‘Green’ Specifications – Architects Journal August Column

Last month we reported that Nick Schumann would be contributing a monthly column for Architects Journal Specification publication. Nick’s first article “Change or Die” looked at providing advice to architects pondering the future of specification procedures. The article was received well by many of our architectural colleagues and clients which was great to hear.

This months AJ Specification focused on Green Products. You can view Nick’s column by viewing the publication online here or continue reading below for an extracted copy.

AJ Specification - August 2013

“Sustainability is the most important issue facing our and other industries at present, and I am reminded of situations in the recent past when we seem to take an age to, firstly recognise the need and then implement solutions which attract additional fees or costs. Rarely do we lead the way, but when it comes to sustainability we have a unique opportunity to do just that – the question is, are we up to the challenge?

I believe we are, and the work that manufacturers, designers and contractors are doing in this field is encouraging, but is it enough? The construction industry faces complex challenges through the planning, designing, construction and maintenance of buildings in all their forms, scales and types, which involves using a huge variety of materials and processes sourced from around the world, but it does provide a wide ranging starting point for buildings with less waste, lower energy consumption, lower emissions, longevity, etc.

As in everything in the construction industry our clients and government hold the key. If they demand more sustainable buildings then we will respond, and that is starting to happen. From the designer’s perspective, our response includes sustainable design, “green” specifications and the specialism of “sustainability consultancy” for which we charge an additional fee.

This reminds me of our response to the introduction of BS 9000, which demanded better Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC), so specialist QA/QC consultants, who understood how to gain the necessary accreditation, appeared overnight. However, as we began to understand the benefits and improvement to service delivery, QA/QC soon became embedded in daily working practice, and accreditation was no longer seen as an optional extra.

I see sustainability (and BIM for that matter) as being very much the same, except for one very important factor, which is that whereas QA/QC simply improved our businesses, sustainable design effects the whole planet, improving how we live and providing a catalyst for other industries to follow. We have a responsibility to bring sustainable design, material sourcing, manufacturing, construction and maintenance to the heart of everything we do, so it becomes the norm, totally embedded in our working practices and not treated as a specialism or optional extra.

Of course there are practicalities to consider, especially when working internationally, and globalisation will have a crucial effect on our ability to deliver sustainable design. This is where certification is important and so designers need to understand the different accreditation requirements that exist around the world, such as LEED (USA and international), BREEAM (UK and international), Estidama (UAE), Green Mark (Singapore), etc. etc. so the long term education and training will be essential.

Specifications, as key contract documents, have an important role to play and need as always to stipulate targets and solutions as appropriate. Specifications reflect design and cannot make a design “sustainable” simply by the use of clever words. Sustainable specifications are therefore not an add on or optional extra, should not require an expert or attract additional fees. Every specification has to be as “green” as possible, with clauses embedded as standard practice and become the norm.”

Mark Schumann

Mark Schumann

Mark Schumann is the Founder and Director of Schumann Consult.
Mark Schumann

Posted on August 27, 2013 in Specifications

Response (1)

  1. […] on from last months ‘Green Specifications’ article for Architects Journal, this month Nick changes tact and moves on to discuss how a single […]

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