19 Mar 2012

60 seconds with...John Connaughton, Davis Langdon (an Aecom Company) & member of the BCO ESG



In March 2012 the BCO launched Whole-Life Carbon Footprint Measurement and Offices. Here we spend 60 seconds with a member of the BCO Environmental Sustainability Group (ESG) who chaired the steering committee behind the research.

Dr John Connaughton is Head of Davis Langdon's knowledge team in Europe. Read his full bio here...

How long have you been a member of the BCO and what do see as a key benefit of membership?
Since 2010. The greatest benefit is meeting people who are genuine leaders in the development and operation of office buildings. 

As a member of the BCO ESG you have chaired the steering group for the research Whole-LifeCarbon Footprint Measurement and Offices. Can you sum up in a few sentences what whole-life carbon measurement is? 
Yes. Buildings are responsible for significant carbon emissions over their life-cycles – not only during use (from energy consumption) but initially during construction, and later during maintenance as well as demolition and eventual disposal also. Whole life carbon measurement is a way of measuring all these carbon emissions so that we understand the total carbon footprint of buildings. 

Why is it important?
Carbon Dioxide (C02) is a major contributor to global warming. The UK Government wants to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by the year 2050. Those involved in construction and property have a huge part to play in meeting this target, as over 50% of CO2 emissions arise from our use of buildings. 

What are the key topics covered by this report?  
The report focuses mainly on measuring ‘embodied carbon’ (ie the CO2 associated with the production of a building’s constituent materials and components).  Embodied carbon is often overlooked in conventional approaches to carbon footprinting, but can account for up to 40% of a building’s total emissions over its life cycle. 

Aside from whole-life carbon, what are the other hot topics on your agenda?
Another key environmental issue is water, seen both as a resource (have we enough in the right places?) and a risk (how do we avoid flooding?). 

Who/what has most inspired you in the Commercial Property Sector? 
Stuart Lipton, for his genuinely inspiring office developments since the 1980s, and his continuing belief in the value of good design.

What’s your favourite office development (either in the UK or wider afield)? And why? 
This will probably annoy my colleagues working in sustainability, but the Johnson Wax building in Wisconsin, by Frank Lloyd Wright, gets my vote. Not perhaps the most obviously sustainable of developments, but as an inspiring place to work…. Wow!

What do you think will be the most influential tool in the commercial property toolkit in the coming years?
A mechanism for linking sustainability directly with commercial property value. It doesn’t yet exist, but is coming….

What couldn’t you live without in your daily routine?
Shredded Wheat – preferably two of them!

What is your guilty pleasure?  (Something you enjoy but feel a bit guilty for. Possibly an embarrassing taste, whether it be music, fashion, food etc)
The Guard – one of the most politically incorrect and funniest films I’ve seen in years. 

Davis Langdon Director John Connaughton appears at no. 33 in Building Design's Sustainability 50 list, showcasing the most influential voices in the UK sustainability sector. Former Davis Langdon Senior Partner, and current government chief construction adviser, Paul Morrell, heads the list. (Building Design 09-03-12 pp8-13)