with Benjamin Howard from Vertus Construction.
Vertus Construction is a Project Management and Construction company that currently focuses on the residential and light commercial sector of the industry. The Managing Director, Benjamin Howard has a true passion for sustainability and the impact that the construction industry is having on the climate.
Vertus Construction have helped to connect the project team to some of the sponsors in the industry, assisting with planning and build-ability of Unified Peaks.
How well do you think the current Construction industries are implementing sustainable practice, and do you think we are doing enough?
At the moment a lot of large commercial companies are implementing stringent and important strategies to implement sustainable practices but this is currently following a similar path as Health and Safety implementation within the industry. The large companies will do their best to implement it and I believe that the commercial space will drastically reduce their waste and emissions but I don’t think it will filter down to smaller construction companies and certainly not into the residential space. I would just like to clarify that I class the large-scale house builders as large commercial rather than residential. The changes have to come from the design phase of the construction and this is influenced heavily by the budget of the project. It is not all negative as I think the biggest reductions will come from the plant and vehicles being used within the construction industry.
Do you think the industry's current path will be able to reduce its impact enough to meet the Paris Agreement?
The simple answer is, no. Again, the large commercial companies will achieve drastic change but without bringing the smaller scale companies and residential sector into the fold the overall construction won’t achieve it. It will be interesting to see what metrics are used to evaluate the progress and success.
How do think it can be improved?
It all comes to the selection of materials and how these materials can reduce the carbon impact. The industry needs to become more automated, streamlined and ultimately reduce the waste and emissions before they even reach site.
I am working towards getting modular homes fabricated at scale in a factory. I see this having two big impacts. First, positively changing the current affordable housing problem and also streamlining and automating the current house building practices, which would significantly reduce the carbon footprint of houses being built.
What is your view on the importance of sustainable practice over the past few years?
I came to NZ from the UK 4 years ago and sustainability was an important topic. For example, I completed the first project in the world to integrate 64 heat recovery units into the external façade of the building and had a large array of solar panels but all this was decided and implemented at the front of the project. Sustainability didn’t cross the actual work forces lips on site, it just didn’t register in their minds. When I arrived in NZ sustainability was becoming a discussion point and some large-scale companies were implementing as much as they could. For example, collecting batteries and collecting organic waste but for such a large company it is just barely scratching the surface and we need to expect more from these companies.