S2E2 - Charlie Luxton of Charlie Luxton Designs - Sustainable Buildings
This week we chat with Charlie Luxton, TV presenter and sustainable architectural designer at Charlie Luxton Designs.
Charlie Luxton Designs create architecture that responds to local materials, traditions and climate, building a more sustainable world.
- Why now is the time to start rewiring our economy
- Importance of analysing the impact of the building industry on our environment through carbon emissions
- ‘Performance gaps’ when designing buildings with pre-estimated energy use
- Compulsory carbon audits as a potential new law
- ‘Compare Your Footprint’ – making it easy to understand your environmental footprint
- The benefits of benchmarking data against others in the same industry
- Why they should be charging businesses in relation to turnover
[0:08] Will: Welcome back to the Green Element podcast where we feature business leaders and innovators transforming their operations to be more environmentally and socially sustainable. I’m your host, Will Richardson and I can’t wait to meet our guest today and help you on your journey of sustainability. So, why do you think sustainability, environmentalism and just understanding your impact is really important in this day and age? And do you see it a lot with your work and how what you’re doing with the architecture?
[0:41] Carlie: Yeah, I mean, clearly, we are facing an enormous pivotal moment in our relationship with the planet, you know, the species has been so successful, that we’re pushing you to a point where we are changing it, potentially to a point where it’s no longer suitable for us. So, you know, clearly there is an enormous agenda to do something about the way which we offer age, and that means fundamentally rewiring our economy and the way that we do, you know, business, I mean, that in the widest possible turns way that we live, the way that we eat, the way that we travel, the way that we work, you know, and, you know, from our perspective, architecture, it’s really hard to get a definitive figures about this, but someone else is seems to suggest that when you look at the energy used within buildings, and the energy used to make buildings, it’s around 40, 42, 3% of the global city, which is mass mind. So, there will be the actions that happened within buildings so they might be specifically to do the outage. But they are the things that as architects and building designers, we are in the conversation, in the room about. And so, we, the building industry has an enormous role to play in re-shaping and what we do.
[1:47] Will: Do your customers want to know their environmental footprint, ongoing? So, are there discussions and conversations had about, right, fine, you’re going to design our house, what is our carbon footprint, while we’re running this building?
[2:01] Carlie: No, we talk about running costs, but we drive that conversation and we say to them, we think our goals will be this, you know, we’ve got houses where the heating, the energy bills are sort of 150 to 200 per year for everything.
[2:15] Will: To some respect, because they’re intrinsically linked, we are talking about same subject?
[2:20] Carlie: We are talking about same subject, and it’s not analyzed, it’s not at the front of the conversation, you know, and I think that’s a huge problem, you know, we need the tools to start having these conversations at a much earlier and a much more quantified way. There’s a huge problem in building, I think, the performance gap where we design a building to use a certain amount of energy and almost without fail, we miss it by 100%. 1000, 200% for I think, offices, 300%, for schools, and, you know, government building. So, we’ve got massive problems in the industry, I think until we start, you know, doing the numbers, we’re not going to solve them. You can pay foot print is a really important tool to start getting people to get their house in order. Because it’s very easy to look at the wider economy and say, we’re going to get to carbon net by 2015, we need to get an X reduction by 2030, you know, all these numbers. But until you actually understand what you’re doing, I don’t see how you can really move forward. So, I think it’s crucial that we have these audits, yeah, I think it should, realistically, it should be law, in my opinion. But you know, and I think it will be very soon.
[3:30] Will: And it’s becoming with the new style, streamlined energy carbon reporting, you’re now seeing companies at a certain size, roughly 250 people plus and 35 million pounds however, roughly having to at least go one or two missions. And we know that it’s go through we bought in the near future, we designed a footprint to work for us as a consultancy at Green Element, because we realized that we cannot scale Green Element on using Excel spreadsheets. To give you a rule of thumb, we had a large, large company come to us and talk about their carbon reporting. And they told us that it takes them six weeks door to door to report on that carbon, every year. It now takes them 4 to 6 hours, because of the ease of use of uploading all the data to managing it and the added benefit of being able to benchmark themselves against others within their own industry.
[4:31] Carlie: So, it started as an in-house, kind of, exercise and some group grown?
[4:34] Will: And I think what we’re finding, people are really excited about is because we’ve designed it to help us which we’re actually then helping others. That’s what people seem to be really excited about because we’re not software designers, designing something that we think will help people, we’re design something that we know will help people because we’re already using it.
[4:56] Carlie: Yes, it started and we need to talk because this is too slow. Yeah, actually, it’s so good that other people can do it themselves. They taught me through the process of taking my company up a personality to practice it, what kind of information, what kind of data, what is that journey to getting a report.
[5:12] Will: You would start to think about what you want to do. So, what do you want to report on? It obviously will be energy. And it will be if you own your vehicle, so you’re saying you want to buy a electric vehicle, you want to report on that. So, that’s going to emissions, you also want to do your business travel and also want to understand if you’re buying lots of stationery and talked about paper usage, if you are, any consumables that you’re buying, within your business.
[5:40] Carlie: I’m assuming coffee has quite comfortable because you get to a coffee,
[5:44] Will: They don’t have a carbon factor for coffee. It’s actually, it’s on the food spend, yeah, which is great. But I think that as we become more intelligent with the way that we report on our carbon, we’re talking about that before that personal carbon reporting, then we’re going to see more and more better leads. And we’ll be able to include anything. So, once you understand what it is that you want to report on, then you will either upload your data if you use a travel agent or if you stationery in the company, they’ll send you the Excel spreadsheet and the orders and you just upload them into our system or you’ll get or you’ll download templates that we have designed and you just integrate that data and then upload it. So, either way, we’ve made it as easy as possible for you to be able to understand your environmental footprint. And then you just press a button and you are benchmarked against people within your industry.
[6:41] Carlie: Okay, so you understand how well you’re doing and then you strive to improve on that. How long do you think it would take for company without turnovers sort of, 6, 700,000 pounds a year, what would you say, how long does that last?
[6:54] Will: That should depends on how much information you have to have. So, a lot of its data gathering and a lot of it is that because of the you are and who you are, you’re going to have a very good grasp of your energy usage and your energy span to therefore, to put that in fairly quickly. Some businesses don’t have such a good grasp on their data so therefore they find it harder. And that’s really the lengthy part of this whole process. What we have done that many organizations don’t do is you can download as a PDF brilliant, download the report, but actually downloading it back into Excel. So, you can then manipulate that data to fit it to whatever you want it for. So, you’ll do your annual reporting, you will be writing your tenders and you can then manipulate that data in to fit whatever you want to do. And for the larger organizations who have to do CDP, who have to do all this tendering and reporting, it means then they have access to the information that they want, in a format that they want.
[7:56] Carlie: This is a small company or the SMEs are in many ways you would say that, you know, the lifeblood of this country’s economy. No, it’s where a lot of the businesses are and to have the potential to start to interrogate that and benchmark and try and improve, I think it is crucial, in absolutely crucial so that you’re not just relying on the larger 250 employees in a bar companies that are doing the heavy lifting Everyone needs technical ability, I think that’s the point of this challenge, isn’t that, you know, everyone’s got to get involved or we’re not going to get it.
[8:28] Will: And I think what Emma and I really excited about is charging people according to their target. So, I mean, don’t quote me on these figures say roughly 50,000 pounds turnover and 50 quid, so it really helps those SMEs, they are then, they’re not charging 1000 pounds for a consultant to come in, they are literally paying next to nothing to understand that footprint. And that’s really exciting because as you, 99% of all businesses in the UK are SMEs, that is massive if you all know our footprint. Can you imagine the ramifications and the lead on that happens in our personal lives if people in business are going, that actually are three amount of pounds is this book Brynn we start looking at our home life start because the knock on effect is really, really, really crucial.
[9:14] Carlie: How much do you see significant change in business activities having audited?
[9:21] Will: People will start to look at what it is they’re buying. And by pure nature, being benchmarks against others, they will see themselves either in the middle or wherever they are, they will want to improve. So, if they see that station is really high, and they’re travel really low, then they’ll go fine, let’s concentrate on the high stuff. But that will be continually change because it’s about your nature business and the growth and shrinking and the way that businesses are and you should say your normalized as well. So, you’re not actually comparing CO2 to actual to another companies, you’re normalizing that data, which means that you are met, either by turnover so it’s per pounds or per feet squared or whatever. Isn’t that sad. I mean, you can we I mean we’re we’ve known each other for years and years and years. Isn’t it sad that in 2019, we’ve designed a software that’s going to help. It should have been designed in 2007.
[10:18] Carlie: Because it just takes you nowhere. Because you’re just looking out there going, why are we doing any of this stuff. That’s why we shouldn’t be doing it. And I was very, very depressed about it a year ago, my senses are now changing that there feels like actually, for the first time in 15 years, I actually feel hopeful. So, the fact you’re doing this isn’t really, the fact that we’re looking at carbon emissions of our construction processes, when we’re designing is brilliant, the fact that this is happening, and that’s happening, and there’s community self builds happening in our industry and things are changing and the Preston model, and all these things that are happening is hugely exciting. I think we’ve come to a point in our journey with climate change, that is the responsibility of everyone who runs a business to start understanding the impact that their activities have on the planet through carbon emissions. So, company footprint is an opportunity for people to, quite simply, analyze the carbon emissions that they are producing through their business, and then use that to understand where they sit relative to other businesses of a similar nature, and then act upon it. But the idea that we can sort of point and expect other people to solve these problems, I think is gone. I also don’t think it’s good enough for us to sit around waiting for central government to solve this issue. I think it’s actually up to us as individuals to act and those individuals both in what we do at home, but what we do with our businesses as well.
[11:37] Carlie: And so, yes, I know it’s hard to make a living out there, it’s never been easy, and it’s not going to get any easier. But that’s not an excuse not to actually take responsibility for the wider implications of what your business does. So, find out what your carbon emissions are and do something about it. I’ve known Will for 23 years, he’s actually my cousin, my wife’s cousin. And Will has always been passionately involved in climate change, and sustainability issues and auditing for as long as I can remember. And I was very interested to hear about the new product things, developing with a footprint, and I have to say, in Green Element and all the work they’ve ever done, it’s been, you know, my understanding of the high standard. And this new product seems like a very timely intervention when we need to start taking these issues seriously and we need to start taking responsibility for them, personally as business owners and people working in business. So, to be developing this now, yes, it’s, you know, maybe someone should have done it 20 years ago, but it is being done now and it’s exciting to see, I’m looking forward to being a part of its journey.
[12:47] Will: Thank you so much for listening to the end of this episode of the Green Element podcast. Do take a moment and share this with your friends and colleagues rate and review the podcast wherever you get your podcasts. I’d love to know what has been your biggest takeaway away from this conversation, what are you going to do differently? Please share your thoughts across social media and tag us so we can see them too, @GE_podcast. For links and show notes for this episode, visit our website greenelement.co.uk\podcast. Thank you again. I hope you will join me on the next episode and together we can help create a better world.
Please Rate us - it will mean the world to us......
If you enjoyed this episode then please subscribe to our podcast via your