Green Building Council launches Innovation Lab with Canary Wharf Group and Land Securities

New project promises "a radical new approach to innovation in the built environment"

The UK Green Building Council has launched an “Innovation Lab” with a noble remit to find better, more sustainable ways of building.

It’s being done in partnership with Canary Wharf Group, Land Securities and Marks & Spencer, and promises “a radical new approach to innovation in the built environment”.

The Lab will “identify and address systemic challenges facing businesses within the sector, and co-create innovative and highly sustainable solutions”. It’s all open sourced, meaning that participating organisations will be collaborating freely – without too much worry over intellectual property issues – to come up with solutions and new ideas, sharing both risks and potential rewards throughout.

An inaugural workshop between leads partners kicked things off at the very end of 2016, with an aim of identifying the “breakthrough challenge” that would set the tone for the next nine months of work. The workshop highlighted key industry challenges around climate change resilience, resource use, shifting demographics, technological advancement and health and wellbeing. The plan is to refine that a bit over the next few weeks, and then to start work in earnest in February by “mapping existing innovations and, where a gap is identified, generating new innovative solutions to solve the challenge.”

Cat Hirst, Head of Leadership and Innovation at UK-GBC: “Research and Development levels across our industry are painfully low; the UK currently only spends £43m on construction R&D. The risks to a single company of investing in developing a solution for such a high-cost industry is often seen as prohibitive. But we desperately need to find ways of working together to achieve radical change if we are to challenge business as usual and transition to a sustainable way of working.

“At UK-GBC we’re seeking to catalyse this change by using our unique position to convene our member organisations to work together to address the issues our industry faces.  We want to ensure there is the time, space, and structure for open innovation to occur for the built environment.

“The Innovation Lab is not just about finding one solution to one problem, it’s about fostering a more open and collaborative approach to problem solving as an industry. We need to build the capacity of our industry to innovate and find the right approach to being creative and collaborative within a commercial setting.”

Martin Gettings, Group Sustainability Manager, Canary Wharf Group: “We are delighted to be at the forefront of this innovation process which brings exciting potential to work collaboratively with our peers and our Level39 community, and build upon our status as one of the most forward-looking business and retail districts in the world. Above all, we look forward to driving improvements from which we can all benefit.”

Caroline Hill, Head of Sustainability, Land Securities: “The Innovation Lab will provide us with an exciting opportunity to work and collaborate with businesses in the property industry, to explore innovative sustainable solutions. Most importantly we want to see how sustainability can help to break through some of the challenges our sector is currently facing.”