" Sustainability should be second nature to our business practices and intent. " M3D strives to help others achieve this goal. That's our vocation and our expertise.

Eco Thinking: Sustainability and Owners Reps

Everywhere you look in all business sectors Sustainability Management is starting to be a major player in a company’s profile, culture, CSR message and brand.  From news article titles like “More Companies Say Sustainability Needs to be Competitive”  from Environmental Management and Energy News to GreenBiz’s “Novo Nordisk Tops List of World’s 100 Most Sustainable Firms” companies are seeing this trend and are looking for ways to be a top contender.

Here is where a Sustainability Management owner’s representative would come in.   Owner’s Representatives are a vital part of the Owner’s team of professionals. They stress the importance of ensuring harmony.  They are proactive in the total project management process to free up the Owner to focus on other projects.  They are liaisons between the owner and all other parties that enables all teams to focus on the work; not the project politics.  They make sure that the prioritization of project issues is there to allow the Owner’s best interests to prevail.  They recognize and find resolution to conflicts to assure that forward progress is made on the project. Because the Owner’s Representative understands the “big picture”, and all of the individual components of a project, they are in a unique position to see what are the issues and can find creative and cost effective solutions.

For all projects the owner’s rep controls the design and development process, making sure that the owner’s best interests are at the heart of every decision made.  The owner’s rep will control the overall coordination effort between the design team members, ensuring that the most important topics receive the proper attention and resolution.  During the construction phase, the owner’s rep will spend significant time on the construction site, again recognizing and solving conflicts.  When complicated issues arise, the owner’s rep will explore all of the options, distill the information, and provide the owner with a concise set of options, clearly defined, along with a recommended course of action.

They do help assure that the owner will bless every outcome.   As an Owner’s Representative, they represent the best interests of the Owner in the planning, design and construction processes of a project. The Owner’s Representative is the person who is talking to ALL of the project managers on a job. And they’re not only talking with them about their specific projects, but they are also looking at a specific component with an eye towards what else will, or might, be affected by what is occurring at this stage of this particular component.

They also develop a professional working relationship with all trades involved. This involvement goes throughout all levels of responsibility; from the Architect to the clean-up crew on site.  An effective Owner’s Representative will be able to communicate well with every person that’s part of the job, regardless of their position, either within the existing company or if they’re a short or long term contractor. It is rare for an Owner to have the work experience or time needed to be able to communicate appropriately with all trades involved in a job.

Part of the job of the Owner’s Representative is to get, and keep, things running as smoothly as possible. They can, and often do, act as a sounding board for project managers on a job site. They are there to help them get their jobs done, not to hinder them, and the Project Managers recognize this.

M3D strives to be a firm that can help our clients with their Sustainability Management needs on all levels.

Eco Thinking: The Living Building Challenge Philosophy

Understanding the philosophy of the Living Building Challenge is the first step in understanding the Challenge itself.  From the logo to the metaphor of a flower the Challenge wants us to use nature as the ultimate measuring stick.  The International Living Future Institute philosophy states “Like our buildings, neighborhoods and cities, a flower is rooted in place. Yet it is informed by its bioregion’s characteristics, generates energy from renewable resources, captures and treats water, and operates efficiently and for maximum beauty. These qualities epitomize ecological system flows and internalizing these processes is the key to sustainability.”

The Living Building Challenge places this philosophy in our hands and says let me see how you can achieve this goal in your designs and collaboration.  So there are no restrictions, such as placement of minimums that need to be achieved or points that have to be calculated.   The Challenge says here is where you need to be, know find the best way to get there.  For example, in the Water Petal both Net Zero Water and Ecological Water Flow have to be satisfied for this to be accepted.  The documentation for the challenge is simplified because it is more on actual performance of a building / site;  So documentation would be a description of the design and implementation of the project, photos as well as 12 month water bill.

The Living Building Challenge leaves the design to the experts but emphasizes that if these imperatives are to be achieved true collaboration needs to start from the beginning of the project, having all parties understand what they are all working towards.  But I want to stress that the team has design freedom but also when a project is registered the ILBI has a great support staff that will aid the project every step of the way.

The philosophy of this certification goes beyond just building a building the right way.  It pushes the standards on all levels.  From advocating land protection for other living things to advocating changes in the current laws and policies.  For example, if a project can not meet some requirements posted in the Challenge because of current Laws or building standards, they would be required to prove that a letter to advocate this change be written to the proper authorities.  The Living Building Challenge understands current restrictions projects face and will not reprimand them for it;  But believes our voices will help implement change.

The Living Building Challenge pushes project teams to find the best way to achieve specific goals.  They give a freedom to each member to show expertise in their sectors and bring forth the best practices on the market place.  It gives a voice to other living things by way of the Land Trust and a voice for change where it is needed trough team advocacy.  These are but some points of the vision the ILBI through The Living Building Challenge.  To find out more visit their website www.ILBI.org and join the community.

LEED 2012 Updates

LEED 2012 is set for release on November 7, 2012. There are many changes in this update from the 2009 LEED. Here is a Link to LEED 2012 Rating System Draft for all existing ratings. The link has both redlined and clean drafts, check them out for a closer look at the changes.

Here is a little summary of what LEED 2012 draft has:

• 49 credits and 15 prerequisites (six more prerequisites than LEED 2009)
• The credits are organized into 10 categories, compared to seven under LEED 2009
• Additional Integrated Process category
• Additional Location and Transportation category; and
• Additional Performance category that covers commissioning, measurement, and reporting.

The update also addresses homes and LEED for Neighborhood Development, as well as all of the commercial rating systems.

Design: Cradle-to-Cradle Philosophy

William A. McDonough’s “Cradle-to-Cradle” Design Philosophy basically calling for us to start designing product, spaces, Architecture and more with the thought of how it is produced to how will it affect the environment and then how will it decompose or how will we be able to reuse it at the end of its life cycle.

William McDonough’s wrote the book “Cradle to Cradle – Remaking the Way We Make Things” with his colleague, the German chemist Michael Braungart. Through historical sketches on the roots of the industrial revolution; commentary on science, nature and society; descriptions of key design principles; and compelling examples of innovative products and business strategies already reshaping the marketplace, McDonough and Braungart make the case that an industrial system that “takes, makes and wastes” can become a creator of goods and services that generate ecological, social and economic value.

The Philosophy starts with the following basics:

• 1. Insist on rights of humanity and nature to co-exist in a healthy, supportive, diverse and sustainable condition.

• 2. Recognize interdependence. The elements of human design interact with and depend upon the natural world, with broad and diverse implications at every scale. Expand design considerations to recognizing even distant effects.

• 3. Respect relationships between spirit and matter. Consider all aspects of human settlement including community, dwelling, industry and trade in terms of existing and evolving connections between spiritual and material consciousness.

• 4. Accept responsibility for the consequences of design decisions upon human well-being, the viability of natural systems, and their right to co-exist.

• 5. Create safe objects of long-term value. Do not burden future generations with requirements for maintenance of vigilant administration of potential danger due to the careless creation of products, processes or standards.

• 6. Eliminate the concept of waste. Evaluate and optimize the full life-cycle of products and processes, to approach the state of natural systems, in which there is no waste.

• 7. Rely on natural energy flows. Human designs should, like the living world, derive their creative forces from perpetual solar income. Incorporate the energy efficiently and safely for responsible use.

• 8. Understand the limitations of design. No human creation lasts forever and design does not solve all problems. Those who create and plan should practice humility in the face of nature. Treat nature as a model and mentor, not and inconvenience to be evaded or controlled.

• 9. Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge. Encourage direct and open communication between colleagues, patrons, manufacturers and users to link long term sustainable considerations with ethical responsibility, and re-establish the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity.

His book is designed to show that this process is possible. It is printed on a synthetic ‘paper,’ made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers, designed to look and feel like top quality paper while also being waterproof and rugged. And the book can be easily recycled in localities with systems to collect polypropylene, like that in yogurt containers. This ‘treeless’ book points the way toward the day when synthetic books, like many other products, can be used, recycled, and used again without losing any material quality—in cradle to cradle cycles.

This philosophy is spreading in the design industry. William McDonough’s is working hard to make this a norm way of thinking. He has teaming up with two other organizations to try to make this a reality. In Sept. 2008, Material ConneXion Inc., McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) and the Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA) announced a groundbreaking strategic collaboration to create a global platform for developing innovative sustainable materials and products. Together, they will provide services that will help companies expand their ability to innovate and create higher quality, more sustainable products and processes, while increasing their profitability. The relationship will help to promote and disseminate Cradle to Cradle(SM) design principles by providing greater global access to Cradle to Cradle material information, certification and product development.

I recommend this book and here is a link to check out: www.materialconnexion.com