The big interview: Stephen Good, CEO of the Construction Scotland Innovation Center

Mr. Good is responsible for driving the organization’s vision and strategy, as it aims to foster a better-built environment that delivers inclusive and sustainable economic, social and environmental impact, helping to accelerate the transition to net zero.

The career of the trained architect – who spent a decade with Glasgow-based Anderson Bell + Christie – has spanned the sectors of sustainability consulting, architectural design, offsite manufacturing and building management. construction.

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Recent milestones for CSIC – which is based in its Innovation Factory at Hamilton International Technology Park – include the launch of its £ 450,000 Low Carbon Learning Program, billed as the UK’s first designed training course to equip construction workers with the skills to modernize buildings for a future green environment.

Mr Good says that following the challenges of the lockdown, “the industry’s appetite for innovation has increased almost overnight.” Photo: Peter Devlin.

Can you tell us more about CSIC’s mission and goals – and how your role fits into it?

The main objective of CSIC is to support the entire Scottish construction ecosystem and the built environment to move to zero carbon, enabling organizations large and small to make meaningful and meaningful change. Our ambition is to truly anchor a culture of innovation that equips the industry with the tools, knowledge and skills to open up valuable new opportunities that emerge alongside the green transition.

We provide hands-on support in a number of ways, for example by accessing funding or through our Hamilton-based innovation factory, where companies can build and test prototypes in a controlled environment, and which they can then scale up.

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The CSIC boss cites that the transition from the construction manufacturing space to his current role was a pivotal moment in his career. Photo: Peter Devlin.

We bring supply chains and competitors together to collaborate, and we provide access to skills and training support, world-class academic expertise, and cutting-edge equipment to help organizations grow and to diversify.

Another big part of our job is to help the industry attract and support the next generation of talent, as well as develop the current workforce to embrace innovation and ensure we have the skills. and the skills needed to achieve zero carbon.

As CEO, my role is to provide effective leadership and enable our team to support the industry in a way that will have the greatest impact. It’s my job to make sure our team has everything they need to make our mission a reality and to foster the innovation mindset needed to boost this zero carbon transition.

How has the centre’s work been affected by the severe impact of the pandemic on the construction industry? You cited a silver lining with a culture of innovation and collaboration in the emerging built environment …

The CSIC was already a flexible organization, but there were some intermediate disruptions to our innovation factory and some of the ongoing project work. Our events, skills and training programs were quickly brought online, and the team developed a new online portal to support this.

From the start, the center was called upon to support the efforts of the industry at large to restart and restart the sector safely and as quickly as possible. We’ve helped companies implement new, safe ways of working, and we’ve done it quickly.

And given the challenges of foreclosure, the industry’s appetite for innovation increased almost overnight, and we saw collaboration like never before. We are now working with partners who are much more open to innovation and change, and transformation across the industry is a current reality, not an aspiration.

You recently hosted a webinar on the opportunities that COP26 offers industry to accelerate towards zero carbon, seeing it as a landmark event for Scotland. Can you expand on your point of view on this?

The climate emergency is now firmly at the top of the global agenda, and it is the most important COP that has been and probably will be. With the built environment responsible for around 47% of UK carbon emissions, the construction and built environment community has a major role to play.

COP26 will be an opportunity to showcase Scotland’s skills and expertise, as well as world-class innovation that is already having an impact in tackling climate change. From November 1-12, the CSIC Innovation Factory will become a hub for the built environment, with a range of cutting-edge, low-carbon exhibitions, demonstrations and events.

There will be a plethora of opportunities for people to engage, learn and draw inspiration from the best practices of built environment projects and experts who are already accelerating Scotland’s journey to zero carbon.

There will be a wide range of commitments and actions that the sector will adopt in the months following COP26, and as part of this momentum, we are developing a targeted program of mechanisms and tools to support innovation. that the construction and built environment community can engage with to help them move to zero carbon.

The UK construction industry is facing a steep rise in costs. How to improve the fortunes of the sector, including at Scottish level precisely?

Our work focuses on some of the medium to long term solutions needed to create a more resilient supply chain. Some things could change immediately if customers, specifiers and contractors were keen to switch to some of the locally manufactured and supplied solutions already available here in Scotland, but there are challenges as to how quickly they could be scaled up.

We also need to think about it in the broader context of the climate emergency and the kinds of low-carbon materials and systems that will be needed both to build new, sustainable infrastructure and to renovate our existing buildings. We need to create the market conditions where these can be made in Scotland, from Scotland, and maximize the opportunities to increase our supply and skill base in anticipation of this future demand.

The CSIC offers professional training in areas such as digital transformation and culture change. And how can construction improve its mix and diversity in general?

Upgrading skills is an essential part of creating a dynamic, flexible and evolving workforce, but it also goes hand in hand with re-skilling and versatility. The digital transformation is starting to create a skills gap in construction that we must work together to fill, both through new talent and by retraining the current workforce.

It is frustrating that we have not seen greater progress in developing a more balanced and diverse workforce. There are no quick fixes, but diversity must be built into hiring processes, company policies and the culture of the entire industry.

You studied architecture, what attracted you to this subject and how did your career then unfold before you arrived at CSIC? What has been the highlight of your career so far?

My father has always been interested in architecture and from an early age taught me to look up when visiting a new town or city to truly appreciate the built environment. I practiced as an architect for almost ten years, working primarily on a range of home improvement, healthcare, community and education projects, always with an interest in sustainability.

In 2007, I joined a pioneering construction organization in offsite manufacturing and had the privilege of being part of the team that created one of the most advanced offsite projects at the time: the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Athletes Village.

Our focus on innovation opened up opportunities for dialogue with all industry and government, looking for ways to spur innovation and change across the industry. In 2014, after working with a pan-industry and academic collaborative group to gain the support of an innovation center under construction, I was invited to take on the role of CEO, and the last seven years have been spent to building the team and the center into a critical national asset to Scotland’s construction ecosystem and built environment.

A pivotal moment was the transition from the construction manufacturing space to my current role at CSIC, which gave me the opportunity to concretely support transformation across the industry. However, I think the biggest moment may still be ahead of us as we laser focus on supporting the transition of Scotland’s built environment to zero carbon.

CSIC said in 2020 it had supported 355 projects with a total value of £ 34.6million. Are you able to reveal goals for the future – and what would be the legacy of your leadership at the center?

While project values ​​and goals are a critical measure of our business, our primary focus is on tracking the impact of what we do. Over the next few years we will be looking at three key metrics: the economic impact for the sector, where we aim to unlock over £ 1bn of additional value, the carbon savings we are making through our programs supported, and the impact on jobs and talents, of the creation of new roles within existing companies to the support of start-ups and spin-outs.

I would like CSIC to be valued by the sector as an indispensable center of excellence and a trusted partner with the tools, expertise and networks that can help unleash the potential for innovation in their organization and enable them to find new ways of doing things as they transition to zero carbon.

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Perry Perrie

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