I am excited to have been appointed as the Local Network Co-ordinator for Bristol and the South West. I am a Chartered Environmentalist, based in Exeter, and work as an Energy Consultant within WSP’s Sustainable Places, Energy and Waste team. My day job predominantly includes the project management of energy performance and data assessments, whilst also supporting with environmental due diligence, sustainable development and healthy buildings projects.

Alongside my role at WSP, I am looking forward to representing UKGBC on a part time secondment basis as a Local Network Co-ordinator for the Bristol and the South West region. The Local Network Co-ordinator roles are new positions introduced by UKGBC aimed at enhancing their regional activities and presence across the country. As part of the secondment, I will be supporting UKGBC’s overall strategy to raise awareness of sustainability across the built environment, strengthen the relationship between industry and local government and look to improve sustainability standards in local communities.

I am keen to develop a hub in the South West where members can network, collaborate and knowledge share locally. I feel it is a great opportunity to transfer skills, develop relationships and provide further networking and research opportunities for UKGBC’s members locally. We already have some exciting events lined up for the year, the next being a Circular Economy Debate on 17 July at Burges Salmon’s offices in Bristol. We are also planning a site visit and roundtable event for later in the year.

You would expect me to say this, but Bristol and the South West is such a great region for UKGBC to focus on. The region is helping to lead the way in sustainable research and development through the work of numerous organisations including Exeter and Bristol Universities and Exeter Science Park. Since Bristol was named the European Green Capital in 2015 – the first UK city to win the award, there has been more focus on the importance and implementation of sustainable development principles, making it an exciting time to be part of this local network.

There are loads of diverse and sometimes challenging issues for us, as a network, to get our teeth stuck into. Bristol is a city with environmental sustainability at its heart, and social equity is a top agenda item for the mayor, but are these elements being instilled as standard into all new developments in the city? Also, a lot of the debate around housing is quite narrowly focused around greenbelt vs density, rather than potentially more fruitful conversations about high quality place-making.

Of course, issues relevant in Bristol city centre are very different to those in rural parts of the region. How do we respond to this as those with an interest in sustainability and the built environment professionals?

The South West is also a really interesting test case for the new devolution arrangements. In theory, the combined authority is a great opportunity to create joined up sustainability policy at scale. But how will that dovetail with the constituent local authorities – can potential political differences be put aside for the greater good on sustainability? And all of this amidst the ongoing context of Brexit, and a ‘place-based’ Industry Strategy.

So no shortage of content for us to digest and debate!

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss anything and get more involved, or find out more about UKGBC’s local networks. I look forward to working with you.

Jemma Newsome,
Local Network Co-ordinator, UKGBC.

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