2013-06-09: Further to yesterday’s post … and my use of the phrase ‘Adapted to Local Context and Heritage (fr: le Patrimoine)’ … in relation to Sustainable Fire Engineering Design Solutions … or, indeed, Sustainable Design Solutions generally …
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) … has just published the hard-copy version of … ‘Le Patrimoine, Moteur de Développement : Enjeux et Projets‘ … the proceedings from the 2011 ICOMOS International Scientific Symposium, which was held in conjunction with the 17th ICOMOS General Assembly in early December 2011 … and organized by ICOMOS-France (www.icomosfrance.fr).
This bilingual (French and English) document provides a summary of the 4 Main Issues discussed during the Paris Symposium.
Manifested here … is a profound re-imagining of the concept of ‘heritage’, and its symbiotic relationship with ‘local context’ … which also now facilitates a synergetic fusion of ‘heritage’ with mainstream sustainable development theory and implementation. I have highlighted key passages …
HERITAGE - DRIVER OF DEVELOPMENT
The Theme of the International Scientific Symposium, which forms part of the ICOMOS General Assembly, is the role of heritage in the creation of tomorrow’s society.
The effects of globalization, which are manifested in growing trends towards standardization and westernization, bring various forms of instability to human societies. Until now, heritage has been confined to the role of passive conservation of the past, and so has often been seen as a burden hindering development. In the future, it should be called upon instead to play a major role, re-establishing cultural identity and diversity as key reference points for development; these factors are currently endangered, yet vital. There is therefore a need to reassess the role of heritage in a constructive way.
The concept of heritage, which ranges from designated historic monuments to a jumble of memories, first needs a clear definition which identifies its inherent nature and sets out its boundaries and limits, now and in the future.
As it would be impossible to cover all these issues at the Symposium, it is proposed to focus on the following four issues, chosen for their fundamental importance or contemporary relevance …
1. Regional Development
As more and more people abandon small towns and the countryside, migrating to large conurbations, urban development has become anarchic, ad-hoc and difficult to control. This has already had serious, even catastrophic, results … in particular:
- The disruption of spatial scale and the loss of landmarks ;
- The breakdown of social relationships, loss of communal solidarity, concerns over security, extremist and violent demonstrations ;
- An imbalance between the city – where most concerns now focus and where most development projects take place – and the countryside, where the issue is no longer merely rural decline, but rather the complete socio-economic and cultural collapse of forgotten populations ;
- The squandering and trivialization of space, which is a non-renewable resource, and in particular the loss of landscapes and farmland, resulting from both extensive urban encroachment and land being left to lie fallow.
It is vital to return to a more balanced form of development. This will be achieved by replacing the principle of urban expansion with that of regional development, which takes into account both the countryside and secondary urban centres (small and medium-sized towns), as part of a balanced network. In this context, lessons from our heritage will again be valued as an inspiration for new developments: time-honoured frameworks, traditional plot sizes, methods of organization (urban historic core zones), communication (by land - rail - water), and energy generation (small-scale solar and hydroelectric power stations), etc.
2. Sustainable (Human & Social) Development – Return to the Art of Building !
The second half of the 20th Century was marked by the frantic exploitation of fossil fuels and is credited with the international spread of Western lifestyles and buildings, said to represent ‘progress’ but nevertheless creating a decisive break with traditional models. The goals we have today for energy saving and recycling require a fundamental change in the character of both new and old buildings, in line with the following three points:
- Expertise in Re-Use. Until the 1950′s, heritage buildings – especially vernacular ones – provided countless examples of successful adaptation to the physical environment (location, orientation, protection from sun, wind, and climate); use of local materials (earth - wood - stone, etc.); traditional techniques providing / guaranteeing the greatest opportunities to acquire and perfect artisanal skills; and an optimum capacity for recycling. The resulting buildings address today’s requirements for sustainable development particularly well. Where historic buildings are capable of residential re-use according to modern sustainability criteria, we must be able to measure and maximise their current performance before adapting them according to new artificial design standards.
- Expertise in Building. In terms of new construction, recent examples have shown the ability of traditional practices to create architecture that is indisputably creative and modern/contemporary, and offer an alternative to artificial solutions proposed in response to new standards.
- Adapting to Sustainable Living. Rather than putting the entire onus on the built heritage, we must question our expectations about comfort and utilization. We need to abandon attempts to use sites for activities for which they are fundamentally not suited; modify usage according to the seasons (closing down places that are difficult to heat in winter); and, finally, reconsider our demands in terms of comfort, which have grown excessively and unreasonably over the last decades. The progress that would be made in the fields of environmental and public health is well known.
3. Development and Tourism
Heritage is a major part of the tourist industry, but at the same time, because of the mass consumption to which it is increasingly subject, it runs the risk of becoming meaningless, by fluctuating between preservation of museum pieces and theme-park caricatures. Cut off from its context, the real significance of heritage is drowned out by a feeble reflection, and its very nature is altered by excessive numbers of visitors and the facilities installed for them.
Several courses of action are available, among others:
- Rendering identification with cultural heritage tangible … by revealing and interpreting heritage in all the richness of its context and distinctiveness, and by encouraging public awareness of history through education and the wider media.
- Controlling public access … so as both to limit physical erosion and to ensure the comfort of visitors and provide the best conditions for them to understand and appreciate the value of heritage. Some preliminary reports on trials successfully undertaken at a number of buildings and Grands Sites [designated French cultural landscapes] may help in developing guidelines.
4. Economics of Development
“The Amphitheatre at Nîmes and the Pont du Gard have brought more to France than they ever cost the Romans.” This quotation from Abbé Grégoire in the second year of the French Republic remains valid today. Investment in our heritage produces particularly attractive returns. The cultural sector fully understands this, but adopts methods that tend to be rather commercial.
This investment must be better directed, by identifying targets and striving more for qualitative results rather than short-term profits.
2013-06-08: Looking forward to some serious, collaborative and multi-disciplinary discussions on the day … and a barrel of laughs in the process (!!) …
The Informatics Research Unit for Sustainable Engineering (IRUSE) in the Department of Civil Engineering … and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy Research … both at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) … have jointly organized a 1-Day National Research Networking Workshop which will take place on Monday, 24 June 2013.
The NUIG ‘blurb’ for the day states … “Considering the importance of aggressive energy-efficiency measures in the Building Sector, together with the requirements for a safe, healthy, comfortable (and accessible) Built Environment … this NUIG Workshop will explore the topic of Integrated Modelling and Performance of the Built Environment.”
I was very pleased to receive an invitation to make a Presentation at this prestigious event …
‘Sustainable Fire Engineering Design’ - My Presentation Abstract
Fire Engineering … involves much more than mere compliance with building regulations and codes … whose fire safety objectives are limited, and whose performance requirements are sometimes inadequate and always minimal. More problematically … a fundamental conflict is mushrooming between Safe Sustainable Climate Resilient Building Design and Conventional Fire Consultancy Practice.
However … Sustainable Fire Engineering Design Solutions are:
- Reliability-based ;
- Person-centred ;
… and above all …
- Adapted to Local Context and Heritage (fr: le Patrimoine – see ICOMOS 2011) … geography, climate (incl. change, variability and severity swings), social need, culture, and economy, etc., etc.
This Presentation will discuss very rich collaborative research potential in the following areas …
- Creative Fire Engineering Concepts and Building Systems
- Fire-Induced Progressive Damage in Buildings
- Human Behaviour and Abilities in a Fire Situation
- Building Design for Firefighter Safety
- BMS – Fire Modelling – BIM
Research Output must be targeted at practical implementation in ‘real’ buildings … with actual user/construction performance carefully (i.e. reliably and precisely) monitored !
If anybody out there is interested in attending this NUIG Research Workshop … please contact Ms. Magdalena Hajdukiewicz (IRUSE) at: email@example.com
Pausing … and stepping back … to consider conventional architectural practice, how architects are educated, and whether or not the professional institutes are helping, or handicapping, the forward progress of Architecture for a Better, More Sustainable World … I am deeply concerned about the future …
1. Should it be ‘Multi-Disciplinary’ or ‘Trans-Disciplinary’ ?
The word ‘trans-disciplinary’ is confusing to a lot of people … surprisingly, to many at senior levels in construction-related industries, research sectors, and academia … not just in Ireland, but internationally. The more senior the level, it seems the higher are the walls of that proverbial ‘box’. But, let me reassure you, thinking outside the ‘box’ is not confined to people in their early 20′s !!
Looking over just the initial list of Consultant Specialists in a complex architectural project … it is the task of the Architect to transform a widely ‘multi-disciplinary’ input into a coherent ‘trans-disciplinary’ output. These two concepts are very different.
Next Generation Architectural Processes and Procedures are urgently required …
2. EU Climate & Energy Policies – Key Driving Forces for Sustainability !
Recently, the European Commission issued this Green Paper … (which, by the way, has absolutely nothing to say about Climate Change Adaptation !) …
European Commission COM(2013) 169 final – Brussels, 2013-03-27
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (104 Kb)
Concerning this Green Paper … Two Important Points …
(i) Current European Union (EU) Climate and Energy Policies are not just a passing fad … they are here to stay. With certainty, we also know that they will become more and more stringent … and that higher levels of performance will be mandated … not just on paper or a computer printout … but in reality, for example, in buildings which are constructed and actually occupied by ‘real’ building users. Refer also to recent findings, in Europe, about the large and growing discrepancy between car fuel efficiencies claimed after testing in a laboratory, and when later monitored under ‘real’ driving conditions.
(ii) It has now become obvious that the European Commission has lost the plot … big time ! Policies and Actions in closely related fields have been permitted to become fragmented, disjointed, and even counter-productive. Written into the EU treaties is the term ‘sustainable development’ … an intricate, open, dynamic and continuously evolving concept. However, senior levels (both political and bureaucratic) in the different Directorates-General of the European Commission have long ago forgotten, mislaid and/or lost the proper meaning of ‘sustainability’ … and the essential interdependency of its many aspects.
… which brings me to the urgent necessity for Next Generation Architectural Design Concepts …
In Europe … the 1990′s and early 2000′s, taken together, was a period of construction experimentation and research. We thought we could afford the resources and the lazy times … to try this, that and the other. Little emphasis was placed on practical implementation in ‘real’ buildings. However, the scale and immediacy of today’s Sustainable Development Challenges in the Built Environment have, within a few short years and much more quickly than expected, become unprecedented.
The Yanks (Gringos) are very strong on marketing … much stronger than Europe … so let’s examine a small model building … and see if its Architectural Design Concept is both coherent and comprehensive …
Mr. Amory Lovins, of the Rocky Mountain Institute in the USA ( www.rmi.org ) … has produced a very snazzy Visitor’s Guide to the sprawling complex that is ‘his home, bioshelter and office’ in Snowmass, Colorado … a Guide intended for wide public circulation …
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (3.47 MB)
Concerning this Building … Three Points of Interest(?) …
(i) For a fleeting moment … let us imagine that a percentage – not even all – of the vast populations living in Africa, India and China wanted the same sort of lifestyle, including the house, that Amory Lovins possesses. What would be the resource implications for this planet ??
(ii) In a first construction ‘try’ … separate solar and/or photovoltaic panels fixed in place on a roof … attached to the building, almost as an afterthought … were the norm. Now, however, these building systems are no longer innovative … they must be properly shown to be ‘fit for their intended use’ (to comply with building regulations and codes) … and they should now be fully integrated into the architectural design concept for the building … which is not the case in the photograph above. [ Car manufacturers face a similar design challenge today ... how to successfully integrate new technologies, e.g. satellite navigation screens, smartphone docking stations, usb sockets, bluetooth, etc., etc., into the front dashboard.]
Anyway … how reproducible is this model building in urban and suburban contexts … in the USA … or elsewhere in the world ?? How many people would have access to sufficient land outside a building to ‘plant’ one, or a series of photovoltaic panels ? Tracking photovoltaic panels, as shown above ?? And as seen in Italy, with those ridiculous photovoltaic fields (in a post, dated 2011-11-07 ) … good agricultural lands should not be used for this purpose … not now, not ever, never !
(iii) Sustainable Buildings are ‘high-tech’ … and a very large amount and variety of electronic and mechanical equipment is necessary in order to reliably monitor and tightly control their performance … in other words, to operate a building in accordance with its design specification. Again … these services should be fully integrated into the architectural design concept for what is, no longer, just a simple dwelling. Do similar houses without basements, for example, now need a central well-ventilated service room, complete with compact workstation ?
In my opinion … the Architectural Design Concept for this building is not coherent. The overall architectural impression is one of a large sprawling house, on a very large plot of land … with many different ‘environmental/energy’-related appendages, or add-ons. Can you see any coherence ?
It is the task of the Architect to consider all facets of building performance at the earliest stages of design … whether a small building, or a very large complex building … and to integrate those many diverse, but interdependent, facets into a coherent architectural statement … having a conceptual single crystalline shape … while also bearing in mind ‘person-centredness’, ‘flexibility’, ‘adaptability’, ‘accessibility for all’, and a ‘long and useful life cycle’.
[ An aside ... closer to home ... we are now witnessing the rise of the 'Passive House Designer'. This person, who is able to use a specific computer software package ... no less, and no more ... need not necessarily be an architect, or have any architectural education/training. Is it possible to refer to the realized output from this software as 'architecture' ... or are they merely drab, boring boxes ?? ]
3. Sustainable Buildings, Fire Safety & Fire Engineering ?
In the elaborate Amory Lovins Visitor’s Guide above … there is only one mention of fire hazard in the building … and that is in relation to a Passive Clothes Dryer (Page 40). End of story with regard to the Fire Safety Issues for its Users … and the Fire Engineering Implications arising from a chosen architectural design and chosen construction materials and methods.
When I was referring to a centrally located service room in # 2(iii) above … that room should also be structurally hardened, and fire and smoke ‘separated’ from other spaces in the house. Or … if the service equipment is located in a roof space, there are implications for roof structural reliability in a fire situation, and the fire resistance of the ceiling construction beneath. Or … if the equipment is located in a basement, a simple intermediate timber floor construction overhead is inadequate.
Furthermore … an intelligent fire detection and warning system … and a suitable domestic fire suppression system … are no longer luxuries or optional extras, but essential requirements ! Who would want to lose such a valuable investment ??
And insofar as fire safety issues are not being considered … it seems, at all … in the case of most ‘high-tech’, sustainable buildings … and certainly not in the case of the Lovins House … the Architectural Design Concepts for these buildings ‘suffer’ from a gaping hole … an enormous void … they are incomplete and, therefore, entirely inadequate.
Fire Engineering involves much, much more than mere compliance with building regulations and codes … whose fire safety objectives are limited, and whose performance requirements are sometimes inadequate and always minimal.
Unfortunately … there is a fundamental conflict between Sustainable Building Design Strategies and the current state-of-the-art in Fire Engineering Design. As an example … for cooling, heating and/or ventilation purposes in a sustainable building, it is necessary to take advantage of natural patterns of air movement in that building. On the other hand, fire consultants in private practice, and fire prevention officers in Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s), will demand that building spaces be strictly compartmented in order to limit the spread of fire and smoke … thereby dramatically interfering with those natural patterns of air movement.
In everyday practice, there is a vast chasm in understanding and communication between these two very different design disciplines. As a result, serious compromises are being enforced on Sustainability Performance. If, on the other hand, adequate independent technical control is absent on the site of a Sustainable Building … it is the fire safety and protection which is being seriously compromised.
A range of critical fire safety issues (fatal, in the case of firefighters) are also arising from the Innovative Building Products and Systems being installed in Sustainable Buildings.
And because the emphasis is on pre-construction design ‘intent’ rather than the ‘real’ performance of the completed and occupied building … all of these problems are being conveniently sidestepped or ignored … and they remain hidden from everybody’s view.
Sustainable Fire Engineering Design, on the other hand, is the creative response to Sustainable Design … and the powerful drivers of Climate Change Adaptation, and Energy Conservation/Efficiency in Buildings.
Sustainable Fire Engineering Design Solutions are …
- Adapted to Local Conditions … Geography, Climate (change, variability and severity swings), Social Need, Culture, and Economy, etc., etc ;
- ‘Reliability-Based’ … the design process is based on competence, practical experience, and an examination of ‘real’ extreme events, e.g. 2001 WTC 9-11 & 2008 Mumbai Attacks, and 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Incident … rather than on theory alone ;
- ‘Person-Centred’ … ‘real’ people are placed at the centre of creative endeavours and proper consideration is given to their responsible needs … and their health, safety and welfare … and security … in the Human Environment.
Sustainability … continues to fundamentally transform our Fire Engineering, Architectural and Consultancy Practice at Sustainable Design International Ltd (SDI) !
2013-05-23: The U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, announced the launch of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) on 9 August 2012.
UN SDSN is structured around 12 Thematic Groups of scientific and technical experts – from academia, civil society, and the private sector – who work in support of Sustainable Development Problem Solving at local, national, and global scales … and to identify and highlight best practices. They also provide technical support to the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (559 Kb)
The world has changed profoundly since the year 2000, when the UN Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) were adopted by the United Nations. Four critical shifts make the coming fifteen-year period, 2015-2030, different from the MDG period, 2000-2015: (i) a drastically higher human impact on the physical Earth; (ii) rapid technological change; (iii) increasing inequality; and (iv) a growing diffusion and complexity of governance.
These problems will expand, dangerously beyond our control, without an urgent and radical transformation in how we organize society. The world now needs an operational Sustainable Development Framework which can mobilize all key actors (national & local governments, civil society, business, science and academia) in every country to move away from the Business-as-Usual (BaU) Trajectory towards a Sustainable Development (SD) Path. This Framework and the SDG’s identify the main objectives and strategies needed to transform from BaU to SD.
The purpose of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) is to help translate global aspirations into practical actions. In this regard, SDSN has subscribed to the ‘Rio+20′ Agreement that the SDG’s should be ‘action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development, and respecting national policies and priorities’.
SDI’s Comments on … ‘Action Agenda for Sustainable Development & Sustainable Development Goals’
[ Submitted by e-mail, yesterday (2013-05-22), to the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network.]
1. The problems with this Document, dated 7 May 2013, are fundamental and profound. Our Organization will be happy to assist the Network (SDSN) in improving the text.
2. At this time, however, we would like to bring to your attention some urgent overarching issues:
- Amend the Title … refer directly to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). See above.
- As drafted, the text does not show that … or explain how … there is a robust Interdependence between the different Sustainable Development Goals.
- Indeed, the scale and immediacy of the Sustainable Development Challenges are unprecedented. The Network (SDSN) must now, therefore, take the brave and difficult step of placing the Sustainable Development Goals in order of priority. Do not allow yourselves to be shackled by the approach taken in the earlier Millennium Development Goals !
- In this Document, All of the texts dealing with ‘Governance’ are ambiguous, weak and embarrassingly inadequate. References to the Institutional, Political, Legal and Judicial Aspects of ‘Governance’ are both necessary, and required.
- The word ‘access’ is used very often and very generally in the Document. BUT … in order for People with Activity Limitations (2001 WHO ICF) to ‘access’ facilities and services in the Built (including Virtual), Social and Economic Environments, and to be included and participate fully in their local communities … it is an ESSENTIAL prerequisite that those Environments are effectively ACCESSIBLE-FOR-ALL ! This concept is not mentioned once in the Document … a very serious omission.
Update: 2013-06-07 …
Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (1.91 MB)
2013-05-22: Whatever Service Providers claim … every day, we experience mobile/cell phone reception variability, drop-off and failure in buildings … whether we are fully conscious of it or not. It’s inconvenient, but all we have to do is change location, even slightly … and ‘re-dial’. However, if we are travelling on a train or bus, and it enters a tunnel … the problem can be annoying, as the situation is beyond our control !
On the other hand, however … not too far from where I live, there is an art house cinema with underground screens on different levels. In this particular case, mobile/cell phone reception failure can be a positive joy – it will not be necessary to listen to someone else’s loud conversations during the film !
BUT … emergency first responders use radio frequency-based communication systems during the normal course of their work … and in the current built environment, these systems can also be unreliable. Improved climate resilience in our future building stock will make matters worse. So, it makes a lot of sense to take this issue seriously now !
Fire Departments equip their firefighters with a Radio Frequency-Based Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) … also known as an Automatic Distress Signal Unit (ADSU) … which sends out a signal to a fire incident base / control centre / command post when the firefighter is motionless or in distress, with a clear indication of his/her location … or, if necessary, a general warning can be sent from the fire incident base / control centre / command post to all firefighters to evacuate a building immediately … for example, if extensive structural collapse is imminent.
Recently, the National Institute of Science & Technology (USA) issued Technical Note 1792. I have just a few short comments to make before jumping into the document …
1. The Empire State Building and a Subway Station in New York City are both iconic building types … and unusual, in the context of the USA generally … but not so in Europe, with our long tradition for ‘hard/heavy’ construction. Challenging environments for radio frequency-based communication systems are encountered in our basement / underground building types, and low-rise complex building types … never mind high-rise and tall buildings.
2. Outside buildings, adequate external access routes for Firefighting Vehicles are mandated in building codes and standards … and Firefighter Lifts are provided inside buildings, etc., etc., etc. Facilitating reliable radio frequency-based emergency communications should become a normal part of thinking about … and designing for … Safe Firefighter Access. And … before new buildings are occupied, it should become routine to carry out an emergency communications check, as part of a wider collaborative effort between Building Management Teams and Local Fire Services.
3. This NIST Technical Note is further evidence … as if any more evidence were needed … that it is a continuing and difficult process to fully implement the 2005 & 2008 NIST WTC 9-11 Recommendations. To date, the easier low hanging fruit (system and procedural inadequacies !) have been tackled, which may be presented and/or described as substantive changes in building codes and standards … mere window dressing … tokenism, at its worst ! However, as discussed here before many times, some European countries continue to completely ignore these important NIST Recommendations.
March 2013 – NIST Technical Note 1792: ‘Performance Analysis of RF-Based Electronic Safety Equipment in a Subway Station and the Empire State Building’.
To Read/Download NIST TN 1792 (PDF File, 9.02 MB), go to … http://dx.doi.org/10.6028/NIST.TN.1792
NIST TN 1792 – Summary & Conclusion (Page 59)
Radio Frequency (RF) PASS Tests were performed in a New York Subway Station and the Empire State Building because these types of structures provide challenging RF propagation-channel environments. In the Subway, the RF PASS systems were limited in their ability to communicate beyond the initial entrance level. Without the use of repeaters, most of the systems could communicate only a short distance beyond the bottom of the stairwell that connected the token booth corridor to the street. Two systems used repeaters to extend the coverage area. When a repeater was located at the base of the stairwell leading up to the street, those two systems were able to communicate the RF PASS alarms between the street level and the first passenger platform. However, with only a single repeater, neither of the two repeater systems was able to communicate between the external receive site and the second passenger level. This suggests that for structures with sizable subterranean sections, a repeater system will likely be required to reach an external incident command post. If the structure has multiple subterranean levels of increasing depth, a multiple-hop relay system will likely be necessary to ensure the reliability of the communication channel.
In the path-loss measurements and analysis performed at five frequencies, ranging from 430 MHz to 2405 MHz, there are several important insights. Based on the upper adjacent values in the box-plot statistical representation of the path-loss data from the Empire State Building (see Figure 36), path-loss values of 140 dB to 175 dB are possible for high-rises. For the Subway, the path-loss values exceed 210 dB to 240 dB at the lower two passenger platforms (see Figure 35). The frequency dependence is more pronounced for the Empire State Building results, but less apparent in the Subway data. Thus, while a system may function well at the lower end of the frequency spectrum in the above ground portions of a large building, the subway results demonstrate that subterranean structures can cause path-loss values greater than 200 dB across the 430 to 2400 MHz range.
The testing completed here focused on RF PASS system performance and RF propagation-channel measurements in a high-rise and subway station. While a primary goal of the effort was to look at the correlation between the system performance and path-loss behaviour, a secondary goal was to gather path-loss data in two high-attenuation settings. Thus, parameter values for log-normal distributions that will allow simulation of the measured path-loss conditions are included in this report. The authors hope that the data presented here, along with future sets of data, can be used to develop a complete suite of test methods, not only for RF-based PASS systems, but also for other RF-based electronic safety equipment. The path-loss values obtained here are general and could be used to develop standards for other equipment as the need arises for standards for these systems.
In Ireland … 10 UHF Channels have been allocated to the Fire Services for use with hand portable radios …
2013-05-02: Yes, that is the moon … yes, that is a rainbow … yes, those are the Sibillini Mountains still sketched with snow … yes, those are the cloud formations and colours at one moment during a spectacular dawn over Amandola at 06.12 hrs on Sunday morning, 28 April 2013 …
Taking a photograph is a distraction from the ‘real’ experience … it fails to capture and communicate the ‘person-centred’ feeling …
And I can imagine more comfortable words to describe this scene … ‘spiritual’, ‘transcendental’, ‘metaphysical’, ‘mystical’, ‘supernatural’ …
2013-03-17: Happy Saint Patrick’s Day !!
Submissions on India’s Draft Amendment No.1 to the 2005 National Building Code (SP 7:2005) concerning the Proposed Incorporation of a New Part 11: ‘Approach to Sustainability’ had to arrive at the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), in Dilli … by e-mail … no later than Friday last, 15 March 2013 …
Indian NBC, Proposed Part 11 on ‘Sustainability’ – December 2012 Consultation
Extract From Foreword (Page 7):
‘ Developed nations’ approach to sustainability generally concentrates on energy conservation through high technology innovations, and use of products, materials and designs with lower embodied energy. Their green ratings are based on intent, which implies expert inputs and simulation. The Indian construction industry will do better using our traditional wisdom and practices, building in harmony with nature through regional common knowledge, consuming as little as necessary, applying low cost technology innovations, using recycled materials, and recognizing performance (not intent) through easily measurable parameters wherever feasible.’
How Right They Are About Prioritizing ‘Real’ Performance !!
And Just Before That Extract Above:
‘ The authentic (my insert !) Indian way of life is aparigraha (minimum possessions), conservation (minimum consumption), and recycling (minimum waste). These three attributes are the guiding principles for sustainable buildings as well. With these attributes and its rich heritage, India can make a substantial contribution in this field and eventually lead the world on the path of sustainability.’
An Overly Ambitious Target ? Perhaps Not.
SDI Supporting India’s National Sustainable Buildings Strategy …
We very much welcome this opportunity to make a Submission on India’s Draft Amendment No.1 to the 2005 National Building Code (SP 7:2005) concerning the Proposed Inclusion of a New Part 11 ‘Approach to Sustainability’.
This IS an important development for India … and it DOES mark a substantial contribution to this field, at international level. We wish that other countries would follow your example … particularly China, the other mushrooming economies in South-East Asia, and the Arab Gulf States.
You may not be aware that Sustainable Design International (SDI) has been specializing in the theory and implementation of a Sustainable Human Environment (social, built, virtual, and economic) since the mid-1990′s.
And, for example … in September 2007, we were invited to make a series of Keynote Presentations to 20 Senior National Decision-Makers, from both the public and private sectors, at a 2-Day Workshop which was organized for us in Lisboa, Portugal. If invited, we would be delighted to repeat this valuable exercise in Dilli, Bengaluru, and other suitable venues in India.
IF India is to lead the world on this particular track, i.e. Sustainable Buildings, a coherent philosophy must be outlined in the Proposed New Part 11 of the National Building Code, and a clear direction must also be given there to decision-makers, e.g. clients/client organizations, and designers.
Certain essential content must be included in Part 11. With regard to an improved layout of Part 11, please review the attached SDI Document: ‘SEED Building Life Cycle’ (PDF File, 55 Kb) .
Because you have prioritized ‘real’ building performance over pre-construction design ‘intent’, it is appropriate to begin our comments here …
1. Sustainability Performance Indicators
In order to prioritize ‘real’ performance, the monitoring of actual sustainability performance in completed and occupied buildings must be comprehensive, accurate and reliable. Indicators of sustainability performance must, therefore, be included in all sections of the Proposed New Part 11.
Sustainability Performance Indicators provide important signposts for decision-making and design in many ways. They can translate physical and social science knowledge into manageable units of information which facilitate the decision-making and design processes. They can help to measure and calibrate progress towards sustainable development goals, and sectoral sustainability targets. They can provide an early warning to prevent economic, social and environmental damage and harm. They are also important tools to communicate ideas, thoughts and values because, as statisticians say: “We measure what we value, and value what we measure”.
Performance Indicators may be both quantitative and qualitative … but must cover all stages of the building process, i.e. project feasibility and performance specification, spatial planning, design, construction, management, operation, maintenance and servicing, de-construction, disposal, final site clean-up and sustainable repair.
While many, though not all, types of building performance can be successfully monitored using lightweight portable equipment … a certain number of monitoring devices must also be permanently installed in the building during construction. A facility to reliably feed the output from these devices back to data collection points, on site and remote, must also be incorporated in the Building’s Intelligent Management System.
Management and collation of sustainability performance data must be reliable. Uncertainty is always present. Therefore, Statements of Uncertainty should always be attached to ‘reliable’ data.
Safety Factors should always be included when targeting critical ‘health and safety’ related types of performance.
Sustainability Performance Indicators must be directly comparable across different Global Regions … within Asia, across different countries … and within India, across different States. A Balanced, Harmonized Core Set of Indian Performance Indicators should be quickly developed. A Balanced ‘Local’ Set of Performance Indicators will always be necessary.
People tasked with monitoring sustainable building performance must be competent … and independent, i.e. be unconnected to client, design and construction organizations.
Specifically in relation to Energy Performance, the targets to be achieved in new buildings must be far more ambitious. Please review the attached SDI Document: ‘SEED Positive Energy Buildings’ (PDF File, 29 Kb) .
2. Properly Defining ‘Sustainable Development’
As currently drafted … Definition 2.26 Sustainable Development, on Page 13 of the Proposed New Part 11, is not only ambiguous, it is inadequate for India’s needs … and it is barely the first half of the full, correct definition …
Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:
- the concept of ‘needs’, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given ; and
- the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.
[ Please refer to the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment & Development (WCED): 'Our Common Future' - Chapter 2, Paragraph 1.]
This original definition in the 1987 WCED Report IS appropriate for India … and it must become the core definition at the heart of India’s National Sustainable Buildings Strategy !
A careful reading of the full definition makes it clear that there are Many Aspects to this intricate, open, dynamic and still evolving concept … the most important of which are: Social, Economic, Environmental, Institutional, Political, and Legal.
It is a Fundamental Principle of Sustainability, and one of its Primary Values … that Implementation must be Synchronous, Balanced and Equitable across All Aspects of Sustainability.
The ‘Green Agenda’ merely considers Environmental Aspects of Sustainability … in isolation from all of the other Aspects ! This is a fatal flaw which must be avoided in the Proposed New Part 11 !!
[ I made many references to this issue during the FSAI Conferences in India ! ]
3. Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) for India !
Rather than Environmental Impact Assessment … surely the Proposed New Part 11: ‘Approach to Sustainability’ must now use, explain and discuss Sustainability Impact Assessment instead !?!
Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA)
A continual evaluation and optimization assessment – informing initial decision-making, or design, and shaping activity/product/service realization, useful life and termination, or final disposal – of the interrelated positive and negative social, economic, environmental, institutional, political and legal impacts on the synchronous, balanced and equitable implementation of Sustainable Human & Social Development.
4. A Robust Legal Foundation for ‘Sustainable Human & Social Development’
Paragraph 4 (Chapter 2, 1987 WCED Report) states …
‘ The satisfaction of human needs and aspirations is the major objective of development. The essential needs of vast numbers of people in developing countries – for food, clothing, shelter, jobs – are not being met, and beyond their basic needs these people have legitimate aspirations for an improved quality of life. A world in which poverty and inequity are endemic will always be prone to ecological and other crises. Sustainable development requires meeting the basic needs of all and extending to all the opportunity to satisfy their aspirations for a better life.’
Trying to list the essential needs of people / the basic needs of all is a very difficult task … but it is work which has been on-going, at international level, since just after the Second World War.
The essential needs of people / the basic needs of all … are specified as being Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and are already fully described within the extensive framework of International Legal Rights Instruments.
Which is why, many years ago, SDI developed this definition for Sustainable Human & Social Development … in order:
- to give this concept a robust legal foundation ; and
- (because of widespread confusion in media, political and academic circles) … to clearly establish that we are talking about sustainable human and social development, and not sustainable economic development, or any other type of development !
Sustainable Human & Social Development
Development which meets the responsible needs, i.e. the Human & Social Rights*, of this generation – without stealing the life and living resources from future generations … especially our children, and their children … and the next five generations of children.
*As defined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
5. Climate Change Adaptation & Resilient Buildings in India ?
Atmospheric Ozone Depletion and Climate Change are mentioned, here and there, in the Proposed New Part 11. The important implications of these phenomena for Sustainable Building Design in India are not explained … at all. Why not ?
To properly respond to these phenomena, both must be integrated into India’s National Sustainability Strategies & Policies.
At the very least … we strongly recommend that Design Guidance on Climate Resilient Buildings be immediately drafted. This guidance must be appropriate for implementation in each of the different climatic regions of India.
6. A Sustainable Indian Built Environment which is Accessible for All !
Barrier Free is mentioned, here and there, in the Proposed New Part 11. This is to be warmly welcomed and congratulated. Under Social Aspects of Sustainable Human & Social Development … this is an essential attribute of a Sustainable Built Environment ! However, no guidance on this subject is given to decision-makers or designers. Why not ?
However, you should be aware that India ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) on 1 October 2007. For your convenience, I have attached copies of the Convention in English, Hindi and Tamil.
You should also be aware that, in December 2011, the International Standards Organization (ISO) published ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’. In its Introduction, ISO 21542 is directly linked to the U.N. Convention … almost like an umbilical cord. The scope of this Standard currently covers public buildings. As the Accessibility Agenda in the U.N. Convention is very broad … much standardization work remains to be finished at international level.
The correct term … Accessibility for All … has been defined in ISO 21542 as including … ‘access to buildings, circulation within buildings and their use, egress from buildings in the normal course of events, and evacuation in the event of an emergency’.
A note at the beginning of the standard also clarifies that Accessibility is an independent activity, i.e. assistance from another person should not be necessary … and that there should be an assurance of individual health, safety and welfare during the course of those (accessibility-related) activities.
In order to fulfil India’s legal obligations as a State Party to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities … adequate Design Guidance on Accessibility must be included in the Proposed New Part 11, supported by ISO 21542.
In addition, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) should immediately adopt ISO 21542 as the Indian National Standard on Accessibility for All … IS / ISO 21542.
[ I made many references to this issue during the FSAI Conferences in India ! ]
7. Fire Safety & Protection for All in Sustainable Indian Buildings ?
Yes … there is 1 mention of ‘fire safety’ and 40 other references to ‘fire’ in the Proposed New Part 11 … but no design guidance. Why not ?
You should be aware that there is a fundamental conflict between Sustainable Building Design Strategies and the current state-of-the-art in Fire Engineering Design. As a good example … for cooling, heating and/or ventilation purposes in a sustainable building, it is necessary to take advantage of natural patterns of air movement in that building. On the other hand, fire engineers in private practice, and fire prevention officers in Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s), will demand that building spaces be strictly compartmented in order to limit the spread of fire and smoke … thereby dramatically interfering with those natural patterns of air movement.
In everyday practice, there is a vast chasm in understanding and communication between these two very different design disciplines. As a result, serious compromises are being enforced on Sustainability Building Performance. If, on the other hand, adequate independent technical control is absent on the site of a Sustainable Building … it is the fire safety and protection which is being seriously compromised.
A range of critical fire safety issues (fatal, in the case of firefighters) are also arising with the Innovative Building Products and Systems being installed in Sustainable Buildings.
Because the emphasis is on pre-construction design ‘intent’ rather than the ‘real’ performance of the completed and occupied building … all of these problems are being conveniently ignored, and they remain hidden from everybody’s view.
This must be addressed in the Proposed New Part 11.
[ I made many references to this issue during the FSAI Conferences in India ! ]
C. J. Walsh – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller – Managing Director, Sustainable Design International Ltd. – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.
2013-02-28: Submissions on Ireland’s Draft National Radon Control Strategy must arrive at the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government, our national authority having jurisdiction … by e-mail or hand delivery to either the Custom House in Dublin or the DECLG Offices in Wexford … no later than 17:30 hrs tomorrow, Friday 1 March 2013 …
Click the Link above to read/download PDF File (425 Kb)
The Aim of this Draft Strategy, as stated on the DECLG WebSite, is to ensure that exposure to Radon Gas, which presents a significant public health problem, is addressed in an effective and co-ordinated way across all relevant public authorities through appropriate interventions. The Draft Strategy was developed by an Inter-Agency Group comprising representatives from relevant public authorities.
After all of the progress made on radon protection in buildings at the end of the 1990′s and beginning of the 2000′s, it is extremely disappointing to read this miserable excuse for a strategy document. If the general public in Ireland is under any impression that the ‘powers-that-be’ are deeply concerned about protecting our health … they are making a fatal mistake !
The complete absence of any reference to a Recommended Health-Related Radon Target Level – Safety-Related National Reference Levels which are not clearly explained will result in some injury and harm – Lack of Meaningful Consultation with, and Informed Consent of, the National Population – Horrendously Inadequate Technical Control Procedures on Irish Building Sites – RPII Recommended Indoor Radon Activity Measuring Devices having Very High Measurement Uncertainty (±30% under typical conditions of use) – A Purposeful Lack of Detailed Guidance on Exactly When and How to Measure Indoor Radon – Inadequate RPII Radon Measurement Test Reporting … are just some of the tell-tale signs for a seasoned observer.
In this regard, therefore … and let me be very clear and simple in my use of language … this Draft National Radon Control Strategy is a blatant fraud !!
Fraud: Deliberate deception, trickery, or cheating intended to gain an advantage – An act or instance of such deception (from Latin Fraus (f): deceit, deception).
Furthermore … the Inter-Agency Group which produced this Draft National Radon Control Strategy for the DECLG Minister, Mr. Phil Hogan T.D., and Senior Civil Servants within the Department … whoever the Group’s participants are, wherever they are … should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for being associated with this negligent act !
Negligent: Lacking attention, care or concern.
Negligence: A wrong whereby a person(s) is in breach of a legal duty of care, resulting in harm or injury to another person(s) … in this case, the Irish Public.
To see a complete overview on this Serious Building-Related Human Health Issue, and for information about a Far Better and More Coherent Approach to Radon Protection in Buildings which takes proper account of European Union (E.U.) legislation, e.g. the Precautionary Principle … please refer to SDI’s Corporate WebSite …
(It is not my intention to reproduce, here, all of the content on this WebPage as part of the Submission.)
I am also the Technical Consultant who drafted these 2 Benchmark Irish Agrément Board (IAB) Certificates for Radon Protection Measures in Buildings …
SDI’s Comments on Ireland’s Draft National Radon Control Strategy (NRCS)
1. Protecting Human Health versus Reducing Risk to Safety
The following two short extracts from 1. Introduction and Background in the Draft NRCS reveal the true intent of the Inter-Agency Group …
‘ Radon gas is the greatest source of exposure to ionising radiation for the general public and is the second greatest cause of lung cancer in Ireland. Recognising the serious health risk presented by radon, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in November 2011 established an inter-agency group to develop a National Radon Control Strategy (NRCS).’
‘ During 2012 the inter-agency group developed a draft NRCS based on wide stakeholder consultation and a health economics evaluation of different radon intervention strategies. The stakeholder consultation involved a range of individuals and bodies involved in: health care, construction, radon services, Government and academia. The health economics evaluation was undertaken by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) and Health Service Executive (HSE) with the assistance of the Health Economics Unit at the University of Oxford. This draft strategy sets out a range of measures to reduce the risk from radon to people living in Ireland.’
Radon is a serious human health issue, and it is explained in a later section of the document 1.2 The Radon Problem in Ireland that ‘indoor radon is linked to between 150 to 200 lung cancer deaths each year in Ireland, which equates to approximately 13% of all lung cancer deaths.’
However … after the references above to ‘health economics evaluation’ (!) … to the ‘prevailing economic situation’ (!!) in section 1.1 Public Consultation … and to ‘health economics tools’ (!!!) in section 2. Draft National Radon Control Strategy … etc … you should then sensitize yourself to the subtle change in language very early in the document … from a consideration of health protection, to reducing the risk from radon (or similar variations on that theme).
The concept of Protecting Human Health is altogether different from the concept of Assessing and Mitigating / Reducing Risk to Safety ! Please refer to SDI’s Corporate WebSite.
As far back as the end of the 1990′s … the Irish Agrément Board, which at the time included a representative from the Department of the Environment, accepted the following …
Radon Activity in Buildings – Recommended Target Health Level
Radon Activity (incl. Rn-222, Rn-220, RnD) should, on average, fall within the range of 10-40 Bq/m3, but should at no time exceed 60 Bq/m3.
This Recommended Target Health Level for Radon now also appears in International Standard ISO 21542: ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’, which was published in December 2011. Please refer to Annex B.8 – Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in the ISO Standard.
The Draft NRCS must refer to such a Recommended Target Health Level … and it must be stated that it is National Policy to progressively reach that target by 2025 (bearing in mind the ’prevailing economic situation’ in the country !).
Note: In contrast to the above … 200 Bq/m3 for Residential Buildings, and 400 Bq/m3 for Workplaces … are NOT Health-Related Target Levels … they are Safety-Related National Radon Reference Levels which result in some measure of harm and injury to people … particularly children under the age of 10 years, and people with activity limitations who constantly remain indoors for prolonged periods of time.
2. National Policy Priority: ‘Real’ Protection from Radon in ‘Real’ Irish Buildings
Yes … in Ireland, we have enormous problems with regard to a lack of awareness among the general population about the serious health hazard posed by indoor radon … and the absence of proper education and training for everyone directly involved in the design, construction, management, operation, servicing or maintenance of our building stock (both new and existing).
BUT … if we are committed to providing ‘real’ radon protection in ‘real’ Irish buildings, then a practical construction-oriented approach is demanded.
This is a Key Paragraph in 2.1 Radon Prevention in New Buildings …
‘ The stakeholder engagement also points to some practical difficulties associated with the implementation of the current technical guidance on radon prevention. These difficulties relate to the correct installation of radon barriers under site conditions, protection of the integrity of radon barriers once installed and identification of radon preventive measures on site. The stakeholder engagement also indicated the system of building control in place prior to 2012 did not provide adequate assurance that radon preventive measures had been correctly installed ‘
… which we later discover is a masterstroke of understatement and evasion, because none of these important issues are tackled head on in the document.
On the critical issue of Building Control … there is no mention of mandatory inspections of construction projects by competent Local Authority personnel. Because … it remains the unwritten policy of Ministers and Senior Civil Servants in Ireland’s Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government (DECLG) that Local Authority Building Control Sections will be entirely ineffective.
On the other hand … will Competent Private Independent Technical Controllers be facilitated in carrying out sufficient inspections of all radon protection related works before ‘signing off’ on proper completion ???
3. Regulatory Status of RPII’s Radon Prediction Maps
This is NOT a problem unique to Ireland.
The presence of the RPII Radon Prediction Maps in Technical Guidance Document C (Building Regulations), and the status they are given there … are both entirely inappropriate.
While these Maps are a useful design aid, in the case of small construction projects, they offer NO assurance of certainty to either building designers or users. They are NOT reliable ! And the average values shown in any particular ‘box’ may actually conceal a considerable degree of variability in the radon concentrations found in completed buildings.
4. SDI’s Acceptance of RPII Services
Please refer to SDI’s Corporate WebSite.
Unfortunately, until the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) includes proper statements of Measurement Uncertainty in its Test Reports (this is a requirement of European Standard EN ISO/IEC 17025) … our Organization:
- cannot recommend any RPII Radon Testing Services to 3rd Parties ;
- will not accept any RPII Test Reports as proper evidence of Radon Test results.
C. J. Walsh – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller – Managing Director, Sustainable Design International Ltd. – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.
2013-01-30: The Energy Efficiency of Electrical Light Fittings continues to improve dramatically … and it’s about time too. So much energy was needlessly wasted before !
Prior to the commencement of the External Lighting Design Project below … this prominent religious building in Dublin City was ‘pitch’ dark at night, almost a black hole in the local urban landscape, a depressing non-entity … people waiting at bus stops on each of the roads beside the building were nervous … muggings occasionally took place … litter was always being thrown into the grounds surrounding the building … evidence screaming out loud that nobody cared !
After Project Completion … the ‘presence’ of this building within the local community was enhanced to an extraordinary extent … it was at once seen to be at its centre … security issues at night were immediately resolved … the building looked as if people cared about it … and a special bonus … architectural features which usually went unnoticed by the public during the day were beautifully highlighted at night.
The Client Organization … in this case, a religious order … was so pleased with the finished work that they commissioned a professional photographer … and then used the image above on the Parish Christmas Cards to be distributed to parishioners.
The Moral of The Story for Clients/Client Organizations is … give serious consideration to how your building (whether it is a church, mosque, or synagogue) looks during daylight … and most importantly, during the long hours of darkness !
External Building Lighting is much more than mere decoration … it is an essential component in the sustainable design of any important / iconic building type !!
SDI Contact Information
International Phone: +353 1 8386078 / National Phone: (01) 8386078
2013-01-13: The 13th … a lucky day !
As we drive harder and deeper (at least some of us anyway ?) towards a future of Sustainable Human & Social Development … or are forcefully driven by the anthropogenic (man-made) pressures of Resource Shortages (e.g. water - food - energy) and Climate Change, in the case of millions of people living in poverty throughout the world … or are dragged screaming, which I fear will have to be the solution with the privileged classes in every society who are addicted to lavish and wasteful lifestyles and who show absolutely no interest in either Climate Change or Resource Shortages until they rear up and bite them in the ass (!!) … there is a desperate need for a more complex and precise language of Sustainability, which will give shape to the innovative trans-sectoral concepts and trans-disciplinary policy and decision-making support tools required for Tangible/’Real’ Sustainability & Climate Resilience Implementation.
At the time of writing, the Principal Challenge before us is …
Transforming Social Organization … the Ultimate Goal being to arrive quickly at a dynamic and harmonious balance between a Sustainable Human Environment and a flourishing, not just a surviving, Natural Environment … with the Overall Aim of achieving Social Wellbeing for All.
Climate Change did not directly cause Hurricane Sandy, a severe weather event which hit the Caribbean and the East Coast of the USA during October 2012 … but it was a significant contributing factor. Scenes like those in the photograph below will be experienced far more frequently in the future.
This is not Manhattan, in New York City … so, is the development shown below to be removed altogether … or renewed with the necessary and very costly construction of a massive system of flood protection measures ? Not an easy choice. Which choice would be more sustainable ?
However … WHEN, not IF … Average Global Temperatures rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius, many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will suffer a similar fate … permanently …
The Type of Lightweight Development in the foreground of the photograph below … damaged beyond repair or re-construction during Hurricane Sandy, is not Resilient … which is a different concept to Robust, or Robustness.
Notice the building in the background, on the left, which appears to have survived fully intact … why ??
In complete contrast … the Type of Development, below, is more Resilient. Furthermore, however, as a normal human reaction to decades of aggressive, but ultimately unsuccessful, political bullying and economic assault by the USA, the Social Fabric of Cuba is very strong … making this a Resilient Human Environment …
So … what is a Resilient Human Environment … particularly in the context of Sustainable Climate Change Adaptation ?
What do we mean by Transforming Social Organization ??
And … as we drive forward, harder and deeper … why is it critical that we practice a balanced, synchronous approach … across ALL Aspects of Sustainability … to Tangible Sustainability & Climate Resilience Implementation ???
Let us confront some more interesting new words and thought-provoking concepts …
2012 – ESDN Quarterly Report Number 26 - Umberto Pisano, Author
Click the Link Above to read and/or download a PDF File (2.17 Mb)
Abridged Executive Summary
The term resilience originated in the 1970′s in the field of ecology from the research of C.S.Holling, who defined resilience as ‘a measure of the persistence of systems and of their ability to absorb change and disturbance and still maintain the same relationships between populations or state variables’. In short, resilience is defined as ‘the ability of a system to absorb disturbances and still retain its basic function and structure’, and as ‘the capacity to change in order to maintain the same identity’.
Resilience can best be described by three crucial characteristics: (1) the amount of disturbance a system can absorb and still remain within the same state or domain of attraction; (2) the degree to which the system is capable of self-organization; and (3) the ability to build and increase the capacity for learning and adaptation.
In the need for persistence, we can find a first connection with sustainable development. Sustainable development has the objective of creating and maintaining prosperous social, economic, and ecological systems. Humanity has a need for persistence. And since humanity depends on services of ecosystems for its wealth and security, humanity and ecosystems are deeply linked. As a result, humanity has the imperative of striving for resilient socio-ecological systems in light of sustainable development.
Resilience thinking is inevitably systems thinking at least as much as sustainable development is. In fact, ‘when considering systems of humans and nature (socio-ecological systems) it is important to consider the system as a whole. The human domain and the biophysical domain are interdependent’. In this framework where resilience is aligned with systems thinking, three concepts are crucial to grasp: (1) humans live and operate in social systems that are inextricably linked with the ecological systems in which they are embedded; (2) socio-ecological systems are complex adaptive systems that do not change in a predictable, linear, incremental fashion; and (3) resilience thinking provides a framework for viewing a socio-ecological system as one system operating over many linked scales of time and space. Its focus is on how the system changes and copes with disturbance.
To fully understand resilience theory, the report focuses therefore on the explanation of a number of crucial concepts: thresholds, the adaptive cycle, panarchy, resilience, adaptability, and transformability.
As shown, humanity and ecosystems are deeply linked. This is also the fundamental reason why to adopt the resilience-thinking framework is a necessity for governance. The resilience perspective shifts policies from those that aspire to control change in systems assumed to be stable, to managing the capacity of socio–ecological systems to cope with, adapt to, and shape change. It is argued that managing for resilience enhances the likelihood of sustaining desirable pathways for development, particularly in changing environments where the future is unpredictable and surprise is likely.
This exposes the strong need for Sustainable Development Governance to embrace resilience thinking. It is not only about being trans-disciplinary and avoiding partial and one-viewpoint solutions; what is needed to solve today’s problems – and especially those linked to sustainable development – is a new approach that considers humans as a part of Earth’s ecosystems, and one in which policies can more effectively cope with, adapt to, and shape change.
In this scenario, the concept and key characteristics of so-called adaptive governance seem to be a practical means for societies to deal with the complex issues that socio-ecological systems are confronted with. Therefore, adaptive governance is best understood as an approach that unites those environmental and natural resource management approaches that share some or all of the following principles: polycentric and multi-layered institutions, participation and collaboration, self-organization and networks, and learning and innovation. Additionally, four interactive crucial aspects for adaptive governance are suggested: (1) to build knowledge and understanding of resource and ecosystem dynamics; (2) to feed ecological knowledge into adaptive management practices; (3) to support flexible institutions and multilevel governance systems; and,(4) to deal with external disturbances, uncertainty, and surprise. Therefore, nine values toward a resilient world are also suggested: diversity, ecological variability, modularity, acknowledging slow variables, tight feedbacks, social capital, innovation, overlap in governance, and ecosystem services.
Finally, three examples analyse practical instances in terms of resilience: (1) the approach taken by the so-called climate change adaptation discourse; (2) the Kristianstad Water Vattenrike, a wetland in southern Sweden that showed problems with loss of wet meadows, decline of water quality, and a disappearing wildlife habitat; and 3) the Goulburn-Broken Catchment from the State of Victoria (Australia). Some lessons can be drawn from these three cases. From the first case, governance structures have direct implications for the level of flexibility in responding to future change as well as variation in local contexts. Sensitivity to feedbacks relates both to the timing as well as where these feedbacks occur. Therefore, learning is more likely if feedbacks occur soon relative to action, and if those most affected by feedbacks are those responsible for the action. Additionally, the way in which a problem is conceptually framed determines the way in which responses are identified and evaluated and therefore influences the range of response characteristics. Second, the example from Sweden revealed that (a) the imposition of a set of rules to protect an ecosystem from the outside will not ensure the natural qualities of a region will be preserved over time. One size never fits all, and an understanding of local history and culture needs to be integrated into the management if local values are to be looked after; (b) for an organization to meaningfully deal with complexity at many scales, it needs to include representatives from each of these levels in the social network; (c) several organizations need to be prepared to contribute to a shared vision and build consensus and leadership – crucial components in adaptability and transformability. Third, the Goulburn-Broken story demonstrates the critical importance of understanding the underlying variables that drive a socio-ecological system, knowing where thresholds lie along these variables, and knowing how much disturbance it will take to push the system across these thresholds.
- CJ Walsh on Recent Terenure Terraced Housing Fires – Party Wall Failures !!
- Saffron Willetts on Recent Terenure Terraced Housing Fires – Party Wall Failures !!
- MTC on Spectacular Dawn over Amandola (FM), in Italy – 28 April 2013 !
- Farrokh Rostami Kia on Health & Safety at a Construction Site in Osaka, Japan
- Brandi on ‘Sustainable Accessibility for All’ – An SDI Professional Service
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