20 April 2021
By Richard Pender
Join us in welcoming Richard to KLH
Tell us a bit about your background?
My background is slightly unconventional. After my first degree in International History and Politics, I began working in Public Affairs. I worked in and around Westminster, mainly on environmental campaigns. That time saw the introduction of the 2008 Climate Change Act and the Zero Carbon Homes target but there was a gulf between rhetoric and action. Slightly frustrated with the state of affairs, I returned to further education and acquired Master’s degrees in both Psychology and Renewable Energy.
Life events then led me into property development and ultimately running a small, multi-award winning Design and Build company. My company, Shawm Ltd, specialised in sustainable housing and allowed me to apply and test all my prior learning. This experience really opened my eyes to the structural challenges in the industry and the critical importance of collaboration and process in delivering more sustainable outcomes. With KLH I plan to put my academic and real-world experience to good use to drive change within the industry.
Where did you first hear about KLH Sustainability?
I was looking to return to London from the North East and started researching opportunities and new ideas in the ‘sustainability space’. I became aware of Kirsten and KLH via Linkedin. I connected with Kirsten after being impressed by some of her posts which were underpinned by a straight talking, common sense, fundamentals-based approach. Digging further into KLH, I was impressed by the multi-disciplined team assembled, the broad nature of their projects, and the fact that the consultancy appeared to offer a practical and delivery-focused approach.
What made KLH Sustainability stand out for you to work for?
After the experiences I’ve had to date of trying to design and deliver more sustainable buildings, moving into a consultancy role was perhaps a natural step. I knew I didn’t want to join a consultancy that was just going through the motions. KLH stood out as a dynamic team who merge an impressive breadth of technical skills with a strategic, tailored approach, to deliver real impact.
What is your current role at KLH Sustainability?
I have joined as a Senior Sustainability Adviser. My experience in designing and delivering high-quality, low carbon housing means that my focus will be around sustainable homes and communities. I understand that I was selected for the role because my direct experience of project delivery offers a slightly different perspective to the norm. I have valuable first-hand insight into the complexities of planning, the challenges of sustainable design and the importance of procurement and construction management in the delivery of a quality product. My early experience as an outsider to the construction industry, led me to realise that there is real value in asking the questions that insiders are sometimes too afraid to ask, or do not think to ask.
I believe KLH will provide me the platform to carry on asking the questions that challenge conventional thinking, and in turn support KLH clients in developing the sustainable solutions our planet and communities so desperately need. My first KLH project with Impact modular has been a real insight into both the challenges and opportunities of the modular construction industry trying as it is to provide a solution that is simultaneously better, faster, cheaper and greener.
How do you see yourself going forward within KLH Sustainability?
In contrast to when I was involved in environmental public affairs, it seems that the construction industry is ready to rise to the climate challenge. It strikes me that it is an exciting time to be involved in a consultancy like KLH to drive positive change throughout the wider built environment industry.
There has recently been a groundswell in awareness and motivation to act. It is a movement that has amplified over the past difficult year. I want to be part of this new era, enabled by the breadth of technical know-how within KLH, to connect high level strategic ambition to practical delivery and help clients embed sustainability into their operational procedures, rather than viewing it as an add on or compliance necessity.
What does sustainability mean to you?
At the most basic level, it is obviously about living within the physical limits of our biosphere. Even as someone who grew up not temperamentally inclined to be an environmentalist, this fact has always struck me as obvious; an inconvenient truth to steal a label. However, with further time, and particularly through my Psychology masters, I’ve come to think of sustainability as much more as an opportunity, rather than an inconvenience; an opportunity to re-frame ways of living that are more satisfying and rewarding for all.