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By 17 April 2015July 24th, 2018About, GBE Website, Proposal

Welcome to NGS GBE

Where is the Construction Industry now?

We are in the midst of the ‘Sustainability Revolution’:

  • but it is notoriously slow and reluctant to change
  • the majority of construction industry is doing its best to ignore this revolution:
  • Sustainability is a low priority (I have too many other conflicting requirements to contend with)
  • except where required to comply with environmental assessment methods (tick box exercises that block real progress),
  • LCA tools claiming to be a level playing field (that block the use of green materials and green construction)
  • using professional indemnity insurance as an excuse (stick to what you know, or on your head be it),
  • Jargon filled meetings (nobody really understanding nor admitting they do not know)
  • public procurement (don’t specify, without ‘or equivalent’)
  • Or Equivalent = worse (nobody is green policing or policing the specification)
  • Contractor knows best (Government funded advisory bodies advice, but contractors know what they know, cheap)
  • Build & Design (Build it then redraw and re-specify, so it is compliment)
  • Procurement Methods and their hybrids (every one reinvents faster and/or worse than general contracting)
  • Lowest initial cost and greatest profit margin (fiduciary obligation, business as usual),
  • WLC looks at cost long term (whilst contractors save every penny of initial costs)
  • LCA gets bigger, longer, more detailed, less comparable national differences (dilute the impacts, no improvement incentive, no change)
  • CAPEX before OPEX and rarely TOTEX (cheap to build, expensive to run, no joined up accounting)
  • Value Engineering as practiced in the UK (posh for cost cutting)
  • substitution and surreptitious substitution (on site switch to familiar profit-maximized products, as usual)
  • to maintain the status quo (adversarial, self-serving industry).

The bigger Picture

  • Inadequate drivers and legislation (enabled by UN International Government compromises and delay tactics)
  • Business Priority (deregulation to make profiteering easier, consequently environment worse)
  • International trade treaties (making it easier for business to sue Government for loss of business or profits)
  • Stifled free speech and libel legislation (more difficult to be critical of the worst practices)
  • Government championing high risk technology (and compromising clean technology funding)
  • Tariffs and Incentives enabled the rich to get richer (now compromising the fuel poor’s chance of improvement)

Sustainability Definitions are a waste of time

  • I am often asked to reduce sustainability to one sentence, if that were possible then I don’t need to create this website;
    • what use is a succinct, poetically structured sentence if nobody knows what it means or how to do it?
    • Its easier to reduce it to one word, ‘ABSENT’ from mainstream construction.
  • In contrast the self-build market is investing in their buildings,
    • to make their pensions go further and obtain bill-free living
    • sometimes seduced by ‘eco-bling’ in preference to the more important ‘fabric first’ approach;
    • often inadequately insulating or using inappropriate materials
    • preferring to spend on luxury kitchens, bathrooms and entertainment kit
  • We cannot rely on 10, 20, 30 or even 40 year old ‘college-knowledge’ with ‘a sprinkling of green’,
    • we need to question everything,
    • change the way we do things,
    • and not carry on with ‘business as usual’ just because we have always done it that way.
  • For many Sustainability is all about:
    • renewable energy production kit or energy saving insulation, some add thermal mass;
    • for Government its often policy driven and focuses on low carbon,
    • usually associated with energy in use, ignoring low carbon materials,
  • It has to be much more holistic,
    • engaging in many issues including:
    • HERACEY™ 
    • Healthy
      • Health, wellbeing
      • Low allergy and comfort
      • Adopting precautionary principle
    • Environmental:
      • Low chemical use, avoiding hazardous
      • Carbon negative at best and low carbon at worst, avoiding high carbon
      • Considering all negative impacts, not just carbon
      • biodiversity: mitigation, adaptation,
    • Resourceful:
      • water, energy and materials,
      • reduce, reclaim, reuse, recycle, recover,
    • Appropriate products and materials
      • right properties for the right application
    • Competent
      • made to Standards, Agrément certificates or Labels
      • 3rd party verified
      • longer life expectancy
  • We desperately need step changes and really good guidance, during this potentially chaotic time,
    • we need to learn rapidly and avoid duplicating mistakes,
    • but most importantly, we must make progress.

Designing, choosing methods, materials, systems, products and specifying a building is complex

  • I realise that designing choosing and specifying for building is really complex;
    • even more so if trying to be environmental, green and healthy,
    • too many options and alternatives,
    • full of short term financially tempting compromises
  • if its your own home or place of business this is a major investment opportunity
    • that can lead to bill-free healthy living and working if you get it right
    • and a financial burden and a cause of lack of health and wellbeing if you do not.
  • Choosing between methods of construction, materials, products, accessories and systems is a mind blowing, complex affair that is difficult to get right,
    • especially if you are trying to be green or healthy,
    • complex if you are not trained or fluent in the subject
    • complex even if you are, you cannot know everything
    • everything is not even known yet, we are still learning
    • some know it and don’t want to share, that’s scary.
  • We are all surrounded by:
    • advisory or promotional associations,
    • manufacturers with products, all trying to get our attention,
    • products are often surrounded by technical claims,
    • or a collection of technical certificates, health or green labels;
    • confusing jargon or dubious marketing and ‘greenwash‘;
    • salesmen driven by a need to get their percentage of sales,
      • putting their spin on things, adding to the confusion.
  • Even in the presence of good information there is often a lack of understanding, misinterpretation and little joined up thinking.
  • Trying to find some sense amongst many conflicting requirements and messages is a challenge for architects, design professionals and constructors; let alone self builders and DIYers and first time clients.
  • So I have set out to try to help all of you in your quest.
    • I am an Architect by training (but I don’t design buildings any more),
    • a specification writer by choice (write recipes for buildings)
    • an environmentalist by action (getting to the bottom of what that really means);
    • I have the technical background and the sensitivity to the designer’s or owner’s aspirations;
    • to help them find healthy, environmental, resourceful, appropriate, competent, effective solutions to their particular set of requirements.
  • NGS website content reflects this background but I am finding other people to join the team that know about:
    • lifestyle, behaviour change;
    • furniture, interiors,
    • landscape, biodiversity,
    • water, energy, lighting
    • structures, civil engineering and infrastructure.
  • I aim to ensure NGS GBE offers well-rounded content
    • where all things are given a level playing field with all the players on the pitch,
    • to show their strength and reveal their weaknesses
    • help to find the right combinations of stuff
    • that work effectively together to maintain or even enhance each other’s performance
    • without one compromising the other, or at worst minimizing the compromises.

NGS & GBE Ambitions

  • I want to enable the reeducation of the construction industry
    • An impossible challenge you might think
    • especially as I am still learning something new every day
    • and also rationalizing stuff to come up with new solutions all the time
  • I also want to serve many more students than I am able to by lecturing to a few university courses
  • Introduce and translate the sustainability revolution jargon with GBE Jargon Buster
  • GBE will be solution focused via GBE Problems, GBE Solutions and Solution Providers
  • GBE will address things that you can implement in your daily work
  • GBE will put ideas in your head that will question our default decisions,
    • done because that was part of our ‘college knowledge’,
    • acquired as an ‘office novice’
    • or ‘office know-how’ learned by osmosis.
  • Advise which materials to reduce the use of, or avoid, where and why;
  • Develop GBE Code of design principles: GBE Patterns, GBE Rules of Thumb
  • Develop GBE Calculators and GBE Datasets
  • GBE Defects linked to GBE Solutions & Solution Providers
  • and loads more
  • All this in the form of an on-line GBE Green Building Encyclopaedia
  • Delivered as a website with all that the internet can offer
  • And we have some exciting plans on how to deliver it to you in GBE 3D View

What we are up against

  • Current Industry Doctrine:
    • Profits before People before Planet
    • = ‘Violet‘ the opposite of ‘Green’
  • Current Industry approach:
    • Little joined up thinking (especially in Government)
    • Wrongly focused assessment methods & regulations
    • Value engineering = cost cutting = short term profit making,
    • substitution and surruptitious substitution
    • Adversarial, self serving sector
    • Fiduciary rule rules (shareholder profits first)
    • Business as Usual
    • Status Quo Prevails
    • We have always done it like that, why change now?
    • What is the least we can get away with?
    • Legislative minimum is our maximum
    • Nobody investing in good buildings
  • Current Industry output:
    • Compromised & barely competent
    • Big performance gaps, suggests incompetent
  • We offer GBE HERACEY ™
    • Healthy, Environmental, Resourceful, Appropriate, Competent, Effective, Yardstick
    • Pragmatic, Technical, Traditional, Modern, Innovative
    • Follow the rules or overwhelm them with better
  • We avoid: Radical (e.g. ‘Radical brickwork’):
    • breaking the rules without understanding them
    • not understanding why they are there
    • getting it wrong, but looking ‘cool’ whilst you’re at it
  • We embrace Innovative
    • When its been thought through
    • When it engages with many issues
    • And it all makes sense

NGS’s Green Building Encyclopaedia

NGS Page Groups png

NGS Green Building Encyclopaedia content in alphabetic order, some of you will want to search using these words and 2 search engines on the home page header enable it

NGS GBE is going to be vast:

It will need to be very well structured
Or have a very good search engine to find anything

NGS Website Diagrams Total png

The current extent of page groups and a rough approximation of the drop down menu structure (but its always evolving and names or groups evolve and change)

Searching for information

  • “Knowledge is of two kinds: We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it”
    • Dr. Johnson
  • Today Google finds it for us
    • IF you ask for the right word combinations
  • When you land on a web page you can only see what is there in front of you
  • But if you do not know the website structure you might not know there is other related information waiting to be investigated
  • So it’s helpful to point it out
  • We might keep our visitors for longer and enrich their visit

GBE Website Purpose and Approach:

  • Is to explain building principles in GBE Patterns, interrogate multiple conflicting requirements, investigate potential problems and find competent solutions
  • To enable understanding, design, specification, procurement and assembly of competent buildings during the ‘sustainability revolution’
  • This includes understanding ‘physics of building’, ‘science of materials’ and ‘crunching of numbers’ to find competent methods of construction
  • Evidence Based Design is the approach that we recommend and a GBE Evidence Based Case will provide information on a project’s designed, constructed and actual verified performance data, outline specifications of building fabric and services, for us all to learn from.
  • To introduce solution providers, manufacturerssuppliers & installers; their materialsproductsaccessories and systems
  • These GBE 6 Core Pages are all linked to each other to ensure you find all the parts of any solution without searching
  • To link to lists of specialists to guide you on your way.

NGS 6Part Linkage Diagram 2 png

GBE Linkages and Inter-visibility:

  • The basic principle behind the structure of this website,
  • between the 6 core pages of solution and solution providers,
  • in reality the linkages go way beyond these core clusters
  • to link every page to any related and relevant other page;
  • listed and linked in both direction,
  • so you don’t have to search or guess the whereabouts of those pages and other stuff

Is the website and encyclopaedia well structured?

  • I’m designing it to mimic neural networks of the human brain
    • Every page knows where everything related to it is located
    • They let their presence be known
    • Every related page is listed and linked up in the right column ‘See Also’
    • Linked in both directions
  • Nobody has to search for anything
    • Except your original enquiry:
      • and Google found that for you
    • 2 search engine found on the website header will too
    • Drilling down the drop down menus will find most things
    • I am experimenting with touch screen navigation pages too


The result is a very well structured set of clusters of information that are accessible without having to understand the structure of the website or construction industry classification systems or the jargon

(click image to get a short Powerpoint file)

Is it working?

Its not always about pretty websites, or great home pages, nor is it all about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) its about delivering good content and keeping the users informed and interested so they visit, find their way around, stay longer and find and see more of what they want to see.

Its definitely not about ‘optimizing’ rearranging the content so nobody but web-bots can find anything and they are chasing moving targets; other websites linking to pages cannot keep retargeting to suit your moves.

This NGS website attracted:

  • 3,774 (2,495 – 7,642) page views per day
  • 110,000 page views per month,
  • 990,000 page views in 12 months (16/01/2015),
  • 1,260,084 page views total (@ 504 days)

See NGS Webstats for more details.

Keep coming back

The site is embryonic and the content is constantly being updated, it’s drawn from the output of:

  • nearly 4 decades in the industry
  • 1 decade as trainee technician, trainee architect,
  • 3 decades of specification consultancy,
  • 15 years immersed in green construction as environmental specification consultant:
  • attending exhibitions, conferences, workshops,
  • delivering training, CPD, lecturing
  • and meeting many others and learning from them.

Please keep coming back to see what else has been added that can help you become a more informed, environmentally aware individual capable of influencing others.

Thanks for choosing NGS’s GBE, I hope you find what you want to know, if you don’t, let me know and I will start to address it as quickly as possible.

Stay in touch:

Email BrianSpecMan
T 01733 238148
M 07973 281024
Skype: BrianSpecMan 

© GBE NGS BrianSpecMan aka Brian Murphy
31st May 2014 – 17th April 2015

See Also: 

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Previously on the home page

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