Interviews

Holley Chant on sustainability at KEO International

‘Sustainability is literally tied to the survival of our species,’ executive at consultancy firm says

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Holley Chant is Executive Director for Corporate Sustainability at KEO International Consultants. Here she explains KEO International’s sustainability and commissioning disciplines and developing corporate strategies for championing sustainability.

Should we be concerned about sustainability? Why?
I am quite sure that most people would answer yes to all of these questions. Sustainability is literally tied to the survival of our species, due to the rapidly increasing impacts of climate change.

Generally speaking, how sensitive is the construction industry in the region to sustainability?
The GCC has been in a positive cycle for some years now of implementing sustainability regulations, but I think we can always engage in continuous improvement. The region’s consultants and contractors should focus on achieving 100% execution of these requirements. It is in the best interest of us all.

Are targets, regulations and other industry impositions the way forward to sustainability?
Absolutely. As the old saying goes, “What gets measured matters, what gets measured gets improved, what gets measured gets done!”

Professor Michael Porter from Harvard Business School teaches that environmental and sustainability regulations actually can initiate innovation cycles, pushing companies to increase their resource efficiency and resiliency.

What challenges confront the construction industry from a sustainable standpoint?
The perception of the sustainability cost barrier exists in boom or bust economies in our industry. However, there are many examples locally where skilled consultants and contractors have smashed this myth.

Sustainability does require a conscious decision to evolve how we work, as it is most cost-effectively executed within an integrated design and construction process.

How much of a priority is sustainability for KEO?
Sustainability is embedded into our business model at KEO and considered in all design projects and across corporate services.

What specific initiatives is KEO taking to promote sustainability?
KEO have extensively invested in sustainability training for staff. We maintain a team of in-house specialists. We continually seek out new software and invest in them if we feel they merit our consideration, to bring efficiency to our clients’ projects.

How important is technology, and what role is it playing in ensuring sustainability?
Technological innovation is very important, but cultural and institutional change trump innovation any day. Specifically, technology will not diffuse without people being willing to adopt to the changes innovation brings with it.

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