Construction: Lessons to be learned

New writing… My latest piece for The Hub – the award-winning content platform curated by Mitsubishi Electric — looks at the lessons that the construction industry can learn from other sectors, Being such a big, hungry and dirty beast, construction stands apart as a sustainability challenge. Taming this beast is a monster ask — and the industry needs all the help it can get, including the input of ideas and innovations drawn from elsewhere. Fresh perspectives and new thinking could perhaps come from some relatively unlikely sources, such as cars, fashion or even food. The point is… construction needs to be open and receptive, plus a quick study — so, please click the link to read the post in full and explore some of the possibilities for Construction: lessons to be learned‘.



SUSTMEME: Get the Susty Story Straight!

Carbon + circularity: ‘Future of Construction’ in The Times

New writing… Pleased to say I have had another couple of articles published in The Times newspaper, as part of a special Raconteur report on the Future of Construction.

Exploring how sustainability in the built environment calls for a change in mindset, the pieces examine both the prospects for a circular economy and the rate of radical decarbonisation that is required of the construction industry, as a whole.

According to the OECD, world consumption of raw materials is set to double by 2060, with construction a major part of the problem, as urbanisation runs riot around the globe. In fact, associated construction waste is forecast to rise almost twofold within just a matter of a few years, by 2025.

Amounting to an alarmimg 40% of total emissions, the carbon footprint of the built environment also represents a major hurdle in greening the sector and the UK Construction 2025 deadline for a 50% cut looms large.

The clock is ticking fast. So, to learn more about the challenge facing construction and the industry response, please check out the articles in full, complete with expert insights, comment and analysis, by clicking here:

‘Carbon, carrots and sticks: Can the circular economy in construction really work?’

The full 16-page Future of Construction report is available to view/download here.


 


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Guest Blog: Does ‘sustainable’ mean anything anymore?

GUEST BLOG: Sustainability: The S-Word… Love it or hate it, do you still use it… appropriately?

In this SustMeme Guest Post, the word ‘sustainability’, its origins and usage are discussed – plus, its relevance today and credibility ultimately disputed – by Robert Blood, founder of SIGWATCH, which tracks NGO campaigns to help business monitor reputational risk and predict emerging issues. 

RB: Orange is the new black, and sustainable is the new green. Except that the term ‘sustainable’, coined by the Club of Rome movement to argue for an economy that does not use up the planet’s resources faster than they can be replenished, has now been stretched well past the already elastic limits of its predecessor, ‘environmentally friendly’.

Sustainability has become the value of choice for marketers. No self-respecting food or consumer-goods maker can promote its products without including on the packaging the word ‘sustainable’, preferably in a delicate green or brown serif font.

Moreover, sustainable seems only marginally invoked to draw attention to the environmentally positive attributes of the product’s ingredients or manufacture. Rather, it is put there to confirm the moral superiority of those that buy it. Never mind that their act of consumption is likely at odds with what sustainability is meant to be all about. A word intended to persuade us to consume less, ends up being used to encourage us to consume just as much as before, only more expensively.

Advocacy groups must share some of the blame for the increasing vagueness of the once precise term they helped to popularise. From the outset, environmental campaigners used the term ‘sustainability’ to examine how things are made and especially how they are grown minimising man-made inputs and pesticides, preserving soil health, and so forth. They still tend to use it that way. Then development NGOs used ‘sustainable’ to embrace non-environmental concerns, such as income fairness and job creation in developing countries. For human rights groups, a ‘sustainable product’ became one whose maker ensured that workers in their supply chains were properly treated and had their labour rights respected. Animal rights advocates adopted it to argue for higher welfare standards and promote a vegan dress code. Climate activists calling-out products that create excessive carbon emissions, use it to distinguish those that don’t.

The result of this definition creep is that the word ‘sustainable’ has become loaded with the myriad concerns and demands of thousands of campaigners with quite different agendas. Businesses, under pressure from these same groups to show that they are listening, have adopted their language. Unsurprisingly they have then made it work for them, in their own way.

The word ‘sustainable’ finally lost all meaning for me when I read a statement from a company claiming, seemingly with a completely straight face, that it was sustainable – because it turned a profit. This is technically true – lossmaking is not sustainable, unless you are state-owned, or a tech start-up – but, surely, it misses the point?


Do you know of some inappropriate or questionable uses of the word’sustainable’? Please Tweet us at @SustMeme and share your examples!


To trial SIGWATCH for free and receive its daily NGO campaigning intelligence, plus access its databases and trend forecasting tools, visit the company website here. You can also Follow Robert Blood on Twitter at: @SIGWATCH



Would you like to Guest Blog for SustMeme? Click here for more info…


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