Katherine Biggs on Sustainability - Education and the Importance of Sharing Knowledge

In the conclusion of our sustainability series, Content Creator Katherine Biggs discusses how, although we need to do more than just talk about sustainability, it is key to the success of sustainable principles becoming widely understood and adopted.

“How could we possibly work towards our bold ambition to reach the 2030 targets by 2025, without talking about what we want to achieve and how we can achieve it?”

The past year has been a very steep learning curve for me. Not only have I started working in a completely different industry to my previous roles, but I have also managed to become a sustainability champion as part of that role!

I am passionate about learning and always have been. A key part of my role is understanding, sometimes simplifying, and communicating concepts and initiatives. Working for an architectural practice unfortunately doesn’t mean I am an architect (apparently), and therefore the aspects that I write about – both internally and externally – require me to research, discuss and build an understanding so that I can communicate their intricacies well.

A large part of my role so far has been focussed on sustainability, including internal communications about the RIBA 2030 Sustainable Outcomes, as well as developing this series of Thought Leadership pieces for external audiences. I can’t stress how important even a basic discussion to understand these concepts has been in helping me to create these pieces, and facilitate the transfer of knowledge between people. We need to strive to understand more in general; covid has taught us all a lot about ourselves, especially the importance of wellbeing and work-life balance, with previously taboo subjects such as mental health also becoming more openly accepted. But being increasingly understanding and knowledgeable doesn’t and shouldn’t stop there – we need to work together to appreciate other people’s strengths, opinions, and perspectives.

There is a lot to be said about how people talk too much and don’t act enough. But I am a strong believer that in many instances, action begins with talking. How could we possibly work towards our bold ambition to reach the 2030 targets by 2025, without talking about what we want to achieve and how we can achieve it? And as a practice, we need to ensure that colleagues at every level have the access to the right material to ensure we have a united front, enabling us to move towards a united goal.

At HLM, we are passionate about developing a future which will benefit the environment and the people within it, and ensuring that our colleagues understand the goals that we are aiming for is intrinsic to this.

It goes much further than internal communications, however. As a society, we need to make complex topics accessible, as we recognise the need to change the way we treat the planet and its resources. We need to help people to understand not only what they can do, but also why these things need to be done. Talking alone cannot solve the crisis we are facing, but demystifying what can seem obscure at first is key to empowering people to take ownership, and those small steps that could have a huge effect on our future.

Reflecting on Simon Gabe’s piece, we need support so that we can act in a way that is truly reflective of the desired goal. ‘Ignorance’ as a term is often considered negative, but we must accept that we are all ignorant to some extent with regards to what we need to do. This should unite us in not only a common purpose, but a thirst for knowledge.

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