15-16/09/2010 Cradle to Cradle Build Thematic Seminar | C2C Network

15-16/09/2010 Cradle to Cradle Build Thematic Seminar

  • Seminar participants
  • Place: Howard Building, Downing College, University of Cambridge
  • BRE Innovation Park, Watford (a showcase of the future delivery of sustainable buildings and communities)
  • The Foundry, Lavenham
  • The Foundry, Lavenham
  • The World’s First Zero-Carbon Supermarket – Tesco
15/09/2010 (All day)

On the 15th and 16th September the fourth, and final, thematic seminar of the Cradle to Cradle Network project was held in the UK at the University of Cambridge. Over the two days more than seventy participants from across Europe were involved in sharing,
discussing and developing their ideas on the role of the Cradle to Cradle concept in building design and construction.

The first day began with an introduction from Councillor Judy Terry of Suffolk County Council who explained how the C2CN project, as an innovative initiative, fits with the vision of the ‘Creating the Greenest County’ partnership which is aiming to make Suffolk the greenest county in the UK by 2028.

After a further introduction from Adria Pittock of Suffolk County Council, Peter Stouthuysen of the advisory agency VITO in Belgium expanded on the theory behind Cradle to Cradle and the theoretical framework underpinning the C2CN project to an audience that included many regional stakeholders previously unaware of the idea.

“Building design has a large negative footprint – 40% of fossil fuels are used in buildings, they are responsible for more emissions (sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide) than transport or power plants and 40% of the solid waste that is produced in the world”
Dr Peter Stouthuysen

Matthew Hunt of Royal Haskoning then provided a presentation making the link between the build theme and the C2C theory. Presenting the emerging perspective study on Build, Matthew discussed how the concept is not truly represented by any buildings at the moment – largely due to the complexity of buildings – but that they lend themselves well to McDonough and Braungart’s message about drawing inspiration from nature.

“There is no such thing as a ‘Cradle to Cradle’ building at the moment in design and operation”
Dr. Matthew Hunt
Royal Haskoning

Despite this Matthew reported on how C2C can be, and is, reflected in different elements of a number of the good practice examples considered by the study. Particularly in the field of energy, examples of net positive buildings can be found, although he acknowledges that such single issues do not consider the complex interrelationships inherent in a C2C approach.

“There are also non-technical elements to consider which include human capital, equity related to buildings and their use, and partnerships which may be needed to run and operate a Cradle to Cradle building…people who live and work in a building
add another level of complexity”
Dr. Matthew Hunt
Royal Haskoning

However, he felt that future combinations of these positive elements could be a key step during the period of transition which will be required in order to achieve a Cradle to Cradle society.

“There are a few clear challenges and blockages to the uptake of Cradle to Cradle…we will need a solid business case to move from efficiency to effectiveness”
Dr. Matthew Hunt
Royal Haskoning

Peter Bonfield, the chief executive of BRE (a UK organisation with ownership over a worldwide environmental standard for buildings (BREEAM)), provided the keynote speech for the conference. Inspired by the positive message of Cradle to Cradle, he diverted from his prepared presentation and gave a personal view of the increasing
development of ‘sustainable buildings’ but recognised the limitations of current levels of ambition – with their focus on efficiency – and acknowledged a future need for a period of transition and a step change in thinking in order to achieve positive buildings.

“Let’s exploit the tools that people are already used to [for minimising negative impacts] and use them to make a positive impact”
Dr. Peter Bonfield
Chief Executive of BRE

He also stated his hope that the BRE could be the first to build a truly C2C building, possibly at their Innovation Park in Watford in the UK. This is certainly something the UK partners would be keen to see.

“I’m really inspired by this philosophy…I would like to build a Cradle to Cradle building”
Dr. Peter Bonfield
Chief Executive of BRE

To begin to apply this learning to practical examples, three case studies were introduced to the audience. Emma Hibbert of Adnams (an East of England based brewer) spoke of the benefits of having ‘sustainability’ as a major driver in the culture and ethos of a company. This has resulted in the building of the Adnams distribution
centre with several eco-effective design elements. Jerry Harrall of SEArch Architects, one of the UK’s leading firms specialising in environmentally responsible development, spoke of their achievements in designing and developing innovative office and housing spaces. Rob Vromans of Witteveen + Bos from the Netherlands presented the Innova Tower, a building which has been developed for the Floriade Innovation Park in the Netherlands. Mr Vromans outlined how the tower might be seen to reflect the Limburg Principles through design features such as PV cells, a green roof and a solar chimney and use of materials such as recyclable fibre cement
cladding whilst also mentioning how European public procurement procedures currently conflict with the ambition of building according to C2C.

In afternoon workshops delegates considered 4 developed and 4 proposed examples of ‘sustainable’ building development and were invited to discuss what the potential role of the Cradle to Cradle theory and Limburg principles may be within these examples. It became apparent during these sessions that there were many different
(and, at times, conflicting) viewpoints on C2C between delegates and understandings of what the C2CN project should be aiming to achieve. None of the workshop examples were seen to be pure examples of a C2C development but certainly provided a focus upon which delegates could debate the use of applying the C2C concept to build design.

On Day 2 each delegate visited one of three very different study visits to apply their learning and thoughts from the first day to reality. Groups visited the BRE Innovation Park (demonstration development designed to showcase how the future delivery of sustainable buildings and communities may be achieved), ‘The Foundry’ (an office and environmental education space designed and developed for an environmental charity) and the ‘world’s first zero-carbon supermarket’ (a claim made by Tesco – a large multinational organisation).

Feedback from the two-days suggested that all elements of the seminar proved useful for the vast majority of the attendees. The presentations were said to be “inspiring”, “interesting” and “insightful” whilst the workshops and summary sessions highlighted the many different stances and viewpoints on the potential role of C2C in build
design. There was wider consideration than simply the inclusion of eco-effective elements in design such as PV cells. The human factor and consideration of enjoyment in design and development was noted as was the importance of governance and marketing the outputs of C2CN. It was also recognised that building design based on the C2C theory requires a new approach, opening up a debate on the priorities and starting points of the design process with a focus on safe, renewable and available (‘C2C’) materials considered necessary. It also requires a fundamental reassessment of whether our buildings truly deliver the outcomes they could, and applying Cradle to Cradle thinking to buildings might actually deliver something very different to
what we are used to seeing. The study visits provided the opportunity to talk in depth with project partners about the examples visited and highlighted the differences between designing for C2C and simply adding ‘green’ elements to developments.

Dr Matthew Hunt of Royal Haskoning is responsible for developing the perspective study on C2C and build design which will combine theory and practice. Based on the Limburg principles, Royal Haskoning have analysed the examples of building design gathered and considered to be ‘good practice’ by the C2CN partners. This output will build on the success of the seminar in engaging parties with ideas and learning about what C2C means for the design of buildings and identifying good practices and the way forward.

“It’s remarkable what you can do with the right mindset”
Dr. Peter Bonfield
Chief Executive of BRE