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Making sustainability changes now, not later

Blog 09 11 21 sustainability changes hero

Today Sam Addison, Head of Project Management in our EMEA Occupier Services team attended the Climate Action: Sustainability Innovation Forum in Glasgow which is running alongside the UN Climate Change Conference. Here Sam tells us what she has taken away from today’s event.

What was the most interesting discussion you attended today at the Climate Action: Sustainability Innovation Forum, and why?

Actually I found the panel that my colleague from Colliers Andres Guzman was on the most interesting, because it was a really informative, practical session. Other panels have described the scale of the problem we’re facing, but in this one ‘Rising to the challenge of zero carbon buildings – a lifestyle approach’ Katie Ross the Global Workplace Service Sustainability lead from Microsoft provided practical advice for the sector, including some that I’m going to implement straight away, such as the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool. It's an open source tool that is easy to use and allows benchmarking, assessment and calculates reductions in embodied carbon, focused on the upfront supply chain emissions of construction materials. 

Was there a single quote or fact that really stood out to you?

Also at that same panel Jose La Loggia from Trane Technologies said: “The future is now, we have to come together to make it happen” which to me is so true. I also really liked the following observation from Andres: “The greenest buildings have already been built” this highlights clearly the importance of retrofitting in decarbonising our built environment. 

What do you think occupiers should take away from the panel?

From yesterday and today what’s been clear is that we can make a huge impact by using the technology that’s available already and implementing it. Yes, there will be new and more efficient technologies that come down the line, but we can use what we have now and that will also make a huge impact. 

Also it’s a misconception that decarbonisation costs a premium. A report by RMI was quoted which highlights that up to 40% of embodied carbon can be removed for just a 1% premium. If you consider spreading that cost over ten years is it really that expensive? And also what about the economics of your carbon budget, it only helps to put that into a positive position. 

There’s also been lots of talk on the great progress made by the automotive industry; everyone knows an electric vehicle is better for the environment than a vehicle powered by fossil fuels. To make real change, it would be powerful if we could get to a position where our communities could look at a buildings in the same way. Then people will desire net zero buildings and understand their benefits. 

How will your work change because of what you’ve heard today? 

As I said earlier, I’m going to make a change today. Our 500 project managers across Europe manage change requests and value management processes and while we do assess embodied carbon, we often look at it at the start of a project, but today it was clear that we should make it part of our everyday project decision making.

Is there anything else people who are not attending the conference are missing out on? 

Yes the food! It’s delicious and it’s all vegan. Yesterday we had aubergine and sweet potato lasagne with winter vegetable soup, and today we had a bean chilli with couscous and lentil soup. It just adds further to the view that we don’t have to rely on animal farming for our food supplies, it’s one of the many things we need to address to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s great that this conference is "walking the talk" and only providing plant-based lunches.

Colliers COP26 group pic

About the author
Sam Addison is Head of Project Management for our EMEA Occupier Services team, she has more than 20 years experience in the real estate and construction industry and has worked with multinational clients including Centrica, Whitbread, GSK and Nokia Networks.

To contact Sam, email

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United Kingdom

Sam Addison

Head of Project Management

EMEA Headquarters, London

An experienced Real Estate and Construction professional who has worked for over twenty years providing advice across the life cycle of commercial properties for a number of large multi-national corporate clients. These include Centrica, Whitbread, Shell, Microsoft, GSK, PeopleSoft, and Nokia Networks.

A technical background coupled with management expertise, key areas of success include: Design management, project management, risk and value management, programme management, PMO, stakeholder and change management.

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