In response to growing industry demand for bespoke branding and creative services, Copper Consultancy has expanded its creative team with the addition of four new creatives.  Studio Manager Coel Wheeler, Graphic Designer Mudasser Hussain, Designer Holly Constable, and Artworker Sophia Dunne, have all joined the team.

The new appointments to the Copper team have more than 30 years’ of experience between them and will support the wider growth of the business by providing high value visual storytelling for clients across the construction, infrastructure and economic development sectors.

Coel has over 10 years design management experience across a number of sectors including sports, events, manufacturing, and retail. Some highlights include leading the design team for Bristol Sport and working as a graphic designer for former Premier League club Derby County.  His diverse skillset includes art direction, typography, mac, web design and page layout.

Mudassar joins with over 15 years’ experience as a multi-disciplinary graphic designer working in design thinking, strategy, digital marketing, and visual communications. Before joining Copper, Mudassar worked for a number of large utility and energy companies including Anglian Water, Equinor and Ørsted.

Holly is a designer with a wealth of experience across digital, print, and social campaigns, and specialises in information and layout design. She has over 5 years graphic design and digital marketing experience working with global brands such as EE, Corona and Budweiser.

Sophia adds expertise in illustrative and bespoke content and is passionate about storytelling through animation and videography. She has provided design work for some of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK for clients such as Hydrogen South West and National Grid.

Copper introduced its dedicated design, brand and digital communications practice in 2020 which has gone from strength to strength, helping to offer more impactful and engaging design for major infrastructure companies and projects. Clients include RWE, HyNet, National Grid, CK Delta, Wildfox Resorts and a host of renewable energy developers.

Annabel John, Director, Strategic Communications & Creative, commented on the new hires:

“Information surrounding infrastructure can be hard to access and as a result there is a need across the industry for accessible and informative content. By bringing projects to life through visual storytelling we can explain technical and complicated concepts in an easy to understand way.

“The new additions to our creative team will allow us to expand our creative service offering to help our clients stand out from design to delivery.”

For more information on the creative team please visit: https://copperconsultancy.com/what-we-do/creative/

How do you deliver major road projects while driving towards net zero?

In our new series, The Hardest Jobs in Net Zero, we’re exploring the oxymorons of infrastructure – those roles that, on the surface, seem to be anything but sustainable.

Today, we speak to Stephen Elderkin, Director of Environmental Sustainability at National Highways, about the challenges he faces in delivering huge road building projects across the country.

“This is a huge challenge and there is so much left to be done. But I’m surrounded by great people doing great things, so I generally sleep well at night.

“And that’s what this requires, a huge joint effort across our industry, supported with the right policies. I am encouraged because I see good decisions being made and we’re moving in the right direction.”

Stephen is at the heart of National Highway’s net zero and Roads for Good efforts, which are focused on three clear milestones:

  • Net zero corporate emissions by 2030
  • Net zero across maintenance and construction divisions by 2040
  • Net zero travel across the network by 2050

Cutting corporate emissions by 2030

“80% of our corporate emissions come from electricity, so we’re investing more than £100m to swap all of our lights to LEDs,” explains Stephen.

 “We’re also moving 1,300 vehicles to electric. We also own around 30,000 hectares of land that isn’t farmed, so we’ve committed to plant three million trees. In combination, you can see we have a clear path to drive the necessary reduction in our corporate emissions.”

The hardest part – net zero construction by 2040

When it comes to road maintenance and construction, no one knows the exact solution, but it’s best to begin by understanding where emissions come from. For Stephen and the team at National Highways, there are three key areas: plant, transport and materials.

“We’ve committed to zero emission plant on site by 2030, which requires further electrification of equipment and improvements to recharging. Hydrogen is also being explored. And then we look at what we can control, such as transport. Everything delivered to our sites must be done so in zero emission HGVs by 2040.

 “Looking at materials, people tend to look at big, glamorous solutions – hydrogen powered furnaces for steel, carbon capture storage for cement kilns – but they require major investment over the long-term.”

Asking Stephen about the short-term, is a solution simply to build less?

“We look at the carbon reduction hierarchy – build nothing, build less, build smart, build efficiently – and do all we can to reach the right step for each project. Ensuring high standards of quality control, right first time to reduce rework and cutting materials through lean design are all major contributors to reducing carbon in construction.

 “Technology is also a major contributor to more productive use of our existing assets. For example, digital tools give us better control of the traffic flow. If we can move 15% more flow through our existing network, we reduce the case for needing to build more lane capacity. While that doesn’t apply everywhere of course and maintenance is still a huge requirement, digital roads of the future are an encouraging sign of efficiency, which is what net zero is really all about.”

 Net zero travel by 2050

Of the three milestones set at National Highways, this is arguably the one it cannot control. As an open access network, people will drive what they want, where they want, but the rise of electric vehicles is hugely encouraging, as Stephen explains.

“Fundamental economics have changed dramatically; batteries are 95% cheaper than they were 20 years ago and that will only continue to improve.

 “Then there’s the change in law and the overall cost of electric vehicles, which will soon drop below combustion engine vehicles, I’m sure. And the Government’s Project Rapid, which aims to improve charging infrastructure by delivering fast charging points at more locations across the country.

 “Even my wife and I fight over who gets to drive the electric car. It’s easier, quieter and smoother. Not to mention the fact it’s better for the environment.”

Behaviour is a major barrier

Considering its 2030, 2040 and 2050 targets, you might think it’s plain sailing for Stephen and the team. But there is another major barrier to achieving net zero.

“In my view, one of the toughest challenges is the need for behavioural change. Take concrete; for many, if you need two cubic metres, you mix three. Or you excavate a wider trench than you need and just fill the excess with concrete.

“We need to change this mind-set, not because it’s a cost saving exercise but because it’s a carbon saving exercise. Using quality controlled batching plants for concrete mixes can reduce the amount of carbon intensive cement, potentially saving thousands of tonnes of carbon.

“One enabler here will be seeing carbon added to contracts. Enforcing set requirements will enforce change.

Optimistic for the future

With all that said, Stephen remains optimistic for the future, citing people and innovation as encouraging signs of where we’re headed.

“I attended a partner’s company-wide conference the other day. A business you wouldn’t associate with sustainability. 3,000 people in the room. And carbon emissions was by far the biggest theme of the day.

“While it’s hugely challenging and requires a shift in mind-sets, approaches and technologies, my job isn’t the hardest in net zero because every day I see brilliant people working on brilliant ideas. I am very positive about the future and achieving our targets for the years and decades to come.”

Stephen’s experience raises an important set of questions; how do we change behaviour? What other industries require a similar shift in mind-set? And whose responsibility is it to affect change? If companies like National Highways are doing all they can (within reason) to achieve net zero, where do you draw the line between what you can and cannot control?

It’s clear that no single group can answer these questions but, like Stephen, first you identify the problem and then take steps to solve it. The question now is: are you taking the right steps and who must you influence to deliver lasting change?

Find out more about Stephen and the teams efforts to achieve net zero here.

And stay tuned to Copper’s channels for more articles in our search for The Hardest Jobs in Net Zero.

The number of business premises used for transport, logistics and warehousing in the UK has almost doubled over the past ten years.

As reported by the Financial Times, “COVID-19 has led to a surge in ecommerce and CBRE estimates that an additional 300m sq ft of warehouse space will be needed in Europe by 2025. The UK, already one of the most developed ecommerce markets in the world, will require an extra 60m sq ft of space — equivalent to 14% of existing warehouse space.”

No easy task

Logistics plays a huge role in the UK economy. It is estimated that the sector is worth £55 billion, comprising 5% of GDP and employing more than 1.7m people. With the continued growth in online shopping since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the logistics sector is poised to go from strength to strength.

The infrastructure required to deliver 60m sq ft of space is no easy task. While steps are already being taken to grow warehouse space and, with logistics one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, it’s essential that both central and local government recognise the need for warehousing, according to the UK Warehousing Association[1].

A bigger seat at the table`

The political landscape over recent years has centred on building houses. But it’s vital that warehousing is supported across all tiers of government and treated as much a priority in planning policy, in the same way that housing and education facilities are often welcomed by local authorities to meet national targets.

While logistics infrastructure won’t ever need to take priority over housing and education, it should have a seat at the planning table. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said new orders for the construction of warehouses were worth £5.6bn in 2021, higher than in any year since 1985.

West Midlands Interchange

A key example of this is the West Midlands Interchange (WMI), being delivered by Logistics Capital Partners (LCP) and Oxford Properties. WMI is A DCO approved development site, with consent to develop a strategic rail freight interchange in the West Midlands and deliver up to 8 million sq ft of Class A Logistics warehousing, in the middle of the so-called logistics “golden triangle”. 

The development is centrally located in the UK, northwest of Birmingham in the key West Midlands logistics corridor. It will deliver significant economic benefit to the region by creating 8,500 jobs and a further 8,100 indirect jobs. It is also expected to generate around £430 million of local economic activity and, through the supply chain, more than £900 million of economic activity nationally each year.

Soon to be the largest logistics site in the UK, it will showcase what can be delivered to support the industry and economy.

How do you generate public support for logistics developments?

Achieving widespread public support for logistics and warehousing is not easy. Local residents and community groups need to be engaged with at the earliest opportunity when it comes to building new infrastructure.

The visual impact on the landscape is always going to be a key factor when considering support for a development, particularly one that includes significant warehouse space and an entirely new road network to support vehicle movements.

Developments such as WMI are working to deliver multimodal access to support net zero targets, and have engaged with local councillors and community groups. Considering environmental and local impacts, aesthetics and access is intrinsic to success.

So what steps can you take?  

  1. Early engagement: Talk to local communities, prior to planning application submission
  2. Community input: Allowing local communities some autonomy and input into design features such as community parks or local area improvements
  3. Tell the story: Ensure you tell a clear story about the project – its benefits to the local economy, employment opportunity, net zero aims, traffic management and how you will minimise construction disruption

In conclusion, while large scale infrastructure developments will never be universally popular, they are essential to the backbone of our economy. Inadequate infrastructure negatively impacts the UK and will reduce the efficiency of the logistics sector.

It is vital that infrastructure is in place to support new warehousing and logistics facilities to meet post-COVID demand. Managing public support is a necessity for success in this world and community engagement must be at the forefront of plans.

[1] https://www.ukwa.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Savills-UKWA-A4-8pp-Report-Interactive3.pdf

July sees the start of the Festival of Archaeology. The festival helps over half a million people participate in archaeology, explore stories of place, and connect with the environment around them.

To mark the Festival of Archaeology we sat down with Sam Fieldhouse, Community and Education Manager at Wessex Archaeology, to learn more about Wessex’s work to connect people with project archaeology and the power it has to teach and enhance the experiences of individuals and organisations alike.

Wessex Archaeology is the UK’s leading provider of archaeological and heritage services, and an educational charity. Established for 40 years, Wessex offer a range of services with organisations across sectors, including construction, to deliver practical, sustainable solutions to manage the historic environment. Wessex’s experience and knowledge helps projects engage communities and enhances the value of national historical assets.

What gives heritage its unique value?

It can be quite hard to understand life 3,000 years ago, but daily life was very similar. We all come from the same people, so heritage can give people an empathetic understanding of each other. We are all intrinsically connected to one another, we’re intrinsically connected to the land and heritage connects us to all of these things.

For me it’s about using archaeology as a hook, it can be a stimulus for learning about ourselves, building empathy with people who lived in our world in the past. It’s about understanding how the things have changed and it’s about telling that story to communities. Heritage gives us the opportunity to form a sense of place and to look back at where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

Through heritage we have the opportunity facilitate engagement with the landscape, the archaeological process, and those discoveries. From this we enhance well-being and learning about science, culture and heritage.

What do large construction projects unlock in terms of local history and heritage?

Big infrastructure gives us a unique opportunity to see large amounts of archaeology that we would otherwise not be able to. We work with construction projects to celebrate the archaeology and to give communities the opportunity to engage with it for decades to come.

If it wasn’t for these projects, we may never understand the history of certain communities. We’re able to tell people about their history as the their future is being shaped by new infrastructure.

How can archaeology be brought to life for communities?

It’s our drive to tell stories in a way that different audiences will understand. We look at the barriers people may have when interacting with archaeology in order to improve their understanding and enable them to reflect on the historical significance of a site.

We conducted a dig for a new housing project for soldiers returning from Germany and found that 3,000 years ago settlers from another country came to that site. Fast forward to the present and we’re seeing the same story unfold, so we used it as an opportunity for people to think about their legacy – what will they leave behind that people may one day come across. We won’t always make huge discoveries, but we know any find will be of importance to people. We look at ways to collaborate with organisations that invites local communities and wider audiences to discover the history of a project landscape.

How does archaeology shape community engagement for construction projects?

Archaeological activity can be used as a hook to spark interest and it’s a really good way for contractors to engage with communities, build understanding and advocacy,

We provide the opportunity to enhance public perception of a project, unlocking the potential to go beyond what is set out within the planning stages and get people excited and involved in a positive way.

Working with Wessex, Copper has developed engagement strategies and programmes for construction projects, encouraging people to discover the archaeology and heritage that is all around them – unearthing the journey of sites that make local communities so special.

You can find out more about the Festival of Archaeology on their website

  • Almost a third of the UK population have little or no knowledge about infrastructure.
  • 78.9% of people without any knowledge of infrastructure say they never engage in projects.
  • The more knowledge an individual has, the more likely they are to engage with projects.

Copper Consultancy has today (21 July) released the first of a three-part series of reports exploring the UK population’s relationship with infrastructure. The first report, ‘Does infrastructure knowledge matter?’, explores the link between a person’s willingness to engage with projects and their knowledge of infrastructure and the built environment.

This hypothesis was tested with a comprehensive survey answered by a nationally representative sample of 4,004 people across the UK.

The survey data suggested that there is a strong correlation between infrastructure knowledge and willingness to engage in projects. Research showed that nearly 80% of people who felt that they had no knowledge about infrastructure had never engaged with a infrastructure project. For people who regularly read about infrastructure and felt they were knowledgeable about the industry, this number fell to 23.1%.

In addition, there are higher levels of reported knowledge and engagement in sub-sets of the UK population – people with higher incomes, those living in Greater London and males.

Nearly a third of respondents reported little to no knowledge of infrastructure, which suggests the views of a large portion of the population are currently underrepresented in key infrastructure projects across the country.

This demonstrates the need to better understand how people respond and interact with projects in different ways. Content can then be tailored to access wider audiences, which will result in the involvement of more people in the decision making process and ensure no groups are left behind – despite their knowledge of infrastructure (or any other variables that are linked to lower engagement).

Annabel John, Director of Strategic Communications and Creative at Copper Consultancy, commented on the release of the report:

“We are delighted to release the first of our three-part Attitudes series exploring how different people think and feel about infrastructure.

“Our research shows that infrastructure knowledge really does matter and as an industry we need to do more to engage with wider audiences using more accessible content.

“This will help make projects more representative of different views and ensure the benefits of infrastructure are felt by everyone.”

Copper Consultancy is constantly seeking to build an even deeper understanding of the infrastructure industry by investing time and resources to understand how people think and feel about the infrastructure that serves them.

Copper’s ‘Attitudes’ series of reports are designed to take a deep dive into the UK population to better understand audiences and help clients create the legacy that projects wish to leave behind.

You can read the full report here: Does infrastructure knowledge matter?