Women make up about 13% of the UK construction sector. This International Women’s Day we asked some of the most impressive women in the built environment we know to share their calls to action for the sector as we #pressforprogress
Kirsten Henson is Director of KLH Sustainability, a sustainable construction consultancy. With an engineering background, she provides technical advice on setting sustainability strategy, implementation and delivery. She was involved in the early stages of masterplanning for the London 2012 Olympic Park.
Ronan Leyden, our Head of Sustainable Places, says: “Kirsten is a fearless leader that puts her whole self into what she does. During the Olympics, she made her personal mission to get people using recycled aggregate and personally took around bagged samples to prove there was no difference. She is motivated, pragmatic and very intelligent.”
May Al-Karooni is the founder of Globe Chain. After starting her career in property investment and finance, May created Globe Chain. This online reuse platform connects people, charities and businesses to enable them to reuse unwanted items within a global supply chain network. They have over 10,000 members within retail, commercial and construction.
Hayley Baines-Buffery, our Head of Sustainable Business says: “Every time I meet May she makes me feel completely inadequate (in the nicest possible way). She talks and works at 100 miles an hour and has achieved a lot in a short amount of time.”
Miki Agrawal, Radha Agrawal and Antonia Dunbar were frustrated by the lack of feminine hygiene options globally. So they invented THINX – a line of pants (that look nice!) that can either replace or supplement traditional products. A percentage from every sale is used to pay for reusable sanitary pads in Uganda (through a partnership with AFRIpads).
Emily Auckland, our Policy Manager, says: ‘Not only have they set out to revolutionise feminine hygiene and support women in developing countries, their product could also minimise the 10,000 tampons and sanitary towels the average woman will dispose of in their lifetime.”
Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), led the charge on the historic Paris Agreement (signed in December 2015).
Sue Riddlestone, CEO of Bioregional, says: “I was lucky enough to witness Ms Figueres in action. She had an incredibly difficult job but did it with such integrity and intelligence, bringing everyone along with her on the journey. I was particularly impressed by the way she always remembered who everyone was – things like that matter in diplomacy.”
Nikki Silvestri is an advocate for climate solutions, healthy food systems and social justice. She is the Co-founder and CEO of Silvestri Strategies, a project design and management firm working to support thriving communities, economies, and natural environments.
Emmelie Brownlee, our Communications Officer, says: “I came across Nikki when she spoke at the Disruptive Innovation Festival last year. She is a passionate champion for placing social equity firmly within the environmental movement and has successfully progressed this through her work with various organisations.”
Rachel Bradley has been the force behind B&Q’s sustainability programme One Planet Home for the last 11 years. She completed its transition to 100% responsibly sourced timber that began in 1991, is working towards the company’s products becoming peat-free, and adopted the RHS Perfect for Pollinators label to help customers choose the best flowers for butterflies and bees.
Suzannah Gore, Sustainable Business Officer, says: “Rachel’s determination, tenacity and leadership for sustainability are really inspiring. She has worked so hard to achieve true change at B&Q in a sector with a lot of challenges.”
Amie Shuttleworth is the Head of Global Sustainability at Cundall, an international engineering consultancy and One Planet Company. Recognised as one of Building Magazine’s Rising Stars of Sustainability in 2013, she has an impressive track record. Only a year into her role, she has already implemented several notable initiatives.
Claire Brady, Commercial Development Manager, says: “Amie is very committed to ensuring that Cundall seizes the opportunity to be true leaders in sustainability. She is doing this by ensuring that staff and projects have the information they need to provide the best sustainable solutions to its clients.”
Gabi Kaiser, Sustainability Officer at Cherwell District Council, has worked closely with us over the last three years on a number of projects in Bicester, including our LEMUR project (Local Energy Mapping for Urban Retrofit). She’s currently on a sabbatical in Berlin to better understand the German sustainability agenda and its stakeholders.
Nicole Lazarus, Oxfordshire Programme Manager, says: “Gabi is a ‘can-do’ sustainability activist who wants and does get things done. She has helped to lead the charge for sustainable and environmental projects in Bicester. She is inspiring, motivational and so much fun to work with.”
And we couldn’t let this list finish without a mention of two of our own inspiring women in sustainability:
Nicole Lazarus is the Oxfordshire Programme Manager at Bioregional, leading our growing programme of activities around Bicester and across Oxfordshire. She was one of Building Magazine’s Top 50 rising stars of sustainability for 2012 and was a finalist in the Outstanding Women in Construction Awards 2014.
Lewis Knight, Oxfordshire Project Manager, says: “Nicole is an inspirational manager, who practices what she preaches. She has a vast and in-depth knowledge of sustainability. She has the ability to think both strategically and innovatively.”
Sue Riddlestone OBE is the CEO and Co-founder of Bioregional. Through her work with One Planet Living, she has worked with organisations to create sustainable change – from a 6,000 home eco-community in Guangzhou, China to the London 2012 Olympics.
Julia Hawkins, our Head of Comms, says: “A true social entrepreneur, Sue has such a clear vision of what she wants to achieve and seems undaunted by the scale of the challenge in reaching it. She has the secret of being able to talk about sustainability in a way that anyone can relate to and understand, making it sound blatantly obvious it’s how we should all be living.”