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BD’s top 50 green leaders

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BD’s inaugural list of the 50 most influential people in UK sustainability

The world of sustainability is nothing if not fast moving. When we set out to compile a list of the 50 people who are currently setting the green agenda in the UK, we certainly expected the then-energy secretary Chris Huhne to feature high in the ranking.

Following his recent scrape with the law, Huhne is a notable absentee, but the final list certainly reflects the importance of initiatives with which he was closely linked. In particular, Paul Morrell’s place in the number-one slot recognises the significance of his role as the principal author of last year’s Low Carbon Construction report.

The Green Deal — hailed by Huhne as “the most ambitious energy-saving plan ever put forward… a once-and-for all refit that will make every home in Britain ready for a low-carbon future” — looks set to be the most significant response to Morrell’s findings. When it goes live this autumn, the programme will enable householders to secure loans to upgrade the environmental performance of their homes and pay the money back over a 25-year period through charges on their energy bills.

The nature of the list means that government advisers and campaigners feature more prominently than architects. Nonetheless, half a dozen architects have made the cut — in most cases, not just for their work as designers but for the energy with which they have tried to engage the rest of the profession and the wider public with the cause. Rab Bennetts and Sunand Prasad, in particular, have played important campaigning roles through their work with the UK Green Building Council and RIBA respectively.

But the list isn’t entirely devoted to elder statesmen. It also recognises the younger pioneers who will be setting the agenda in the years ahead. Among the work being undertaken by architects, Michael Pawlyn’s investigations of biomimicry and Justin Bere’s work on affordable Passivhaus standard homes promise to be particularly valuable.

We are publishing the list a couple of weeks before Ecobuild, where Morrell and many of the other individuals featured will be speaking and contributing to seminars. As the UK faces up to the epic challenge of reducing its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, the sustainability agenda is unlikely to remain static for long. Right now, however, these are the faces to watch.

Creating the sustainability 50

Our first task was to invite nominations from architects and engineers whose work demonstrated a strong engagement with sustainability. Inevitably, we found that many of those we had invited to participate — including Rab Bennetts, Justin Bere and Sunand Prasad — were themselves nominated.

We asked our panel to nominate across a range of categories: architects, engineers, politicians, campaigners, scientists and developers.
Those with the highest public profiles, like Jonathon Porritt and George Monbiot, tended to receive the most nominations but in choosing the final ranking we tried to give the greatest weight to people who are having a direct impact on the delivery of a sustainable future today.

This is a list of people working in the UK but figures from overseas obviously also have a significant impact on the UK’s sustainability agenda.
Some of the most influential people are listed in stand-alone boxes. We would particularly like to thank Mel Starrs from PRP for her advice in choosing the final ranking.

This, of course, is our list and many readers will disagree with it. Do let us know how you would have ranked it differently.

Ecobuild logo

Ecobuild is the world’s biggest sustainable design, construction and built environment event. This year it will take place at London’s ExCel Centre, March 20-22. Details of the programme can be found at www.ecobuild.co.uk BD will be hosting a series of events on the final day.

For further information
about these visit bdonline.co.uk/ecobuild

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