ACW Mourns Passing of Green Built Environment Expert, Prof. Colin Patrick Gleeson

Prof. Colin Gleeson, University of Westminter (U.K.)

 

The ACW community is mourning the loss of one of its most important collaborators, Prof. Colin Patrick Gleeson, who passed away March 7 in London, U.K., after a lengthy illness.

Colin Gleeson was a Reader at the University of Westminster’s School of Architecture and the Built Environment, an academic staff member of the ProBE Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment, and a valued member of the Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Response to Climate Change (ACW): Canada in International Perspective research project, based at York University, where he participated in both the Built Environment and International Policy working groups.

 

ACW’s Principal Investigator, Dr. Carla Lipsig-Mummé, Professor of Work and Labour Studies, said, “Colin Gleeson has been with us from the beginning: a brilliant researcher, pioneering analyst, gifted writer, and essential to our project. He has been with us from the first days and his work is increasingly used internationally. On another level, Colin is a vivid friend, filled with energy and a hunger to delve deep and deeper on the widest ranging topics. Two images stay with me: I can see Colin standing inside the door of the London Review of Books bookstore after coffee for 5 at a table for 2, talking animatedly with my husband, an architect and an engineer, their backs against the outdoor sunlight, Colin’s hands raised and flailing to make his point. And another time, we are all, the ACW group, at a staid conference on labour process. Colin’s presentation needs a big screen, and there he is, running to leap at the screen to point out the high parts, twirling and returning to the screen from another angle. Vivid, warm, a lifelong friend to his friends… I will miss him.”

 

Long-time colleague at the University of Westminster, Professor Linda Clarke, added, “I will always picture Colin, rushing into my room, sitting himself down, and enthusiastically explaining a new idea, sharing a discovery or asking for thoughts on something or other, which often involved opening his laptop and going into detail. He loved being involved in the ACW programme. When we went on research trips, including to Denmark, Glasgow, Yorkshire, Devon, Colin would endlessly quiz, question and discuss with whoever we were visiting, always curious, eager to learn, and interested. On our many long journeys together whether to Brussels, Copenhagen or Canada, we had a constant banter going, back and forth, enjoying each other’s company. He was the life and soul of our Research Centre, ProBE (Centre for the Study of the Production of the Built Environment), the expert on low energy construction, stalking up and down waving his arms as he gave a presentation. And in the union, he would be relied on to attend meetings and the first on the picket line, holding a placard high in the air. We are all going to miss him.”

 

Associate Professor John Calvert, Simon Fraser University, said, “Colin was unique in many ways because he combined his professional training as a building science engineer with a commitment to applying his knowledge in the social sciences and, particularly, the areas of workplace organization and labour relations. He was an incredibly curious person who was always asking questions about how and why we did things the way we did. He was also dedicated to making workplaces more democratic and more responsive to the needs of the people who actually carried out work on the job site. He had a profound commitment to using his skills and knowledge for the benefit of working people, a task which he fulfilled to a remarkable degree, both in his research and in his teaching.”

 

Dr. Colin Gleeson conducting research for his ACW Green Transitions in the Built Environment project.

 

Colin Gleeson originally worked in all types of construction ranging from housing to hospitals, offices and factories, which involved an eclectic mix of design, installation, consultancies and academia. He started in academia by teaching a women’s plumbing course and then guest lectured at the Hogeschool in Amsterdam and University College London. He presented his research to the European Commission, the European Social Fund, the European Construction Social Partners, the European Trade Union Institute, the British Council, as well as at low energy and vocational education conferences. Colin Gleeson completed his PhD at the University College London in 2014 and he had a BA in environmental engineering.

 

The details of Colin Gleeson’s funeral are as follows:

Friday, 5 April 2019, 2:00 PM
West Norwood Cemetery & Crematorium
and afterwards at The Rosendale pub, 65 Rosendale Rd, London SE21 8EZ

 

Wishes of the family:

Because of Colin’s passion for energy conservation we are asking people not to buy flowers. Instead if you would like to, please send donations to St Christopher’s Hospice, Sydenham, SE26 6DZ. Direct link: https://supportus.stchristophers.org.uk/donate/product/donate

 


The European Social Fund produced an interview with Colin Gleeson about his work in 2012, which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1So8KZHG8yM.

 

His work for ACW may be viewed on the website at http://www.adaptingcanadianwork.ca/tag/colin-gleeson/

Colin’s last two projects, in addition to the ACW work, were:

  • Analysis of data from heat pumps installed via the Renewable Heat Premium Payment Scheme (RHPP) to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) A major contract with research consortium from UCL, BSRIA, SP Technical Sweden for UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), 2014-2017.
  • EU Progress Fund:  European Retrofit Network: The European Retrofit Network provided a methodology for retrofitting social housing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions with an analysis of their VET requirements for an EU-wide retrofitting industry. The Westminster package focused on retrofit interventions to quantify emissions savings for different housing typologies. The research entailed emissions reduction modeling and interviews with stakeholders, including social housing providers, architects, project managers and building contractors.

 

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)

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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

 

ACW Baseline Subreport – Policies and Practices to Promote Work Enhancing Pathways in the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy

By Fred Steward

Professor, Policy Studies Institute
University of Westminster, London

This draft review gives an overview of the European policy context with regard to climate change. It identifies a new pervasive political discourse on the transition to a low carbon society which places a major issue of environmental sustainability high on the policy agenda. This is also associated with greater attention to policies on industry and innovation which overlap conventional trade union concerns. The transition policy framing highlights the need for active policy influence on transformative change.

An analysis is presented of the views of the principal Europe-wide trade union organization, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) on this new policy context for environmental sustainability and climate change. This is based on publicly available documentary sources along with reports on a selection of European national trade union confederation initiatives and recent developments in trade union/labour movement policy by European policy institutions and analysts.

The focus of this review is to identify new policies and practices which engage with the ‘transition to a green, low-carbon economy’ from the perspective of proactive initiatives to promote work-enhancing pathways. The aim is to assess recent policy reviews and proposals in order to map out a new work-enhancing green economy transition agenda. This could form the basis for subsequent action-oriented research strands with particular policy players.

Particular aspects of interest are:

  • Engagement with the new framework of sociotechnical transitions in contrast to the established frameworks of ecological modernization or market based instruments. This embraces purposive transformative goals, a mix of social and technological innovation, and a key role for a diverse coalition of societal actors Recognition of the possibility of alternative transition pathways and that choices between them may have different implications for job creation, employment and working conditions, and skill development arising from contrasting emphases on technological production and social use, singular new products/processes versus wider system innovation, one-off skills or long term vocational change
  • Action at multiple levels of governance, not just at the national or sectoral level. Of particular interest is the role of new developments in policy and practice involving partnership with cities, local authorities and regions
  • Interventions, which are not simply reactive in terms of justice or job protection, but proactively intervene to shape the nature of the green transition, and promote an awareness of the potential role of trade unions as environmental actors or innovators
Download the full report (PDF)