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What’s behind a low carbon strategy?

As a built-environment consultant and convener, my role entails inspiring, connecting, co-developing, and helping to implement/replicate/scale low-carbon and circular practice – a fascinating contextual challenge! Since founding Materials in Mind, my work and research have continued to present challenges; some relate directly to the construction industry, others are more broad – our relationship to built environments (perhaps materials or movement and sense of place), and sometimes they are more about how I might communicate these challenges and offer ideas or solutions. About 18 months ago, I began a process of identifying 12 key challenges – a number inspired by the scientist and polymath, Richard Feynman (find more here – https://fortelabs.com/blog/12-favorite-problems-how-to-spark-genius-with-the-power-of-open-questions/). The problems I consider today have been presented by clients, emerged during research and acquired by observation. Then, in going about daily life and work, as I encounter things/conversations/places, something may strike me as a way forward with a particular problem. Gathering evidence, exploring bad/good/best practice – anything goes really so long as it feels like it’s going to help crack open the problem.

The 12 problem approach has been really effective when speaking with prospective and new clients. Perhaps the first, and most regularly asked problem came from (building) companies – “how do decide where to focus my resources (time, money, effort) in becoming more sustainable?”. It’s one of four problems that I find are quite universally raised in those early conversations. As I work with companies on strategy development, one-off solutions or toolbox training – or I hear about a resource/software/bit of kit that feels like it addresses a core problem, it gets added to the relevant folder. We can then at approaching the problem from different perspectives, see what chimes and the relevance/suitability to the context. If something inspires – we can move forward to understand the fit – or explore alternatives. It’s a really dynamic way to work, constantly evolving.

I work with clients and stakeholders to raise awareness of and enable the transition to, more low carbon, circular practice – these are my two underlying practice motivators. I try to find those sweet spots that enable business owners to embrace the practices that will motivate and keep them on course in the long term, that are scalable (so you can test the water and build skills/tech/capacity etc.) over time – but most importantly, support to do the stuff that builds interest and excitement – and drives a passion to share with others. This is where we hold attention and enable the delivery of positive impacts throughout a project’s lifecycle. 

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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.