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Follow chapmanbdsp at COP26: Views and insights from Glasgow
The United Nations Climate Conference, COP26, is taking place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12. Over the next two weeks, we will bring you the latest from the conference and views from our experts.
The built environment, which is responsible for nearly 40 per cent of the UK’s energy-related CO2 emissions, has a central role to play in responding to the climate emergency.
At chapmanbdsp, we declared a 'climate emergency' in 2019 and have committed to being a net zero business by 2025, backed by science based targets. We have also aligned our commitments with the United Nations 2030 sustainable development goals, signed the Terra Carta pledge and are signatories of 'The Race to Zero'.
Our vision is to 'design beautiful, sustainable places, that protect people, nature and the planet' and you can read more about our commitments HERE.
Nov 11: Reflecting on Built Environment Day, by Paul Cahalan
I’ll stick my neck out and say it, COP26 has been a success…for the UK's built environment at least. Forget, for a moment, fossil fuels, climate finance and the merits of GDP as a measure of wealth, and appreciate the UKGBC's Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap.
Clear, concise and focussed, it’s an important step to a net zero built environment. The report dissects complex industry strands and sub-sectors, creates standards and measures and gives clarity to a vitally important area – tracking all carbon emissions throughout the life of a building. Through defining stakeholder groups, their roles and actions - with timelines, technical details for implementation and proof-points - It not only signposts the journey, it also provides the stepping-stones.
Of course, once you have set the direction for a journey, it is useful to ensure you have someone in your party - the Government for instance - who can provide the right skills, advice, tools or equipment to make the journey, and any hazardous crossings, easier.
In responding to the report’s launch, minsters spoke of tools and levers, challenges and hurdles, but there’s no hiding from the fact the government is now the problem. Some 16 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions come from domestic homes, yet there is no mass retro-fit plan or incentives for the industry to get started – and the government is still resisting calls to remove VAT on retro-fitting projects. You’d have thought the ‘Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day’ at COP26 would be the ideal time to give that signal to the market and industry, but no.
So what next? The industry needs to digest the report and take it further - and detailing strategies for measurement, consent and communication are key. Measurement and disclosure creates accountability and transparency, and, crucially, drives behavioural change.
Read the rest of this article here.
Nov 9: From intent to action, by Paul Cahalan
I am in Glasgow to try and distil what COP26 really means for chapmanbdsp - for us as a business, for our clients and for our industry.
It is challenging, with multi-layered, complex and technical themes playing out on a global, national, industry and local context. In my role as head of communications, I am trying to decode those messages in a way the lay person in the business (me and non-technical minds) can understand and a specialist (mainly engineers in my case) appreciate.
Yesterday's COP theme was transport, and, during the lively and tense sessions I attended, which were hosted by a range of COP youth ambassadors and engineers, the one resonating theme was the desire to see and hear those in power make a shift - from pledge to proof, from intent to action. The solutions to adapt and mitigate climate change are available, professionals say, the political will is not.
I’m massively over-simplifying, but, at a governmental level, this translates as not just hearing an announcement on a further cut in emissions from fossil fuel use in aviation, but in seeing officials detail how and when they are measuring that cut up to 2030 (see a sobering, but excellent, report on that here).
Speaking to colleagues and peers today about confusion over metrics in the built environment (our industry) the feeling was similar.
In the public sessions I attended, delegates were a furious mix of anger and bewilderment and some felt totally overwhelmed by the lack of action and the weight of the task ahead.
One session left an audience member from Africa wringing his hands. ‘What can I do as an individual’, he said. A panellist countered: ‘stop acting as an individual and be part of ‘communal action’.
Public pressure and private business-led initiatives are making a difference and have led the UK government into action - announcing (at COP26) that companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, as well as some financial institutions, will be compelled to report net zero progress from 2023, though it remains to be seen how that will be implemented.
For us at chapmanbdsp, interpreting how legislative changes affect our clients is very important. So too is understanding how wider shifts in public sentiment lead to further action. We’ll get more on that tomorrow, when the COP focus shifts to the built environment sector, which is responsible for nearly 40 per cent of green house gas emissions in the UK.
If nothing else, today’s conversations made it clear that not proofing your actions presents a material business risk - and the old maxim ‘you only measure what matters’ is more relevant today than ever.
Nov 6: Nature and land use, by Susan Hone-Brookes
Day 6 was all about nature and land use. Such a change to the feel of the conference. It felt much more quiet, perhaps due to some pretty atrocious Scottish weather. Alok Sharma, the COP26 President, opened the proceedings with the statement ‘Nature and climate are interlinked’ and we can all agree with that. What is not so very obvious is the link with ‘nature’ and ‘Building Services Engineers.’
This is something, I believe, we have lost over the years. Our engineering forbearers were adapt at creating spaces which were more in-tune and included nature-based solutions, think of the positioning of buildings to capture morning light and shading from midday heat, wide boulevards with tree shading. The image below is from a scientific proven study on how urban tree installations mitigate the urban heat island effect within the same street.
Is this again a question of ‘tolerance’ of design/people? Incorporation of nature into our designs cannot occur overnight. Deciduous trees, young saplings need time to grow and establish, so as ‘design compliance’ won’t probably be met in the initial years … it’s a ‘no’ from the client, or, the PQS gets the ‘value engineering’ stick out!
We all understand the connection with ‘ green nature’ and how it improves mental health of building occupants, so as chapmanbdsp building services engineers we are going to look to commit to nature based solutions in all of our designs.
It reminds me of the ‘Forward’ I wrote within the CIBSE Guide L back in July 2020… where I urged all building services engineers ‘to be bold and creative in their work’ , stating ‘Your actions as an engineer are pivotal to the successful management of our home planet ecosystem, the safeguarding of all species, and the security and prosperity of our future generation.’
Nov 6: Youth and Public Empowerment, by Susan Hone-Brookes
This was probably the best day of COP26 by far, as not only was the conference areas packed, the streets of Glasgow were buzzing with people too. Mostly young people with handmade banners. It does give you some air of hope that if there's enough public backlash, we may actually get somewhere on our quest to save the planet, but alas the messages yesterday (from blue zone to the streets) feel poles apart.
It struck me that the 'younger generation' and please forgive me for my ageist label here, have no idea what to do? We, and I'm putting 'us' the 'royal we' into the category of people who remember a world without mobile phones or food take outs. It's 'us' that have created this situation. If you take the 'polluter pays principle', its all the 'mid-lifers' that need to show the way. Think back to our childhoods where we didn't expect strawberries in winter, exact room temperatures levels where ever we went, fast fashion wardrobes. Our parents taught us to 'make do and mend', and the simple act of sewing on a button gave a sense of achievement. We are both the instigators of this mess and, perhaps, its key asset? If we bring back our values and show the 'younger' generation how they can live their lives with a smaller carbon footprint? At chapmanbdsp, we employ quite a number of graduates and are recently the winner of the CIBSE employer of the year award. Their education at work is, in the main, all technical based, but perhaps we need to consider widening this development, picking up on new life skills from 'us' the 'mid-lifers? We may begin to see the radical step-change needed to rapidly change the structure and fabric of our society. Showing and demonstrating how we can all live our lives with a much smaller carbon footprint.
Nov 6: My final day at COP, by Sorcha Breslin
Final day at COP26 complete. If I could have stayed for longer I absolutely would have! What an experience this has been.
I spent the entirely of today in the Green Zone attending talks and visiting exhibits. The main highlight was running into Alok Sharma, the President of COP26 in the foyer of the Green Zone.
The next highlight of my day was a talk hosted by experts on global and national forest carbon inventories, who discussed the moderating influence trees and forests have on carbon across the globe, their impact nationally for carbon accounting and locally on people’s livelihoods.
The development of technology has resulted in a satellite that will be launched in 2023 that will provide those of us on the ground with information about the carbon storage capabilities of the forests on our planet.
What a learning curve this past week has been. I am delighted to have been one of the 1,000 volunteers to be selected out of the 10,000+ that applied. I can’t wait to take what I’ve learnt at the conference and apply it to my work at chapmanbdsp and also to aspects of my everyday life.
Nov 5: Youth and empowerment, by Susan Hone-Brookes
Day 5 was all about Youth and Public empowerment. This was probably the best day of COP by far, as not only was the conference areas packed and the streets of Glasgow were buzzing with people too. Mostly young people with handmade banners.
It does give you some air of hope that if there's enough public backlash, we may actually get somewhere on our quest to save the planet, but alas the messages yesterday (from blue zone to the streets) feel poles apart.
It struck me that the 'younger generation' and please forgive me for my ageist label here, have no idea what to do? We, and I'm putting 'us' the 'royal we' into the category of people who remember a world without mobile phones or food take outs. It's 'us' that have created this situation. If you take the 'polluter pays principle', it’s all the 'mid-lifers' that need to show the way.
Think back to our childhoods where we didn't expect strawberries in winter, exact room temperatures levels wherever we went, fast fashion wardrobes. Our parents taught us to 'make do and mend', and the simple act of sewing on a button gave a sense of achievement.
We are both the instigators of this mess and, perhaps, its key asset? If we bring back our values and show the 'younger' generation how they can live their lives with a smaller carbon footprint? At chapmanbdsp we employ quite a number of graduates, recently winner CIBSE employer of the year award.
Their education at work is, in the main, all technical based, but perhaps we need to consider widening this development, picking up on new life skills from 'us' the 'mid-lifers?
We may begin to see the radical step-change needed to rapidly change the structure and fabric of our society. Showing and demonstrating how we can all live our lives with a much smaller carbon footprint.
Nov 5: Climate marches and Greta Thunberg, by Sorcha Breslin
I started off the day with a shift at the Green Zone. The conversations I’ve been having with people whilst they’ve been travelling between conference hubs has taught me a lot about global environmental issues that I might not have otherwise known much about. For example, today I learnt about carbon offset policy from an Australian delegate, and about electric vehicle production from a UK delegate.
When my shift finished, I headed to Kelvingrove Park where I participated in a COP26 Climate March across the city led by Greta Thunberg. The march ended at George’s Square where numerous youth activists from across the globe spoke on matters involving the climate, the climate conference, indigenous communities, industrial activity, corporate bodies and political movements.
This incredible event was organised by Fridays For Future International, the highlight from which was listening to Greta Thunberg speak. She is as passionate and well-spoken in person as she appears in the media. I am still in disbelief that I got to witness so many influential activists speak in person. The people on that stage in George’s Square lit a fire under each audience member and I cannot wait to see what these talks will inspire over the coming weeks and months.
Nov 4: My first volunteering shift, by Sorcha Breslin
I had my first shift last night and, once I was given my uniform, I had my photo taken with the COP mascot, Bonnie the Seal (who has been recycled from the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow).
After a debrief I was put ‘on shift’ and my first job was to help the COP delegates, who were finishing their negotiations for the day, head to the shuttle buses that were running into town.
With the queues you get a lot of people very annoyed at the delays, but that gave me an opportunity to talk the delegates in line. They were from lots of different countries around the world, all with different agendas and different hopes and fears about the outcomes of the conference.
The Nigerian delegate was focused on deforestation and sustainable agriculture, a German representative was more interested in the impact youths will have on the future of the planet.
There were loads of protests going on throughout the day, mainly involving activists from Extinction Rebellion (ER), Greenpeace and water safety and general climate conscious activist groups. This resulted in inevitable disruptions to the bus schedules.
Police have been recruited from across the country to help during COP and there was a very large police presence where the ER protest was due to finish.
The presence around the march was intimidating and slightly overwhelming. I’m usually somebody who can hold themselves together quite well, but even I needed to take a minute to remove myself from the situation and relax. I got approached by lots of people from media asking for comments to which we had to decline or direct them to the head of the volunteers.
I was also approached by activists who started questioning my reasons for volunteering and my reasons for wearing the uniform. After a seemingly friendly conversation, one activist got slightly more aggressive and I felt like he was after an argument. I had to find a balance between answering his questions and limiting how much I said as to not give him any ammunition to argue with me with. HUGE learning curve.
Naturally there are people who are super grateful and super thankful, but there are a whole band of people who were very rude and aggressive to us volunteers.
Lots of people were disgusted with the organisation and the way the conference was run, saying ‘if they can’t organise their buses how an earth are they meant to organise saving the planet’?
By the end of the shift I was completely run-off my feet, but I’m hoping that during next shift I’ll get more of a chance to talk to people and find out what they’re doing and how they’re getting involved.
Nov 1: What is chapmanbdsp doing at COP?
Throughout COP26, we are taking part in industry-led events which hope to inspire change and we are also proud to be supporting UKGBC as commercial partners for the UKGBC's Build Better Now Virtual Pavilion.
As well as hosting an exhibition of sustainable buildings across the world, the pavilion includes a series of events highlighting the built environment’s role in tackling the climate and ecological crises.
Appointment comes amid growth region and project wins.
EBRD's 5 Bank Street project wins in the 'Innovation' category.
IFF Fragrances scheme wins in the office category.