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Bridging the gap between profitability and environmental responsibility in construction

In the following interview with Simon Knott, founder and Director of Naturally Compliant, we delve into how the company is shaping the future of environmentally responsible construction. We discuss their evolving services, their approach to varying regulations, and their active contributions to the sector's ongoing development.

So, if you're looking to align your professional responsibilities with your personal values, read on. This conversation is not just about the 'what' and the 'how' of environmental management in construction; it's about the 'why' that fuels our commitment to environmentally sustainable infrastructure.


Can you explain the core purpose of Naturally Compliant?  

At its core, Naturally Compliant is all about elevating the environmental performance of construction projects. We're not just about ticking boxes or avoiding penalties; we're here to make a positive impact. This means we use our expertise to identify environmental risks and then communicate and/or implement strategies to manage them. It's not just about avoiding harm to the environment; it's about enhancing our client’s success. When you manage environmental risks proactively, you're more likely to secure repeat business and build a reputation for responsibility and excellence.


How have your environmental services evolved over time? 

Since launching Naturally Compliant in 2016, we've witnessed a definite shift in how society views environmental responsibility. This has led to an increase in scrutiny of environmental performance, not only at a regulatory level but from investors and shareholders. Even multi-billion-pound construction projects now have to prove their environmental credentials, a trend that's trickling down to smaller ventures as well.

The construction sector remains fiercely competitive. Companies that take a proactive approach to environmental management aren't just doing good; they're gaining a competitive edge.

As a result, our role has evolved. While we continue to offer auditing and due diligence, we're increasingly called upon to serve as an extension of our clients' environmental departments. We're not just ticking boxes; we're actively involved in every stage of a project's life cycle. From advising on tenders to shaping design and implementation, we're leveraging our expertise to deliver both budgetary savings and enhanced environmental performance.


How do you/your company approach environmental services in regions with differing environmental regulations? 

While much of the legislation still has its roots in EU directives, the way it's applied can vary across the UK. That's why we've built a network of seasoned professionals who understand the local nuances. They help our clients navigate through any challenges, ensuring that projects are not just compliant but also add value through identifying programme and budgetary risks.


In a dynamic and swiftly expanding industry, how does your company actively contribute to the ongoing progress and development of the sector? 

Continual improvement is incredibly important to me, so we're not just spectators; we're active participants in shaping the future of our industry. I'm personally involved in organisations like the Association of Environmental Clerk of Works to clarify and promote the Environmental Clerk of Works role – a role designed to independently report on a project's environmental performance and inform the environmental impact assessment.  I’m also involved with the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment – we're working to create a feedback loop that informs future impact assessments, helping us all learn what really works.

We've also teamed up with the University of the West of Scotland to develop CPD programmes aimed at upskilling the construction sector in environmental matters[LE1] . And our collaboration with Fairhurst is particularly exciting. We're pioneering Environmental Focused Design, an approach that aims to design out environmental risks from the get-go. This not only minimises risks but also has the potential to reduce both project timelines and costs.


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