A Birthday, a Papal warning and what Bristol Aquarium can do for you

Jillian Mitchell | Project Logistics

At the recent celebrations of TGR’s 15th birthday, I enjoyed a trip round the Bristol Aquarium, in the company of two colleagues. The contrast in their reaction to the displays amused me somewhat, with one identifying exotic species and relishing big fish in even bigger tanks, and the other declaring he had eaten or cooked most of the exhibits, within the past month!

For me, being able to see flashes of brilliant colour and admire beautiful, graceful fish in artificially created tanks reminded me of a recent comment, made by Pope Francis on his visit to the USA; in his address to Congress, he said:

"…the environment devastated by man’s predatory relationship with nature.”

This is a powerful sentence, and encapsulates everything which TGR have been working towards over the past 15 years. (And it’s a beautifully crafted sentence, to boot.)

Climate Change is big business, these days, with world leaders warning of the links between the world economy and our failure to make enough of a difference. Barack Obama spoke at length in Alaska about it, saying:

"Human activity is disrupting the climate, in many ways faster than we previously thought. The science is stark. It is sharpening. It proves that this once-distant threat is now very much in the present."

Read President Obama’s whole speech here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/01/remarks-president-glacier-conference-anchorage-ak

And Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, spoke to the insurance sector about the risk of not addressing the issue now, by saying:

"….imposing a cost on future generations that the current generation has no incentive to fix.”

Read Mark Carney’s whole speech here: http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Pages/speeches/2015/844.aspx

So there is little doubt that, if for no other reason, the financial impact is finally putting sustainability in the spotlight. A reflection on our culture, perhaps, that it takes this route to make a big difference, but we can, at least, celebrate TGR’s own impact in raising awareness.

Here in the UK, it is a cloudier picture in the construction industry; the withdrawal of standards for new homes since the general election has left us with a rather confusing message – in the absence of a clear route to quality, performance and targets, it can be tempting to think that the Treasury are favouring the house builders over the home owners.

The dilution of elements of the Code for Sustainable Homes, Safer by Design and Lifetime Homes into the revised Approved Documents of the Building Regulations certainly feels like a backward step at a time when we should be pushing hard to educate the house-dwelling public and construction industry about insulation and ventilation, not appearing to ‘let them off the hook’ under the disguise of rationalising and streamlining the standards process. Better to have left the standards in place until a replacement rationale had been carefully established, than to take away both sticks and carrots and leave a vacuum in their place.

What can we do, here at the coal face, to make a difference? It can be really difficult to get a sense of how individually, or in a small way, our behaviour can make a difference. So we will keep encouraging our clients to look beyond the 1980s spec-built paradigm, we will keep trying to get our builders to change their habits – “…but we’ve always done it like this, love” – and we will keep attending the very excellent TGR training sessions, to keep up with latest thinking and best practice.

So, what has all this to do with Bristol Aquarium? Well, it reminds me that the big, fast ones with the fins will eat the little, colourful ones for breakfast, unless the little colourful ones have discovered that, by joining up with all the other little, colourful ones, they can out-swim, out-perform and out-wit the big ones.

Salt and vinegar, anyone…

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