Empowering the next generation of built environment leaders to deliver sustainability goals
Achieving net zero objectives will require sustainability champions to be given “accountability” and “power”, as opposed to just being a “token gesture”, according to Graeme Larsen FCIOB, associate dean of sustainability at the University College of Estate Management (UCEM).
Larsen was speaking at a recent CIOB People and Construction Management webinar, in association with UCEM, which convened experts from industry and academia to discuss the sustainability skills challenges facing the built environment sector.
Discussing the value of job titles, Larsen said: “You could have someone doing a sustainability champion role, but they do not even need the title. They could just be doing that role. It is the action that is important.
“If giving them that title and a particular position in the organisation helps, then fantastic. But it is more about the action that person can take, and then having the power to bring about some change and do some good.”
However, Rachel Bannon-Godfrey, vice president, SDG impact leader at Stantec, insisted that sustainability-related job titles often give a voice to emerging professionals in the industry.
“Being given that platform and that title does give younger professionals access to discussions that maybe they would not otherwise have,” she said.
“If that’s what it takes – giving someone a title – then let’s do it. Let’s give everybody titles to draw attention to the fact that we do have sustainability champions, and this is something that person is dedicated to.”
Bannon-Godfrey added that recognition of effort is crucial to ensure that sustainability roles are valued.
“We sometimes feel like we are coming up against a brick wall,” she explained. “[It is important to] give folks that wind underneath their sails or whatever it takes to get them to persevere if they come across somebody saying ‘no’ or somebody who is not listening. If it is a job title that gives you that energy and that momentum, then so be it.”
The webinar is free to watch on demand here and qualifies for one hour’s CPD credit for those who watch it before 4 June.