2023: The Year to Ramp Up Net-Zero Efforts
Written by Brian Goldsmith, Managing Director, UK & Europe
As we all get back to our desks and sift through our inboxes, our minds will turn to the big opportunities and challenges for building design and engineering in 2023. There’s plenty to get our teeth into, from building safety and affordability to decarbonization, supply chain issues, and an ongoing skills shortage.
For me, this has to be the year we make real progress on delivering net zero goals. There are push and pull factors driving this. On the one hand, we’re continuing to see the impact of dramatic weather events on our built environment. We need to minimize property’s contribution to climate change while designing resilience to ensure buildings can cope with shifting weather patterns. More optimistically, new tools and techniques can help us address embodied and operational carbon and design greener, smarter building systems.
From the likes of Grosvenor to Canary Wharf Group and British Land, major developers have committed to ambitious emissions reduction targets over the next decade or so. Our community of engineers, designers, architects, and contractors must help them get there. Collaboration, a shift in mindset, and getting the right talent will all be key.
Pulling the Industry Forward, Together
So, what’s needed to unlock net zero ambitions? First, our sector must work better together. Sustainability cuts across disciplines, sectors, and businesses. It’s about making the right design choices, ensuring those decisions are followed through during construction, and then working with occupiers, landlords and end users so that operational performance lives up to design aspirations. The principle of collaboration – working with each other and not against each other or in isolation – is discussed widely across many sectors, not just our own. We need to stop talking about it and start doing it.
We can’t deliver everything that’s needed alone, and being generous with our knowledge and experience across the supply chain will be vital. We’ve been working for many years to bring together the expertise and share insight with partners and clients through organizations like the Low Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI), a network of over 1,000 built environment professionals. We need more forums for conversations like this in 2023 and welcome others to join us.
Avoiding internal siloes and learning from colleagues is just as important as bridging gaps between organizations. This joined-up thinking is core to our ethos as a business, and now, with Introba’s global offer, we’re better placed than ever to reap the benefits of our teams’ vast experience across markets and sectors.
Secondly, we need a mindset shift across the industry. Tackling the built environment’s net zero challenge can sometimes feel overwhelming, but we mustn’t get distracted by the obstacles. We should see net zero as an opportunity to sink our teeth into complex issues and to make a genuine and positive difference.
When we started working with CIBSE to standardize carbon life cycle assessments for buildings, for example, the data we needed didn’t exist. But rather than be put off by that, we’ve built a methodology from scratch to help the sector assess embodied carbon and make smarter design choices. This can-do attitude will help us make more headway this year.
Attracting the People We Need
Finally, we need fresh ideas and new perspectives, and that means attracting bright, passionate, and curious people to the industry. We know that more and more young people care about having a career that will make a difference in the world. Let’s encourage them to do that in our sector by shouting about the big, sometimes tough issues we face in the built environment and how we tackle them with creativity, ingenuity, and hard work. After all, it’s what gets us up in the morning.
Finally, the difficulty of the built environment’s net zero tasks shouldn’t dissuade us from hunting for solutions. It is exactly why we must do it. This year more than ever, we need to pull together, look positively at the opportunities offered by decarbonization and talk about how we’re tackling the challenges. 2023 needs to be another move of the needle in the right direction. Let’s build success together.
Passionate in his advocacy for global sustainability and Net Zero targets, Brian recognizes the urgent need for accelerated change in the built environment. He has built a team of trusted design professionals and respected thought leaders to provide a robust, client-focused experience, and developed a long-lasting network of project partners.
Through ongoing mentorship and development of staff, Brian embraces the opportunity and responsibility to bring new talent and vision into our business and industry. He is an internal sponsor of the firm’s CIBSE Accredited Training Scheme and Vice Chair of the CIBSE Training and Development panel.
Brian is also a CIBSE Fellow and Fitwel Ambassador, committed to promoting health and well-being in the built environment.
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