Oral history of British science

Head, Peter (Part 13 of 14)

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  • Subjects

    Civil Engineering

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    The British Library

  • Interviewees

    Head, Peter, 1947- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 13 [58:08][3 January 2013] Comments on transition from Arup to Ecological Sequestration Trust: always searching for next challenge; learning experience of taking Brunel lecture around the world; event in Hong Kong in 2010 inspiring him to start Ecological Sequestration Trust [EST] charity; anecdote about naming of trust; importance of accelerating natural store of carbon, or sequestration. [02:25] Remarks on EST and objectives: finding people; setting up arrangements; creating open source modelling tool to bring together data and model local developments around world; need for demonstration regions; technological development; bringing together best people from various disciplines; need for $80 million in funding; [06:05] PH providing initial funding; modelling team using existing models, but with new economic model provided by charitable arrangement; targeting large foundations and corporations for funding; difficulty finding partner organisations that culturally matched the holistic approach of EST; lengthy and difficult process engaging with large corporations, such as large energy, chemical and technology firms; unusual nature of charity to seed rather than just advocate change; need for trust between ESI and partners, value of PPH previous work and media profile. [11:35] Remarks on establishing EST: early success in funding a modelling team to work with open source arrangements, collaboration with Imperial College; [13:15] finding demonstrations regions; establishing advisory board and group of trustees; small permanent executive team; large outreach team; importance of advisory board; personal process of recruiting experts; [17:00] advisory board member Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart, who developed environmental cradle to cradle production specifications, and value based economist Hannes Kunz; example of value economics as applied to health. [18:50] Comments on demonstration regions: criteria for section, including political, local leadership, community desire for change, regions where much development happening already; selection of China, India, Africa and European case; use of PH contacts to find regions; application of open source tools to case studies, use of satellite data; collection of local data; standardisation ofg data collection protocols within country. [23:05] Comments on European Demonstration Area: original idea that area would be in Oxfordshire; local enterprise partnerships for regional development; restriction of Westminster government toward rapid change; PH involvement with Welsh approach to low carbon development, prominence of Welsh Government in debates about smaller carbon footprints; Tata steel work on photovoltaic materials at Swansea; meeting Welsh government minister at Rio plus 20; local workshops in Swansea; regional plan for development around Swansea, including Neath and Port Talbot, and possibly to Pembrokeshire. [27:10] Comments on use of modelling tools: importance of digital communication and computing; regional 'collaboratory' idea developed in India, to allow collaboration between people to change their region using the modelling tools; open access workstations on university campus; locally appropriate dashboard user interfaces and scenarios; advisory board helping to design dashboards, such as Royal Institution of British Architects [RIBA] helping to design architect’s dashboard. [32:00] Remarks on future of Swansea development areas: increased use of agroforestry; increased use of renewable energy; less industrial pollution; more public transport; higher density environments; new industries based around re-manufacturing; increased efficiency and lower carbon emissions; decline in UK use of resources. [35:40] Remarks on: importance of engaging with communities not ordering them; use of model to convince people, improved return on capital through new business models; ways of accessing finance through pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, multinational banks; potential for stable long term investments; hope for accelerated change to convictive people of scheme's merits. [39:30] Remarks on challenges of scheme: vested interests in keeping status quo; PH meeting few climate change sceptics. [41:50] Remark son photovoltaic steel: PH previous involvement with British Steel, whilst Chairman of Steel Construction Institute; PH encouraging British Steel to investigate photovoltaic coating steel to generate energy; SPECIFIC research facility at Baglan to develop photovoltaic roof panels; potential to develop 30% of UK energy; hope to use material in Swansea demonstration region. [45:25] Remarks on importance of communities to change: Culture Futures Network experience; process of engaging with community leaders in process of development of local model; sense of ownership of model from local community. [47:47] Remarks on use of social media: community lead thinking approach; use of exiting social media networks; opening up of government data through social media; use of Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter by EST rather than traditional media; radical nature of use of social media in constructive change; PH use of Twitter; EST position as global information hub; anecdote about watching new years message spread across world. [54:37] Remarks on on use of satellite by EST: PH visiting professor at Surrey University, who were also involved with satellites; earth monitoring from satellites, such as to examine pollution and tree coverage; European Space Agency scheme to make data widely available; GIS Global Information System Model, meshing with Google Earth 3D images of area; crowd sourcing of data; impossibility of EST activity without satellites.

  • Description

    Interview with civil engineer, Peter Head

  • Related transcripts

    Peter Head interviewed by Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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