Meet the rising talent driving the sustainability agenda at RPS

Our Sustainability team works with businesses across the UK and Ireland to plan, design and build the infrastructure needed to reduce their carbon footprint.  Made up of individuals who are driven by the green agenda, our people are passionate about sustainability, striving to build a better world for future generations.

Over the coming months, we will be catching up with some of the rising talent in our team, those who put sustainability at the heart of their solutions and whose passion for a greener future will help businesses reach their net zero goals and tackle the climate change emergency.

Next up, we meet Hugo Forster, Assistant Environmental Consultant who was inspired to follow a career in sustainability after volunteering on a renewable energy project in Portugal. Hugo is on the front line in our fight against climate change, working with clients to determine the impact of their projects on the environment. 

What drove you to a career in sustainability? 

My career choices have been driven by a deep desire to shift the emphasis of development to one of sustainability. I genuinely believe we can create harmony and balance between our current lifestyles (albeit with some significant behavioural changes being necessary!) and the natural world. The clock is ticking on the urgent need to protect our environment from the adverse effects arising from anthropogenic activity, however it is not too late to change the way we continue to develop our built environment. It is my goal to be on the frontline for bringing about such change.

How can your specialism support clients on their journey to net zero?

I support clients through rigorous greenhouse gas emissions assessments for new and existing infrastructure projects. I help clients to quantify the risk to climate change from their projects, whilst also providing suggestions for suitable mitigation measures where necessary.

I also support clients in their corporate sustainability reporting obligations and assisting them with setting targets and providing insight into how to reach them.

Where do you think the biggest opportunities lie in the quest for NZC?

I think one of the most exciting opportunities in the UK’s energy sector is the use of hydrogen as a storage medium and a direct replacement for natural gas, although it is currently very much in its infant stages of development.

Furthermore, the issue of primary resource overconsumption must be tackled imminently. I believe an effective solution for NZC, and potentially a great opportunity for businesses, could be arrived at by creating more financially viable routes to market for circular economy practises.

What would be the one policy you would implement or change in support of NZC?

The proposed changes (due to be implemented in 2021) to Part L of the UK Building Regulations – i.e. the standards that must be met for new dwellings, in relation to energy efficiency and fuel consumption – fall way short of what is necessary for the UK to meet its carbon reduction requirements. Given that around 20% of UK emissions can be attributed to domestic energy use, I would like to see the government implement far more stringent energy efficiency regulation for new (and existing) dwellings. I don’t think it is any longer such a radical position to suggest the government should be implementing something similar to the Passivhaus standard, in terms of energy efficiency and emissions reductions in new dwellings.

What are your predictions for the future as companies work towards NZC? What could we be doing in 2049 as the deadline draws nearer?

I believe a best cast scenario is one whereby, by 2049, the most energy intensive industries – such as cement and steel manufacturing – are finally closing in on the NZC target, whilst industries with greater ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere are doing so. Through the use of biomass and CCS and a wide range of renewable technologies, the energy industry has been net carbon negative for a number of years, and the UK as a whole has reached its NZC target. The earlier the better- I don’t think 2050 is a stringent enough target.

In a worst-case scenario- we haven’t been able to ween ourselves off our fossil-fuel addiction, the necessary schemes and infrastructure weren’t put in place to properly manage demand to accommodate a high penetration of renewables in the energy mix, and consequently all other sectors failed to fall in line with the necessary decarbonisation targets. However, I think the best-case scenario of a more accurate prophesy! 

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give a client starting their NZC journey?

Set targets and stick to them!

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Hugo Forster

Assistant Environmental Consultant 01273 546 800 EMAIL

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