Usable Buildings timeline
A feedback system for construction clients and the industry, supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Confederation of Construction Clients, UBT and an industry group – the first of such groups convened by UBT. Outputs included the Feedback Portfolio on our website, which shows techniques suited to particular building types, at each stage of procurement and use. We also contributed to research into Soft Landings – a process that allows client, design, building and management teams to produce buildings with more focus on in-use outcomes, in particular changing handover from the end of a project to the middle of a “finish” stage, with performance review and fine tuning continuing for three years. In 2007, Mark Way, its originator, donated Soft Landings to UBT.
Responsible Retrofit. UBT contributed to research into the information available to clients, designers and builders regarding the energy-efficient refurbishment of traditional buildings, especially solid-walled buildings. Its report was published by the newly-formed Sustainable Traditional Buildings Association, STBA. The study found that the information base was shaky, and warned of unintended consequences from the government’s proposed Green Deal and other projects affecting the existing building stock. While the Department of Energy and Climate Change contributed to the costs of the work, the advice went mostly unheeded. A few years afterwards, major problems are emerging, in particular in relation to moisture, toxic mould, timber decay, poor air quality and occupant health. In the worst cases, insulation has had to be stripped off. Some houses have even had to be evacuated.
New Professionalism. In 2008, UBT began to advocate a new professionalism from built environment professions, and in particular more engagement with in-use outcomes. We claimed that a failure to do so breached a professional’s duty of care to the public, with particular respect to sustainability. This led to a number of discussions and presentations – including an Edge Debate and a keynote at the biennial International Sustainable Buildings conference 2011, in Helsinki. UBT was then invited to edit a Special Issue of Building Research & Information on the topic, published in early 2013. Since then, the subject has been pursued by UBT and others, particularly the Edge, which held another debate, set up an Inquiry into the professional institutions, published as Collaboration for Change in 2015. An Edge member subsequently wrote a book on the history of these institutions.
Design for Performance feasibility studies, with the Better Buildings Partnership and Verco. This tested the idea of a Commitment Agreement on a selection of UK office projects being briefed, designed, under construction, before handover, and in occupation. Thanks to an anonymous donation, UBT was able to assist this project, both with our own input and by funding advice from the experts who designed and continue to support the NABERS Energy system in Australia, and the people who now run it. The report was launched to a packed audience in October, with a re-run with the British Council for Offices in a larger venue in Feb 2018. Nine major property companies have signed up to Pioneer projects, where they will apply the protocol to at least one future development.
Significant supporters and contributors (alphabetical) Barry Austin, Paul Bannister, Bill Bordass, Mike Buckley, Isabel Carmona, Robert Cohen, Kate Morley, Adrian Leaman, Richard Lorch, Neil May, Roger McMeeking, Mark Standeven, Fionn Stevenson, Sara Turnbull, Mark Way.