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4th May 2016

Sustainable Building - A Responsibility to Affect Change Across the Industry

Last month saw the sad loss of Sir David MacKay, professor of engineering, mathematical theorist and latterly Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.  MacKay rose to prominence with the publication of his 2008 book:  Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air, a ‘straight-talking book about the numbers’, and with it truly changed the thinking of hundreds of thousands of people across the world.

MacKay’s key message on sustainability is that, even though the small things that each of us do to reduce our carbon footprint (unplugging our mobile phone charger, turning off light switches etc.) are good, we are deluded if we think that these changes are going to have a significant impact on the rate of destruction of our planet. 

Proud as we are that we play our part in these ‘small things’, we at StuartBarrCDR keenly feel our responsibility to bring about that real, lasting and significant change MacKay refers to through promotion of sustainable build values and through influence of the wider construction industry.

Our company director, Stuart Barr, set the example early on by training in sustainable build techniques at the Centre of Alternative Technology (CAT) in North Wales.   He has actively sought commissions for eco-build projects and as such our site teams have gained experience in the installation of ground source heat pumps, sedum green roofing and solar panel installation etc. In the process they have built close relationships with specialist subcontractors and suppliers, who provide the infrastructure to make these installations possible.

David Noonan, StuartBarrCDR Construction Director, has taken this commitment a step further.  Oxfordshire Construction Training Group (OCTG) is about to launch a Level 2 Sustainable Construction qualification and David has been a keen participant in the pilot scheme.  OCTG is developing the course in response to the obvious gap in sustainable construction skills in the local work force, made apparent in the planning of Bicester’s eco-town.  OCTG’s leader David Holbrook has worked closely with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to bring national recognition of the qualification. A Level 3 and diploma course are also in development. We at StuartBarr look forward to being able to train more of our team in sustainable construction.

So this is our call; for this amazing industry to stand together…. to take people like David Holbrook at OCTG up on their offer of sustainable build training and to arm the next generation of young builders with the knowledge they need to pioneer - not just respond to - changes in building specification.   We can make installation of ground source heat pumps, solar panels, wood chip burners and passive housing etc. more accessible choices. In doing so we can influence the mindset of architects, quantity surveyors, contracts administrators, and project managers alike, whether commercial or residential.  Builders are often underestimated in terms of their influence in the construction value chain. 

We know first hand how much both the client and the builder can do to bring about the ‘big changes’ David MacKay talks about.

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