Buildings and infrastructure services of the future: NWSBQ event round-up

Sophie Taylor, our Marketing Apprentice, recaps on June’s NWSBQ event:

Last Thursday was our second NWSBQ of 2016, with an all-female panel of construction industry experts giving us an overview of progress in the sector. Our first speaker, Cat Hirst, Head of Learning and Innovation, of the UK Green Building Council, glimpsed into the uncertain future of 2050; before pulling us back to present day and the innovation happening now. Our second speaker of the evening was Nicola Martin, Head of Sustainability, a key figure who developed Balfour Beatty’s original ‘Roadmap’ Sustainability Strategy. And following them was Katie Livesey, our Associate Director and construction industry expert here at Anthesis. All three experts shared their extensive knowledge on the topic, as well as some current and emerging changes we might see arriving in our own towns and cities soon.

Imagine a world 35 years from now…

Cat took us on a journey 34 years from now – a future which has some concerning issues. With an increasing population, rising sea levels and increased air pollution, our current commercial and lifestyle habits have set us on a path to potential disaster. These factors alone are tell-tale signs we have to be smarter with the way we build and to look at our management of infrastructure from a present day perspective.

What can we do to preserve our future? Cat then gave us some examples of projects that already exist today – including a building which knows how you like your coffee, and the ‘Growing Underground’ project in London, which uses 70% less water to sustain their veg. It’s great that recent designs have sustainability in mind, but that isn’t the case for millions of the buildings that already exist. As well as changing the way we design and build today, it’s important not to forget the buildings that already exist… such as the air bunkers sitting vacant across the country!

Building towards a more sustainable future…

We then heard from Balfour Beatty’s Nicola Martin, and the ways this organisation is helping to build towards a more sustainable future, and Nicola had many examples to share. One of the most prominent projects Nicola spoke of was ‘Edith Green’ in Oregon in the US; valued at $137 million, it decreases energy consumption by over 50% from baseline metrics and has a roof canopy with a 180kw photovoltaic array… which nicely doubles as a rainwater collection surface too. And importantly, Balfour Beatty are sustaining and building local economies. This includes sourcing stone from nearby areas, and offering apprenticeships and work to local people in communities.

To see Nicola’s slides, please click here.

Designing buildings with the user in mind…

Our final speaker Katie stressed the importance of construction within our day to day lives. We are all users of construction, we live in construction, and so how we build is inevitably important. Can we design buildings not only in a sustainable manner, but in a way that increases our own wellbeing as well? Designing buildings with the user in mind could dramatically increase productivity and create better environments and workspaces. However, to achieve this requires communication and collaboration for all involved parties; only then can we begin to truly model our buildings creatively and with new and pioneering approaches.

To see Katie’s slides, please click here.

During the Q&A, a few clear messages emerged. Building sustainably is a positive and necessary approach to help minimise our environmental impact, but is it any use if the people we put in them aren’t trained how to use them and maximise their potential? Another discussion was around how governmental policies need to be put in place to ensure we are taking the necessary measures to preserve our future.

There was a positive message to take home; change is at hand, with new and innovative approaches emerging – and already in play – in the world of infrastructure.

A huge thanks to our speakers, to Bruntwood for providing our venue, to GoodMoodFood for the buffet, and also to Green Earth Appeal for pledging to plant a tree for every event attendee.

The North West Sustainable Business Quarterly is held in Manchester every March, June, September and December. Join us – please email nwsbq@anthesisgroup.com or visit nwsbq.co.uk for more information.

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March 2016’s NWSBQ: Tackling food waste

nwsbq stuart noakesZero domestic food waste – it’s possible. The clear, punchy opening given by Dr Wayne Martindale of Sheffield Business School, and the sort of sky’s-the-limit thinking ideal for beginning an evening of ‘tackling food waste’. This event was this quarter’s edition of the North West Sustainable Business Quarterly, a sustainability networking event held in Manchester, UK.

Stuart Noakes of The Co-operative Group spoke alongside Wayne, each giving their views on the problem of food waste, and going some way to identifying the solutions of today, and tomorrow.

Food waste is by no means a new sustainability issue but, of late, it’s certainly one receiving the media attention it deserves. Wayne discussed the role of the domestic kitchen, and how the way we design them can better build in ways to reduce waste. He also touched on how the more food is moved about, the more wastage occurs through supply chain transportation and storage inefficiencies. Wayne then tackled the role of the consumer in reducing food waste – and that it is having to meet the sometimes unsustainable consumer needs and wants that can lead to edible food never reaching human mouths; there is a key role for brands in engaging consumers around their food choices and driving positive change. Wayne also considered the role of freezing foods. Of course, whilst freezing foods enhances longevity – meaning 47% less frozen food gets wasted than fresh because we have time to use it before it perishes –­ this comes at the price of a higher carbon footprint. But simply put, no frozen food would mean an additional 5.5 million tonnes of food waste by consumers, so it’s probably worth keeping hold of your freezer…

Please see: Wayne Martindale’s prezie here

Stuart then gave us a tour of The Cooperative Group’s approach to food waste – their ultimate waste goal being that no calorie in their hands is not consumed. He tackled the issue that has been painted in the press – that retail are the “big bad giants of food waste”. But he put this into perspective too: those “big bad” retailers are only a small part of the overall problem. It’s us consumers that contribute to the significant swathes of food waste that go on once the food leaves the store. He outlined the challenge retailers, including Co-op, face – consumers are the ones who dictate what is deemed ‘acceptable’, and the issue is that if you go further in your quest for food waste reduction/animal welfare (etc.) than the consumers have asked for, and especially if you’re the only retailer to do so, then it’s not good for business. It’s collaborative incremental changes across the retail sector that mean everyone’s a winner. For any retailer, it’s a careful balance of profit versus doing the right thing. And the collaboration must go further than just with the retailers; we need to be educating consumers about the choices they make and pushing harder for the right legislation.

Please see: Stuart Noakes’ presentation here

The Q&A which followed covered a breadth of topics – from infamous “ugly” veg to the demise of multibuy deals, and from foods of the future (GM and insects, anyone?) to the role of punishment and reward in encouraging desired consumer behaviours.

Roundtables covered a range of bases too: is food just too cheap? Where are the priorities in terms of reducing waste from farm to fork? How does voluntary regulation versus statutory targets? Is business collaboration or competition the way? And, more widely, how can we rethink consumption?

Our sincere thanks to our speakers, to Bruntwood for providing our venue, to GoodMoodFood for the buffet, and also to Green Earth Appeal for pledging to plant a tree for every event attendee – see the certificate here – North West Sustainable Business Quarterly NWSBQ – Certificate

The North West Sustainable Business Quarterly is held in Manchester every March, June, September and December. Join us – please email nwsbq@anthesisgroup.com

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December 2015’s NWSBQ: The harm in your office

KyoceraCool, relaxed, and captivating: the presenting style of Mark Shayler, hailed by some attendees as our best NWSBQ speaker yet. And, as co-speaker Tracey Rawling Church herself said, a tough act to follow! Massive thanks to both our speakers, who presented a highly complementary package: Mark, Director of Ape, took us on a whistle-stop tour around the globe to unpack the “problem” of the harm in our offices, and Tracey, Head of CSR at KYOCERA Document Solutions UK, engagingly reshaped the problem Mark had outlined by describing how a company who makes “stuff” can go some way to solving it. Continue reading

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September 2015’s NWSBQ: Behaviour change and employee engagement

greenangels commercialFor September’s event, we welcomed Fiona Place, a Director of Anthesis, as the host of the evening. Ann was able to experience the event from a whole new angle – speaking alongside the inspirational Co-founder of Commercial Group, Simone Hindmarch-Bye. As always, many thanks to GoodMoodFood for another wonderful buffet and Bruntwood – impeccable hosts, as always. Continue reading

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June 2015’s NWSBQ: Natural capital

NWSBQ - March 2015 (4)From thundering rivers to the buzzing pollinators just outside your window, it’s time we started valuing our planet’s natural resources. And June’s NWSBQ was about this very thing: natural capital. Many thanks to all those who attended another successful evening of networking and knowledge-sharing, particularly SSE Energy Solutions, whose sponsorship made it possible for us to delight in yet another delicious buffet supplied by the social enterprise GoodMoodFood. Our immense gratitude goes to Bruntwood for our venue – the Floor 24 team pulled out all the stops yet again! Continue reading

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March 2015’s NWSBQ: Roundtable notes

photo 3 smallHere’s a brief synopsis of each discussion:

Energy – should we count the cost in cash or carbon?

The recession has made cash even more tight than ever, and at present there is a perceived conflict between the “treehugging” case and the business case. We discussed the idea of trying to link carbon and cash and introducing a carbon tax as, at present, imports are made cheaper than home products as they are not trying to reduce their carbon usage. Continue reading

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March 2015’s NWSBQ: Making energy management core business

NWSBQ - March 2015 (15small)Our colleague from Oxford, Fiona Barker, summarises our March 2015 event. Thanks, Fiona!

Our First NWSBQ of 2015 was held on the top floor of the City Tower providing beautiful views across the city of Manchester once again. Anthesis would like to thank Bruntwood for providing the venue and to ESG, The Energy Solutions Group, for sponsoring the lovely GoodMoodFood buffet to give us all energy while we learnt about making energy management core business.

The evening began on a cheerful note with our speaker Lord Rupert Redesdale giving a very entertaining presentation. Continue reading

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December 2014’s NWSBQ: Reimagine, redesign – future thinking

firstmilkThe last event of 2014 was off to a flying start when the day remained hurricane-free (unlike this time last year…). Many thanks to Bruntwood for our wonderful venue yet again, as well as Axion Consulting for sponsoring the wonderful GoodMoodFood buffet, which provided delicious sustenance after a hard day’s work.

The evening began with a departure from the norm when our speaker, Inder Poonaji, joined us via Skype to give his presentation on how Nestlé are “creating shared value” around the globe. The technology functioned at its absolute best, and we couldn’t be more grateful to the City Tower team for setting up all the 21st century gadgetry at such short notice. Inder explained how, until six years ago, Nestlé’s approach was reactive rather than proactive when it came to sustainability. And of course, their historical association with formula milk in developing countries has led to much negative publicity. However, today it’s a completely different story, with fantastic past achievements and ambitious future targets. Continue reading

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September 2014: Roundtable notes

Thanks very much to our hosts for supplying the notes below. Continue reading

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September 2014’s NWSBQ: The circular economy

“It’s not rocket science”: some of Steve Wallace’s first words as he took centre stage to introduce the concept of the circular economy (CE) to everyone attending the third NWSBQ of 2014. As always, our attendees were treated to wonderful speakers, stimulating discussion, amazing views and delicious food. We would like to thank Bruntwood for hosting us at their City Tower venue yet again, as well as Axion Consulting for sponsoring the GoodMoodFood buffet. It was a winning combination. Continue reading

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