Aythan Lewes, Commercial Director and Building Surveyor at GLM, takes the reigns for week 4 of the Instagram Takeover. Aythan joined GLM as a graduate with a brief break to work in Ireland and returned to GLM in 2018. Aythan brings a rare combination of professional expertise and business acumen all delivered with an infectious enthusiasm complimented with a passion for triple bottom line sustainability, zero waste and educating the wider construction industry as we work to achieve the climate targets. I am sure we’ll get a flavour of all of this from Aythan over this week! To continue the conversation with Aythan, connect with him on LinkedIn!
- (Image : Above, Centre) Will the next 25 years see sea levels rising bringing effects like this on Leith?
We are such an innovative species that ultimately I have faith that we will innovate our way out of this crisis. However, right now, we need to do all we can to reduce our impact on the climate.
Construction accounts for 40% of our carbon emissions. What can we do to reduce this? What will that make our built-environment look like in the next 25 years look like? I believe we can turn this around and not just reduce the bad things, but create some really good things out of this crisis. We can bring human solutions to these human problems and avoid not only massive upheaval but build something better than what we have now.
- (Image : Above, Right) This photograph from the 1950s shows panels from a Camus pre-cast concrete system. Invented by a French engineer to solve the housing crisis after the second world war the system was imported to Britain as part of the post-war settlement to create homes for the working classes and get them out of slum housing.
The panels made up the environment of proud communities until the 2000s when they were covered over with insulation systems. Now these buildings are being taken down, re-using these panels will save carbon emissions if used in new buildings instead of brand-new panels being manufactured. They’ll also carry the story of this community on to the next generation of buildings and occupants. Saving carbon, cash, and community value could not only avert climate change but also build a stronger society.
Will we do this more in the next 25 years?
- (Image : Below, Left) Technology is undoubtably part of the answer.
Wind turbines, solar panels, whole-house ventilation systems, heat pumps and the rest. But when manufacturing them emits carbon which their benefits in use only takes decades to negate, is this really the right approach? Could we build our way deeper into the hole we’re in?
I definitely think we’ll see much more of this tech along with smarter control systems to work it all over the next 25 years, but I hope we’ll be carful in its introduction and use.
- (Image : Above, Centre) This is the Edinburgh Remakery. Remakeries save money by repairing things rather than throwing them away and buying new ones. They save resources in much the same way. They also build communities by bringing people together to teach them how to repair things. I hope that this idea catches on much more since we all need to be a bit more responsible with the resources we have, be they financial, environmental or social.
To find out more, or even better, donate to them! Visit them here.
- (Image : Above, Right) This is the Penny Tenement, a famous building collapse in the 1950s in the St Leonards area of Edinburgh.
With increasing energy efficiency standards will we see much of our historic tenement stock become unlettable? Will they sit empty and unmaintained until they collapse? With many owners on 100% mortgages and no savings as it is, who will fund the retrofit of these icons of our Scottish cities? And can we afford to tear them down and build new, when new-build emits so much carbon? Retrofit is undoubtably the right answer, so we as a society will have to find the money now if we’re not to lose the financial, environmental and societal investments put into these buildings over centuries. But will we face up to that fact?
- (Image : Below, Left) The usual go-to for predictions about the future is the Jetsons. No flying cars yet, or robot-maids. But we’re not all that far off. Our daily video calls, voice-activated robot vacuum cleaners, and plethora of AI all make our world unrecognisable from what it was even ten years ago! Think about the change in just the last year!
I suspect AI will be the big change, with a whole host of tiny steps taken out of almost every process. I doubt it’ll be one big ‘Sky-Net’ type event, but a creeping automation and slowly we’ll be deciding less and less about our lives, with an algorithm doing the hard work. Will it free us from the drudgery of the menial boring bits of life and free us to only do the ‘human’ parts? Or will we sit scrolling social media all day, getting more sedentary and dull?
- (Image : Below, Centre) Despite the odd setback, I do believe our world is becoming a fairer one for everyone. Empowerment of women is clearly not there yet, but it is recognised as not only essential for a balanced, fair society, but is also expected to be one of the main ways to limit the impacts of climate change. I’m very lucky to work with some incredible women – pictured here – and I firmly expect to see a much more balanced construction industry in the next twenty five years. It will get us out of some of the horrible habits and group-think that got us into this mess. Fresh thinking! It’ll need some brave, open-minded men to get out of their way, so we all have our part to play.
- (Image : Above, Right or here) Bucky Fuller had a whole litany of brilliant predications and theories about the future. This was one of my favourites, mainly because it shows how we can take something that should’ve been good, and use it to make yet more misery! I wonder if the pandemic has finally shown us the folly of failing to spread around the un-imagined bounty that our technology and inventiveness has provided for us, and just how thin and pointless so much of our activity actually is. Or will we just keep on striving to be the top of the pile, the checker of the checker checkers?! I suspect the tide will turn and we will see some of the freedom that our technology and progress is capable of providing.
- (Image : Above, Left) Doughnut economics is a theory and book by Kate Raworth which might just save the world. It explains that our economic activity must not exceed the capacity of the planet, nor must it dip below providing a reasonable life for all people. She calls this the ‘safe and just space for humanity’.
Amsterdam have taken this mode and written their city strategy to meet its requirements. Will other cities do similar? What about whole countries? Or the entire world? Is it even possible to satisfy both? And what does this mean for buildings and the construction industry?
A great article explaining all can be found here.
- (Image : Above, Centre) Community. Whatever the future throws at us, we’ll meet it better together. If Covid has shown us anything, the best things happen when we work together, support each other, look out for each other. Our built environment has a huge role to play in supporting communities. We know that improving one thing often destroys another, so consultation, stakeholder engagement, actually listening to communities, will all be key. 15 minute neighbourhoods, mixes of ages and households, affordability, will all strengthen and reinforce groups who will help each other adapt to the change that is coming.
Head over to our Instagram – @weareglm – and follow along as Neil McAllister (Image : Above, Right) takes over Week 5!