Shaping a Net Zero Future: Insights on Innovation and Collaborative Approaches in Construction

FuturePlace Interview Spotlight, Jessamine Welsh

FuturePlace recently interviewed Jessamine Welsh, Senior Sustainability Advisor at Spark to discuss the evolving landscape of net zero practices in construction. Discover her insights on navigating the path to net zero practices, foreseeing industry trends, and the crucial collaborative efforts needed to shape a greener, more innovative future in construction. In this exclusive interview, Jessamine emphasised on the pivotal role of innovation, collaboration, and multidisciplinary approaches in driving the industry towards a net zero future.

FuturePlace: How has the construction industry evolved to embrace net zero practices and what are the major trends you foresee coming over the coming years?

Jessamine Welsh: We are seeing broader decarbonisation requirements in our design and construct contracts which is pushing us to embrace net zero in a more tangible way across all the disciples. This is being driven predominantly by government-led targets, but we are also seeing stronger targets being set by the contractors. In the coming years, these targets and requirements will become more stringent in the way they are reported against and implemented, which in turn will lead us to embrace different ways of working and become more innovative in how we deliver our projects.


FuturePlace: Do you think we will hit our targets for 2030, and if not, what further needs to be done to reach the goals of 2050?

Jessamine Welsh: I am a forever optimist, which you need to be to work in sustainability, so I do believe we will reach these targets. But I do foresee a need for acceleration in the work we are already doing, be that decarbonisation in design or changes in construction methodologies to reduce emissions.


FuturePlace: For professionals looking to enhance their knowledge and skills in Net Zero construction, what educational resources, certifications, or training programs would you recommend?

Jessamine Welsh: The Climate Active Technical Guidance Document (which is currently under review), as well as the Green House Gas Protocol and PAS2080 are both fantastic resources to get your head around carbon accounting and what it means to be net zero. Also, the Carbon Leadership Forum is a great way to stay on top of current industry leading innovations.


FuturePlace: In your opinion, what are the most exciting innovations in sustainable construction that have the potential to revolutionise the industry, and how can construction professionals stay ahead of the curve?

Jessamine Welsh: I do not believe there is one particular innovation that will revolutionise our industry, decarbonisation and net zero needs to come from all angles if we are going to achieve our 2030/2050 goals. Continuous development and implementation of materials and methodologies that reduce our emissions is what is going to get us there. To stay ahead of the curve, we need to be engaging with our design and site engineers, talking to other industry professionals and the governing bodies, collectively pushing the limits of what it means to decarbonise infrastructure in construction and operation.


FuturePlace: What role can collaborative partnerships between industry stakeholders, such as architects, builders, and suppliers, play in advancing your net zero construction goals?

Jessamine Welsh: These collaborative partnerships are key to reach net zero, no single entity is going to get us to our goals. By sharing ideas and knowledge we can continue to change the industry. Net zero needs to be pushed as a key issue from government, contractors and suppliers. What I see really pushing change at the moment though; is collaboration between government bodies and contractors, both need to understand each other to change how to design, build and operate. Government needs to set targets and goals and hold contractors accountable and in turn government needs to understand what is feasible on a project that is constrained by budget and time.


FuturePlace: Looking ahead, what do you see as the most significant challenges for the future of net zero construction and how can professionals better prepare for them?

Jessamine Welsh: The constraints around technical specifications to implement innovative materials. We can prepare ourselves and the industry by working collaboratively with the governing bodies, academics and suppliers. Early engagement across the board is fundamental to overcome these challenges and to implement the changes required to reach net zero.


“The opportunities are everything and everyone! To achieve the net zero targets, we need all hands-on deck!”

FuturePlace: Conversely, what do you see as the most significant opportunities?

Jessamine Welsh: The opportunities are everything and everyone! To achieve the net zero targets, we need all hands-on deck! If we are going to reach our goals, we have to work collaboratively and bring everyone on the journey. No sole entity or single opportunity is going to get us to net zero, it’s going to need radical collaboration and a multidisciplinary approach. So, take everything as a significant opportunity to decarbonise.



Jessamine will be speaking at the Net Zero Construction Summit, taking place on 26 March 2024 in Sydney.

The Summit will provide a forum for industry leaders to come together to discuss the policies, strategies, materials and technologies necessary to decarbonise the construction of buildings and infrastructure. Creating a clear path to reach net zero emissions requires close collaboration between government and industry. In order to reach the goal, things need to be done differently with immediate priority given to defining net zero for infrastructure, reaching alignment between public and private sectors, uplifting capability in the supply chain and procuring for net zero.

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