A call to arms for sustainability

CIOB sustainability
Caroline Gumble with Saul Humphrey FCIOB (left) and Mark Tree, head of school at Anglia Ruskin University

Caroline Gumble recalls a presentation by Saul Humphrey FCIOB where he spoke to students about the importance of sustainability in decision-making.

A few weeks ago I spent time with CIOB members and other partners from the construction community in Essex. I had a packed itinerary, including construction sites, academic institutions and an offsite manufacturer.

A common theme emerged during these meetings: sustainability. We covered the breadth of disciplines, talking about achieving EPC A for new houses, reducing carbon emissions on construction sites and how to deliver retrofit training across the industry, among other things.

However, there was one particular meeting that I have been reflecting on for some time. I was invited to the Anglia Ruskin University campus at Chelmsford, one of our accredited centres, to meet students and tutors and see some practical work and training sessions in action.

In introducing a fascinating presentation from campaigning development company Human Nature, Saul Humphrey FCIOB, one of our longstanding members and a chartered environmentalist, said something that has stuck with me. Addressing the students who were with us, he issued a call to arms, saying that whatever your role and whatever your level of seniority, you have more influence and agency than you think.

Take your skills elsewhere

If you’re in a working environment where there are opportunities to raise the importance of decision-making focused on sustainability, take them. If you’re in a working environment where your voice is not heard and there are values which do not match your own, consider taking your skills and talents elsewhere.

I recognise that’s not always an easy decision but it is easier to spend your life in a workplace
which aligns with your ideals than it is to feel you cannot be part of positive change.

Perhaps it could be argued that this is one useful consequence of the skills gap – for those already in the industry and feeling unable to deliver the positive things we can achieve in the built environment, you have the power to invest in your career and join a company that does the right things.

You spend a lot of time at work and most people want to do good things when it comes to delivering quality, prioritising safety and wellbeing and protecting our planet. There are companies out there that share those values and will, in turn, value and welcome you.

I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate Saul after being named our Sustainability Award winner at the CIOB Awards event in April. Well done, Saul – it is well deserved.

Caroline Gumble is CEO of CIOB.

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