Month: May 2013

Stuart Moir, ECCI PhD student shares some insights of his project…

Stuart Moir, PhD student blog entry for ECCI

What does sustainability mean to you? Sure, you’ve probably seen the Venn diagram model. You know, three overlapping circles representing environment, society and economy with sustainability residing at the centre of the diagram, where all three circles partially coincide. Perhaps you know of other sustainability models (click here for an overview). But what do they really mean?

Sustainability venn diagramWhat about the related concept of sustainable development? A more tangible notion than sustainability it nevertheless has been appropriated by many competing ideologies, from the conservative to the revolutionary! (Want to know more? OK then, click here) To be honest, it’s all very confusing.

But that’s why I‘m undertaking a PhD with the School of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University. To understand precisely what sustainability is and how it should be applied in the context of the built environment. And the best-in-class sustainable refurbishment of the historic former Royal High School building, to provide accommodation for ECCI and its partners, has provided me with a unique opportunity to do just this.

During the course of my investigations, I’ve been fortunate enough to have interviewed many key stakeholders involved in the ECCI building project – client representatives, prospective buildings users, members of the design and construction teams, etc. – regarding how sustainability is being implemented at High School Yards.

But how does one make sense of and organise such a complex notion as sustainability? Well, I stumbled upon a rather unique way of considering the notion. It’s a bit of a mouthful (and, at first reading anyway, a headful!). It’s called (hold on to your hats…) the Cosmonomic Idea of Reality, a pluralist ontology conceived in the last century by the Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd (see what I mean?). Although it’s a sophisticated conception, in essence Dooyeweerd’s cosmology is relatively straight-forward and actually quite intuitive.

High_School,_Infirmary_Street,_1777I used the framework underpinning this philosophy to structure my interview schedule and questions and in doing so I’ve been able to extract a rich trove of data from the completed interviews. Moreover, I have determined some consistent ‘sustainability threads’ running through the project narratives provided by each of the interviewees. For example: reducing the consumption of energy and associated emissions (both embodied and operational); an appreciation of ethics through the appropriate sourcing of materials and ‘doing the right thing’; and a commitment to innovation and social interaction.

My intention is to compare these findings with how sustainability is currently being evaluated on the building project (i.e. via a BREEAM scheme) to see if the manner in which interactions with building sustainability assessment schemes can be improved.

I’m looking forward to further fruitful engagement with ECCI in the near future.

You can read more about Stuart’s work here.


ECCI Cafe Comp – And the winner is…


The Knight’s Table

Suggested by: Roddy McNulty, Edinburgh

Prize draw winner: Stephen Porter

Congratulations to you both!

What’s in a name?

Back in April, ECCI launched a competition to find a name for our new Café.

We wanted the name to reflect the site’s fascinating history, the new building’s world-class green credentials or the world-changing plans ECCI has for the future.

After four weeks of collecting hundreds of fantastic entries the judges selected a shortlist of the best five, which went out to a public vote. Three weeks and hundreds of votes later, the votes were counted and the winners announced.

Congratulations to the winners

Roddy McNulty suggested the winning name, ‘The Knight’s Table’. His prizes:

Cutting the tape at our opening event, being remembered forever more by a commemorative plaque in the Café and his first 10 cups of coffee in his very own ECCI mug.

As the winner of the prize draw, Stephen Porter wins his first ten cups of coffee at the new café for free.

Meet the winners

Roddy McNulty is a qualified archaeologist who works for Recovery Action (, helping victims of Guatemala’s genocide in the 1980s rebury their dead with dignity. He also runs Home Tuition Scotland – Scotland’s largest home school and music tuition provider (

Roddy said: “I’m delighted to have won the ‘Name the ECCI Cafe’ competition! I found out about the competition through the amusing ECCI Knight twitter feed – “@ecciknight”. I selected the name as I am a qualified archaeologist and found out about the exciting find of the Medieval Knight at the High School Yards during work on the ECCI Centre building.

Who knows, the new Cafe might even persuade Sir Eck to raise himself from his 700 year-old slumber for a coffee.”

The name “The Knight’s Table” seemed an obvious choice to link past, present and future. Of course, all of the Knights had equal standing around King Arthur’s round table, and this provides a lesson from the past to those who have been entrusted to take important decisions on our planet’s future. Who knows, the new Cafe might even persuade Sir Eck to raise himself from his 700 year-old slumber for a coffee.”

Stephen Porter is one of this year’s Carbon Masters (and next year’s PhD students) and visited the building this year as past of ECCI’s academic outreach programme.

He said: I’m very much looking forward to the opening of the new ECCI building. Barring a requirement to be out of town, I certainly plan on being at the launch event – hopefully before the new Autumn term starts!”

Back to Spring 2013 Newsletter.




The 700 year history of High School Yards:

Green, Lean & Clean – the buildings world-class green innovations:

ECCI’s world changing plans for the future: