Green Hotels + Biophilia, to IoT + Modern Slavery

More of my journalism and blogging pieces have been published in the last few months and I have provided a brief update menu of Built Environment, Real Estate and Construction articles below, with links to original copy. (Additional writings on Environment, Energy and Education topics will follow.)


Hotels-check-in-to-greener-thinkingHotels Check in to Greener Thinking

Summary: Enter a hotel room anywhere in the world and the chances are you’ll find a polite-but-prescriptive card by the bed or bath, advising of the benefits of ‘eco-friendly’ behaviors such as living with linen longer and reusing towels. Commendable as it may be, however, this consumer-facing front really represents only the tip of the iceberg for environmental impacts in the hospitality industry where fast-growing equates to resource-hungry.

Published in: JLL ‘Real Views’ (12 Apr, 2016)

Working-with-nature-to-create-better-buildingsWorking with Nature to Create Better Buildings

Summary: For centuries, nature and the built environment have not been on good terms as humans build upwards, downwards and outwards. Now, however, a more harmonious relationship is developing – which benefits both sides, and, crucially, the health and wellbeing of the people in the middle. The belief system behind this shift is ‘biophilia’ and it’s changing the way we think about and design our buildings.

Published in: JLL ‘Real Views’ (30 Mar, 2016)


supply-chain-760x428Modern Slavery and the Supply Chain

The UK construction industry must ensure its global supply chains comply with new legislation clamping down on the use of forced and slave labour.

Published in: ‘Future of Construction’ Special Report, ‘The Sunday Times’‘  (27 Mar, 2016)


Construction-is-facing-a-new-era-of-green-builds-760x428Construction is Facing a New Era of Green Builds

As the UK construction industry strives to rebuild itself to deliver the new homes and infrastructure the country needs, new money and new metrics apply.

Published in: ‘Future of Construction’ Special Report, ‘The Sunday Times’‘  (27 Mar, 2016)


Why-buildings-will-become-sensorsationalWhy Buildings Will Become ‘Sensorsational’

Summary: In many small ways, we are becoming accustomed to buildings responding to our physical presence, almost without realizing: doors open and lighting comes on in hallways, toilets flush automatically in restrooms and water flows into basins when our hands approach. Slowly but surely, we have entered a whole new wireless world of sensors.

Published in: JLL ‘Real Views’ (29 Feb, 2016)

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Grounds for debate?

Conscious consumption: How do you take it?

“Tall, decaf latte, half skinny / half soy, with extra shot, but no foam, in a venti cup, super hot, no lid, to go… “
IMG_2137Most of us have at some point queued behind a person placing a very specific and abnormally complicated food or beverage order (or we might even be that person). Assumptions about such a customer typically fall into one of two camps – depending on whether we think of them as showing attention to detail and high standards, or being attention-seeking and high-maintenance: We likely label them discriminating, or difficult. Either way, they probably did get the drink they asked for, because they could and they knew it.
Preferences and prejudice aside, the customer was simply making their selection from what was on offer. All the options and the custom combination (however unusual) are available. Nothing is being ordered ‘off menu’. The barista can make and price the drink for sale, just like any other, with no exceptional requirement on their part (except perhaps a little added concentration). The system works.
So, what if we take the view that it is all about getting green and ethical options onto the menu; not the ‘specials’ but the main board, the one in use every day, in every outlet, in every town. Fix supply; demand will follow. Rig the agenda. Simple.
But how far would you go? What about amending or removing menu items that did not fit with your vision? How much is it acceptable to load the dice with choice-editing to advance behaviour-change faster and further? At what point does your steer stop being direction and start becoming coercion? When does motivation turn into manipulation?
Just a little something to think about… over coffee…

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The Future in 5 Words… #5: ‘Sustainable’

Why Life should be… ‘Sustainable’

#5Sustainability means very different things to different people – and I am not talking about debating the definition, as most of us are long past that point. For some in the more developed regions of the world and relatively affluent strata of society, it might mean investing in eco tech, CSR and social good – everything from waterless washing machines, to wellbeing and workplace diversity – which is, of course, important. However, for others less fortunate, the meaning can be something entirely different. For victims driven to climate migration fleeing flooding or drought, facing hunger due to crop failure, battling disease through lack of clean drinking water, suffering abuses under oppressive regimes, or exploitation in modern slavery, Sustainability is not just a word, not some abstract concept: It is about survival.

Sustainability is a fact of life; a reality to be proven (or not) every second of every day, on an ongoing basis. It is not a luxury; it is a basic human right.

This is why, in future, life should be sustainable, for everyone.

The Future in 5 Words:

  1. Cities will be… ‘Sensorsational’;
  2. Business will be… ‘Sociable’;
  3. Innovation will be… ‘Loopy’;
  4. Work will be… ‘Inclusive’; and
  5. Life should be… ‘Sustainable’.

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‘Sustainability: Say the Words!’ is a series of aphoristic ‘thoughts and shorts’ appearing regularly throughout 2016 – feedback welcome via Email, or Twitter: @SustMeme.

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The Future in 5 Words… #4: ‘Inclusive’

Why Work will be… ‘Inclusive’

#4V2Diversity is desirable; we know this. It is intrinsically linked to principles of fairness and respect, equality and human rights; with its arch nemesis Discrimination outlawed by state legislation and workplace regulation. This is not, however, why work will be inclusive in the near future: Inclusivity will be a matter of economic necessity. Why? Here follow two sample supporting arguments: one highlights a global megatrend; the other a sector-specific case study.

Firstly, according to the Global AgeWatch Index, the number of older persons (aged 60 years or over) is expected to more than double to 2.1bn by 2050, exceeding the number of children and constituting 21.5% of the population (1 in 5). In fact, in Switzerland, older persons already make up almost 1 in every 4 people (24%). This demographic cannot be ignored: either as human resource in itself, with people working later in life and organisations becoming increasingly age-friendly; or as a community of retirees dependent on the shrinking proportion of people in employment, whose rising productivity targets call for optimal labour levels.

Secondly, certain job markets are almost in crisis. Take for example the case of the construction industry in the UK, stuck with an image problem as the near-exclusive domain of middle-aged white males. At the last count, the sector was found to employ 2.1M people – enough to fill 262,500 double-decker buses – and yet, it is struggling with a looming skills gap, under pressure to find an additional 224,000 new hires by 2019. As well as attracting poor levels of young starters, school leavers, students and apprentices, plus a below-average proportion of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) workers, it is failing to recruit women. In terms of diversity, women make up 46% of the overall UK workforce but represent just 14.5% of the total in construction and a mere 1.2% in trades. For Construction, therefore, embracing Inclusivity is a must, not a mere nice-to-have.

This is why, in the future, work will be inclusive.

Tomorrow, a 5th Mystery Word: Why Life will be… ?

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‘Sustainability: Say the Words!’ is a series of aphoristic ‘thoughts and shorts’ appearing regularly throughout 2016 – feedback welcome via Email, or Twitter: @SustMeme.

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The Future in 5 Words… #3: ‘Loopy’

Why Innovation will be… ‘Loopy’ 

#3At the back end of last year, the new Circular Economy Package from the European Commission came out to a cacophony of mismanaged expectations, eliciting cries of disbelief and sighs of relief, in almost equal measure. It was both lauded and lamented for the sake of a few percentage points either way. In one sense, of course the details matter; however, in another, they really do not. Even as the landfill and recycling targets were published, the game had already moved on.

The emphasis for the Commission and the market at large is now shifting towards engagement of the design community – in everything from consumer packaging and household products, to building projects and industrial plant. This is not about Europe, per se; it is about closing loops and tying up the loose ends of linear thinking and doing. We are on a worldwide creative and intellectual quest for resource alchemy, of which the EU steer will prove part-symptom, part-cause. Why? Well, for starters, commodity costs and constraints are already driving the food-energy-water nexus almost to breaking point in some parts of the planet. Secondly, there is money to be lost and made.

The Circular Economy concept holds real bottom-line and pocket-warming promise, whether by way of global savings revenue of $1tr by 2025, or delivering maybe 205,000 jobs in the UK alone by 2030. Any talk of a resource revolution, though, means seeing waste as more than merely system inefficiency. Smart, sustainable design cannot just be about removal and reduction, but becomes regenerative and restorative. We can only cut so far; we still need to create. This is why, in the future, innovation must get ‘loopy’.

Tomorrow: Why Work will be… ‘Inclusive’

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For a global Who’s Who on Social Media in the Circular Economy, please see our new @SustMeme Top 500 ranking, published weekly with Enevo.

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‘Sustainability: Say the Words!’ is a series of aphoristic ‘thoughts and shorts’ appearing regularly throughout 2016 – feedback welcome via Email, or Twitter: @SustMeme.

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The Future in 5 Words… #2 ‘Sociable’

Why Business will be… ‘Sociable’ 

#2V3For the company of tomorrow, as environmental sustainability becomes increasingly commonplace and the language used to describe it sometimes flat and tired, so its underachieving sibling social sustainability will blossom and grow in popularity. This more human-centric business vision will necessitate a subtle linguistic shift towards ‘people-words’. The combined trends of social-media engagement and interaction with the sharing economy (forecast to be worth $335bn by 2025) currently see corporates being ‘communicative’ and ‘collaborative’, but will translate in the future into business becoming ‘sociable’. From here on, the expectation and aspiration for a good company is to be good company.

Tomorrow: Why Innovation will be… ‘Loopy’

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‘Sustainability: Say the Words!’ is a series of aphoristic ‘thoughts and shorts’ appearing regularly throughout 2016 – feedback welcome via Email, or Twitter: @SustMeme.

Posted in Sustainability: Say the Words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment