As 2011 draws to a close, I have been reflecting on where The Green Register (TGR) was last year (facing challenging times) to where we are now (increasing in strength and numbers) and realised quite how many folk have contributed to our resurgence and ongoing success.
The Green Register has run about 60 events in 2011 which is some feat considering the small number of staff we have and the extremely tight budget we work to but this would not have been possible without the rock solid support of The Green Register team – Birgit, Elaine and Viv – who work tirelessly to keep TGR on track, on budget and on people’s lips. Our Steering Group members – Jillian Mitchell, Nicola Thomas, Jim Allen, Brian Murphy, Cath Hassell, Rob Borruso, Jean Pierre Wack, Emma Storey, Brian Gerhardt and Tom Dollard – have continued to guide us through this tricky year and out the other side. We’ve had some excellent local events run by TGR’s Regional Coordinators, in particular Steve Bradshaw and Tom Dollard who bring our message to the regional level and the TGR team have worked in the Bristol area with the Genesis Project in Taunton, Bristol City Council Sustainable City team (particular thanks to Celia Beeson and Christine Davis), RICS South West and Catherine Gandon and Jon Watkins at RIBA South West. Thanks to the Environment Agency in Bristol for hosting our End of Year event in December.
Nationally, TGR has enjoyed a very positive (and ongoing) relationship with: the RIBA in London who are working hard to promote sustainable construction to their members; SusCon in Kent (hope you are enjoying your travels Stephen!) and internationally we ran a very successful event with the Canadians on their Super E system of house building.
We have also had some very generous either low cost or pro bono support from: Greg Annadale who keeps our website sharp; Paul Liptrot whose graphic design skills can be appreciated every time you read a TGR flyer; Emmelie and Pete Brownlee who are working on some short videos for our website (watch this space); Mike Fawcett, Charlie Howes, Christina Robino, Nigel Locker and Lilly Storey who have graciously given their time to work on marketing and PR for TGR; Alex Gostelow whose IT skills have kept our computers going.
TGR is very grateful for occasional and ongoing assistance from Knauf insulation (thank you Craig) and one time sponsorship from Ecological Building Systems, Southern Solar and Steelcase – all these donations have been used to oil TGR’s joints as we get back into gear for 2012.
Last but certainly not least, we are hugely grateful for the continued support from all our members and everyone who attended a Green Register event in 2011. We have reason to celebrate this year with over 60 very well-received events taking place in 2011, but successful events can only be so when they are supported by attendees, so I will take this opportunity to thank you for your support throughout 2011 and for your continued positive feedback which keeps us looking forward into the New Year to new events to come.
I write this with trepidation as I may have missed someone off the list-if this is so, it is not because you are not appreciated, more that the old grey matter is a little tired as we approach Christmas time but thank you to each and every person who has supported TGR.
Happy New Year and roll on 2012!
Lucy Pedler, TGR Director
By Jim Allen | E&M West Ltd | www.eandmwest.co.uk
And yet here we are rushing towards 2012 with alarming rapidity. Remember the disastrous floods that overwhelmed parts of the South West in 2007, and Cumbria in 2009? As I write the rain is lashing the north again, last month it was Mevagissey, bringing back memories of Boscastle, shrinking the distance of time. Flooding is a direct cause of human misery, dislocation on a local and national scale, with a heavy cost directly to individuals, their insurers and the country as a whole.
The Pitt review in 2008 led directly to The Flood and Water Management Act 2010. This seeks to make management of flood risk a pro-active, rather than a reactive mopping up exercise. Local authorities are key to the brave new world it seeks to create, looking up towards the Environment Agency for a strategic framework, and outwards to drainage boards, water companies and the design community to create, implement and manage solutions on the ground. Management of surface water is the issue, and the adoption of sustainable drainage systems the key component.
All well and good, but over 3 years on from Pitt almost none of this is in place, and the current framework for enactment will not complete until the very end of 2014, over 3 years hence. So why the delay?
The Bill will impact on planning processes, with sustainable drainage solutions a requirement for all but the very smallest schemes. This at a time when one of the coalition’s much vaunted strategies for recovery is the abolition of red tape and reform of the planning processes.
Local authorities are the key to successful implementation, and while they have skilled engineers they are too few in number, and not always trained in the design of sustainable drainage schemes. Yet they are charged with establishing Sustainable Drainage Boards to sanction development and management of schemes and other assets post construction. They are not ready.
On the other side of the fence, sustainable drainage schemes, done well, use space that could be used to raise scheme density and payback for developers on their expensively acquired land-banks. Compliance will generate upfront costs and potentially delays. Government is desperately keen to raise new housing starts, and is looking at ways to incentivise rather than discourage development.
Perhaps no surprise then that implementation is so slow, although so far no one seems to be admitting to any dragging of the feet.
The design community must put the counter arguments as strongly as we can. We have a golden opportunity to use good design to improve amenity and biodiversity to the benefit of the wider community. Permeable paving has its place, but it’s not paving paradise. The existing system is broken, and is full of inconsistencies and hard to reconcile interests. Reform is essential if we are to move forward and make the right kind of investment, saving costs to the wider economy in future years.
The politicians would do well to remember the misery flooding creates. It’s twice this year residents in Mevagissey have mopped out their homes; they may not know much about the Water Bill 2010 but they will surely want to know why this is happening again.
Greenheart sustainable Construction, members of The Green Register, are looking for an office administrator to help with general office work to include wages & VAT. They must be competent in Excel.
Working in an informal shared office space in Montpelier Bristol.
approx 8- 10 hours per week ( but could be more)
Job Start Date
late January 2012
Greenheart Sustainable Construction, Montpelier, Bristol
Expressions of Interest to:
Malcolm McMahon, Greenheart Sustainable Construction