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Earth Day. A Call to Action

April 22 2022, Earth day.

We all need to take steps to make our operations more resilient to crisis

Paintworks, Bristol

But these aren’t steps into the unknown – they are steps away from the known..

Imagine, a year from now and you look back at the action you took today and the increasing benefits to your company.

You began by understanding the threats to your business such as;

The immediate and tangible impacts of Brexit and Covid on materials (availability and pricing),

Navigating the changing regulations and requirements locally and nationally

Training, attracting and retaining the right skills – building detailing (airtightness/cold bridging), lean construction, digital tools

You considered what your company values were and their alignment with your customers’ interests and concerns. You also considered your own values and concerns – what the natural environment means to you and your family, the actions you take at a personal level and as a household, to reduce wasting resources.

You wanted to know what would be expected of you in this new-look industry. Despite COP26, IPCC reports, scientists chaining themselves to buildings and talk from Government and Industry, little seemed to be changing. The construction industry just didn’t know where it stood when it came down to carbon emissions -but you saw how companies who failed to embrace change were increasingly likely to fail themselves. You got to grips with what net zero construction meant – and how that could only be achieved through radical change, moving away from carbon intensive materials wherever possible.

Exploring the opportunities, it was amazing to see the alternatives – the materials, digital tools, training, equipment and plant – that were available. You couldn’t believe you hadn’t made some of these changes sooner. You decided you wanted to be a success story. You chose new approaches that fit your values and those of your increasingly climate aware customers.

You took on the challenge and what a difference you have made in just one year. 

Setting boundaries You began by reviewing your main suppliers and materials. Simply requesting information was a great start – where were they based, how were products transported to their depot and onwards to customers, what social and environmental statements were they making? The materials interrogations were more challenging but on the whole, asking the questions of the supplier got you in the swing of things. Before long you were finding out what raw materials were being used, where they travelled from and to, methods of production, how the factories were powered. Some of these findings were shocking and made it easier to switch to an alternative.

You developed the skills to spot greenwashing – those claims that were just too-good-to-be-true.

You got familiar with the waste hierarchy and started to filter out the reusable and recyclable materials from your skip, made new arrangements and made sure your crew knew what, why and how.

That was just 12 months ago, and you have so many stories to share. It wasn’t easy but the rewards have been many. You feel better equipped to take on the next challenge and confident in sharing your approach. You now source far more from the UK and have increased use of natural and recycled materials which are readily available. Taking part in sector specific network events has helped with navigating the new Part Z and other regulatory requirements including the region’s new Circular Economy laws. Your team is fully engaged in the process and have built up quite a following from sharing site stories on your social media!

Start writing your new story today. Drop me an email and book in a 1hr surgery with Materials in Mind.

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Established in 2018, Materials in Mind developed out of founder Jenny Ford’s previous career working with engineered timber buildings and master’s degree in Sustainable Development in Practice.