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"We have the ability to shape a sustainable future through the built environment"

Rod Leigh, sustainability director at Jewson, tells us how sustainabile building can help improve the future.

How did you get into the industry?

I studied engineering and once finishing university I joined the Royal Air Force as an engineer.

After 12 years of service I left to work in the Far East where I got my first taste of the construction industry.

I returned to the UK and worked in a few DIY sheds before moving to the merchant sector.

What is the best thing about construction?

One of the best things about working in construction is that we can truly affect change.

By this I mean we have the ability to shape a sustainable future via the built environment.

I have a varied role which gives me the opportunity to see the very latest in building material innovations and understand how they fit into everyday life.

I also get the opportunity to affect change within Jewson, driving forward new initiatives and making sure sustainability is at the heart of all business decisions – a challenging but extremely rewarding task. 

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?

I’d like us to take bolder steps.

As an industry we tend to be slow to react to things and often risk adverse - to truly move the sustainability agenda forward we need to be more forward thinking.

How should we encourage young people to join the industry?

It’s one of the last industries left where you can start at the bottom and reach the top and I don’t think many young people are aware of this huge opportunity.

With the current skills gap posing such a huge threat it is vital that we not only offer younger people employment but the chance to shape a business and make a positive impact.

How we should encourage them to be a part of this is to bring them along with us on the journey, whether that is creating more trainee and apprenticeship opportunities or communicating via social media.

There is lots of potential here and room to learn.

Rod Leigh is sustainability director at Jewson

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