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    Barbour ABI are creating a monthly series documenting the best the construction industry has to offer. Not organisations, not data-led research, but the people, those people that are championing a cause or producing excellent work in a particular field of expertise.

    Our Focus This Month: Sustainability

    When it comes to sustainability, you could say it is the hot topic of the construction industry with many throwing the word around flippantly and some organisations only paying lip service to it or seeing it as a necessity to get behind rather than a fundamental part of what they stand for.

    In reality, sustainability isn’t new or indeed a recent thing, in fact some sources suggest the origins of sustainability as we know it go back to ‘An Essay on the Principle of Population’ written by Thomas Malthus in 1798 depicting a world where the population grows quicker than its resources 1.

    Fast forward to 2021 and Thomas Malthus could take some kudos for his theory as we see the increase in the world’s population outgrowing our natural resources. The construction industry is no exception to the rule here. In 2016, 63 % (120 million tonnes) of waste in England was attributed to construction, demolition and excavation (C,D&E)2. Although 90% of the construction and demolition waste is downcycled, this still leaves millions of tonnes going to landfill, before even considering other such pollutants such as carbon emissions.

    These numbers are hard to ignore and even harder to change the habits of an industry with many practices that are not sustainable. This is not to say that change isn’t wanted within construction, but to change this narrative we need people to champion the cause and highlight new ways of sustainability.

    This month Barbour ABI is paying tribute to those amazing people that are pioneering the future of the construction industry, giving kudos to those paving the way in the field of sustainability.

    1. 1.
    2. 2. Defra (2018)

    Key Features


    Toby McCartney, CEO at MacRebur


    Plastic Roads and the recycling of plastics


    Toby’s background in recyclable material goes further back than creating plastic roads. In fact it is his background that led him to start MacRebur with two friends (Gordon Reid and Nick Burnett).

    While working in India with a charity, Toby noticed that pickers at landfill sites were collecting plastic and using it as a makeshift pothole filler by burning the waste plastic directly into the hole.

    Spark and idea ignited (just like in the pothole that inspired him).

    As all good pothole stories go, this wasn’t the end, it was just the beginning. Based in Gordon’s garage they needed to find a safer way of using plastic to fill potholes.

    After 18 months and between 500-800 samples sent to a UK accredited services laboratory, they finally met the standard required to use their product on public roads.


    MacRebur now processes waste plastics ready to be added to asphalt (replacing the bitumen) for road repairs and it is reported that these repairs are up to 60% stronger than traditional roadways, with a lifespan ten times that of its more traditional counterpart.

    ‘My mission is to stop the plastic epidemic and to create circular economies all over the world.’ Toby McCartney, CEO, MacRebur


    • 1km Plastic road = 684,000 plastic bottles
    • 10km Plastic Road = 18 million single use plastic bags
    • 1 ton asphalt created = 3-10kg waste plastic



    Julie Hirigoyen, CEO at UKGBC (Green Building Council)


    Galvanizing industry support for a net zero carbon legislative target and influencing government policy at both national and local levels.


    Through her travels within Central and South America Julie knew she’d found her vocation while seeing a lot of harmony and more importantly disharmony between people and nature.

    Julie’s sustainability credentials stem from gaining an MSc in Environmental Protection and Management and a Master’s in Sustainable Development following on from a 1st in Law!

    Holding many titles within the sustainability arena, Julie is now the CEO of UKGBC (2015) and has been transforming the organisation to focus on impact measurement (knowing and understanding the value of making decisions backed by data) within a holistic sustainability agenda including community wellbeing, environmental quality, access to green spaces, connectedness, jobs and skills, which fundamentally links back to the harmony between people and nature.


    Julie’s holistic strategy at the GBC can be seen through some of her achievements to date, namely galvanizing industry support for a net zero carbon legislative target in 2019 and influencing government policy at both national and local levels on net zero carbon, biodiversity net gain, climate resilience, and waste and resources strategy.

    More recently Julie’s focus on leveraging COP26, a pivotal point in the climate change calendar, as well as expanding the whole GBC ecosystem nationally and locally. What is fundamentally clear is that any change will only be established if it is driven, driven by the actions of those that want to make a change.

    ‘Sustainability Leadership really requires more courage, humility and empathy’ Julie Hirigoyen, CEO, UKGBC


    Julie holds many positions throughout the industry including;
    • Commissioner on the London Sustainable Development Commission
    •  Chairs the Igloo Footprint Advisory Board
    •  Trustee of Blueprint for Better Business
    •  Sits on the Green Construction Board and Grimshaw’s Stewardship Group



    Joanna Gilroy, Group Head of Sustainability & Environment at Kier Group


    Leading Kier’s Sustainability agenda


    Having worked in India, Australia and New Zealand, Jo’s sustainability credentials a Global with a passion for organisations ‘do well by doing good’ and has been responsible for sustainability strategies at many levels which has included the education, importance and communication of these strategic directions both internally and externally.

    As Head of Sustainability for the Bunzl Group (Jo’s previous role), she created the Sustainable Future Programme and worked with Government and key customers to address the devastating impact that single use plastic is having the on the World’s oceans.

    Today Jo is Head of Sustainability and Environment for Kier Group, responsible for leading the group’s new sustainable framework, ‘Building for a Sustainable World’, which was created to change mindset, create a purpose-driven business and build resilience;

    A resilient environment
    A resilient community
    Resilient profits


    Jo has been at the forefront of changing how organisations see and tackle sustainability. Created and led Bunzl Group’s Sustainable Future Programme.

    In 2020, Kier launched a new sustainability framework Building for a Sustainable World which Jo currently leads. This covers 10 pillars of action that is driving Kier to a long-term sustainable future;

    Pollution prevention Supply chain and human rights
    Supply chain and human rightsWorkforce well-being and retention
    Workforce well-being and retentionSocial value
    Zero wasteStakeholder engagement
    Protection of habitats and natural resourcesDiversity, Inclusion and Respect


    • 2016 Rising Star Award 2016 -Packaging Industry
    • 2017 Business Green Sustainability Executive Award



    Anusha Shah, BEng, MSc, CEng, FICE, Senior Director, Resilient Cities at Arcadis


    There is no substitute for first-hand experience and this is especially true when it comes to social and environmental impact. For Anusha this came from experiencing flooding in both the UK (the 2005 flood in Carlisle, Cumbria) which affected over 2,500 homes and India (Jammu and Kashmir) where it is estimated at least 460 people lost their lives, bringing home the impact adverse weather can have on a Global scale, especially to someone that specialises in Water & Environmental Engineering, with over 20 years’ experience in designing, managing and leading projects and programmes.

    Anusha’s first job in 1998 was in sustainability, overseeing production of sustainable building materials and representing the NGO at the UN Sustainable Development Local Agenda 21 Working Group.

    As the founder and previous CEO of Plan for Earth (an advisory consultancy for climate change adaptation & resilience, sustainability and inclusive design), Anusha is driven by a desire to make societies inclusive, safe, climate resilient and sustainable.


    Anusha was amongst UK’s 2020 Top 50 Women in Sustainability in Engineering and recently was awarded a Doctorate from the University of East London for her work on climate change. She is currently the lead on City Resilience at Arcadis, UK, which means not just looking at the impact we have on our surrounding environment, but the impact that the environment may have on our towns and cities.

    With a strong belief in rebuilding with green growth to fuel economic growth, Anusha’s work with Government, Consultants, Contractors and Regulators places her in the perfect position to continue to make a difference within construction through multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural projects.


    ‘Fortune favours the prepared’

    Anusha Shah, Senior Director – Resilient Cities, Arcadis

    Anusha has many accolades to her name;

    – 1st female and the youngest ever Chair of Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) London Region, 2009-10

    – First person of ethnic minority set to be President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2023 (subject to interim council elections).

    – Vice President, ICE, 2020 – present

    – Non – Executive Director, Met Office, 2021- present

    – Partner, London Climate Change Partnership, 2018- present

    – Awarded Honorary Professorship at University of Wolverhampton, 2020

    – Visiting Professor, King’s College London and University of Edinburgh 2020- present

    – Visiting Lecturer – Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership

    – Co-Chair, ICE London and South East Diversity Task force, 2016-present

    – Chair (youngest ever), Thames Estuary Partnership, 2016-2019

    – Member- ICE Fairness, Inclusion and Respect Committee 2016-present

    – External Examiner, School of Built Environment & Engineering, Leeds Beckett

    – University, Feb 2018-2021

    – ICE Trustee and Council Member, elected second term, 2013-16



    Ian Flewitt - MEng MSc CEng MIStructE, Partner at Price & Myers


    Cost and Carbon Calculator (PANDA)


    With studies in Civil Engineering with Architecture and Environmental Design and Engineering and experience as a structural engineer and in sustainable design, it’s no wonder that Ian became a partner at Price and Myers 15 years ago.

    Taking an holistic approach to projects, Ian understands that the earlier you can be involved in a project’s, the more impact you can have in terms of the project’s environmental impact.


    While more has been made of the operational carbon production (heating, lighting, etc), more can be done to highlight the other areas where carbon emissions are generated (such as in the creation of a building’s fabric) – embodied carbon.

    Focussing on reducing the embodied carbon within structures, right from the design stage and exploring other ways to limit the impact we have on the environment around us is the bigger picture. One step closer to this is PANDA.

    In a collaboration with the University of Cambridge, Price & Myers developed PANDA (Parametric And Numeric Design Assessment) which has the potential to reduce embodied carbon by up to 40%.

    PANDA does this at the design stage by calculating the embodied carbon over the entire life of a building (material extraction, processing, manufacturing, transport and construction right through to demolition and disposal).


    • PANDA has the potential to reduce embodied carbon by up to 40%

    USEFUL LINKS:–myers-launch-embodied-carbon-software-panda-52


    Dr. James Cadman DPhil. MIEMA CEnv, Head of Consultancy and Carbon at Action Sustainability


    Climate Action Group Lead at Supply Chain Sustainability School


    James lives and breathes sustainability, from planting trees and growing his own veg to undertaking a PhD, researching methods for removing industrial pollution from water.

    This passion was inspired by various disasters (such as the Bhopal gas disaster and Exxon Valdez oil spill) resulting in James’s career in sustainability. This career has led him to be involved in green/sustainable procurement, developing policy, devising standards and guidance, undertaking research and led foot-printing and supply/value chain studies all of which have helped the wider construction industry (and other industries) as well as the proactive/forward-thinking organisations James has done this for. Helping them to understand the actual impact of their products/services.


    James’ work spans the entire supply chain and the sustainability initiatives he has helped to deliver, and is still part of, zeros in on the impact products and services can and are having.

    James is also keen to impart his knowledge across the entire construction supply chain, delivering carbon training through the Supply Chain Sustainability School where he is the Climate Action Group Lead, a group that uses the Action Sustainability – Sustainability Tool to record and manage performance against carbon producing activities.

    Through the Supply Chain Sustainability School and Action Sustainability partnership the Sustainability Tool was launched (2014) enforcing reporting requirements across major construction project supply chains and holding suppliers to account on their sustainability commitments.



    Nitesh Magdani RIBA ARB, Founder (Strategic Sustainable Business Advisor) at Net Positive Solutions Ltd


    Leading a working group of built environment experts re: Natural Capital for the UK Green Building Council to feed into the Construction Innovation Hub’s ‘Values Toolkit’ project.


    Doing more good, not just less bad is something that Nitesh truly believes in. This passion stems from working as a Project Architect (a career of 20 years) where a client wanted a ‘responsible and caring’ building to fit with their ethos. This project gave Nitesh the impetus to explore what sustainability within a building truly was and how it can impact society for the better.

    Throughout Nitesh’s career he has been involved with sustainability within a corporate environment for 15 years, more recently as Group Director – Sustainability for Royal BAM Group nv as well as multiple stints as a Visiting Design Tutor and sitting on the board of the Supply Chain Sustainability School.


    Nitesh is now the Founder of Net Positive Solutions, a company that designs, informs strategy and collaboration with others to create net positive benefits for the planet.

    The main premise behind this venture is to offer a full sustainability strategy service to clients; but seeks to target net zero and circular economy solutions in particular.

    Nitesh’s time is also taken up by leading a working group of built environment experts for the UK Green Building Council (GBC) to feed into the Construction Innovation Hub’s ‘Values Toolkit’ project – This project aimed to develop a range of tools to;
    • Drive better decision making
    •  Support the path to Net Zero
    •  Boost productivity and resilience
    •  Deliver higher quality buildings



    Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer at Willmott Dixon


    Driving the organisation’s agenda in Sustainable Development and Social Mobility


    Julia has accumulated over 15 years of experience within sustainability roles, combined with over 30 years technical and commercial experience in the public and private sectors. She believes that ambitious targets can not only drive environmental improvements, but promote innovation, job creation and economic growth.

    Before becoming Chief Sustainability Officer at Willmott Dixon, Julia had worked as Director of Environment and Regulation at Cambridgeshire CC and the Regional Water Manager & Strategy Manager for the Environment Agency.

    Julia is now leading the way on realising Willmott Dixon’s ‘purpose beyond profit’.


    In less than a year Julia spearheaded Willmott Dixon’s carbon-neutral initiative, achieving this target within one year of joining the business, which is just the start, with sights now on 2030 with the development of the company’s sustainability strategy – Now or Never.

    This strategy was developed over two years in order to engage with as many stakeholders as possible including; staff, customers, supply-chain partners, more than 1,200 students as well as competitors!

    Encompassing all these achievements is the fact that Willmott Dixon has become the first contractor to achieve level 3 of the Carbon Trust’s supply chain standard, achieving a score of 82%.

    Julia believes that everyone has their part to play in sustainability, with the sum of these part amounting to much bigger changes.


    Now or Never was WD’s most-visited webpage during launch, with 2,766 hits and a total of 300,000 impressions across its social media channels.

    Under Julia’s leadership, Willmott Dixon has received;
    • Three Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Sustainable Development (2019 and
    2014), Social Mobility (2018)
    • Sustainable Company of the Year (2016) by Construction News
    • edie’s Team of the Year (2020)

    Julia’s accolades personally include;
    • edie’s Sustainability Leader of the Year (2021)
    • BusinessGreen Leaders’ Sustainability Executive of the Year (2018)
    • Women in Construction’s Green Leader in (2017)

    Julia has also been appointed as the following;
    • Supply Chain Sustainability School – Board Member
    •  Aldersgate Group – Board Member
    •  Inspire Me – Ambassador
    •  Institution of Civil Engineers Resource Management Expert Panel – Panel Member
    •  Action plan on responsible and ethical sourcing – Leadership Group Member

    USEFUL LINKS:–Meet-Willmott-Dixon-s-chief-sustainability-officer-Julia-Barrett/7068



    Green credentials within construction have long been a talking point, organisations that are prepared to do things that may have an impact on the overall bottom line but are simply the right things to do.

    Now these credentials find themselves at the forefront of a sustainable movement within construction and the wider community. It’s not just about reducing a carbon footprint or recycling paper. A focus on sustainability covers social, human, economic as well as environmental aspects and it is just as much about doing more, as it is doing less.

    The people we give kudos to in this article have and are proving this, not over a short period of time, but through a continuation of good work and a focus on doing the right things, for the right reasons.

    If you liked reading this then check out our other editions below, where we highlight more amazing figures who are making major strides in future talent and innovation:


    Future Talent Seekers