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Implementing sustainability targets: 'it's about a mindset change'

Andrew Kinsey, sustainability director for construction at Mace gives insight into what they are doing to reduce their environmental impact

Yesterday I attended an Urbano Networking breakfast. It was a friendly event with a wide range of attendees, from architects and contractors to developers. We’d gathered to hear from Andrew Kinsey, sustainability director for construction at Mace. Kinsey won the Rising Star award at Ecobuild this year, so I was interested to hear about his approach to sustainability.

Kinsey joined Mace in February 2012, and since then has introduced a number of key sustainability policies, and their affects seem to be working in reducing the construction company’s environmental impact.

After measuring their environmental footprints for energy, water and waste, they have used the results to create measurable targets. Mace now has a three year plan, with key objectives in place to reach before 2015.

Waste

Objective To increase the level of waste diverted from landfill to 98 per cent.

In 2012, they had already hit a 91 per cent reduction in waste from their sites going to landfill. Mace has introduced an internal swap shop, allowing spare materials to be traded between different sites, rather than going to landfill at the end of the project.

Carbon and energy

Objective To reduce direct emissions by 20 per cent.

2012 saw Mace manage a 16 per cent reduction in their energy usage, just achieved through better measuring.

Responsible sourcing

Objective To source 100 per cent of material responsibly.

More than 85 per cent of timber used on Mace’s projects was from FSC certified sources in 2012. Kinsey said this was a lesson they had learnt during their work on London 2012, where there were strict controls over the sourcing of timber.

Significantly Kinsey added: ‘Timber could become the next horsemeat scandal of the UK’. He said it was about not knowing where raw materials come from - something which new EU timber regulations are trying to combat.

(1) Robin Partington Architects' Park House

Robin Partington Architects’ Park House

Mace is attempting to achieve full project FSC chain of custody certification on all projects, and have just managed it at Park House on London’s Oxford Street, designed by Robin Partington Architects.  

Their efforts on responsible sourcing have begun with timber, but are now moving on to look at steel and concrete.

Biodiversity

Objective To increase biodiversity by 20 per cent.

This was probably the objective which surprised me the most. It is not easy to measure biodiversity, and placing it as an objective seemed like it could be a difficult one for them to fulfil. I couldn’t imagine them having too much say over the inclusion of green roofs and other elements on their projects, but Mace is targeting increasing biodiversity through an off-site element. Their staff are engaged in volunteering with the Wildlife Trust and last year they created 300,000m2 of new wildlife habitat.

Water

Objective Reduce consumption by 20 per cent

Mace has already achieved a reduction of 9 per cent since 2012, just through better monitoring and looking at how they use water on site.

Mace currently gather construction footprint data for energy, waste, water, materials certification and biodiversity for all their UK construction projects. Projects are given an A to G rating – something which Kinsey admitted had been inspired by efficiency labels on white goods. This information is used internally through management systems to create league tables of their project’s environmental impacts, engaging those working on the projects and encouraging them all to work together to move their site up the league. Nothing like a bit of competitiveness to drive performance!

Kinsey said: ‘It is about communicating and holding people to account. If you want something you have to make sure people are delivering it’.

Having clear targets, as set out in their objectives, must certainly help with this. It is made very clear what is expected.

It was interesting to get a contractor’s view of sustainability, and what they are doing to ensure the work taking place on their construction sites helps to contribute to the overall achievements of the project. Afterall, if we are to create sustainable buildings which really perform as designed it is about the whole team working together.

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