28/01/2021 • What we believe

The future’s bright, the future’s green

We caught up recently with Alastair Gaisford, Senior Development Manager at Mount Anvil, who has recently been selected to join the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) Future Leaders programme 2021.

So – first things first, Ali – a huge congratulations! How do you feel about being selected as a UKGBC Future Leader?

Thanks! I’m really excited. I’ve admired the UKGBC for a long time, so I’m delighted to join a cohort of like-minded people on the programme.


Sounds like this topic is something you’re hugely passionate about - why is it important to you?

The built environment has a profound impact on all of us and the planet. It can bring us together and help us to be happy and healthy. And when built and used in a way that is responsible it can help us to protect and regenerate nature. Of course, the opposite is also true.

We’re all responsible for the impact of our work and I want my impact to be a positive one.  At Mount Anvil we’re providing roughly 1,000 new homes for London every year so the opportunity for us to deliver a positive legacy and set an example for other developers is huge.


Can you tell us about some of the work in this space you’ve been focussing on recently?

Sure. A lot of my work over the last six months has been listening, learning, and experimenting. The most exciting thing we did last year was begin working with The Planet Mark. Our relationship sees them measure the whole life carbon of our developments and support our commitment to engaging our communities about the environment We’re the first residential developer to achieve their development certification and as soon as it’s safe to do so we’ll be delivering our first sustainability workshops in local schools alongside them and The Eden Project. Sticking with the low carbon and energy saving side, we’ve got a very exciting pilot in the pipeline, but I can’t say too much about that yet - ask me again in a few months!


What are you hoping to get out of the UKGBC Future Leaders programme, personally and for Mount Anvil?

A couple of things spring to mind: on a business-level, the programme has a strong innovation focus which will help me generate new ideas and better problem-solve with our in-house team more creatively. I’m confident this will help us lead by example in the industry and keep pushing the boundaries in terms of the impact organisations like Mount Anvil can have in London and further afield.

And on a more personal level, I’d like to become a better communicator so I can inspire others to adopt new, sustainable, and innovative ways of working and I’m hoping to meet others who share my passion for sustainability so we can support and challenge each other as we try and improve the outcomes of our work.


Clearly a huge, broad topic – but where are you hoping Mount Anvil can positively contribute to the sustainability agenda today in the UK – and more specifically, London?

Yes, it’s an endless topic. There are so many areas where we can have a positive impact.

Health and wellbeing and biodiversity are big areas for Mount Anvil but I think the biggest challenge our industry faces right now is carbon. The built environment contributes about 40% to the UK’s carbon footprint. The residential sector needs to get to net zero carbon on new development very quickly to avoid exacerbating the problem further.

We can show leadership by creating homes that are super energy efficient, so heating needs are minimised as far as possible, reducing the operational carbon footprint of our developments, and saving residents money.

We must also reduce the embodied carbon of our projects, which will begin to form a larger and larger part of our footprint as we reduce operational carbon. There’s an opportunity to inspire the communities and residents of our schemes too. I hope our work with the Planet Mark and Eden Project can play a part there too.


You mentioned saving residents money and we’re supporting Big Energy Saving Winter which in January is dedicated to ending fuel poverty, could you explain how sustainable design is a contributing factor?

Yes, absolutely. Sustainable design addresses so many issues but one of the ones we're most focussed on is trying to solve fuel poverty for the communities we work with. It’s really important to us that the homes we build are built to last and don't cost the earch to keep warm and we do this by making the most of the heat gained from free sources and then locking it in with a really well insulated building. So, we focus on quality (design, materials and workmanship), because if you build homes well, you cut fuel bills and carbon emissions – double wins!


Lastly- what are your hopes & expectations for 2021?

We’ve got a few schemes completing this year, such as Phase 1 of The Silk District in Whitechapel and Three Waters in Bow and I hope to be able to visit them as our and our partners’ residents start moving in. It’s a great feeling seeing the results of our work and residents happy in their new homes. We’re also in the process of forming more joint ventures with new and existing partners that will bring forward more quality homes for London. I’m looking forward to working with our partners on some of these projects to deliver something special. 


That’s great, thanks so much for chatting to us Ali, we can’t wait for you to tell us what the big secrets is in a few months’ time!