Green Building Should Not Cost More, Report Says

Eco-friendly buildings

Building green and performing green retrofits for commercial uses need not cost more than traditional construction and renovation methods as long as cost strategies, program management and environmental strategies are built into the project plan from the start, according to a report released by M&G Investments’ real estate division.

Ultimately, the delivery of cost-effective sustainably-built commercial property is about taking a “long-term view and translating that into short-term actions,” according to Creating a Better World, The Case For Green Buildings.

More information:

Les circuits courts sont‐ils durables ?


Dans cette présentation sur l’impact des  circuits courts sur le développement durable,  Christine AUBRY, interroge les freins,  les limites et aussi les réussites des circuits courts du point de vue du producteur, de la viabilité économique et énergétique.

La question des  circuits courts en (urbain)‐ périurbain est aussi abordée en prenant en considération plusieurs aspects
(Orientation des aides publiques et européennes , faciliter l’embauche, le logement, la formation, orienter la demande, restauration collective de proximité, Jardins associatifs urbains…)


A place for food in pro-development planning?

English: Sustainability chart

English: Sustainability chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


By Jess Halliday

The launch of the UK’s new draft National Planning Policy has food and environmental groups fearing for the future of the country’s green spaces and town centre, as the coalition government’s idea of ‘sustainable development’ has a strong pro-development flavour.The draft was launched last week and is open for consultation until October.
It is often easiest to understand the implications of policy proposals by listening to groups wearing the goggles of their own interests, giving them an incredible ability to read between the lines:
A framework that slashes back over 1000 pages of policy to just 58 means slicing through bundles of red tape and turning new projects into reality more quickly and more cheaply. Hurrah, say the developers and building companies.
But a growing body of planners, civil society groups, architects and academics who are enlightened to the crucial role of planning in the food system are not celebrating. Such a light-weight framework is too way light-touch, they believe. It is business-, not community-oriented, and it will become much harder to protect prime growing and organic land from development.
Speaking (ahead of the framework’s official publication) at a one-day conference on Food and Spatial Planning organised by Sustain and the Royal Institute of Town Planning (RITP) on 15th July, Friends of the Earth food campaigner Helen Rimmer, called it “an assault on the planning process”.
Suzanne Natelson of Sustain’s Local Action on Food also expressed concern at the pro-development turn and said Sustain “will be working to influence it”. Sustain already published a report on Good Planning for Good Food, and its cooperation with the RITP has led to the latter developing guidelines on food for planners.
A major taking point of draft framework is how it defines ‘sustainable development’. According to Damian Carrington, writing in The Guardian, the definition provided is “heavily weighted on saying yes to all building work and rather light on avoiding harmful developments”.
Carrington picks out the phrase “a presumption in favour of sustainable development”, and reads it as “development plans – houses, supermarkets, roads, business premises and so on – will be given the green light, unless there’s good case made for not doing so”.
Yet even when civil society and community groups keep an obsessive eye on applications to ensure no such good cases pass unchallenged, developers in the guise of big business have huge clout to mount appeals that local authorities, with coffers accountable to the electorate, cannot counter.
Business first?
Call food problematic and many people will reply: “Where’s the problem? We just go to the supermarket”. Sure, the globalised, retail-led food chain has made cheap food available to the masses in a way that it has never been before. Far fewer people fret about going hungry today than a hundred years ago.
Yet it’s more complicated than just hushing the hunger pangs. Supermarkets are the crucial, final link in the globalised, industrial food supply chain that has lifted cities out of their food context, and placed them in a global one that feeds off oil reserves and exploitation of land and cheap labour.
Food may be cheap at the till, but the bleep of the barcode scanner does not show the externalised costs beyond the price tag. The costs of infrastructure to haul food long distances, for example; the cost of countering emissions from transport and processing; of caring for people suffering the health effects of eating cheap food laden with fat, sugar and salt; of disposing of uneaten food and packaging; and so on. These costs are not paid by supermarkets, but by shoppers – not in store, but in their annual tax bill.
That is why feeding the city should never be left to supermarkets as a single, simple solution. Even when they promise to build new brand new apartments or fund a new classroom, the social sweeteners designed to wear down opposition will never be enough to cover the whole, global bundle of externalities.
And however socially-aware they may wish to be seen, supermarkets must make money – and that means having a high profile in places where there’s a demographic fit with their core target shoppers. If no supermarket is able to see commercial value in poorer, run-down areas, a business-oriented planning strategy could end up widening inequalities in our urban areas.
As Carolyn Steel, architect and author of The Hungry City, explained at the Sustain conference, the city’s problems are not viewed through the lens of food, big cities become food desserts, where “the only people that get fed are the rich people”.
In her view, “supermarkets were invented to eradicate the human – to take the human out of the food chain”.
And if you’ve got no humans, how can you have a community?

Source: Sustainable Food Blog

What is a breakfast club?

A spoon containing breakfast cereal flakes, pa...

A spoon containing breakfast cereal flakes, part of a strawberry, and milk is held in midair against a blue background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

School breakfast clubs serve food to children who arrive early at school, before formal lessons begin. The way in which the clubs operate depends on the individual circumstances of the school. However, many schools work closely with their school caterer or others to arrange an informal breakfast in a classroom serving fruit, toast, breakfast cereal and drinks.
Breakfast clubs have been operating in the UK for several years and the emphasis of different clubs varies considerably. For example, some breakfast clubs have objectives of integrating study or welfare support, some include play activities, while others focus on providing breakfast and a time for informal interaction between children and school staff, sometimes also involving parents.
A recent study of breakfast clubs summarises four main benefits :
•Improving health and nutrition
•Improving children’s education
•Meeting children’s social needs
•Improving and supporting parent and family life.
A breakfast club involves pupils, school staff, parents and the wider community. It aims to improve the health and well-being of children, as well as the staff and volunteers involved. A breakfast club also underpins the goals of a health promoting school.

For more info and a toolkit, please visit Food Vision

Manchester Food Futures

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...

A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in products such as soy milk and low-fat yogurt, has been shown to reduce breast cancer incidence in rats. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Manchester Food Futures is a partnership that embraces a wide range of individuals and organisations with an interest in improving food in the city.
Its ambitious goal is to create a culture of good food in the city, based on the belief that good food is enjoyable, safe, nutritious, environmentally sustainable, and produced ethically and fairly; and that everyone in Manchester has a right to good food – no-one should have this right denied because of where they live, their income or their background.
The link between diet and health is undisputed. It has been estimated that dietary factors account for up to a third of deaths from coronary heart disease and a quarter of cancer deaths. This equates to approximately 900 deaths in Manchester every year that could be attributable to diet related cancer and coronary heart disease. Dietary changes could prevent up to a third of all cancers from occurring in the first place. Within the city, only 23% of adults are eating the recommended minimum of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Obesity is an increasing problem and recent statistics show approximately 15% of school children in Manchester are obese.
The Food Futures strategy embraces the whole food agenda for the city – from improving health, tackling health inequalities and reducing the environmental impact of food, to building sustainable communities and strengthening the local economy.

To know more, please visit FOOD VISION

Why sustainable food procurement?

The Food Tent

The Food Tent (Photo credit: Jon Person)

Why should local government get involved?
“Sustainability focuses on providing the best outcomes for both the human and natural environments now, and into the indefinite future.”
The UK Government buys £13 billion worth of goods and services each year, for the wider public sector this figure is £125 billion (1).  This year, the UK’s 468 local authorities will spend over £80 billion on day to day services – over a quarter of all public expenditure (2).
It is clear that with such significant buying power the public sector can make a great deal of difference if it changes its buying habits, creating a large market for more sustainable products and ways of procuring those products.
But why sustainable food?
As for all public sector activities, it is important that a policy can be shown to benefit the local community.  How food is served, prepared, purchased and produced can have a significant impact on the health of individuals, communities and their environment.
For local councils sustainable food is about (2):
• Promoting good health
• Having access to healthy food.
• Supporting the local economy by buying food from as close by as possible
• Eating food in season
• Sustainable farming, involving high environmental standards and reduced energy consumption
• Promoting animal welfare, and valuing nature and biodiversity
• Fair prices, fair trade and ethical employment in the UK and overseas.
Food procurement not only effects the wider global environment but also directly affects the health of the individuals who eat it.
Sustainable food procurement allows both the healthy eating, economic and environmental agenda to be combined and acted upon . It gives local government an opportunity to take the lead in a field where we can truly make a difference to our local communities.
For more info and a toolkit, please visit FOOD VISION

European Parliament set to pass new consumer rights bill into law

The official emblem of the European Parliament.

The official emblem of the European Parliament. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consumers and businesses alike should reap the benefits of new consumer rights legislation in Europe, with years of negotiations set to conclude with the approval by the European Parliament on Thursday (23 June) of the EU’s Consumer Rights Directive.

Last week (16 June), the Parliament’s internal market and consumer protection (IMCO) committee backed at first reading a compromise agreement on the draft law reached on 6 June between representatives of all three EU institutions, paving the way for this week’s first-reading vote in plenary.
‘Win-win’ situation for businesses, consumers
“Consumers and businesses will equally win. We are a big step closer to a truly common internal market in Europe,” said German centre-right MEP Andreas Schwab (European People’s Party), who is steering the directive through the Parliament, ahead of the vote.
Describing the directive as “a good compromise between necessary consumer rights and justified business interests,” Schwab said it would serve as an example of where “more Europe” benefits shoppers and traders alike.
Brussels has been wrestling with the legislation since it was first tabled by the European Commission back in 2008 (see ‘Background’).
“More safety for consumers shopping online and common rules for businesses – these are the headlines of the political agreement between the Parliament and the Council on the Consumer Rights Directive,” said Schwab.
An EU-wide right for consumers to change their minds about purchase decisions within two weeks and clearer pricing rules for Internet sales were among changes made to the draft legislation by representatives of the European Parliament, the European Commission and member states in trialogue talks earlier this month.
That deal was backed unanimously by the IMCO committee with 28 votes in favour, none against and three abstentions.

Source: EurActiv

Food Vision toolkits

English: Local food cartoon created for Transi...

English: Local food cartoon created for Transition Town Worthing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Food Vision toolkits provide more detailed information and guidance about specific types of initiative, such as farmers’ markets or local food strategies, or settings for food work such as schools or workplaces. They draw together good practice from a number of local and regional initiatives in delivering a particular project. In general the toolkits aim to provide an overview of what is involved in setting up a food project, covering areas such as benefits, policy, legislation, as well as links to other useful websites.

Just visit them here!

The Plymouth Food Charter

Good food is vital to the quality of peoples’ lives in Plymouth. By promoting healthy and sustainable food as part of a thriving food economy, the Plymouth Food Charter aims to improve health and wellbeing for all and to create a more connected, resilient and sustainable City. Signatories to the Charter – which include public, private and community partners – are committed to promoting the pleasure and importance of good food to help create a vibrant and diverse food culture. We will work together to increase both the demand and supply of delicious and affordable, fresh, seasonal, local and organic food throughout Plymouth in order to achieve:
  • A thriving local economy
  •     Encouraging a greater number and diversity of food enterprises and jobs, making the most of Plymouth’s rich land and sea resources.
  •     Sourcing healthy and sustainable food from local producers and suppliers, keeping value within the local economy.
  • Health and wellbeing for all
  •     Raising awareness of the importance of a nutritious, balanced diet and improving the availability of affordable healthy food.
  •     Providing a wide range of community growing and other food-related activities to improve physical and mental health for people of all ages
  • Resilient, close-knit communities
  •     Promoting and celebrating the food and culinary traditions of all cultures  through a variety of public events, such as Plymouth’s Flavourfest.
  •     Supporting local and city-wide food  initiatives that bring communities  together and help them to improve their neighbourhoods.

    Plymouth Hoe

    Plymouth Hoe (Photo credit: Arcturus Aldebaran)

  • Life long learning & skills
  •     Giving everyone the opportunity to learn about good food – how to grow it, how to cook it, how to eat it and how to enjoy it.
  •     Inspiring and enabling organisations such as schools, hospitals,  businesses and other caterers to transform their food culture.
  • A reduced eco-footprint
  •     Supporting food production that protects wildlife and nature; reducing food miles, packaging and waste; and increasing composting and recycling.
  •     Maximising the use of greenspace and brownfield sites in and around Plymouth to produce food for local people.

More info HERE

A definition of Local Food Systems

A single week's fruits and vegetables from com...

A single week’s fruits and vegetables from community-supported agriculture share: peppers, okra, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, garlic, eggplant, squash. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In contrast, Local Food Systems (LFS) are networks of small local businesses, charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups driven by ‘bottom-up’ innovation at a local level. They include a diverse range of initiatives (such as box schemes, farmers’ markets, community growing and Community Supported Agriculture) intended to develop closer links between consumers and producers. Local Food Systems have their roots in society and their strength lies in the people who create and manage them; the goodwill of consumers and producers; and in the strong motivation that lies behind them. They can help reduce the use of fossil fuels and other resources (through less food miles and lower use of agricultural inputs) and improve biodiversity (through a variety of organic, agro-ecological, low-input or permaculture farming methods); increase food security; give low income groups access to good food and healthy diets; strengthen local communities and economies; and sustain small enterprises and improve the viability of small farms. Although it is difficult to quantify benefits, greater community engagement and better diets can also have positive impacts on mental health; reduce loneliness in the elderly; speed up recovery times in hospitals; and help to reduce offending and anti-social behaviour.