13 Sep Career Story – Amy Hurst (BREEAM Assessor & Sustainability Advisor)
What was your background before joining the construction industry?
Growing up I didn’t know what I wanted to do, at first I wanted to be a doctor, then I wanted to be Kate Adie! I then travelled around the world, tried my hand at photography (in Falmouth), realised I was terrible at photography, but I then discovered I could study the environment, which has always been my passion.
I decided to go to Falmouth Marine School and there I completed my Environmental Resource Management degree through Plymouth University, all the time staying in beautiful Cornwall. I wish I had known about my course when I left college, but I also don’t regret travelling the world and taking time to work out what was right for me in terms of my future career. I think you need to be passionate about whatever it is you choose to do for a living.
I began my working life as an environmental scientist specialising in contaminated land across Cornwall and Devon. Following that I worked for a fantastic charity called Groundwork, where I gave advice to businesses in the South West on resource management, funding opportunities, reducing carbon footprints and implementing environmental management systems.
Then I became Sustainability ‘champion and travel plan co-ordinator’ for the Cornwall College Group, at the time it was a new post so there was a lot of work to do! Seven sites, a broad mix of very old and brand new buildings, staff and student engagement and low carbon and cost saving targets.
I went on to work for the wonderful Watergate Bay Hotel as their Sustainability Manager where we implemented management systems, reducing waste, utility use and costs, also gaining low carbon grant funding for their new development.
Then before I joined WWA, I went to work for the Eden Project, where I was in charge of their energy and water management and had a brilliant time engaging with staff and external business on these subjects.
Tell us about your current role?
I currently lead the BREEAM Assessments and Sustainability Advice for WWA and while I am based in Truro, my remit covers all of our UK offices. I help advise business on their resource use and cost savings as well as implement environmental management systems. I also help Ward Williams Associates new business iWWA, which is a new strategic management consultancy focussing on delivering ‘smart and sustainable’ programmes in the development sector and beyond, including a focus on energy management. It is an exciting addition to the company.
Are you involved in the wider construction community?
STEM Ambassadors get involved in a huge range of activities, which can all have an impact on young people’s learning and enjoyment of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. I am a proud STEM Ambassador and won their award a few years ago for my services when working for the Eden Project. I’m passionate about educating children in these subjects and particularly encouraging fellow females into relevant professions.
What are you views on sustainability in construction?
I believe sustainable buildings don’t have to cost extra if the whole design team are on board from the early stages. What’s more, everyone gets to be involved in building better, more robust buildings that keep occupants happier and cost less to run!
What are your aspirations for the future?
I am interested in becoming an ESOS Auditor and carrying out ISO50 001 training as I believe these will become more popular in the next few years as legislation tightens up on business energy use. These both involve auditing a business and identifying areas of waste and opportunities for improved efficiencies. We expect the Government will make these mandatory for smaller businesses as they are currently doing for larger business.