“Designing, making and re-making for a circular economy” was the theme of a recent event I attended at the Design Museum. One clear theme emerged: we need to ‘start with the end in mind’ and make sure designs are better informed by those who have to deal with products over their life. This means working together with designers, material experts, manufacturers and resource managers.
We’re all familiar with the story of the three little pigs. One made his house of straw, the other of wood and the other of bricks. When the wolf came to eat them, only the brick house kept them safe. But has this image of bricks being better than straw and wood been ingrained in our culture for too long?
Did you know that the UK construction industry used over 5million m3 of softwood in 2012, but less than a fifth of this came from UK sources!? This helped make the UK the 4th largest importer of timber and wood based products in the world, behind the USA, China and Japan, resulting in a trade deficit of around £4.6billion?!
The lack of diversity within construction, and wider Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries, won’t be news to many of you.
With a succession of national campaigns, progress has been made, but the stats don’t lie- according to the Construction Index News women still only make up 13% of the construction industry. We’ve got a long way to go.
Acknowledging when things don’t work can help us to create more sustainable buildings.
Testing a product before it goes to market and assessing how it works in practice isn’t new. Today, products are tested to ensure they’re safe etc… and then tested in use to check they live up to their claims. This hasn’t been a common approach in the construction industry though.
Using certified timber is one of the best ways to make sure timber is sustainably logged, ensuring the security of our global forests for future generations – a fact that we are reminded of today, on FSC Friday. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies forests all over the world to ensure they meet the highest environmental and social standards.
This is the theme adopted for World Green Building Week 2013, with the aim to kick start a global discussion on how buildings can help to boost student test scores, improve productivity, accelerate patient recovery rates, and slash energy consumption, benefiting the environment and people at the same time.