warming. Frantic research and studies by academicians and scientists gave way to the concept of climate change. 61 | P a g e
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change defines ‘climate change’ along the lines of any modification to the global atmosphere; extraneous to natural weather variability observed over a length of time; caused due to direct or indirect effects of human activity (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1994). The ‘greenhouse effect’ is the term used to describe the social and economic fall- outs of global climate change. This is a direct reminder of greenhouse gas emissions which is the single most important cause of global warming. ‘Greenhouse’ gases like methane, carbon- dioxide, nitrous- oxide and chloro- flouro- carbons trap the solar heat energy on the surface of the earth causing an increase in temperature (Larson and Tobey, Ecological Economics, 1994) (Epstein and Gupta, The Brookings Institution, 1990). The Stern review by economist Nicholas Stern is one of the most singular publications highlighting the dire consequences of global climate change. It concluded that risks of a business- as- usual approach to climate change were too severe to ignore. Unmitigated global warming would in future, amount to a loss of up to 20% of the world’s gross per- capita consumption. It has been established that climate change could irreversibly damage the natural capital of the world which is vital for economic development and which cannot be replaced or replenished by any man made products. The Stern review also states that immediate aggressive mitigation carbon- footprint of will still cause the greenhouse gas emissions to increase because of previous actions but the atmospheric level of carbon- dioxide will slowly settle and stabilize at 550 ppm by the year 2050. This will cause a further increase in global temperatures by at least 2 to 3 degrees centigrade. Therefore, the goal now is to efficiently adapt to the destined rise in temperatures and at the same time work at preventing any further increases (Stern et al, The Economics of Climate Change, 2006), (Dietz et al, Global Environmental Change, 2007). However, the Stern review has been criticised on a few points. Critics have claimed that the discount rate used by Stern; to determine impacts of decisions taken today on the future climate; is too low compared to the rates conventionally used by scientists in climate models. Secondly, Stern’s approach to risk and uncertainty of climate change has been criticised to have higher values for catastrophe and danger. Finally, critics have claimed that Stern’s assessment of impacts of global warming and climate change have been based on the most pessimistic and depressing data and most of Stern’s review functions as an alarmist (Ackerman, Report to Friends of the Earth - England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 2007). However, there is no doubt in the fact that the Stern review, even if it is alarmist by nature, has gone a long away in educating governing bodies around the globe about the future impacts of climate change. It may not be perfect but is far more accurate than most climate change model studies that came before it. There is no room for doubt with regard to the need for sustainability in the view of climate change. The social concern for climate change is now manifested as a call for sustainability (Guest, Journal of World 62 | P a g e
Business, 2010). Governments and industries from around the world are now adopting the concepts of sustainable development. In this project, sustainable development within the construction industry of the United Kingdom has been focused on. It is true that the construction industry is an enormous consumer of natural resources. It has been shown to be responsible for more than 50% of the world’s fresh water usage. Therefore, environmentally responsible practices with the construction industry will go a long way towards sustainability. A sustainably built environment is one which has been constructed keeping in mind the principles of resource management, recycling and reusing and energy efficiency. Along with the afore- mentioned factors, the builder of a sustainable building must also ensure the best possible provision for human comfort and safety and integrate the building in to the natural environment. The UK built environment consumes about 40% of UK’s total energy consumption is a year. Although, there are stringent regulations in place, much can be done to improve it. For instance, in 2008, Clarke et al suggested that if every typical home in the UK were to be upgraded for energy efficiency and a modern gas system were to be installed the average carbon- dioxide output would decrease from 7.5 tonnes per house per year to 3.8 tonnes per house per year. Similarly, more efficient insulation in colder regions could save up to 80% of wasted heat energy (Clarke et al, Energy Policy, 2008). The Building Research Establishment is a private firm in the UK which deals with building codes and architecture. One of the focuses of the BRE is sustainable construction. It has an assessment scheme known as the Building Research Establishment’s Environment Assessment Method (BREEAM) provides a set of design and construction targets for builders and designers to meet in order to sustainably develop a project. BREEAM has often been critiqued for its contradictory credit ratings and that the Assessor is often oriented towards a goal of a certain credit rating which may clash with the best possible sustainable practice. However, BREEAM is considered one of the finest environmental assessment tools because of the independence and objectivity it exercises in its analyses and the commitment and drive it exhibits towards mitigating climate change. (Paterson, IHS BRE Press) The United Kingdom has been one of the first countries in the world to adopt sustainable building practices. The government’s sustainable construction policy aims to establish strategies for procurement of resources with minimum ecological impact. This will also serve to enhance the life cycle energy of the building upon completion. Through innovative design and better infrastructure, the policy targets sustainability. The aim of this policy is to reduce UK’s greenhouse gas emission by 60% from its 1990 levels, till the year 2050. It also intends to use new technologies to stabilise per capita water consumption to less than 130 litres per person per day by the year 2030 (Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, 2008).
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Therefore, it is evident that the Government of UK is serious about adapting to climate change through environmentally responsible measures. It is essential that the negative environmental impacts of the building industry be reduced without affecting factors like comfort, performance, customer viability and economic affordability (Mac- Laren et al, Habitat International, 2013).
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CONCLUSIONS The intent of this thesis has been to examine the term ‘sustainable development’ and identified its urgent need in today’s global scenario where the future prospect of climate change looms overhead. The most important publication in this aspect has been the Stern Review of 2006 where he discusses the impact of climate change on the economic standing of a country. It is now understood that if the issues of global warming and greenhouse effect are not taken seriously, the result will lie in an unavoidable increase in global climate change. This may affect agriculture in most developing countries and indirectly be a cause for a rise in populations under the poverty line. In accordance with Maslow’s pyramids of need, people under the poverty line will not only be unable to follow measures to adapt to climate change but also suffer from disease and hunger. Loss of food crops may also lead to a global food crisis and degrade the quality of life. Finally, changes in the weather will affect ecological niches which may cause loss of habitat and ultimately species extinction. Further, the thesis has studied the role of the construction industry of the United Kingdom in the government’s attempts at sustainable development and one spectacular example of green construction has also been analysed. It is true that when compared to other countries in the world, the United Kingdom has surpassed them all with respect to advancements in sustainable policies. Various departments under the UK government have stepped in to make the ideals of sustainability a reality. For example, the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions along with the government has funded 11.5 million pounds for scientific research to understand the effects of climate change and develop adaptations to it. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has developed an indicator assessment tool to examine the greenhouse emissions from agricultural sectors. The Building Research Establishment has been invaluable in promoting the sustainable code of practice while maintaining the desirability of a building. Finally, the sustainability of the design and construction of the Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts was analysed. The building is not only built using timber which was obtained sustainably and is an excellent method of sequestering carbon till the end of the lifecycle of the building. The building also employed measures such as rainwater harvesting and solar panelling to adapt to a possible energy crisis and flood conditions. It has an outdoor stage which successful in integrating perfectly with the natural surroundings. All in all the Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts has been shown to deserve the ‘Outstanding’ label as awarded by the BREEAM. An important factor to consider is the public opinion of climate change. In most countries, heads of state and cities are aware of the concept of sustainability and climate change but the masses are largely ignorant. A study claims that a significant portion of the population on the planet believes that the claims about climate change are exaggerated and therefore doesn’t prefer the slightly more expensive 66 | P a g e
greener alternative. It is also true that an individual refuses to appreciate the long- term benefit of a proenvironmental approach and is only goal- oriented in meeting his or her own needs (Akter et al, Global Environmental Change, 2012). The concepts of energy reduction and reduction in water consumption are often met with dubiousness lest it mean falling back on primitive uncomfortable practices. Therefore, it is very important that the concepts of climate change and sustainability be marketed sufficiently to the masses in order for the practice to be encompassed in to every household (Kasemir et al, Global Environmental Change, 2000). Therefore, the role of the UK in sustainability is large and active. However, the atmosphere is utilized globally and therefore successful mitigation of climate change cannot possibly be brought about by the efforts of the United Kingdom alone. The climate change agenda needs contenders to bring about a stabilization of the environment. To end, it is only fair to represent the three pillars of sustainability; social, environmental and economic; by quoting the 2002 Earth Summit’s motto – ‘People Planet and Prosperity’.
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ECOMMENDATIONS This project serves to study the importance of climate change with respect today’s economy and understand the concepts of climate change. Secondly, it focuses on the construction industry to examine the role it plays in contributing to global carbon-di-oxide emissions. The thesis then explores the UK government’s stance on climate change and global warming and measures it has adopted to counter-act climate change. Finally the thesis analyses the sustainable concepts employed in the construction of the Lancaster Institute of Fine Arts. Climate change is a buzz-word today. It is a concept largely recognised by nations around the world as Governments slowly awake to its terrifying concepts. With unmitigated global warming, the world will be at an increased risk of natural disasters like hurricanes and floods. Stern calculated that a business-asusual approach to climate change will cost nations up to 20% of their annual GDP by the year 2050. Apart from economic crises, the loss of biodiversity will result in an irreversible depletion in natural capital. However, it must also be accepted that the current global greenhouse gas levels will cause a preliminary rise in temperatures in spite of mitigation and therefore preparations to adapt to climate change must be made. Sustainability includes progressive economic development and social prosperity in conjunction with preservation of the environment and natural resources. Practice of sustainable development principles is only way to prevent climate change mediated global catastrophes. The UK has been one of the world’s leading economies to adopt the principles of sustainability. The United Kingdom has saved 18 million cubic metres of water and 13 million pounds in fuel costs in 2008-09 with the help of stringent policies and monitoring the impact of their actions on the environment. The government of UK has also emphasised, in its policies, the need for the construction industry to embrace sustainability. It has encouraged the public to convert to energy efficient machines with incentives like the Green Deal. Government agencies like DECC and DEFRA have stepped up their effort to ensure green practices are followed in businesses. However, the Building Research Establishment has played a significant role in UK’s commitment to sustainable construction. Through empirical research and scientific policy making, they have set a series of guidelines which allow the construction company to easily mould their design plans along environmentally responsible lines. These guidelines not only offer energy-efficient alternatives to traditional carbon intensive features in a building but also help reduce the carbon footprint of the building for the entirety of its life cycle. UK is now moving towards zero- carbon homes and hopes to have 100% zero-carbon buildings in the coming decades. The BRE also offers the BREEAM award to any sustainable construction that meets its expectations. The Lancaster Institute of Contemporary Arts is one such building which among other things recycled 88% of the waste 69 | P a g e
generated during construction and has facilities for rainwater harvesting and solar cells for renewable sources of power. For such innovative features in a university building LICA received the BREEAM Outstanding rating in 2012.
LIMITATIONS This thesis offers a brief insight into the construction industry of UK and its views on sustainable development. However, the efforts of the construction industry would have had better substance if in comparison with other industries in other countries or within the UK itself. Similarly, the extraordinary achievement of LICA and the role of the BREEAM could have been compared and contrasted with other BREEAM projects. Comparison of BREEAM ratings in this manner would have revealed interesting aspects of BREEAMs priorities in terms of sustainable development. Finally, a study of the other two aspects of sustainability â€“ people and prosperity, i.e. the socio-economic status of UK would have offered a more rounded view of UKâ€™s stand on sustainable development.
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