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Extract from ‘Foreword’ …
This publication serves as a timely update on what has occurred since the Earth Summit of 1992 and is part of the wider Global Environment Outlook-5 (GEO-5) preparations that will lead to the release of the landmark GEO-5 report in May 2012. It underlines how in just twenty years, the world has changed more than most of us could ever have imagined – geopolitically, economically, socially and environmentally. Very few individuals outside academic and research communities envisaged the rapid pace of change or foresaw developments such as the phenomenal growth in information and communication technologies, ever-accelerating globalization, private sector investments across the world, and the rapid economic rise of a number of ‘developing’ countries. Many rapid changes have also taken place in our environment, from the accumulating evidence of climate change and its very visible impacts on our planet, to biodiversity loss and species extinctions, further degradation of land surfaces and the deteriorating quality of oceans. Certainly, there have been some improvements in the environmental realm, such as the significant reduction in ozone-depleting chemicals and the emergence of renewable energy sources, new investments into which totalled more than $200 thousand million in 2010. But in too many areas, the environmental dials continue to head into the red.
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SDI is a professional, trans-disciplinary and collaborative design, architectural, fire engineering, research, and consultancy practice … specialists in the theory and practical implementation of a Sustainable Human Environment (social – built – virtual – economic).
WE are committed to … the protection of society, the best interests of our clients, and ‘user’ welfare … not just cost-effective compliance with the Minimal Health & Safety Objectives in Legislation & Codes !
Sustainability … continues to fundamentally transform our Architectural, Fire Engineering & Consultancy Practice.
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If we measured the world’s response to environmental challenges solely by the number of treaties and agreements that have been adopted, then the situation looks impressive. Over 500 international environmental agreements have been concluded since 1972, the year of the Stockholm Conference and the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
These include landmark conventions on issues such as trade in endangered species, hazardous wastes, climate change, biological diversity and desertification. Collectively, these reflect an extraordinary effort to install the policies, aims and desires of countries worldwide to achieve sustainable development.
Yet despite the impressive number of legal texts and many good intentions, real progress in solving the environmental challenges themselves has been much less comprehensive, a point clearly underlined in the Global Environment Outlook-5 (GEO-5), for which this report ‘Measuring Progress: Environmental Goals and Gaps’ and a previous publication ‘Keeping Track of Our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20’ are companion products leading up to Rio+20.
This report outlines findings from a UNEP study that, with support from the Government of Switzerland, has catalogued and analyzed existing ‘Global Environmental Goals’ contained in the international agreements and conventions. It asks the fundamental question as to why the aims and goals of these policy instruments have often fallen far short of their original ambition and intentions. One possible reason is that many of the goals are simply not specific enough; the few goals that are specific and measurable appear to have a much better record of success.
These include goals to phase out lead in gasoline, ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and certain persistent organic pollutants (POP’s), specific Millennium Development Goal targets calling to halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation, and targets to increase the number and extent of protected areas. Indeed, even when measurable targets have been set but not actually met, they have usually led to positive change and often to significant change.
The vast majority of goals, however, are found to be ‘aspirational’ in nature. They lack specific targets, which generate obvious difficulties in measuring progress towards them. In addition, many aspirational goals are not supported by adequate data that can be used to measure progress, global freshwater quality being one stark example.
It is clear that if agreements and conventions are to achieve their intended purpose, the international community needs to consider specific and measurable goals when designing such treaties, while organizing the required data gathering and putting in place proper tracking systems from the outset.
A set of Sustainable Development Goals, as proposed by the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Sustainability, could be an excellent opportunity and starting point to improve this situation while representing another positive outcome from Rio+20, two decades after the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 and four decades after the Stockholm Conference.
Achim Steiner, United Nations Under-Secretary-General, and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi.
2012-05-12: It has been tough week, finishing off on a very enjoyable social note …
Acting as a technical expert witness in a difficult legal case, over three days, can be draining … but yesterday evening, a Friday, experiencing the hectic nightlife in Dublin and sharing an excellent meal in an Italian Restaurant (Nico’s on Dame Street) with some visiting friends from the Fire & Security Association of India (FSAI) was an occasion not to be missed.
At times of calm, as now, I search back to rediscover the fascination, the excitement and the beauty that is Architecture. Many times, I have referred to Buildings of Architectural and Cultural Importance … and this is certainly a building to celebrate …
2009-10-08: Deeply interested … and ‘luuuving’ … a hands-on and direct involvement in the Sustainable Restoration of Buildings which are of Historical, Architectural or Cultural Importance … or even those buildings which are not so important … I am deeply frustrated and angry when I look around at what has happened … and continues to happen … in Ireland … horrible, damaging interventions and alterations of all kinds … too many of which cannot be undone.
Certain guru-like organizations and individuals must be robustly challenged !
Yes … in everyday practice, there are pressures concerning an improvement of energy performance (BER Certificates !) … an improvement of accessibility performance for people with activity limitations (2001 WHO ICF) … an improvement of fire safety performance, etc., etc. … and, in the next few short years, adaptation to climate change will require serious attention.
BUT – BUT – BUT … in dealing with these buildings (a priceless heritage for our children, and their children, which cannot be replaced !) … some absolutely core principles must influence the minds of decision-makers in client and construction organizations, national authorities having jurisdiction, regulators … and, most importantly, the minds and souls of architects and engineers. (I am wondering … do engineers have souls ?)
From practical experience, I have found the 16 Principles of the 1964 Venice Charter to be enormously helpful …
ARTICLE 1 The concept of an historic monument embraces not only the single architectural work but also the urban or rural setting in which is found the evidence of a particular civilization, a significant development or an historic event. This applies not only to great works of art but also to more modest works of the past which have acquired cultural significance with the passing of time.
ARTICLE 2 The conservation and restoration of monuments must have recourse to all the sciences and techniques which can contribute to the study and safeguarding of the architectural heritage.
ARTICLE 3 The intention in conserving and restoring monuments is to safeguard them no less as works of art than as historical evidence.
ARTICLE 4 It is essential to the conservation of monuments that they be maintained on a permanent basis.
ARTICLE 5 The conservation of monuments is always facilitated by making use of them for some socially useful purpose. Such use is therefore desirable but it must not change the lay-out or decoration of the building. It is within these limits only that modifications demanded by a change of function should be envisaged and may be permitted.
ARTICLE 6 The conservation of a monument implies preserving a setting which is not out of scale. Wherever the traditional setting exists, it must be kept. No new construction, demolition or modification which would alter the relations of mass and colour must be allowed.
ARTICLE 7 A monument is inseparable from the history to which it bears witness and from the setting in which it occurs. The moving of all or part of a monument cannot be allowed except where the safeguarding of that monument demands it or where it is justified by national or international interest of paramount importance.
ARTICLE 8 Items of sculpture, painting or decoration which form an integral part of a monument may only be removed from it if this is the sole means of ensuring their preservation.
ARTICLE 9 The process of restoration is a highly specialized operation. Its aim is to preserve and reveal the aesthetic and historic value of the monument and is based on respect for original material and authentic documents. It must stop at the point where conjecture begins, and in this case moreover any extra work which is indispensable must be distinct from the architectural composition and must bear a contemporary stamp. The restoration in any case must be preceded and followed by an archaeological and historical study of the monument.
ARTICLE 10 Where traditional techniques prove inadequate, the consolidation of a monument can be achieved by the use of any modem technique for conservation and construction, the efficacy of which has been shown by scientific data and proved by experience.
ARTICLE 11 The valid contributions of all periods to the building of a monument must be respected, since unity of style is not the aim of a restoration. When a building includes the superimposed work of different periods, the revealing of the underlying state can only be justified in exceptional circumstances and when what is removed is of little interest and the material which is brought to light is of great historical, archaeological or aesthetic value, and its state of preservation good enough to justify the action. Evaluation of the importance of the elements involved and the decision as to what may be destroyed cannot rest solely on the individual in charge of the work.
ARTICLE 12 Replacements of missing parts must integrate harmoniously with the whole, but at the same time must be distinguishable from the original so that restoration does not falsify the artistic or historic evidence.
ARTICLE 13 Additions cannot be allowed except in so far as they do not detract from the interesting parts of the building, its traditional setting, the balance of its composition and its relation with its surroundings.
ARTICLE 14 The sites of monuments must be the object of special care in order to safeguard their integrity and ensure that they are cleared and presented in a seemly manner. The work of conservation and restoration carried out in such places should be inspired by the principles set forth in the foregoing articles.
ARTICLE 15 Excavations should be carried out in accordance with scientific standards and the recommendation defining international principles to be applied in the case of archaeological excavation adopted by UNESCO in 1956.
Ruins must be maintained and measures necessary for the permanent conservation and protection of architectural features and of objects discovered must be taken. Furthermore, every means must be taken to facilitate the understanding of the monument and to reveal it without ever distorting its meaning.
All reconstruction work should however be ruled out ‘a priori’. Only anastylosis, that is to say, the reassembling of existing but dismembered parts can be permitted. The material used for integration should always be recognizable and its use should be the least that will ensure the conservation of a monument and the reinstatement of its form.
ARTICLE 16 In all works of preservation, restoration or excavation, there should always be precise documentation in the form of analytical and critical reports, illustrated with drawings and photographs. Every stage of the work of clearing, consolidation, rearrangement and integration, as well as technical and formal features identified during the course of the work, should be included. This record should be placed in the archives of a public institution and made available to research workers. It is recommended that the report should be published.
Note on BER Certificates for Historical Buildings in Ireland
Unless and until that magnificent marketing and public relations firm … Energy Ireland (SEAI) … can openly show that the DEAP Software has been properly modified to handle buildings of historical, architectural or cultural importance … and this modification is fully transparent … Building Energy Rating (BER) Certification for these building types must be put on hold.