Categories
Construction sustainability

Sustainable India?

On my holidays at the moment having an amazing time in India. Thought I might try and write something about sustainability.

So far I think the natural air conditioning is my favourite.

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Red fort

This is from the Red fort in Agra. Nice carvings but the point too look at is the thick walls. These conceal a huge air gap that provided insulation to maintain a steady temperature.

Then the summer palaces have a brilliant arrangement of screens with holes to draw the wind through.

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These are then supplemented by
water running through the area or over hanging fabrics. This then evaporates in the breeze and creates a cool atmosphere. It needs quite a bit of space to pull it off but the bills are pretty low. Water in this part of the world is fairly limited so will have to work out how too recycle it but will see what I can think of.

So will do an experiment with the
windows and some blankets next summer when it gets warm.

Categories
Construction sustainability

Ecobuild

Had lots of fun at Ecobuild last week. Far too much going on to keep up with everything but still pretty interesting. The one disappointment was the lack of many companies with any actual eco credentials. The overall feeling of most people I spoke to was that most of the exhibitors were selling the same products with a thin veneer of greenwash to try and boost sales. Honourable mentions to the companies really trying to make the planet a better place such as the Good Homes Alliance, UK Green Building Council, Action Sustainability and Ecology Consultancy. The last one obviously being a shameless plug as I organise some of their marketing and was on the stand on Thursday.

Managed to attend a few of the talks, these were divided between interesting stuff in the arena and conference areas with high profile speakers and more practical stuff in the conference rooms on BSF and CEEQUAL. I learnt a lot more from these.

Freebies certainly seemed to be well down on last year although the exhibitor drinks were reliably well stocked as always.  Best freebie of the month was a bird box I got at BSEC the week before.

Categories
Construction Ecology sustainability

CEEQUAL, Ecobuild and sustainability

Off to Ecobuild tomorrow. I am on the Ecology Consultancy stand on Thursday but heading along Tuesday and Wednesday to see if I can drum up some business as a CEEQUAL assessor, drop me a line ecoalexander@googlemail.com if you are looking for one. Looking forward to catching up with friends and contacts I haven’t seen for a while.

Also looking forward to a little more knowledge than I witnessed this morning from the editor of a national magazine who described sustainability as being about reducing carbon emissions, and maybe some other stuff that wasn’t really important.

Categories
Careers Construction Ecology sustainability Training

CEEQUAL Assessor Course

Finally completed my CEEQUAL assessor course last week. This was something I signed up for when CIRIA made me redundant last year but with one thing and another I hadn’t managed to have free time to coincide with a course in London. Still the work I have been doing in the meantime meant that I was a bit more of an expert when it came to the ecology section.

I was pleased to discover that most of my civil engineering knowledge remained intact. In fact working on the M25 widening project meant I had much more experience of projects in action than previously.

They pushed us quite hard over the two days, not surprising really given the breadth of topics we had to cover. The section on energy seemed a bit vague at first but I suppose I had the advantage of doing a course on energy the week before (see last post). I think for a lot of companies it will be the first time they have thought about energy and carbon during construction and particularly in use.

The assessment divides into 12 categories starting with the project management which underpins it all and then looking at different areas of environmental performance in a civil engineering project. Ecology, for instance  deals with all the improvements you can make and also avoiding any problems you can get like Japanese Knotweed and how they are dealt with. The methodology is a bit like the waste hierarchy, you score highest for not removing environmental features but you can make things back by introducing mitigation strategies and making improvements around the project.

Having learnt all this I am eager to get started on an assessment either for Ecology Consultancy or as a freelancer so let me know if you need one doing. I can also assess a project quite quickly and let you know how it might perform.

Categories
Careers Construction sustainability Training

The Green Register

Completed the final free module of my course at the University of Westminster. They managed to persuade The Green Register to run a course for us. It was definitely the most rewarding   course and it qualifies all the delegates to become members of their organisation.

We covered a wide range of topics from the basics of life cycle analysis to an in depth look at analysing the performance of different renewable energy technologies. It seems that Solar Thermal is about the most efficient way of generating energy at the moment, unless you happen to live on a hill and have a stream flowing past your house in which case a waterwheel is even better.

The course really covered a lot of useful stuff for sustainable construction and particularly helped me fill in some energy related knowledge gaps. There was also one module on the Code for sustainable homes which came over as quite a long way behind compared to the things we had learnt elsewhere on the course. Still at least it is encouraging people to improve their performance whether they want to or not.

Met up with some friends from previous courses too, I think we all liked this one best. A number of them are participating in projects as part of the course but I will only be able to go along to any fringe events now as I have used up my quota.

Categories
Careers Ethical trade international development sustainability Training

Green careers event

Spent last night at SOAS in London for a green careers evening organised by Positive Change and People Unlimited. Quite entertaining if a little long. There was a wide range of speakers including Blanche Cameron of Reset Development who included a picture of me at the green roofs event we organised earlier in the summer as part of her presentation. Always a little disturbing to see yourself unexpectedly on the screen but at least I wasn’t yawning in the picture.

Most of the speakers agreed that volunteering was the best way to get yourself a green career, good advice to those starting out not sure I want to carry on volunteering until I have a bigger income coming in though. One thing all the speakers had in common was a tremendous enthusiasm for their jobs. Caroline Scott of Islington Council was particularly keen and started by picking up on other presenters negativity to Local Councils generating much laughter and applause.

The final speaker from Worldview Impact, Bremley was particularly inspiring with his rubber tree plantations and pursuit of his dream.