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Green Building Encyclopaedia (GBE) G#1433 N#1403

By 14 May 2015June 4th, 2019About, GBE Website

GBE > About > Green Building Encyclopaedia (GBE) > G#1433 N#1403

Green Building Encyclopaedia (GBE)


During the ‘Sustainability Revolution’ it has become very clear that we, the construction industry in general, have not been making many competent nor sustainable buildings, landscapes or infrastructure; nothing new, but news to most of the industry.  The predominant approach was and still is not to invest in sustainable buildings but to build as cheaply as possible and maximise profit at every opportunity.


NGS argue that the construction industry needs to reeducate itself on environmental issues, but that is a mammoth task and nobody can find the time to do that, so we need a way to introduce the subject in the simplest way possible and drip feed it in bite sized chunks, so whenever anyone is looking for information, sustainable guidance and options should be there at their fingertips, offered before all conventional alternatives.

This can be delivered by way of a website that is linked within itself and to many other websites as resources and contributed to by many for the good of all.


NGS propose to structure the web based encyclopaedia like a neural network in the human brain, so wherever users arrive in the encyclopaedia they can see links to all other relevant information related to the subject of the current page.

A fundamentally different approach NGS wish take is to deliver the complete content of this website (11,000 pages predicted so far (and many thousand more can be added in the future) via 3D cutaway of a building in its landscape connected to infrastructure and services and autonomous when it makes sense.

As a mouse pointer hovers and pans over the 3D building’s every component, it can deliver different information in pop-ups and link to many pages of the website, in a similar way to the Planning Portal website Building does.

Most importantly will be the opportunity to deliver both refurbishment (first) and new build guidance (later).

Since buildings can be very different construction there will be a need to introduce numerous building types to this interface to be more detailed about different methods of construction with factories and offices for example, infrastructure has roads, bridges and towers to start the process.

There are likely to be numerous building uses and construction methods added to this 3D world over time.


The audience is anticipated to be very broad, clients, self builders, all design students, lecturers and professionals, refurbishers and constructors, but the initial emphasis will relate to the disciplines of the authors: Architects, Engineers, Specifiers, and expand later to embrace other parties.  The language will be kept simple for DIY and Self-builders and any inevitable jargon will link to the 9000 jargon busting pages anticipated (this already exists as a single document) further detailed information can be found via information rich pop-ups.

All aspects of construction, materials services, structure, furniture, fittings and equipment and lifestyle; and design will be addressed and many linked to calculator tools (some exist some to be created), products, systems, manufacturers, suppliers, installers, etc.


A website with all of these ambitions has already been started and whilst only 1560 pages have been created over the past 18 months, these have been promoted with occasional drip feeds via twitter, facebook and LinkedIn for 13 months and are already generating 2500 page reads per day, the audience is global but presumed to be English reading.  The potential audience is vast, 30,000 Architects in the UK alone, technicians, 60,000 engineers, many thousands of students.  Whilst RIBA syllabus requires sustainability in the lectures the actual delivery and its quality varies wildly and I still hear students saying ‘I wish we had this kind of lecture at university’, when NGS deliver CPD in offices.


This website should become an encyclopaedia of environmental construction, a one stop shop for everything you need to know to choose the greener options; signposting many other resources and explaining how to use them.  Most importantly whist many want the simple answer this website should also enable them to think and question current practice and choose the right options for the right reasons; addressing design, specification, products, application, etc.

In the UK there are no comparable sites or resources that focus on environmental options and address the breadth of scope and focus on delivering information for students, designers and specifiers.  Brian Murphy founded NGS and started GreenSpec website which set out to do the same, but its author is severely limiting his ambitions and failing to deliver stuff that is focused on everyday answers to everyday questions.  Hence setting up this second website that Brian Murphy will edit and substantially write, supported by other specialist authors as funding and finances permit and other show a desire to join in.


Brian Murphy has trained as a technician and Architect but has practiced as a specification consultant and most recently as an environmental consultant, has specified £2415m and experience many procurement methods, has written over 800 hours of PowerPoint CPD and lectured to many audience from public, degree to MSc students in many disciplines.

Brian has participated in the creation of three books on environmental design, use of reclaimed materials and biodiversity, and waste guides and has lectured in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Israel, France, Germany, Belgium.


The website exists 1560 pages (predominantly the skeleton of the site with some fleshing out examples) of 11,000 or more pages. The look and feel can be seen already, its kept simple graphically and delivers predominantly text information and in a standard page format for consistency across most pages with the content providing the variety.  NGS’s ambition is for it to be very much like Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language book in its structure but delivered using Internet technology.

The fundamentally different part is the 3D interface.

There will be 1000 CPD and 100s of Specifications to download and many 1000s of published documents as PDFs linked to pages.



It is envisaged the Planning Portal website virtual house IT may be suitable to adopt or develop

But what is clear is that the Planning Portal House is not nearly detailed enough for our purposes, but the graphic definition of hyperlinks, drop down menus and drilling down into other information is of particular interest.

GBE Team

My CV is here:

Brian Murphy

Potential Stakeholders in this project:


Of information and know-how to capture it before the gurus retire

potential seed funding to make project start faster

Seed funding to be repaid to contributors once site is autonomous

Ongoing benefits there after (see below)

NGS National Green Specification:

Contributing time testing ideas and working out organizational structure and templates

Fleshing out samples and working out time and costing pages

Developing costs and charges calculators

NGS CPD Provider (>800 PowerPoints)

NGS Calculator Developer

NGS ROBUST SPEC Specification Writer (>100s exist)

Product Assessor

AECB Association for Environment Conscious Building

Membership: information users

Information Gurus: Information contributors

Tool developers

CPD Providers

Regional membership

SEDA Scottish Environmental Design Association

Membership: information users

CPD Providers

TGR The Green Register of Construction Professionals

Membership: information users

CPD Providers

Regional membership

ASBP Alliance for Sustainable Building Products

Manufacturer and suppliers and associations

Information users

Information Providers

CPD Providers

STBA Sustainable Traditional Building Alliance

Information Providers

Tool developers

GHA Good Homes Alliance

Information Providers

Information users


Manufacturer and suppliers:

pay for own company, product and system pages

Constructors, fabricators, installers and applicators

pay for own company pages



Membership find the website useful

Could promote their specialist services

AECB Association for Environment Conscious Building

SEDA Scottish Environmental Design Association

TGR The Green Register of Construction Professionals



Payment for Pages, pays for the pages to be created with no profits

Pages must be seen to generate activity (document downloads) before payments are due

Renewal remuneration will be voluntary and should reflect the number of document downloads

Updating of the information will be charged for

(If the pages are not generating activity, are not valued or paid for then the pages will be removed)

In some cases a 50% initial charge with 50% installments

Attract and generate new membership for stakeholder association and alliances

Membership fees to be shared with contributors:

in proportion to time contributed

minimum 51% to website development

maximum 49% to associations and alliances



The Context:


  • Many Architects don’t fully understand

–       Physics of buildings and science of materials,

–       Brian Murphy for one was taught very little detail on these subjects

  • Focus on philosophy, poetry, art and BS
  • Quite often short on knowledge
  • Rarely brief the engineers in sustainable approaches to be adopted
  • Engineers with calculations can run rings round them
  • Use BREEAM or Code for Sustainable Homes for a tick box approach to sustainability


  • Are focused on the numbers of structural and services engineering,
  • Work with Environmental Assessment Method (EAM) focus on carbon or energy efficiency drives;
  • Need more guidance on the environmental opportunities.
  • Use standard non-job specific, text specifications including all options
  • This approach permits use of environmental choices but does not require them

Structural Engineers

  • Know about low carbon cement but steer away from the slow set and strengthening
  • Seem not to appreciate the use of blended cements can act like OPC with low carbon content
  • Seem not to realise a switch to low carbon cement can significantly reduce the impact of construction

Services Engineers

  • Services Engineers read the journals about novel approaches to:

–       Low energy lighting, lighting controls,

–       Sustainable drainage,

–       Water saving appliances and valves,

–       Smart meters and smart or intelligent buildings,

  • But we still see many dumb solutions born out of:

–       Some knowledge applied badly,

–       Fear of health and safety,

–       Resulting in wasteful practices and higher energy consumption


  • Standard specifications are the norm,

–       Reliant upon the drawing annotation or schedules to point at the specification clauses relevant to the project.

  • Standard specification quite often:

–       Permit the use of recycled aggregates or OPC replacement

–       But do not require their use,

–       Unless the Engineer is proactive in requesting them,

  • Industry norm will be adopted for familiarity, simplicity and piece of mind.

QS & Cost controllers

  • Compromise between what we design and what we build with:

–       Cost cutting,

–       Value engineering

  • (Looking at more than one item at a time and finding cheaper overall solutions)
  • Usually cost cutting in disguise


  • Substitutions

–       (Often replacing a good product with a worse one or a different performing product),

  • Surreptitious substitution or otherwise,

–       With low initial cost as the primary criteria for success.


  • Further degradation of ambitions occurs on site through lack of communication from the design team,
  • Lack of understanding by site agents and managers leading to substitution and poor supervision,
  • Poor supervision, lack of care or lack of knowledge of new systems or methods
  • Language barriers resulting in no or broken communication
  • Leading to misguided ambition or poor workmanship.


It’s time for change, and this is the beginning of NGS National Green Specification’s contribution, it’s about developing a more detailed and joined up understanding of environmental design principles and generating detailed ‘Healthy Environmental Appropriate Effective, Resourceful and Competent Construction’ rules and even some ready-made potential solutions with guidance on choice.

NGS have already got a name for it “NGS CODE”, its not a version of an EAM like DREAM, SPEAR, LEED, Ska, BREEAM or Code for Sustainable Homes, (some of which appear to be tick box exercises, that prevent innovation and selection of really green, low carbon, resource efficient and healthy products) but a CODE or design guide for ‘Healthy, Environmental, Appropriate, Effective, Resourceful and Competent Construction’ which embraces traditional, modern & innovative methods of construction.



NGS CODE aims to bring together:

  • Design Principles in NGS PATTERNS;
    • (Some to be developed as past of this project)
    • Examples: Passive design, Carbon reduction, Energy and Water saving, Design for better assembly, Design for Deconstruction, reclaim and reuse, Design to Reduce waste
    • Patterns organised into logical NGS MATRIX;
      • (to set framework and then follow development of NGS PATTERNS)
      • Defects need to be analyzed in NGS DEFECTS
        • And alternative competent solutions recorded in NGS SOLUTIONS;
        • (Some to be developed as part of the project)
        • Things to consider and others to avoid in NGS CHECKLIST;
          • (100 pages exist, to be updated as part of the project)
          • Data collected to help form NGS RULES OF THUMB;
            • (to be developed after or with NGS CHECKLIST)
            • Calculations can use rules of thumb with NGS DATA, NGS CALCULATORS
              • (Some exist, many to create)
              • Build links to the outputs of Post Graduate Research, R&D, R&DIY
                • And other sources of guidance in NGS LINKS;
                • (100 pages exist, to be updated as part of this project)
                • Building Element Sustainability Testing
                  • To check the competence of building, structure or landscape element assemblies
                  • To check the competence of building or services systems assemblies
                  • Generate new assemblies in NGS BEST; (892 results exists, to be automated and expanded)
                  • Building Element Assembly Code Number NGS BEACON
                    • (892 exist needs addition by updating to UNICLASS 2 for BIM as part of project)
                    • PASS Group Comparison & Conclusions; feeding into NGS PASS GROUP COMPARISON (exists)
                      • Determining characteristics of the average product in any group by comparing many.
                      • Products Assessment Sustainability Screening in GreenSpec PASS;
                        • (Exists and can be developed)
                        • Comparing product with an Average product in the same group and identifying how it is better than or worse than the average.
                        • Example: low water, fuel or power consumption in use Mechanical, Electrical & Public Health Engineering systems.
                        • Material Assessment Sustainability Screening in NGS MASS;
                          • (to be developed from NGS PASS)
                          • this will help to identify the lowest impact materials;
                          • examples:
                            • reclaimed steel in preference to new steel;
                            • GGBS cement as an OPC cement replacement with significantly lower embodied carbon
                            • for use in foundations, superstructures, screeds, render and mortar in wall,
                            • choosing between durable hardwood and preservative treated softwood,
                            • or between galvanized steel and painted steel.
                            • NGS PASS REPORT 400+ criteria assessment
                              • (to be developed from NGS PASS and automated)
                              • Translation/interpretation application of unfamiliar terms with NGS JARGON BUSTER;
                                • (9000 terms, 440 pages exist always, developing all the time)
                                • To be incorporated into 3D model backdrop ‘Pop-ups’
                                • Results in ‘Healthy Environmental Appropriate Resourceful Effective Competent Construction’
                                  • To be found in NGS BEST
                                  • (Exists, to be updated as a major part of this project)
                                  • And an updated Green Spec STUDIO;
                                  • (Exists, potentially updated as a major part of this project)
                                  • To be turned into a virtual 3D building with external works and landscape


Collectively the aim is to find a pathway through the myriad of options, addressing local climate, building use, internal conditioning; component functions, product and material properties; compatibility of materials, resource efficiency, energy saving, carbon reduction as well as healthy buildings; to shortlist methods of construction and material choices that are appropriate to a site and ‘Healthy Environmental Appropriate Resourceful Effective Competent Construction’.  The results will explain why the choices are appropriate or there will be no learning from the process.

NGS National Green Specification was founded in East of England, it’s GreenSpec website is used by 50,000 unique users per month and its audience is global, GreenSpec website has defined boundaries and is successful at delivering guidance on products, materials, design, images, refurbishment, deconstruction, reclaim, reuse, energy sources, lighting, water, opinion, assessment methods, durability, whole life costs and a whole lot more.


National Green Specification has been collating information on environmental construction for over 14 years and has created many long and consequently difficult-to-consume documents, e.g. Jargon Buster (438 pages, Revision 48, 15,637 reads on Scribd website), over 800 CPD Seminars, 100s of specifications and guidance notes, Sustainability Checklist (200+ pages), Links to information sources (100+ pages), etc.

In order to test the usefulness of this information to both consumer and business, samples were published on Scribd website where over 311 document have been opened by 250,000 readers in 4¼ years.


NGS DOWNLOAD website is being created, started November 2012, to bring all this information and a wealth of 39+ years of consultancy and into one structured set of information so it can be accessed easily and intuitively by different users: public, self-builders, DIYers, students, professionals, tradesmen alike.

All of the topics and subjects in these documents is being extracted and given its own page, supported by links up and down, forwards, backwards and sideways, like a brain’s neural network to any related information in different formats (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF, PNG, HTML); more over with internet technology any subject can be drilled down to interrogate web published research papers anywhere on the internet giving direct unambiguous access to research often missed by designers, bringing a wealth of research to the fingertips of those that need it, and avoiding this wealth of MSc and PhD information just sitting on shelves after their assessment.

An example of a student’s research work published with NGS’s encouragement is Design for Deconstruction.


NGS DOWNLOAD website is already attracting attention and receiving 2015 page views per day. (Optimistically 0.6m/year, see NGS Webstats for projections). This is very encouraging suggesting the information is useful, we have ambitions to make this useful information more accessible.


Grant Applications

BIM Building Information Modeling.

Government Policy requires future significant projects to be procured and maintained using BIM Building Information Modeling.

From their perspective they would like to see further improvements in the industry, multi-discipline team contributions all in one place, to help ensure the design is integrated and as fully coordinated as possible in the computer before getting to site; with an ambition to reduce error, waste and cost.

CAD software exists that can carryout the Drawing tasks, Coordination, Clash Detection, etc.

From NGSs perspective BIM has the potential to engage with the physics of building, science of materials, properties of products and environmental preferences to help in the selection and creation of ‘Healthy, Environmental, Resourceful, Effective, Appropriate, Competent Construction’ but this needs the Design & Decision Tools to be created to engage with these issues.

There are product databases in existence that list conventional products by the thousands.

There are numerous product databases that include BIM ready CAD models but many lack the I in BIM the Information that will allow any existing and future BIM APPLICATIONs to do these clever things with that data to help designers create designs and defend them against cost cutting.


  • Support ‘Healthy, Environmental, Resourceful, Effective, Appropriate, Competent Construction’ promoted by NGS CODE
  • Be educational, inspirational and enable specifiers as they use it.
  • Support BIM ambitions by delivering data to enrich NGS BIM CAD models with Information
  • Auto-generate NGS ROBUST SPECIFICATIONs to help assist Value Engineering looking at the bigger picture, resist Cost cutting and avoid Substitution.

NGS DATABASE ambitions:

  • With NGS PRODUCT DATA COLLECTION function auto-feeding the NGS DATABASE
  • With NGS MATERIAL DATA COLLECTION function auto-feeding the NGS DATABASE
  • The NGS DATABASE auto-feeds to and carries out necessary calculations to enable:
    • To determine best, average and lowest performances in:
      • KPI Key Performance Indicators (e.g. Energy Efficiency)
      • EPI Environmental Performance Indicators (Low Carbon, Low water consumption)
      • SPI Social Performance Indicators (Noise, Local sourcing, Healthy products)
      • To encourage specification of the best and improvement of the worst
      • Manual transfer (to be automated if possible) of results to:
        • Auto-feeding to: PRODUCT DATA SHEETS
          • CAP’EM
          • NGS
          • SpecifyBy
          • Auto-feeding to: PRODUCT PAGE SCHEDULES & Product pages on websites
            • NGS
            • CAP’EM
            • Specified By
            • GreenSpec
            • Auto-feeding to: NGS ROBUST SPECIFICATION
            • Auto-feeding to: BIM Information for BIM Model Libraries


  • Provide data in a format to support NGS CALCULATORS with look up tables


  • Data to be made available to other databases via copyright license to fund maintenance and development
  • Data to be delivered in format to permit dynamic interrogation by remote databases in preference to static data sources
  • Guidance on dynamic interrogation implementation to be made available


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