As the COP26 summit begins, HLM’s new Head of Sustainability, Karl Brown, shares what he hopes the leaders will achieve, and his ambitions to drive HLM’s sustainability goals forwards.

“For us, sustainable objectives, initiatives, and targets have never been a ‘nice to have’; we are truly passionate about and committed to the cause.”

I’m delighted to be stepping into my new role as HLM’s Head of Sustainability at a crucial time for our business, our industry, and our planet. That this coincides with the start of COP26 is not lost on me, and has left me reflecting even further on what the outcomes of this important gathering could or should mean for us all.

The arguments are well trodden, the statistics and targets are well established, and we must now hope that the political will matches up to them. The time for talking is over; the time to act is upon us.

At HLM, we have recognised the impact that our designs and our operations have on the environment, and we have committed to the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge as a formal declaration of our targets. This means significantly upskilling our people and scaling up our ability to tackle the fundamental challenge of our time.

My hope from COP26 is that we see affirmative action to provide the infrastructure and policy framework to create a net-zero carbon world, the beginnings of a Green Industrial Revolution. The RIBA’s recently published Built for the Environment report is a fantastic call to action, and highlights what is possible.

We must change the way we design and construct buildings. For HLM, this means committing to measuring the whole life carbon on all projects whilst continuing to have a positive impact on the wider aspects of sustainability such as ecology, water use and social value. We have invested in training seven in-house PassivHaus designers and in retrofit training, with a substantial commitment to roll this out further in the coming years.

Our teams are growing both in number and in knowledge. We have experts in multiple areas and have every intention of furthering our expertise by attracting and retaining the best talent. For us, sustainable objectives, initiatives, and targets have never been a ‘nice to have’; we are truly passionate about and committed to the cause.

This is the greatest challenge of my career. Achieving our strategic objectives is a team effort, but I hope to act as a focal point for engagement with industry on this topic to drive innovation and the development of HLM’s capabilities. With challenge comes change, and I am excited to lead our journey as it continues, living our Thoughtful Design philosophy and making better places in every way possible.

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