London Festival of Architecture 2022
Following on from 2021's hybrid festival which, through a programme of online and physical events, explored the theme of 'care', we were really excited to once again support the London Festival of Architecture for the fourth year running. The 2022 festival returned for a month long celebration of architecture focused around the theme of 'act'.
With exhibitions, workshops, installations and walks and tours, the festival aimed to explore how architecture can react to the challenges the planet now faces in climate, social injustice and the changing society and how we can act for ourselves, each other, our cities and the environment.
The built environment is a major contributor of global carbon emissions and consumes a huge proportion of the world’s natural resources. As a distributor in the industry and in line with our developing environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy, the festival provided a great opportunity to demonstrate what we're doing as a business to take action.
Our ESG strategy focuses on three key pillars: our people, our partners and the planet. Through our event, we had the opportunity to launch a key part of our strategy, working together to drive positive change, which is why we partnered with leading UK manufacturers, contractors and developers to demonstrate the value of collaboration and how it is fundamental to working towards a carbon net zero construction supply chain.
Georgina McLeod, owner of EthicallyBE and ESG consultant for Taylor Maxwell, opened the event with a discussion around the global picture of climate change, the biodiversity and extinction crisis and social inequality. She outlined the UK's plan to be carbon net zero by 2050, tested the sustainability knowledge of the audience and gave a brief overview of our plan to be carbon net zero in our own operations by 2030, through changes such switching to an electric car fleet and moving to 100% renewable energy in our offices, including installing solar panels. She also discussed how we plan to use and manage resources more responsibly, for example by banning single-use plastic in our offices and working to reduce its use throughout the supply chain. You can read more about our planet strategy here.
Our vision is to support our customers to design and build sustainable developments where people thrive, by driving positive change in the construction industry through our approach to our people, our partners and the planet.”
We partnered with leading UK developer and valued supply chain customer, Higgins Partnerships, who, led by Julie Brooks, Director of Compliance, gave a detailed presentation on their net zero strategy. This included their circular economy approach where they discussed four key focus areas; 'the minimisation of waste during construction', 'a reduction in the lifetime energy demand, CO2 emissions and dependency on natural resources', 'the conservation of water' and 'the use of the most environmentally appropriate materials and components'.
Steps they are taking to tackle these four key areas include:
- Selecting items based on recyclability and recycling bricks on site
- Minimising plastic packaging
- Using local waste companies within five miles of their sites and local labour
- Using biomass fuels where possible
- Working in energy efficient buildings and upgrading to modern equipment
- Installing EV charging points on site set-up
- Rainwater harvesting
To find out more about Higgins Partnerships and their Group ESG strategy, click here.
We also partnered with leading UK manufacturer Michelmersh, who, led by Sarah Le Gresley, Head of Innovation, gave an interesting overview of the environmental benefits of using clay brick, their 2030 sustainability KPI strategy and road to net zero, as well as the announcement of their successful bid to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) UK Government industrial fuel switching competition to conduct a feasibility study to replace natural gas with hydrogen in the brick making process; HyBrick™.
HyBrick™ is a global flagship physical feasibility study which started in Spring 2022 at Michelmersh's Freshfield Lane manufacturing site. The process involves electricity splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis. H₂ is light, storable and energy-dense and its use as a fuel produces no direct emissions, pollutants or greenhouse gases. By switching natural gas for hydrogen, it will significantly decarbonise the clay brick-making process and reduce the embodied carbon of bricks by over 60%. Other benefits could include:
- Increase in skilled jobs and opportunities
- Potential for excess Hydrogen to be used for fuelling HGVs
- Highlighting the benefits of locally manufactured products over importing products with shorter longevity
- Resilience in a volatile energy market
To find out more about Michelmersh and their flagship HyBrick™ study, click here.
For our second event, we partnered with leading UK contractor and valued supply chain customer Morgan Sindall, who, led by Kane Greenough, Supply Chain Sustainability Manager, delivered a thorough and technical presentation of their carbon journey, supply chain, embodied carbon library and steps to understanding the products they use and lowering embodied carbon.
He discussed the extensive work they are undergoing to transform historical woodlands including at the Blenheim Estate in Oxfordshire, their goal to plant 138 acres of trees, a project which began in November 2021, and their role as founding members of Get Nature Positive, a campaign to change the curve of nature and biodiversity loss. They gave a brief overview of some positive steps from last year in their carbon journey which included the creation and delivery of their carbon and waste toolkits, the '10 tonne' challenge, a project which involved their teams and supply chain working together to reduce their project carbon emissions by a minimum of 10 tonnes and finally, their trial of an electric plant and 30 projects using HVO, hydrogen and solar power solutions.
A key topic of focus for Morgan Sindall was their work on lowering the embodied carbon of their projects and the three key areas they discussed were:
- Volume - reducing the volume of their materials
- Tonnes - reducing the weight of their buildings
- Product - understanding the carbon content of their products
To find out more about Morgan Sindall and their approach to being a responsible business, click here.
Finally, we partnered with leading UK and European manufacturer Wienerberger, who, led by Stephanie Palmer, Head of Sustainability, gave a broad overview of their own scope 1 and 2 UK carbon emissions from 2019, their routes to decarbonisation and overall sustainability strategy; let's build beyond.
She outlined their first key area of the strategy, safeguarding the planet, which involves:
- Decarbonisation - targets to achieve net zero emissions before 2050
- Resource conservation - lifecycle assessments to demonstrate reduced demand for natural resources
- Biodiversity promotion - use of biodiversity net gain metric to demonstrate increased biodiversity across land assets
The second key area outlined was innovating the future we want, which involves:
- The manufacturing process - transition to net zero emission, nature-positive company
- Circular initiatives - integrated circular economy principles into business model by designing out waste
- Product and services innovations - use of products and services that promote efficient use of energy and water
And finally, the third key area outlined was moving forward together, which involves:
- Their people - work on employee mental and physical wellbeing with biannual employee surveys
- Their partners - curated network of trusted partners
- Their communities - demonstrated adding value to communities through social value statement
To find out more about Wienerberger and their strategy 'Let's Build Beyond', click here.