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The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) campaigns for a sustainable built environment. ‘Pinpoint’ is a free on-line knowledge sharing platform developed by the UK-GBC. The architectural practice I work for, EPR Architects Ltd, is a member of the UK-GBC and a sponsor of the resource.

Launched at Ecobuild in March 2013 Pinpoint provides a place where information on all aspects of sustainability can be accessed by anyone. Most importantly anyone can upload information to share on Pinpoint. The UK-GBC manages the resource to vet the information and ‘tag’ it appropriately in order pieces can be searched and filtered easily.

The relationship between the historic built environment and sustainability is at once simple and complex: simple in that older construction techniques often work with environmental conditions rather than against; complex in that the impact of newer technological sustainability ‘solutions’ on existing buildings are often not known, or are naively applied. Pinpoint seems the perfect platform to share knowledge quickly around the sector, to learn from each other, and potentially avoid our unique heritage buildings each becoming individual ‘test beds’ with unknown outcomes. (See also last week’s post on problems caused by well-meaning energy efficiency solutions).

One year on Pinpoint now has 1138 pieces of information uploaded. Disappointingly of the 30 topics ‘historic’ returns only 69 results – 6%. This compares to the most popular topic ‘Energy’ which returns 603 results – 53%. Although of fewer number the resources on the platform for ‘historic’ are high quality, very informative and relevant. The generation of ‘historic’ tagged information is actively contributed to by knowledgeable bodies such as English Heritage, SPAB, Sustainable Traditional Building Alliance, and the Building Research Establishment.

I can’t help but feel surprised there is so little information circulated on sustainability and historic fabric – is there really so little formative work being undertaken, or is it not being recorded effectively? Maybe those with such knowledge are not aware of Pinpoint as a means of sharing information.

The UK-GBC has re-designed the Pinpoint website to present the visitor with, ’a richer content and more direct access to resources’, as described by Natalia Ford of the UK-GBC when interviewed at Ecobuild on the 6th March. The more user-friendly website hopes to increase visitor numbers to the ‘signposting platform’ and reach out to more users. The system exponentially benefits from more users as the potential for sharing knowledge is greater.  If you are unfamiliar with Pinpoint I would encourage a visit to the website and see for yourself the range of information available.

Do post your thoughts on Pinpoint generally, and more specifically on resources for the historic environment. Were you aware of Pinpoint before reading this? Why do you think the topic ‘historic’ has limited information uploaded? Do you think the information uploaded on Pinpoint under ‘historic’ is useful?

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