Until a few years ago, Luke Davies, founder of Davies Construction, was unfamiliar with carbon accounting. Nonetheless, his company's ethos revolved around setting positive standards for environmental sustainability and occupant health in the dwellings they constructed. He reached a point where he wanted to measure his business's carbon footprint.
A fortuitous encounter between Luke and Jess Richmond, who was in the early stages of developing what would become Sumday, left Luke thinking, "We're at the exact point of trying to find somebody to do carbon accounting for us."
This meeting allowed Davies Constructions to delve into carbon accounting. For Luke, the company's ethos meant taking action to contribute positively to the climate crisis.
"Whatever gets measured gets improved... so we needed to find a way to measure.” Luke Davies
Without any external pressure from clients or suppliers, Luke drove the effort to measure the company's carbon footprint.
Now in their second year of carbon accounting, Davies Construction has applied the insights from their emissions assessment to improve the office's operations. However, their primary impact lies in the buildings they construct, the supply chain they engage, and the materials they use. "We're really looking at the operation of the building over its lifecycle, and that's where we're going to be getting really in-depth."
Having been in the industry for 21 years and running his own business for a decade, Luke has witnessed changes in the industry including the government's introduction of new building standards in 2009, promoting a star rating system.
“Our agenda is to design homes that are good for both the health of the occupant and the health of the planet. That includes educating clients on rethinking home size - they don't need massive houses - the physical and emissions footprint can be smaller. We can also reduce waste and build to a high standard, which will cut a building's energy usage by about 90%."
For Luke, the key is investing resources and funds into the building envelope - the outer shell of a building. A well-designed and constructed shell reduces the need for active heating and cooling, enhances building durability, and ensures longevity. "We focus on the fabric of the building more than the finishes. We prefer to invest in building a resilient shell."
The government's push for more energy-efficient homes aligns with Davies Construction's goals. They partnered with ER Advisory to complete their carbon assessment through Sumday. Methodically working through a checklist of data, Davies Construction's Office Administrator managed the process from their end.
When it comes to inspiration for the great work he's already doing, Luke looks to Patagonia as a standout example. He drew insights from founder Yvon Chouinard's philosophy, evident from the title of his memoir, 'Let My People Go Surfing.' In 2022, Chouinard announced that instead of 'going public,' his company would be 'going purpose,' with 100% of the company's non-voting stock (98% of the total stock) given to a non-profit dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature. Reading Chouinard's book influenced Luke's approach to doing business.
Luke is excited about a new process they are working on implementing at Davies Construction. It allows the design process to calculate the carbon footprint of each building component, enabling architects, builders, and clients to have quantifiable conversations about the house's environmental impact. "Instead of just house plans, we can determine the cost of the house in monetary terms and also from an emissions point of view." This process allows them to compare options like a concrete slab or timber foundation and their respective carbon footprints. "We're striving to reach a point where people can be aware of the emissions numbers and make decisions based on that."