Green Transitions in the Built Environment: Europe

 

Presentation by Linda Clarke, Melahat Sahin-Dikmen, Colin Gleeson, ProBE (Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment), University of Westminster, at ACW All-Team Meeting’s Researcher Presentations.

November 2018

 

View the Presentation (PDF)

 

EU’s Green Building Strategy has Major Implications for Construction Workers, Report Finds

 

Green Transitions in the Built Environment: Europe
The role of trade unions in the transition to low carbon construction: examples from Denmark, Germany, Italy and UK/Scotland

By Linda Clarke, Melahat Sahin-Dikmen, Colin Gleeson, Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment (ProBE), University of Westminster, UK

Despite the variation in actual progress and the divergent approaches of Member States, the EU’s green transition strategy for the built environment is in the process of implementation and has major implications for the sector and for construction workers. This transition to green construction in the EU is a long and challenging process and, as shown in this report, varies between countries, driven by strategies formulated, interpreted and implemented in very different ways.

This report presents findings from an investigation into the role of trade unions in the transition to low energy construction (LEC) in Denmark, Germany, Italy and Scotland/UK. The study addresses the aims of the Built Environment Working Group, leading the construction strand of the ACW research programme. The key objective is to research the role of workers in the transition to low carbon construction by identifying and examining trade union involvement, whether this takes the form of policies, proposals or practical action. This report concerns the European part of the investigation.

 

Download the Full Report (PDF)

 

Unions Make City Building (Glasgow) a Model of Sustainable Construction and Employment

 

City Building (Glasgow): an inspirational model of low energy social housing and public building production

By Linda Clarke and Melahat Sahin-Dikmen, Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment (ProBE), University of Westminster, UK

 

City Building is a not-for profit building organization with an in-house training centre, a large apprenticeship scheme, and a highly unionized, directly employed workforce.

In the last ten years, City Building has developed as a successful social enterprise with sustainable and high standard employment and construction practices. As well as continuing to be responsible for maintaining all Glasgow City Council’s building stock and for managing its new construction projects, it competes for work in the open market, developing expertise in low-energy construction and building on its history of social housing production.

What sets City Building apart from any other construction company are the strong social ethos and good employment practices that guide its ‘business model’. Another unique feature is the involvement of the trade unions that played, historically, a significant role in shaping the ethos that underpins City Building’s operations. The Joint Trade Union Council includes representatives from each trade union and is actively engaged with the management of City Building at the highest level, in what is described as ‘a great relationship’.

 

Download the Full Report (PDF)

 

Workshop asks “What kind of Green and Just Transition?”

ProBE CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, WBS – WESTMINSTER BUSINESS SCHOOL, UNIVERSITY OF WESTMINSTER, in collaboration with fABE – FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT, proudly announce this timely workshop:

WHAT KIND OF GREEN AND JUST TRANSITION?

WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

DATE: Thursday 12 July 2018, 12 noon-18.00pm

VENUE: Room CG28, University of Westminster Marylebone Campus, 35 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5LS (opposite Madame Tussaud and diagonal from Baker Street tube station)

There is much discussion as well as divergent approaches to the question of a just transition to a low carbon economy, revolving around what is achievable by the market or by ecological modernisation and whether instead a much more radical transformation is necessary. This workshop addresses this debate and is concerned in particular with the active role of workers and the trade unions in this transition, including examples from the built environment of successful intervention.

Many researchers who are part of the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change: Canada in International Perspective (ACW) research project will be participating in the workshop.

Speakers include:

  • Dr Peter Bonfield (tbc), Vice-Chancellor University of Westminster
  • Linda Clarke, ProBE/University of Westminster, ACW Associate Director
  • Béla Galgóczi, European Trade Union Institute, ACW Co-Investigator
  • Colin Gleeson, ProBE/University of Westminster, ACW Co-Investigator
  • Professor Malcolm Kirkup (tbc), Dean, Westminster Business School
  • Mercedes Landolfi (Fillea CGIL, Italy)
  • Carla Lipsig-Mummé, York University, ACW Principal Investigator
  • Sam Mason, Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union
  • Philip Pearson (GJA)
  • Vivian Price (US)
  • Melahat Sahin-Dikmen, ProBE/University of Westminster
  • Lisa Schulte, Middlesex University
  • Dimitris Stevis, Colorado State University, ACW Co-Investigator
  • Fred Steward, University of Westminster, ACW Co-Investigator

and others.

A complete agenda, speakers, and biographies are available here.

To reserve a place and for further information, contact, Melahat Sahin-Dikmen at M.Sahindikmen@westminster.ac.uk or Linda Clarke at clarkel@westminster.ac.uk

Low Energy Construction at City Building (Glasgow)

posted in: Article, Posts | 0

The European Housing Crisis is the subject of the latest issue of CLR News. Featured in the journal is an article on City Building (Glasgow) by the ProBE (Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment) research team, based at the ACW partner institution, the University of Westminster.

City Building offers an example of how to address the housing crisis. With this publicly accountable model, 2,200 construction workers are employed directly under good trade union conditions, an inclusive manufacturing arm is integrated, a substantial programme of vocational education and training is offered for young people, and good quality and energy efficient social housing is provided for working people in Glasgow and surrounding areas.

 

Low energy construction 

Glasgow House
Glasgow House

City Building has developed the Glasgow House (see photo), the first of the kind in Scotland. These innovative low energy houses have high levels of insulation and airtightness, efficient heating systems and solar thermal panels and demonstration a two-thirds reduction in energy costs compared with a typical there-bedroom house. The key features of these highly-insulated timber frame houses, with pre-manufactured floor and roof cassettes manufactured by RSBi, are: high levels of insulation; windows and sun rooms to suit orientation capturing sun energy; simple forms of construction using locally-sourced and assembled materials; efficient heating systems using solar thermal panels; educating residents to benefit from special features in their houses.

The City Building workforce is currently involved in various energy efficiency schemes including solar thermal, photovoltaic, combined heat & power, ground source heat pump & voltage & boiler optimization technologies. A 2017 example is off-grid district heating installation, utilizing a Large Scale Air Source Heat Pump as the primary heat source to 350 properties at Hillpark Drive in South Glasgow. City Building also utilizes its own Building Management Systems Team to develop, implement and monitor control systems within Glasgow City Council and The Wheatley Housing Group to ensure buildings are performing as efficiently as possible, in many instances reducing utility bills by as much as 30%.

 

Trade union involvement

In City Building, the unionisation rate is reported to be nearly 100 per cent, across three unions: UNITE (services, plus former UCATT joiners), UNISON (office staff) and Community (remaining RSBi staff). The Joint Trade Union Council, which includes representatives from each trade union, actively engages with the management of City Building.

 

“City Building (Glasgow): An inspiring Model for Social Housing Production,” was written by Linda Clarke, Colin Gleeson and Melahat Sahin-Dikmen of the University of Westminster. It is published in the CLR News 3/2017 (European Institute for Construction Labour Research).

 

Read CLR News No 3/2017

 

Book Launch: Climate Change and Gender in Rich Countries

posted in: Article, Events, Posts | 0

Friday, November 10th 2017
5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M.

Noah Meltz Reading Room
CIRHR Library
University of Toronto
121 St. George St., Toronto, ON M5S 2E8

ATTENDANCE IS FREE

RSVP to acwinfo@yorku.ca

 

Climate change is at the forefront of ideas about public policy, the economy and labour issues. However, the gendered dimensions of climate change and the public policy issues associated with it in wealthy nations
are much less understood.

Climate Change and Gender in Rich Countries covers a wide range of issues dealing with work and working life. The book demonstrates the gendered distinctions in both experiences of climate change and the ways that public policy deals with it. The book draws on case studies from the UK, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Spain and the US to address key issues such as: how gendered distinctions affect the most vulnerable; paid and unpaid work; and activism on climate change. It is argued that including gender as part of the analysis will lead to more equitable and stronger societies as solutions to climate change advance.

This volume will be of great relevance to students, scholars, trade unionists and international organisations with an interest in climate change, gender, public policy and environmental studies.

Introduction
CARLA LIPSIG-MUMMÉ, Project Lead, Work in a Warming World (W3) and Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces (ACW) research programmes.

Speakers
MARJORIE GRIFFIN COHEN, Simon Fraser University
Editor

ELLIE PERKINS, York University
Canadian Indigenous Female Leadership and Political Agency on Climate Change

KENDRA COULTER, Brock University
Towards Humane Jobs: Recognizing Gendered, Multispecies Intersections and Possibilities

LINDA CLARKE, University of Westminster
Women and Low Energy Construction in Europe: A New Opportunity?

BIPASHA BARUAH, Western University
Renewable Inequity? Women’s Employment in Clean Energy in Industrialized, Emerging and Developing Economies

ACW leads conference stream on climate change and labour

 

4-6 April 2017, Sheffield, UK

At the 35th International Labour Process Conference, held in Sheffield, UK, ACW ran a special stream titled “A Volatile Political Economy: Work, Climate Change and Labour: Labour Process Perspectives”. This was for the second year running, last year’s theme at the ILPC conference in Berlin being Labour, Work and Climate Change: a labour process perspective. The stream this year was led by Professor Carla Lipsig-Mummé of York University, Toronto, Canada and Professor Linda Clarke of the University of Westminster, UK, together with Donald Lafleur, Executive Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress and Dr. Elaine Bernard, Director of Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School, US.

The stream addressed the problematic issue that, though work, worksites and production supply chains are major polluters, the new retreat into defensive nationalism adds to the difficulties of combatting at an international level the global danger we confront. It is vital to re-connect work and political economy, so that the transition to a low carbon economy becomes an international driver for transforming the labour process to the benefit of workers. Bringing workers and unions and work itself ‘in’ to the struggle to slow global warming entails rethinking the labour process through a green lens, and adapting key steps in the chain of production to mitigate greenhouse gases. It entails reconsidering the legal, political and economic contexts that hinder or facilitate workplace low-carbon adaptation, bringing labour and environment law together, criticising work design and current business models for their carbon excesses, and rediscovering the influential roles that workers, their unions and professional associations can play in adapting and improving the labour process. And, finally, it means understanding the ways in which political economies and responses to climate change affect not only the labour process, but union goals, alliances, modes of action, organisation of young workers, political strength and strategic creativity.

Within this framework, papers were presented in four separate sessions over two days by ACW researchers, academics from universities in the UK and further afield, and those from trade union organisations.

The contributions within each themed session included:

Just Transition
• Slow Greening: Climate Literacy and the Labour Movement: Carla Lipsig-Mummé, York University, Canada
• Just Transition in a Neoliberal Context: the contradictions of labour-market policy in post-petro-state Canada: Donald Lafleur and Chris Roberts, Canadian Labour Congress
• Contesting Just Transition: a sufficient challenge to capitalist labour processes? (Ewan Kerr, University of Glasgow)

Energy Provision
• Romance or Chimaera? Industry Policy and Job Quality in European Offshore Wind Turbine Manufacturing: Lisa Shulte, Middlesex University, UK
• Decarbonising the Electricity Grid: the implications for organised labour: Colin Patrick Gleeson, University of Westminster, UK

VET for low energy construction
• Promoting Climate Literacy in British Columbia’s Apprenticeship System: evaluating one union’s efforts to overcome barriers to low carbon construction: John Calvert, Simon Fraser University, Canada
• The Role of Labour and VET in meeting Low Energy Construction Targets, Linda Clarke and Melahat Sahin-Dikmen, University of Westminster

Green Employment
• More and Better Jobs in a Low Carbon Future: provocations and possibilities: Steven Shelley, University of Hertfordshire, UK
• Gamification as Employment Strategy for Greening the Labour Process: Dean Stroud and Claire Evans, Cardiff University, UK
• The Role of Trade Unions in the Transformation towards a Low Carbon Economy: Bela Galgoczi, European Trade Union Institute, Belgium

Lively discussions followed the presentations, highlighting the significance of agency and vision in influencing the nature of the response to climate change and the critical necessity of bringing a labour perspective to bear on green transition approaches and policies by government and non-government organisations and agencies. Presentations were also informative about regional green transition initiatives involving trade unions, with discussions focusing particularly on British Columbia, Canada, the Ruhr region in Germany and Yorkshire and Humberside in the UK. Insights into the practical implementation, consequences and implications of green transitions were given in discussions about work and employment conditions in wind turbine manufacturing, training and skill needs in construction, and energy efficiency regulations in energy-intensive industries.

On the third day, the stream concluded with a panel discussion on ‘Green labour in dark times’, facilitated by responses to an imaginary scenario from 2035, when two major forces co-exist, digitalisation and climate change: can they combine or are they on a collision course? With examples of green transition initiatives from across a number of countries and regions, the possibility and need to allow for different green transitions pathways also came to the fore in the final debate. Above all, the fundamental role trade unions play in representing the interests of labour in what is a hugely complex, uneven and long transition to a green economy was reinforced.

It is intended that some of the contributions given at Sheffield and at last year’s Berlin conference will, together with contributions from ACW and other international researchers be included in two books and a special journal.

Linda Clarke, Carla Lipsig-Mummé and Melahat Sahin-Dikmen
June 2017

Climate change and work: international perspectives

posted in: Events, Posts | 0

 

Workshop

hosted by Sheffield Climate Alliance, Sheffield Trade Union Council
and international trade unionists and researchers

Tuesday 4th April, 6.30pm to 9pm
Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James’ St, Sheffield S1 2EW

Free event with buffet supper – please book on Eventbrite by 30 Mar:
www.eventbrite.com/e/climate-change-and-work-international-perspectivestickets-32880462348

At the beginning of April, academic researchers and trade unionists from various countries
will be in Sheffield to participate in the Climate Change and Work stream of the 32nd
International Labour Process Conference at the University of Sheffield.

The Adapting Canadian Workplaces programme (www.adaptingcanadianwork.ca/), led by
Professor Carla Lipsig Mummé will be strongly represented. ACW partners include many
Canadian trade unions, including the Postal Workers, Union of Public Employees, United
Steelworkers, and British Columbian Building Trades, as well as the Labor Network for
Sustainability. The project has been building databases of collective agreement clauses and
training programmes on climate change.

We are offering the chance to meet and exchange ideas about what is being done locally in
the Sheffield area and in other parts of the globe.
International participants include:

  • Donald Lafleur, Vice President of the Canadian Labour Congress
  • Bela Galgoczi from the European Trade Union Institute
  • Carla Lipsig Mummé, of York University, Toronto
  • John Calvert, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia

 

And from the UK:

  • Graham Petersen, UCU and Greener Jobs Alliance (www.greenerjobsalliance.co.uk/)
  • Dean Stroud and Claire Evans of Cardiff University
  • Linda Clarke and Colin Gleeson, ProBE, University of Westminster
  • Martin Mayer, Sheffield TUC

 

A buffet supper and coffee/tea will be available and afterwards we will adjourn to a
local pub for drinks and a chance to chat further. Please book on Eventbrite so we
know numbers.

 

Sheffield Climate Alliance: info@sheffieldclimatealliance.net or
Linda Clarke: clarkel@wmin.ac.uk or 07821610665