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Sustainability should not be ignored


Duncan Baker-BrownAfter heading-up the launch of the CITB-funded Homes School, architect Duncan Baker-Brown spoke to us about why he’s so passionate about sustainable construction.

Growing up in Epping Forest, Essex, one moment stands out to me as the day I began showing an interest in construction and architecture.

I was walking through a country meadow with my mum when, in the distance, I spotted the NatWest Tower (now known as Tower 42) and asked her what it was. “That’s London” she replied. It was at that moment I realised how vulnerable the natural world is to urban development.

From studying architecture at Brighton University, I quickly developed a passion for sustainable and environmental architecture and completed a dissertation in Sustainable Design.

In 1993, I launched BBM Sustainable Design along with my business partner and fellow university student, Ian McKay. We hit the ground running, quickly winning a RIBA design competition for ‘The House of the Future’ which had a very green brief. We built it in 1994. 

This then led us to become a major force behind the design of the Greenwich Millennium Village – something that stands out as a career highlight for me.

One of my recent projects was constructing a building from 90% waste material. This included 25,000 giveaway toothbrushes from Gatwick airport. By working on this project with over 400 students and construction suppliers, I hoped that this would raise awareness that sustainable building can happen if people are willing to change their methods.

This is where the new CITB-funded Homes School comes into play. It is a new, free, online training platform, specifically aimed at promoting energy efficiency and sustainability in the housebuilding sector.

I helped launch the portal and from my involvement I already see this as the beginning of the process of providing firms with environmental solutions – which is exactly what the industry needs.

I believe the construction industry has a moral responsibility to constantly innovate and adapt to new technologies. For me it has been extremely pleasing to see that larger firms are starting to lead the way and setting an example to the smaller end of the industry. This is something I am confident the portal will be instrumental in helping with.

Sustainability can often be ignored, but that shouldn’t be the case.

I hope the Homes School will help inspire the next generation and more and more youngsters (like me all those years ago), fall in love with sustainable construction.

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