Net Zero Week Spotlight: Jose Hernandez

20 July, 2021

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What is your role at Pick Everard and can you tell us about your career progression in that time?

I am a Director and the Head of Sustainability and Energy. I joined Pick Everard 17 years ago as a graduate engineer and was our first thermal modelling engineer and sustainability consultant at the time. I have risen through the ranks over the years, developing and growing the Sustainability and Energy discipline.

Why are you so passionate about sustainability?

It stems originally from my Industrial Engineering degree, having not only energy efficiency as a key factor in industrial processes but also entropy and exergy. My Erasmus year in Glasgow and my PhD at De Montfort University added to that. Over the past two years, let’s just say that my twin daughters have brought another dimension into the equation.

What is your proudest accomplishment to date in your career?

To have developed the team to where we currently are, with the support over the years of many people across Pick Everard in general and Building Services and the whole Sustainability and Energy team especially. I was also very proud to have all our disciplines joining the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency Declaration. But looking forward, there is still much work to be done over the coming years!

What are the key challenges we face in transitioning to a net zero carbon society?

A key challenge will be to seize the opportunity to achieve an absolute decoupling of carbon emissions and an economic growth that is fair across countries and societies, even more so given the need for a green sustainable economic recovery coming out of the Covid pandemic.

Why is embedding sustainability into all our activities in the built environment so important?

The built environment is a significant contributor to carbon emissions and so it is our professional and moral responsibility to do what we can to both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. It is about the construction and operation life cycle. Sustainability is also a way of being and a way of acting.

What do you believe is the key to achieving net zero carbon – and meeting the government’s targets to do so?

A focus on whole-life carbon aligning is needed to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings with the need to adapt to climate change in the context of a green economic recovery. To give carbon emissions a cost that makes it a key factor in decision making processes.

What is the key to delivering a truly sustainable built environment project?

An informed client that understands the value of whole-life sustainable projects, a project brief with sustainability at its core, a design team that sets and tracks sustainability targets, a contractor that has aligned its processes to deliver sustainable buildings, staff and users who make an efficient use of the building or infrastructure, and a system that monitors its operational performance to correct issues.

If there is one thing you want people to know about achieving a net zero carbon society, what would it be?

It is not just about when we achieve net zero carbon, it is also the how and at what speed. Any carbon emissions we save using a systems approach will result in cumulative savings year-on-year and thus delivering a compound effect.

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