Institutional Environment

Master Architect Oscar Niemeyer Dies – 5 December 2012

2012-12-06 …

A Great Man of Brazil … was born on 15 December 1907 and, yesterday, died on 5 December 2012 … Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho.

A Master Architect of the World !

Oscar’s WebSite:  http://www.niemeyer.org.br/

I think … and feel … that there is no better tribute to him than a small presentation of his creative work in Brasilia … from an unusual perspective …

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

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Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

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Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

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Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2004-12-14. Click to enlarge.

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Postscript:  2013-01-01 …

By accident (almost, but not quite !) … while surfing the world wide web … I came upon this interesting 1960 photograph of construction work in Brasilia … taken by the Swiss Photographer, René Burri

Black and white photograph showing construction work on top of one of the Secretariat Towers, in Brasilia's National Congress Building. Photograph taken by the Swiss photographer, René Burri. 1960. Click to enlarge.

Black and white photograph showing construction work on top of one of the Secretariat Towers, in Brasilia’s National Congress Building. Photograph taken by the Swiss photographer, René Burri. 1960. Click to enlarge.

It would be well worth your effort to check out more photographs by René Burri !   Visit the Magnum Photos WebSite here … http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL5350UE

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‘Greening’ Ireland’s Economy – Will Somebody Please Get Real ?

2011-11-21:  The International Labour Office (ILO), in Geneva, and the European Union’s Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) … have recently published a Joint Report: ‘Skills for Green Jobs – A Global View’

The vision is positive … its advice is practical … and the writers actually sound as if they know what they are talking about.  And it is evident that the word ‘green’ is used, in this Report, as a simple means of communicating the far more complex concept of ‘sustainable human and social development’, with all of its many different aspects.  Judge for yourself by reading the extract from the Executive Summary below.

This Report’s contents also complement, very neatly, what has been said here in many posts … concerning the institutional infrastructure necessary, in societies, to properly implement an effective response to policies of energy conservation and security, climate change and sustainable development.

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WAYS FORWARD  [ Pages xxiv to xxvi, Executive Summary, ILO – EU CEDEFOP Report: ‘Skills for Green Jobs – A Global View’ ]

It is important to remember that skills are not a poor servant of the economy, expected merely to react and adjust to any change.  The availability of a suitably trained workforce capable of further learning inspires confidence that in turn encourages investment, technical innovation, economic diversification and job creation.

Policies Need to be Informed, Coherent and Co-Ordinated

When policies to green the economy and policies to develop skills are not well connected, skill bottlenecks will slow the green transformation, and potential new jobs will be lost.  Strategic, leadership and management skills that enable policy-makers in governments, employers’ associations and trade unions to set the right incentives and create enabling conditions for cleaner production and services are an absolute priority.

Environmental awareness as an integral part of education and training at all levels, introduced as a core skill from early childhood education onwards, will eventually push consumer behaviour and preferences and the market itself.

Labour market information for anticipating and monitoring skill needs for green jobs is the critical starting point for effective policy cycles.  This enables governments and businesses to anticipate changes in the labour market, identify the impact on skill requirements, incorporate changes into the system by revising training programmes and introducing new ones, and monitor the impact of training on the labour market.

The country studies that told the most successful stories prove the value of effective co-ordination among line ministries and social partners, achieved by creating task forces for human resource development for a greening economy, or by incorporating training and skills issues into a council for environmental development.  It is important that the platform for this dialogue has decision-making authority, can establish clear commitments among all those partners involved and allocate human and financial resources to them, and has agreed responsibilities not only for planning but for implementation.  A win–win situation can only be achieved if environment, jobs and skills are discussed, planned and implemented in conjunction with each other.

Decentralized approaches can actually promote policy co-ordination and coherence at sectoral and local levels.  Direct dialogue between national and regional governments and social partners can be translated into action when commitments and resource allocation occur at a smaller scale and where immediate dividends are obvious for all partners involved.  A good combination of top-down co-ordinated policy-making with bottom-up sectoral or local initiatives can support effective training-intensive green transitions.

Policies Need to be Targeted

The transformation to greener economies provides an opportunity to reduce social inequalities.  Social justice dictates that training initiatives target those who lose jobs during the transition, especially those who are typically at a disadvantage in the labour market and may require special assistance.  The growth dividend from greening the economy will be attained only if access to new training provided as part of green measures is made accessible to disadvantaged youth, persons with disabilities, rural communities and other vulnerable groups.  Incentives to increase women’s participation in technical training programmes will not only increase their participation in technology-driven occupations but also help solve the skill shortage problem in this segment of the labour market.

Green Transitions Affect the Entire Training System

Taking into account all three types of skills change – that resulting from employment shifts within and across sectors as the consequence of green restructuring, that associated with new and emerging occupations, and the massive change in the content of established occupations – it becomes clear that the whole training system must be mobilized.  Adjusting training programmes to green changes in the labour market is a transversal task across levels and types of education and training.

So far, compulsory level and tertiary education have been catching up rather well, whereas technical and vocational education and training has been lagging behind in adapting to the needs of the green economy.  Improving adjustment here can give new impetus to employment-centred and fair green transitions and requires the following key challenges to be met:

  • Putting basic skills high on the policy agenda, as a foundation of flexibility and employability throughout the life cycle ;
  • Matching classroom and practical training through apprenticeships, internships, job placements, projects on the job etc ;
  • Adjusting the length and breadth of training provision according to different types of skills change ;
  • Equipping teachers and trainers with up-to-date knowledge on environmental issues and on green technologies – education and training which deals with preparation of teachers and trainers should be one of the first priorities in skills response strategies ;
  • Enabling active labour market policy measures (ALMP’s) to take into account green structural change and to provide access to relevant training and other employment activation measures ;    and
  • Deploying public employment services (PES), as important players in job matching and training, to raise awareness about green business opportunities and related skill needs.

The linchpin of effective skills development for greening the economy is co-ordination.  The degree of co ordination between public and private stakeholders and the degree of involvement of social partners are decisive.  Concerted measures need to be undertaken by governments at different levels, including the community level, employers and workers, through institutional mechanisms of social dialogue, such as national or regional tripartite councils, sector or industry skills councils, public–private partnerships and the like.

Developing Countries Need Special Measures

Developing countries, and the workers and employers in them, have the least responsibility for climate change and environmental degradation but suffer their economic and social consequences disproportionately.  Special measures that can speed their employment-centred green transformations include:

–   capacity building for employers in the informal economy and micro- and small enterprises to enter green markets in localities where they are most needed ;

–   entrepreneurship training and business coaching for young people and adults to start up green businesses in conjunction with micro-finance projects ;

–   environmental awareness among decision-makers, business leaders and administrators as well as institutions of formal and non-formal training systems ;

–   capacity building of tripartite constituents to strengthen social dialogue mechanisms and to apply these to dialogue about accessibility of training for green jobs ;   and

–   increased capacity of formal education and training systems and institutions to provide basic skills for all and to raise the skills base of the national workforce ;  this includes improving apprenticeship systems and building synergies with NGO’s that provide education and training.

These measures can only be taken if resources are available.  It is therefore recommended that not only national governments but also international partnerships in developing countries take these recommendations into account both in environment programmes and in skills development programmes.

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‘GREENING’ IRELAND’s ECONOMY ?

Ireland was not one of the countries examined in the ILO / EU CEDEFOP Project.  That should tell us a lot !

BUT … just pause for a moment … and meditate on the many skill-related issues arising from the debacle at the Priory Hall Apartment Development, in Dublin.

AND NOW … read the following extracts from recent Irish National Reports … ‘high notions’ from goats in the Kerry Mountains …

The Overarching Vision – Forfás Report: ‘Future Skills Needs of Enterprise within the Green Economy in Ireland’ (November 2010) …

” For Ireland to be the benchmark ‘smart green’ economy for population centres under 20 million by 2015 – and to have the skills base and talent to drive innovative and high value products and services and maximise future business and employment growth potential.”

Final Paragraphs, #7 Conclusions – Review of National Climate Policy (November 2011) …

” In the wider-international context, there are also encouraging signs of a new ‘green growth’ paradigm which emphasises resource efficiency, the protection of natural resources and competitiveness along with the creation of new jobs.  A long-term view of how Ireland aligns its economic development with the demands of the growth engines of global commerce should be at the core of a low-carbon development vision.  In order to create enabling conditions for selling into these markets, many of which are already gearing up for the green economy, it will be necessary to ensure that the domestic conditions are right to encourage innovation.  This can be done by showing environmental ambition and using tools that allow the market to identify solutions.  That will require a combination of taking the best of what is working in other countries as well as devising domestically appropriate policies that will place Ireland in the vanguard of countries making the most of the opportunities presented by the green economy.

In terms of a long-term national vision of a carbon-constrained world, Ireland is faced with both the challenge of addressing a unique greenhouse gas emissions profile and the opportunity to position itself as an enlightened society with an environmentally sustainable and competitive, low-carbon economy.  Developing the policies to put Ireland on a clear and definite path to achieve that vision is the immediate priority.”

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Who Are These Moráns ?!?   Will Somebody Please Get Real !?!

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NIST WTC Recommendations 4-7 > Structural Fire Endurance

First Post in This Series …

2011-10-25:  NIST’s Recommendations on the 9-11 WTC Building Collapses … GROUP 1. Increased Structural Integrity – Recommendations 1, 2 & 3 (out of 30)

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2011-11-18:  SOME PRELIMINARY COMMENTS …

  1.     Before launching into the next Group of NIST WTC Recommendations, it would be useful to distinguish between the following technical terms … which have been adapted from ISO/TR 10158: ‘Principles and Rationale Underlying Calculation Methods in Relation to Fire Resistance of Structural Elements’

Real Fire:  A fire which develops in a building and which is influenced by such factors as the type of building and its occupancy;  the combustible content (fire load);  the ventilation, geometry and thermal properties of the fire compartment, or building space (should no fire compartmentation exist);  the fire suppression systems in the building and the actions of the fire services.

Real Fires are complex phenomena.  Consequently, in structural fire engineering, idealized versions of ‘real fires’ are employed.

Experimental Fire:  A full or reduced scale fire with specified and controlled characteristics.

Design Fire:  A fire with specified exposure data intended for use in connection with structural fire engineering calculations.

A Design Fire may either be representative of the thermal exposure described by the standard time-temperature-pressure relationship in an International/European/National Standard, or some non-standard exposure intended to simulate particular fire exposure conditions.

However, in SDI Technical Guidance Note 95/102: ‘Proper Evidence of a Fire Test Result within the European Economic Area (EEA)’, issued on 22 May 1995, I included the following caution …

#1.7  A Fire Test in a Fire Test Laboratory, involving exposure of a test specimen or prototype to ‘test fire’ conditions, gives only a limited indication of:  (a) the likely performance of a particular product, material or component when exposed to ‘real fire’ conditions;  and (b) the suitability of a product, material or component for a particular end use.

  2.     In conventional fire engineering, much confusion arises because of a failure to properly distinguish between these two concepts …

Fire Resistance

The inherent capability of a building assembly, or an ‘element of construction’, to resist the passage of heat, smoke and flame for a specified time during a fire.

Structural Reliability

The ability of a structural system to fulfil its design purpose, for a specified time, under the actual environmental conditions encountered in a building.

[ In structural fire engineering, the concern must be that the structure will fulfil its purpose, both during the fire – and for a minimum period afterwards, during the ‘cooling phase’.]

  3.     Therefore, with regard to Recommendation 6 … it is more correct and precise to refer to ‘Steel Fire Protection Systems’, rather than to ‘steel fire resisting materials’ !   AND … the same questions must be asked about All Lightweight Steel Fire Protection Systems … not just the sprayed systems.

Lightweight Fire Protection Systems are also used to protect concrete in buildings and tunnels.

  4.     These 2005 NIST Recommendations will later be confirmed, and further reinforced, by the 2008 NIST Recommendations.  Bringing Recommendation 7, below, closer to home … it is interesting to note that a very necessary discussion on the technical adequacy of the approach taken to structural performance in fire … in both Technical Guidance Document B (Ireland) and Approved Document B (England & Wales) … has yet not even commenced !

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2005 NIST WTC RECOMMENDATIONS

GROUP 2.  Enhanced Fire Endurance of Structures

The procedures and practices used to ensure the fire endurance of structures should be enhanced by improving the technical basis for construction classifications and fire resistance ratings, improving the technical basis for standard fire resistance testing methods, use of the ‘structural frame’ approach to fire resistance ratings, and developing in-service performance requirements and conformance criteria for sprayed fire resisting materials.

NIST WTC Recommendation 4.

NIST recommends evaluating, and where needed improving, the technical basis for determining appropriate construction classifications and fire rating requirements (especially for tall buildings) – and making related code changes now, as much as possible – by explicitly considering factors including: *

[ * F-23  The construction classification and fire rating requirements should be risk-consistent with respect to the design-basis hazards and the consequences of those hazards.  The fire rating requirements, which were originally developed based on experience with buildings less than 20 storeys in height, have generally decreased over the past 80 years since historical fire data for buildings suggest considerable conservatism in those requirements.  For tall buildings, the likely consequences of a given threat to an occupant on the upper floors are more severe than the consequences to an occupant on the first floor or the lower floors.  For example, with non-functioning elevators, both of the time requirements are much greater for full building evacuation from upper floors and emergency responder access to those floors.  It is not clear how the current height and areas tables in building codes consider the technical basis for the progressively increasing risk to an occupant on the upper floors of tall buildings that are much greater than 20 storeys in height.]

  • timely access by emergency responders and full evacuation of occupants, or the time required for burnout without partial collapse ;
  • the extent to which redundancy in active fire protection systems (sprinklers and standpipe, fire alarm, and smoke management) should be credited for occupant life safety ; *

[ * F-24  Occupant life safety, prevention of fire spread, and structural integrity are considered separate safety objectives.]

  • the need for redundancy in fire protection systems that are critical to structural integrity ; *

[ * F-25  The passive fire protection system (including fire protection insulation, compartmentation, and fire stopping) and the active sprinkler system each provide redundancy for maintaining structural integrity in a building fire, should one of the systems fail to perform its intended function.]

  • the ability of the structure and local floor systems to withstand a maximum credible fire scenario* without collapse, recognizing that sprinklers could be compromised, not operational, or non-existent ;

[ * F-26  A maximum credible fire scenario includes conditions that are severe, but reasonable to anticipate, conditions related to building construction, occupancy, fire loads, ignition sources, compartment geometry, fire control methods, etc., as well as adverse, but reasonable to anticipate operating conditions.]

  • compartmentation requirements (e.g. 1,200 sq.m *) to protect the structure, including fire rated doorsets and automatic enclosures, and limiting air supply (e.g. thermally resisting window assemblies) to retard fire spread in buildings with large, open floor plans ;

[ * F-27  Or a more appropriate limit, which represents a reasonable area for active fire fighting operations.]

  • the effect of spaces containing unusually large fuel concentrations for the expected occupancy of the building ;   and
  • the extent to which fire control systems, including suppression by automatic or manual means, should be credited as part of the prevention of fire spread.

Adoption of this Recommendation will allow building codes to distinguish the risks associated with different building heights, fuel concentrations, and fire protection systems.  Research is needed to develop the data and evaluate alternative proposals for construction classifications and fire ratings.  Model Building Codes:  A comprehensive review of current construction classifications and fire rating requirements and the establishment of a uniform set of revised thresholds with a firm technical basis that considers the factors identified above should be undertaken.*

[ * F-28  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 5000 model code and the International Building Code (IBC) both recognize the risks associated with different building heights and accepted changes in 2001 and 2004, respectively.  Both model codes now require that buildings 126 metres and higher have a minimum 4 hour structural fire resistance rating.  The previous requirement was 2 hours.  The change provides increased fire resistance for the structural system leading to enhanced tenability of the structure and gives firefighters additional protection while fighting a fire.  While NIST supports these changes as an interim step, NIST believes that it is essential to complete a comprehensive review that will establish a firm technical basis for construction classifications and fire rating requirements.]

NIST WTC Recommendation 5.

NIST recommends that the technical basis for the century-old standard for fire resistance testing of components, assemblies and systems be improved through a national effort.  Necessary guidance also should be developed for extrapolating the results of tested assemblies to prototypical building systems.  A key step in fulfilling this Recommendation is to establish a capability for studying and testing components, assemblies, and systems under realistic fire and load conditions.

This effort should address the technical issues listed below: *

[ * F-29  The technical issues were identified from the series of four fire resistance tests of the WTC Floor system, and the review and analysis of relevant documents that were conducted as part of this Investigation.]

a.     Criteria and test methods for determining:

  • structural limit states, including failure, and means for measurement ;
  • effect of scale of test assembly versus prototype application, especially for long-span structures that significantly exceed the size of test furnaces ;
  • effect of restraining thermal expansion (end-restraint conditions) on test results, especially for long-span structures that have greater flexibility ;
  • fire resistance of structural connections, especially the fire protection required for a loaded connection to achieve a specified rating ; *

[ * F-30  There is a lack of test data on the fire resistance ratings of loaded connections.  The fire resistance of structural connections is not rated in current practice.  Also, standards and codes do not provide guidance on fire protection requirements for structural connections when the connected members have different fire resistance ratings.]

  • effect of the combination of loading and exposure (time-temperature profile) required to adequately represent expected conditions ;
  • the repeatability and reproducibility of test results (typically, results from a single test are used to determine the rating for a component or assembly) ;   and
  • realistic ratings for structural assemblies made with materials that have improved elevated temperature properties (strength, modulus, creep behaviour).

b.     Improved procedures and guidance to analyze and evaluate existing data from fire resistance tests of building components and assemblies for use in qualifying an untested building element.

c.     Relationships between prescriptive ratings and performance of the assembly in real fires.

Affected National and International Standards: * ASTM E 119, NFPA 251, UL 263, and ISO 834.  Model Building Codes:  The standards should be adopted in model building codes by mandatory reference to, or incorporation of, the latest edition of the standard.

[ * F-31  While the NIST Recommendations are focused mainly on U.S. national standards, each U.S. standard has counterpart international standards.  In a recent report (ISO/TMB AGS N 46), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), through its Advisory Group for Security (AGS), has recommended that since many of the ISO standards for the design of buildings date back to the 1980’s, they should be reviewed and updated to make use of the studies done by NIST on the World Trade Center disaster, the applicability of new technology for rescue from high buildings, natural disasters, etc.  ISO’s Technical Advisory Group 8 co-ordinates standards work for buildings.]

NIST WTC Recommendation 6.

NIST recommends the development of criteria, test methods, and standards:  (1) for the in-service performance of Sprayed Fire Resisting Materials (SFRM, also commonly referred to as fire protection insulation) used to protect structural components;  and (2) to ensure that these materials, as installed, conform to conditions in tests used to establish the fire resistance rating of components, assemblies, and systems.

This should include:

  • Improved criteria and testing methodologies for the performance and durability of SFRM (e.g. adhesion, cohesion, abrasion, and impact resistance) under in-service exposure conditions (e.g. temperature, humidity, vibration, impact, with/without primer paint on steel*) for use in acceptance and quality control.  The current test method to measure the bond strength, for example, does not distinguish the cohesive strength from the tensile and shear adhesive strengths.  Nor does it consider the effect of primer paint on the steel surface.  Test requirements that explicitly consider the effects of abrasion, vibration, shock, and impact under normal service conditions are limited or do not exist.  Also, the effects of elevated temperatures on thermal properties and bond strength are not considered in evaluating the performance and durability of SFRM.

[ * F-32  NIST tests show that the adhesive strength of SFRM on steel coated with primer paint was a third to half of the adhesive strength on steel that had not been coated with primer paint.  The SFRM products used in the WTC towers were applied to steel components coated with primer paint.]

  • Inspection procedures, including measurement techniques and practical conformance criteria, for SFRM in both the building codes and fire codes for use after installation, renovation, or modification of all mechanical and electrical systems and by fire inspectors over the life of the building.  Existing standards of practice (AIA MasterSpec and AWCI Standard 12), often required by codes for some buildings need to be broadly applied to both new and existing buildings.  These standards may require improvements to address the issues identified in this Recommendation.
  • Criteria for determining the effective uniform SFRM thickness – thermally equivalent to the variable thickness of the product as it is actually applied – that can be used to ensure that the product in the field conforms to the near uniform thickness conditions in the tests used to establish the fire resistance rating of the component, assembly, or system.  Such criteria are needed to ensure that the SFRM, as installed, will provide the intended performance.
  • Methods for predicting the effectiveness of SFRM insulation as a function of its properties, the application characteristics, and the duration and intensity of the fire.
  • Methods for predicting service life performance of SFRM under in-service conditions.

Affected Standards:  AIA MasterSpec and AWCI Standard 12 for field inspection and conformance criteria; ASTM standards for SFRM performance criteria and test methods.  Model Building Codes:  The standards should be adopted in model building codes by mandatory reference to, or incorporation of, the latest edition of the standard.  (See Recommendation 10 for more on this issue.)

NIST WTC Recommendation 7.

NIST recommends the adoption and use of the ‘structural frame’ approach to fire resistance ratings.  This approach requires that structural members – such as girders, beams, trusses, and spandrels having direct connection to the columns, and bracing members designed to carry gravity loads – be fire protected to the same fire resistance rating as columns.  This approach is currently required by the International Building Code (IBC), one of the model codes, and is in the process of adoption by NFPA 5000, the other model code.  This requirement ensures consistency in the fire protection provided to all of the structural elements that contribute to overall structural stability.*  State and local jurisdictions should adopt and enforce this requirement.

[ * F-33  Had this requirement been adopted by the 1968 New York City building code, the WTC floor system, including its connections, would have had the 3 hour rating required for the columns since the floors braced the columns.]

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Abu Dhabi as ‘Sustainable City’ – A New Language Required ?

2009-03-03:  Recent international attention has been drawn, in a morbid sort of way, to the current economic condition of two contrasting cities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – Abu Dhabi and Dubayy (Dubai).

 

In the month of October, 2008, I was very pleased to travel to both of these cities for the first time … with the purpose of introducing the subject of Sustainable Fire Engineering at a Building Seminar in the World Trade Centre, Dubayy.  My host was, and is more so now, convinced that this innovative approach to fire engineering offers a key to future commercial success in the Gulf Region.

 

Before making my presentation, however, I had spent some essential days wandering around Abu Dhabi … soaking up the local atmosphere and culture.

 

Arriving later in Dubayy, I was ‘shocked and stunned’ – a vivid Dublin expression –  to see that Billions of Dirhams (the local currency) had been spent on re-creating the Nightmare that is the 20th Century American City … where, if you want to just scratch your nose, you must get into your car – or one of them at least – to do so.

 

It was tragic to see how the local authorities were trying to ‘shoehorn’ an Urban Rail System into the existing City Fabric … ducking, and weaving in and out, between road overpasses and spaghetti junctions which had only been built in the last 10 years.

 

Sightings of UMO’s (Unidentified Moving Objects) … pedestrians and cyclists … are extremely rare !   The local summer, by the way, is the only season when it is definitely unhealthy to engage in either activity … temperatures can regularly reach into the low 50s oC.

 

People are much smarter in Abu Dhabi – so I was told.  They have seen the mistakes which have been made up the road, and they are determined to take a different path with their future development.

 

“How long will it take to transform and re-shape Abu Dhabi into a Sustainable City ?”, I was asked.

 

 

In order to answer that question, a new language is required.  Let me introduce you to some of its Technical Terms … which, even after many years of sweat and toil in SDI, are still being regularly reviewed, revised and updated:

 

 

Human Environment …

Anywhere there is, or has been, an intrusion by a human being in the natural environment. 

 

The Human Environment comprises, and must be taken together as a unified, complex whole:

 

Social Environment …

The complex network of real and virtual human interaction – at a communal or larger group level – which operates for reasons of tradition, culture, business, pleasure, information exchange, institutional organization, legal procedure, governance, human betterment, social progress and spiritual enlightenment, etc.

 

The Social Environment shapes, binds together, and directs the future development of, the Built (including Virtual) Environment.

 

Built Environment …

Anywhere there is, or has been, a man-made or wrought (worked) intervention by humans in the natural environment, e.g. cities, towns, villages, rural settlements, services, transport systems, roads, bridges, tunnels, and cultivated lands, lakes, rivers, coasts, seas, etc.

 

Virtual Environment …

A designed environment, electronically-generated from within the Built Environment, which may have the appearance, form, functionality and impact – to the person perceiving and actually experiencing it – of a real, imagined and/or utopian world.

 

 

Long before the present seismic upheavals and sordid revelations … the intuition of many people around the world had been informed that ‘economics’ inhabited its own closed environment … and operated to entirely different ‘rules’ from the rest of us – mere peasants – which are anything but open and transparent.  The ‘actors’ in this Economic Environment are not accountable.  Well … not yet, anyway !

 

Economic Environment …

The intricate web of real and virtual human commercial activity – operating at micro and macro-economic levels – which facilitates, supports, but sometimes hampers or disrupts, human interaction in the Social Environment.

 

 

And, still under development … the Institutional Environment.

 

 

 

Social Wellbeing …

A general condition – in a community, society or culture – of health, happiness, creativity, responsible fulfilment, and sustainable development.

 

Individual Welfare …

A person’s general feeling of health, happiness and fulfilment.

 

 

 

And finally for now:

 

The City …

 

A geographical region, with open and flexible boundaries, consisting of:

(a)  An interwoven, densely constructed core (built environment) ;

(b)  A large resident population of more than 500,000 people (social environment) ;

(c)  A supporting hinterland of lands, waters and other natural resources (cultivated landscape) ;

 

together functioning as …

(i)   a complex living system (analogous to, yet different from, other living systems such as ecosystems and organisms) ;   and

(ii)  a synergetic community capable of providing a high level of individual welfare and social wellbeing for all of its inhabitants.

 

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