Interview: “We feel it’s important to pitch in with our knowledge and expertise to help reduce carbon emissions across the borough” – John Davies, Chair of the Sustainable City Charter Steering Group

15 Nov 2023

John Davies is the Chair of the Sustainable City Charter Steering Group and Head of Sustainability at Derwent London. In this short interview John tells us why the Charter is so important and how he see’s the Charter evolving over time.

What is your role at Derwent?

 As a head of sustainability, I look at a whole range of aspects that impact sustainability, from new development and running existing buildings to social sustainability and working with our stakeholders, customers, partners and communities.  It is a very busy role!

 How did you get into Sustainability?

 I first got into sustainability 24 years ago, after being inspired during a work placement at a nature reserve in sunny Reading. It snowballed from there! After studying environmental studies at university, I began my career at an airport infrastructure company for many years, where I worked on building different types of infrastructure for airports, including Heathrow Terminal 5, which was the largest infrastructure projects in Europe at the time. The complexity and the breadth of the project shaped my career.

By the time I joined the Derwent London team in 2013, I had many years of working in sustainability and the built environment behind me.

Why do you enjoy Sustainability as a career?

As a business-related subject matter and a career path, a role in sustainability is fairly new and it’s changing all of the time and very quickly as the industry adapts to new legislation, technology and market demands. Because things can change so quickly and you need to grasp an array of complex topics at speed, it requires a broad set of skills and this really appeals to me.

Sustainability can also branch into many different areas such as law, which is really interesting.

Why is the charter important?

 The charter is key in finding solutions to a common problem – the climate emergency – which we all have a responsibility to do our bit to resolve. It has the capacity to bring together lots of different businesses across all sectors, as well as owners and occupiers to look at how we can make Westminster net zero by 2040. Bringing that collective knowledge and experience together is powerful. Not one organisation can hold all of the keys on this.

What does being a signatory mean to Derwent London?

For us, we are a long-time Westminster occupier, it’s where our head office is and many of our buildings are, and we feel it’s important to pitch in with our knowledge and expertise to help reduce carbon emissions across the borough.

How do you see the Charter network evolving over time?

Hopefully the network will grow and over time, the participants will become more informed as businesses and organisations share their knowledge and experience. Together we can make a real difference in making Westminster net zero.

In 2022 Westminster City Council and the Westminster Property Association launched the Sustainable City Charter. The free Sustainable City Charter is an innovative, business-led climate action pledge for organisations. It contains eight commitments for reducing carbon emissions from non-domestic buildings. These cover areas such as energy use, procurement, transport, waste and deliveries, and include committing to net zero buildings by 2040 or earlier.

You can find out more about becoming a signatory of the Sustainable City Charter on Westminster City Council’s website here.

Further reading :

Blog: Veolia give their perspective on the Sustainable City Charter

Sustainability City Charter: Read the Charter

White paper: Zero Carbon Westminster

Report: Zero Carbon Westminster: A Focus on Retrofit in Historic Buildings

Committee: Sustainable City Charter Steering Group

Committee: Sustainable City Charter Technical Working Group