Business South was delighted to recently convene a Round Table debate for business leaders involved in the construction sector to explore the important theme of Sustainable Construction.

With an objective of questioning whether businesses have a strategy in place to achieve net zero the Round Table was led by a strong line up of speakers with an equally proficient roster of panellists.

Tim Hancock, Executive Chair, Terence O’Rourke, and Chair of the Business South Action Group Regeneration South, led the discussions initially adding to the desired outcomes by asking contributors to define how any strategy will be delivered and how we inspire our people to get involved?

Our keynote speakers Julia Barrett Chief Sustainability Officer at Willmott Dixon and Professor Richard Murphy Professor of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Surrey provided a summary of developments and insights from their perspectives.

In the subsequent panel discussions Jennie Pell and Jamie MacKay from Enterprise M3 LEP provided a strategic view on the regions’ challenges with Jamie going on to tells us about exciting plans for a National Centre for Skills and Talent for Sustainable Construction to be in our region.

Sarah Bastajian, Director, Willmott Dixon, Farnborough Office provided insights on the activities of her firm more locally, in relation to Sustainable Construction, and Dr Michael Mulheron, Reader in Construction Materials at the University of Surrey, helped us explore more granular aspects of construction but also reflected on the eagerness of students to grasp the opportunities emerging from a move to a greener economy.

We welcomed Sarah Jane Chimbwandira the Chief Executive of the Surrey Wildlife Trust who told us about the natural assets of our region and the importance of biodiversity. Sarah Jane made a point on the importance of representation at this type of event of our green environment.

Speakers, panellists, and audience members enjoyed a lively and interactive online session that included virtual polls, chat, and the opportunity to put questions to the contributors.

We were joined by members of the Business South business led Action Groups: Regeneration South, Regeneration North Hampshire and West Surrey, Business South’s Green Task Group and the EM3 LEP Clean Growth Growth led by Jennie Pell.

The Round Table formed part of the Business South Seminar Series that has covered a range of topics so far this year. Forthcoming themes include the Visitor Economy and Retail and our High Streets.

Reflecting on the Round Table Tim Hancock who Chaired the debate commented:

“There is a compelling case for everyone to play their part in the race to net zero. The Central South region is home to many highly successful companies and a natural environment that is second to none.  Environmental matters must be at the heart of the economic recovery, and I have no doubt that businesses within our region will embrace strategies to achieve the transition to net zero carbon at the earliest opportunity.”

Julia Barrett from Willmott Dixon commented:

Over the last ten years, sustainability has helped us at Willmott Dixon to save money, drive efficiency, improve our products, support and delight our customers and increase our resilience.  We have improved local environments, invested in local communities and supported local supply chains.  Sustainability has helped us to win work and attract and retain great people.   We believe that there really isn’t a downside to leaving a better planet for future generations and are redoubling our efforts through our new 2030 net zero carbon strategy: Now or Never – our decisive decade.”