BIMBeing: The Journey #5
#5 – We must all take part…
Photo by David Riano Cortes from Pexels
Unless you’ve been hiding in a distant cave for the past few weeks it would be almost impossible for you not to have noticed the ongoing protests happening simultaneously around the globe. If nothing else they deserve a nod for their ability to coordinate – a few consultants I’ve worked with could take note here…
When I say we must all take part I am not for a single second suggesting that anybody reading this suddenly grabs a tent and sets up camp in Trafalgar Square. I’m an avid believer of protecting our wonderful natural world but I in no way support the madness that has gripped many of our cities over the past fortnight. The cause is undeniable but the methods, in my opinion, are questionable.
What I mean by taking part is everybody doing their bit; we all must take some responsibility. Whether you’re reducing plastic waste or using ‘greener’ transport, we can all do something and we can probably all do more. Alone we will not reverse the damage we’ve caused, but together we can prevent further impact.
I was prompted to write this post a few days ago when I received one of the industry magazines that pass through my door on a monthly basis. Now, setting aside the fact that I’ve tried to unsubscribe twice from the physical mailing list because it’s entirely wasteful (we’re all digital now, right?), I was still impressed with this months offering.
I pick the magazine up from the doormat and immediately notice something different. The usual shiny plastic bag is now a soft, matt finish wrap. Printed on the top corner is this: This bag is made from potato starch. It is fully biodegradable and compostable. I’d previously read about the potato starch substitute for single use plastics but it was my first time actually holding a piece; I’m still amazed by it now, what a truly brilliant creation.
Now, this alone will not save the environment, but the magazine in question is clearly trying to do their bit, they’re taking part. Say they post 5000 copies of this magazine each month (wild guess) – that’s 5000 less plastic bags to landfill, 5000 less plastic bags to potentially end up in our oceans or choking some unsuspecting wildlife. There’s also no doubt in my mind that this will have been an additional financial burden to the company in question as well, but they’ve done it anyway; they’ve put environmental responsibility over profit, and that is a really huge step.
However, could they do even more? They’ve taken a step already, but they’re still not at ‘net 0’ for environmental impact. One step forward is good, five steps forward is better still. Could they push the digital platform further and as a result reduce the use of paper/printing/transport of distributing a magazine? Could they omit physical publishing altogether?
So, what are we all doing? Most of us probably recycle at home and have a stack of reusable shopping bags in the boot of our car, but that’s really not enough. We’re in a strong position to do more, especially those of us in the construction industry. For us, particularly the digital wizards, we have huge potential; we also have responsibility.
As an industry we are still incredibly wasteful. Collectively we produce monumental amounts of CO2, we consume energy like it’s going out of fashion and we still waste almost unquantifiable amounts of material. It has been gradually improving, but there’s a long way to go. We, the digital wizards, can help. We must help. We are all responsible.
Digitisation of the construction process is often ‘sold’ as bringing efficiencies: efficiency in time, in improved quality, in energy consumption and in waste reduction. But are we really pushing those boundaries? Are we taking one step when we could really take five?
Are designers using the digital tools to reduce waste, or to omit waste? Are we designing spaces that require less cutting of material when we could design to cut no material at all? Are we using models to plan more efficient methods of assembling buildings, or the most efficient methods of assembly? Are we specifying materials with less embodied energy or with the least embodied energy? Are we using digital tools to simply look at assets or to effectively manage assets? You get the idea. We’re at an unfortunate point in time where doing it better than before is not enough, we need to be going further. We can no longer pat ourselves on the back for doing a bit when we need to be doing a lot.
Can we truly put environmental responsibility above profit?
Profit – that’s the big one. The issue is that profit keeps us all employed and everything we ever do has a bottom line. Money is finite in every aspect of our world and that will never change. So how do we make the large scale improvements necessary without increasing costs so much that we’re all made redundant? Come in, digital.
Digital and efficiency are hand in hand. We can already do more digitally than ever before, but we must push it further still. We must find our potato starch solutions and much, much more.
I’m not here to answer how we do this, not in this post anyway. Great solutions come from asking the right questions. So here I am, with the easy bit, asking the right questions.
How do we really take 5 steps forward with digital to protect and enhance our environment?
Comments are now enabled on all posts, so comment away! Share your thoughts, ideas, criticisms and anything else that you’d like to contribute. Lets start a discussion right here, it’s a truly important one. Just try not to glue your hand to anything in the process because I really, really can’t see how that helps…