Given the drive towards net zero, is the construction industry moving quickly enough / being ambitious enough in embracing sustainable materials?
The short answer is No. We know targets are not being met and while there are some sections of the industry that are moving, it is not as quickly as required.
Will we be seeing new legislation soon, we know you’ve been advising on building regulations, can you tell us a bit more?
I’m not directly involved at present, but close enough to know that the Future Homes Standard (due in 2025) is looking very seriously at a Passivhaus approach. Further weight to this has been added through Scotland’s adaptation of PH within its building regulations as of 2024. One of the key things about PH, that is often forgotten, is that it is a methodology that ensure what is designed is achieved in practice, this is what is really needed within Part L.
What is stopping people / companies from adopting natural fibre insulation over plastic insulation for new build?
Cost and culture. There is often a lack of education around cost, as natural fibres can be comparable or better than synthetics.
Culture on the other hand, combined with the complexity of buildings, the change in standards and its fragmented nature across the disciplines; means there is a significant amount of inertia to change.
Change often requires multiple disciplines getting up to speed on change or requirement and without good leadership this is challenging.
Some of the traditional insulation companies are now looking towards wood fibre and even buying stakes in wood fibre manufacturers, is that a clear sign of how the industry is shifting?
Yes. See previous on cost. Add to that the fact that investors are now looking to see ESG (environmental, social, or governance) within businesses, the imperative to change is shifting.
Do you think the UK will /needs to take similar steps to those taken in France and other countries to incentivise low carbon construction products?
Legislation plays a key part in this, but just like buildings it is complex and requires good design. It needs an approach that considers the multiple interactions that the built environment has on society, whether it is resources, health (direct and indirect), comfort, energy consumption and so on.
How long have you been collaborating with Lime Green for?
Directly since 2020, but indirectly since around 2011 through organisations such as the ASBP.
As we’re celebrating 21 years in business, what advice would you give to any 21-year-olds looking to make a career in this industry?
If you like to pioneer, enjoy change and challenge, want to be involved in one of the most impactful industries on the planet (either good or bad) then I can think of few industries that would match up to these aspirations.
As well as his work at Avad Consulting, Andy is also MD at Green Building Store.