Growing up in Italy, surrounded by historic buildings, I’ve always had a sense of how long the legacy of our built environment really is. What we build today could be with us for generations to come. This thought fills me with a huge sense of responsibility to create a more sustainable future, and ‘net zero’ buildings are an important part of the solution.
My job, and my driving passion, is to make the case for decarbonisation to clients, suppliers and colleagues. I encourage the whole project team all the way to the supply chain to consider embodied carbon, along with other environmental impacts, over the whole life cycle of a building, not just the construction phase. So, typically 60 – 120 year period.
It’s also for me to underline that net zero carbon is not all about new build. Around 80% of 2050’s buildings have either been granted planning permission or already been built - existing buildings will therefore play a huge part in decarbonising our built environment.
Clients are often surprised by how quickly carbon savings start to mount up by adjusting even the smallest details of a project whether it’s a new build or a refit. For example, a carpet is typically replaced every 10 to 15 years - that’s roughly six times over a building’s life cycle. Therefore, sourcing locally sustainable carpet makes a difference in the long run.
At WSP, we’re aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of all our designs by 50% by 2030. This means our design teams are constantly looking for ways to decarbonise our projects. We are creating designs that go beyond ‘business as usual’, working with our clients to help them start their net zero journey. We are showing them different scenarios of how we can decarbonise buildings, and how we can marry this goal with other factors such as cost and programme. Our purpose is to bring sustainability to the forefront and help our clients make informed decisions that can push boundaries further to minimise a project’s carbon footprint and leave a lasting positive impact on the local people and environment.
We cannot meet ‘our’ carbon reduction target on our own. We must bring our clients on the journey, and most importantly make sure that our supply chain partners are able to deliver the low carbon materials and solutions we need.
The whole industry needs to come together if we’re to move towards a more sustainable future. I love being a part of the progress we’re making.