Water Wise: rethinking how we design our homes and communities
Flooding, as we are seeing in swathes across the south of England, is causing mass devastation and affecting the lives of thousands of people directly and indirectly. While it is of little comfort to those who are currently impacted, architectural innovations have the potential to provide adaptation models for future housing.
Architects such as Robert Barker, a director at Baca Architects, attests that the way forward is to ‘work with water’ rather than try – and fail – to keep it out. The intention is to develop more resilient communities rather than just create resilient buildings.
In practice this means not only not building anywhere near floodplains (indeed, the Environment Agency will not support residential development on the floodplain) but designing in creative solutions.
Examples include large-scale projects, such as The Tidal Lagoon at Littlehampton West Bank, which is designed to relieve pressure on existing defences and properties by diverting storm water into a large inland storage lagoon before releasing it at low tide.
The Dutch, who know a thing or two about reclaiming land from the sea, are unsurprisingly at the forefront of thinking and application. At Maasbommel, so-called amphibious homes (which look conventional) are built on solid ground but they are also designed to float on flood water.
Each house is made of lightweight wood, and the concrete base is hollow, which gives it as ship-like buoyancy. The structure has no conventional foundations and is moored to 6 metre posts with fastening rings. The electrical cables, water and sewerage flow through flexible pipes in the mooring piles.
On an individual house basis, in Oxfordshire, Baca architects has designed a house under construction, which is elevated above the peak flood levels on stilts. It has a sustainable drainage system alongside to soak up rainwater. In nearby Marlow, the practice has designed a house to cope with more than two metres of flood water.
A more esoteric prototype is the ‘Drinking Policeman’ which is a cross between a sleeping policeman (or speed bump) and a swale, to slow the traffic and the flow of water during a storm. It's combined with a green roofs, green walls and a large below ground attenuation tank to create a sustainable drainage system.
While the drinking policeman may not be a replicable large scale solution to flooding neither should it be dismissed outright. The time has surely come - given the events of this and last year - to turn the tide on conventional thinking when it comes to shoring up our future.
Sustain Worldwide and BRE partner to deliver groundbreaking Corporate Sustainability Research
Sustain Worldwide and BRE are partnering to deliver a groundbreaking, research-based initiative, Vision in the World of Corporate Sustainability. The research, which will culminate in a white paper to be launched at a conference later this year, will capture and evaluate the processes of global business leaders' visionary thinking around corporate sustainability. It will further synthesise how the outcomes of the processes are fostered and embedded into organisations' working practices.
Based on the research findings the Project’s second phase will be the development of a transformational, open source Toolkit. This resource will enable businesses to explore vision on the subjects of corporate sustainability and adaptation strategies within their own models.
Registrations of interest are now sought from a) global business leaders, who can be available between May and September 2014; b) prospective commercial Project Global Partners.
Contact us to nominate yourself or nominate your organisation’s CEO, and/or to request a copy of the Prospectus & Global Sponsorship Opportunity. The closing date for registrations of interest is 30 March 2014.
The first Sustain Worldwide networking dinner of 2014 will be held at Scott’s of Mayfair, London, on Thursday 27 February. Confirmed guests include directors from Balfour Beatty, BRE, Mace, Marks & Spencer and Skanska. Subsequent director-level dinners will be held on 22 May, 18 September, and 13 November.
Contact us to discuss how you might join a forthcoming Sustain Worldwide hosted networking event.
INNOVATION & EDUCATION
€2.5 CHEST launched
CHEST (Collective enHanced Environment for Social Tasks), a 30 month Collaborative project co-financed with support from the European Commission through Framework Programme 7, launched on 31 January. The project’s aim is to promote the development of digital based innovations that have the potential to address key societal challenges. In addition to the creation of an online community platform that will facilitate the sharing and exchanging of ideas, CHEST will invest up to €2.5 Million in highly innovative ideas through the launch of two open funding rounds. Social entrepreneurs will be invited to not only propose new ideas with the potential to receive support but also evaluate and discuss the ideas of others with highest rated projects selected for funding. More at http://www.chest-project.eu/
Turning Waste into Concrete
Researchers at Mexico’s Research Centre for Integral Regional Development (CIIDIR) have tested replacing some of the cement used to make concrete with industrial by-products, such as fly ash, agricultural waste and ash from sugar cane waste, to reduce the amount of CO2 and energy needed in its production, reports Technology4Change.com.
Hydraulic concrete is one of the most used construction materials around the world; Portland cement is its principal component. A considerable amount of energy is needed during its production, which consequently produces large volumes of greenhouse gases such as CO2.
Pedro Montes García, who led the research, noted that up to 30% of sugar cane is wasted, which could potentially be utilised to make concrete. He said, “The waste ash contains silicon oxide with contents of alumina and iron oxide, which can react with calcium hydroxide in the hydration of the cement and produce materials that improve the mechanical and durability properties of the concrete.”
In order to launch the product in the market, further tests are needed to guarantee that its characteristics comply with the current normativity requirements, especially regarding durability, say the researchers.
Build Well and Prosper
The link between buildings and the wellbeing and productivity of those who live and work in them is a growing science. A recent call for research paper submissions from BRE and UBM Built Environment underlines the trend. Exposure to daylight, adequate ventilation as well as optimum temperature are all acknowledged significant factors that contribute to our wellbeing when inside.
Increasingly, businesses consider the significance a workplace has on attracting and retaining employees. It’s unsurprising given graduate recruitment and training costs tens of thousands of pounds. A case in point is NBC Universal’s decision to relocate to Central St Giles, the Renzo Piano-designed sustainability exemplar, in central London. Lee Oxley, Facilities Manager for the media giant, said the building’s sustainability credentials were key to their relocation to it.
Regent’s Place, in central London, too, (which along with Central St Giles was the host to a recent Sustain Worldwide hosted VIP & Press site visit) is attracting tenants who are mindful not only of the economic and brand advantages of leasing workspace in the exemplar buildings, but also of the pull these state of the art performing assets have on drawing to and retaining a high quality workforce to their environs.
Contact us to nominate a building or estate for a Sustain Worldwide site visit, or to explore how our service lines will provide you with competitive advantage, position you as sustainability thought leaders and deliver against your business objectives.
Sustain Worldwide drives innovation and profitable sustainability to the heart of global property development. Join our exclusive alliance to: demonstrate your leadership qualities; access our extended and expanding business, technical support, and communications & marketing network; receive free invitations to Sustain Worldwide hosted seminars, conferences and networking events; gain independent endorsement (use of Sustain Worldwide logo) to underpin your corporate sustainability initiatives and enhance your business reputation.