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Interview avec François Michel Lambert

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François-Michel Lambert, President of the Institut de l’Economie Circulaire (France) and Député EELV joined us on the Interface stand at the green building exhibition Ecobuild last March.

On behalf of Cut the Fluff, we asked him:

If you could approve a law related to sustainability, which would be your first?

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The embodied impact of cement

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Corporate Sustainable Development Report 2013

The publication of Holcim’s sustainability report has made me think about the high embodied impacts that cement brings. Some progress is under way but it is not enough.

Here are the numbers:

Cement production is highly energy intensive. The energy to make one tonne of clinker was 3466MJ in 2013, a reduction from 4500MJ in 1990. But production has increased significantly. For example Holcim’s cement production has increased by almost 120% since 1990 and even energy from coal and pet coke has increased by 25% despite a 14% use of waste as an alternative fuel. So cement growth for Holcim is pushing for 25% growth in coal and pet coke.

The most worrying part is that Holcim is actually the best in the industry (lowest carbon intensity) with net emissions of 572kg of CO2 per tonne of cement.

They aim to reduce that by 25% by 2015 and are on track.

The cement industry could be much more ambitious. It’s easy to point fingers when we have achieved a 90% absolute reduction but that’s not my point. They have instant options, for example – they could reduce the reliance on clinker by using slag from blade furnaces and other alternative materials.

Outside of the industry there is a compelling argument to reduce the demand for cement. Buildings can be designed so that they use less cement and still deliver decent thermal mass and high insulating values. This offers huge opportunities and much more scope for innovation. Architects, urban planners and infrastructure developers have the biggest leverage.

That obviously cannibalises the cement industry but it also offers opportunity to a new business model that sells less tonnes and more value. Innovations at product level that lead to premium products and services will have to be the key driver to decarbonise the cement industry.

Source: Holcim’s sustainability report 

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Energy Security and the 2030 Climate & Energy Package Report

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The Advisory Council I of the Green Growth Platform has released this report pointing to the benefits of a low carbon union. This group of advisors from esteemed international organisations, some members of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and academic experts makes a number of recommendations to Ministers and their governments in the run up to the European Council energy security discussions next week. There’s more about the stakeholders and their vision throughout the CISL website.

Click on the image to download the report:

Energy Security Report

 The low carbon union has also been captured neatly in this infographic:

Low Carbon Energy Union Infographic Final


Here is some of the press surrounding the initiatives:

Bloomberg – “The European Union needs an ambitious emissions-reduction goal, targets for energy-efficiency and renewables as well as tools to foster investment under its planned 2030 policies, an advisory panel to 14 ministers said.”

Business Green – “Green Growth Group urges EU to revamp energy security strategy”

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The #Circular50 – #Sustainability Influencers

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DS Smith, Ecobuild and UBM have partnered to sponsor Resource – an exhibition and conference that connects the whole supply chain – extraction, design, recycling, manufacturing, retail and resource recovery to capitalise on the commercial opportunities of a circular economy. It’s on at Excel, London, March 2015.

As part of the build up, the organisers are looking for what they call the #Circular50 - the ultimate list of top 50 Twitter influencers in the circular economy community.

The #Circular50 is now open for nominations and they are gathering entries from all circular economy-oriented Twitter users, including manufacturers and service providers, end-users and industry organisations, as well as print and online media and bloggers.

To nominate simply tweet the following:

“I’m nominating @twitterhandle for the #Circular50 list of top 50 influential #circulareconomy Twitter accounts. ”

and replace @twitterhandle with the name of the Twitter account you are nominating. Keep an eye on the Leaderboard.

A resource constrained world demands new thinking and new business models, this event allows senior business leaders to network throughout the supply chain and discover forward thinking solutions for closed loop business strategies. More about Resource by clicking on the image below.



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How Nestlé reduced its energy use by 36% per tonne of product

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Next Manufacturing Revolution have pulled together a great resource including key points and collateral regarding Nestlé’s energy efficiency drive. The headline is this video which explains the £1.9B p.a. energy saving opportunity available to UK manufacturers, and how Nestlé made substantial energy efficiency improvements.

Despite ongoing improvements in energy use, the Next Manufacturing Revolution study identified Energy Efficiency as a major opportunity for UK manufacturers worth:

* £1.9B p.a. in cost savings
* 19.2 MtCO2e in greenhouse gas emission savings
* 3,500 new skilled full time jobs

Manufacturing generates directly 10% of the UK’s GDP and employs 2.5 million people (9% of the employed labour force). Labour productivity improvements in the sector have reduced labour costs since 2001 at a rate of 3% p.a. to £75bn in 2011, a reduction of 1,000,000 jobs.

The NMR study presents opportunities to improve non-labour resource productivity which could enable a revolution in manufacturing and are estimated, conservatively, to be worth for the UK:

Tri-Benefits from the Next Manufacturing Revolution

For more great insights visit

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Understanding sustainability fundamentals

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I’m proud to be involved with The Business & Sustainability Programme Online (BSP Online). It’s an engaging, interactive programme designed for mid-career, high-potential and senior managers to enable them to understand the fundamentals of sustainability, how sustainability is relevant to their role and its importance to business success. It is also suitable for sustainability professionals who would like to refresh their knowledge.

CISL has a 25-year track record in designing programmes to build leaders’ understanding and capacity in relation to the complex and interconnected economic, social and environmental issues that organisations face. This includes a ten-year history in online learning with Chronos, the first corporate sustainability e-learning programme, developed with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and launched in 2003. The Business & Sustainability Programme Online is a new standalone CISL programme, which builds on CISL‘s track record and experience, and draws on leading practice in online learning.

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The ILG (facilitated by CISL) have released the following report titled ‘The Value Of Responsible Investment’. Here are a few elements I’d like to highlight around dysfunctional investment, and do read the whole report which I’ve uploaded here.

The world faces a singular challenge – How will we provide for as many as nine billion people by 2050, each one aspiring to the standard of living typical of the affluent European and US middle classes? And how can this be done with finite amounts of land, water and natural resources, already heavily degraded by human activity, whilst adapting to the destabilising effect of a warmer, less predictable climate? The political, economic and business strategies of the 20th century will need to be rethought in order to meet this challenge. No sector of society will be unaffected.

Some interesting charts from the report offer context around risk and the cycle of dysfunction that currently surrounds commercial markets (If too small to read in the post click on each image to make larger). You can clearly see where climate change sits on the WEF Global Risk Map at the bottom:

Business as usual dysfunction Global risk chart

About the group

The Investment Leaders Group (ILG) is a three-year project to help shift the investment chain towards responsible, long-term value creation, such that economic, social and environmental sustainability are delivered as an outcome of the investment process alongside satisfactory, long-term investment returns. Jointly conceived by the University of Cambridge and Natixis Asset Management, it is championed by the leaders of an influential group of investment managers and asset owners.

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Cutting the Virtual Fluff – from Martin Brown @Fairsnape

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At the recent Virtual Construction 21 EXPOC21 trade fair, I caught up with Laure Rondeau Desroches @Interface_UK, and held a quick in-show twitter conversation. Being part of the Expo team, and aware of Interface’s pre show enthusiasm, I was keen to know what they thought of the show when the doors finally opened, and virtual avatars were visiting their stand.

d day

 On the concept of virtual events
“We were very impressed by the whole concept of #ExpoC21, how easy and how real it looked. It was innovative, fun and importantly minimal or no environmental or carbon impact. With #ExpoC21 you just did everything as you would in a traditional exhibition, except having a coffee at the bar!”

Yes, we did need a virtual coffee bar! That’s one for the organisers to sort out for future events, but what did virtual visitors experience on the Interface Stand?

On Interface at EXPOC21
“Our wish was to engage people to rethink sustainability and to show that a New Industrial Model is really possible. What if switching to 100% renewable energy was profitable, better for the environment whilst creating jobs?

We were also keen to speak to customers on the Interface stand to share their thoughts on #ExpoC21, and to understand their first impressions too.”

All good stuff, but is this approach just a novelty, or is there a future in virtual events?

On the future of virtual green build events
“We strongly believe in #ExpoC21, this technology enables affordable exhibitions with minimised cost and impact. #ExpoC21 was about the essence of a real life exhibition: discovering latest innovations but in in an innovative way.”

From my experience I would agree, the virtual platform was great way to learn from and share with organisations you may not see at local or national green build events.

The final comment from Laure just about summed it up “I would encourage people to come and join us at future #EXPOC21’s. It’s the start of a new way of doing business!”

And EXPOC21 2015 will no doubt be bigger and better!

Thanks Martin Brown ( to have transformed our Twitter conversation into this nice interview !

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A Resource efficient Europe is possible

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In March an EU platform with several commissioners and stakeholders proposed the following manifesto. (Click on the image to download the PDF). 

In a world with growing pressures on resources and the environment, the EU has no choice but to transition to a resource-efficient and ultimately regenerative circular economy. Our future jobs and competitiveness, as a major importer of resources, are dependent on our ability to get more added value, and achieve overall decoupling, through a systemic change in the use and recovery of resources in the economy.

Have a read of the manifesto and see what you think.

A Resource efficient Europe is possible

My key takeaways:

* I couldn’t agree more with this document but its potential is even greater – We could easily achieve 50% resource efficiency, compared to the proposed 30%.

* We need to move to a system where products with lower environmental life cycle footprints are incentivised. Not just incentivising efficient energy-using products, but more embodied carbon efficient products as well.

* Today we live in a product economy. Services are expensive because they rely on people. But the service economy is the local economy (as opposed to growing bananas in Devon). We need more history teachers, more hairdressers, more live music and less products.

* In the building sector the opportunities as huge. Buildings could be designed to use 80% less energy and 60% less embodied energy.

* We need to ban landfill across Europe and have strong taxes on waste for energy plants. That will give stronger signals than wasting public money on betting that some technology will soon arrive, and giving grants here and there while the system does not reward recyclability.

* Let’s not forget the link between carbon, resources and recyclability. Taxing carbon at a product tax level would encourage recycling, since products with recycled materials have significantly less impact than virgin raw materials.

* Shifting taxes away from jobs to resources is another shift we have to make. What a shame that the EU Commission can not be more forceful on this. National governments are unlikely to become the revolutionaries.

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