Artwork for podcast The Surveyor Hub Podcast
103 Improving the Environmental Impact of Property with Gemma Cornwall
Episode 1038th December 2022 • The Surveyor Hub Podcast • Marion Ellis
00:00:00 00:49:49

Share Episode

Shownotes

Gemma Cornwall is a Building Surveyor and Sustainability Advisor at Anderton Gables, based in the Preston Office. Before making the switch to a career in building surveying, Gemma spent a decade teaching economics in the UK and overseas. Along with her existing qualifications in surveying, she is working towards her APC with the goal of gaining MRICS status within the next 12 months.

She leads AG’s Sustainability service, providing professional advice to both residential and commercial clients on how to improve the environmental impact of their properties. 

Having spent most of her childhood moving around the world, she is now happily settled in the Ribble Valley with her family. Outside of work she spends a lot of time training Olympic weightlifting, with the goal of eventually qualifying for the British Master championships. 

What We Cover. 

  • Why Gemma decided to change careers and what her start as a building surveyor was like
  • Unconscious biases that employers have and the art of writing job ads and recruiting
  • The benefits of having a career before career and what sort of support young surveyors need
  • How surveyors can help property owners gain more awareness and information about sustainability
  • The importance of sharing knowledge about sustainability across the property industry
  • The behavioral changes we need to make in our private and professional lives

Connect with Gemma Cornwall: 

Connect with Marion:

Resources: 

The Surveyor Hub:

Transcripts

Marion Ellis 0:50

Today on the podcast, I'm chatting to Gemma Cornwall, building Surveyor at AG Built Environment Consultancy based in Lancashire. So hi, Gemma, great to have you on the podcast.

Gemma Cornwall 1:01

Nice to be here. amazing to be here actually get over.

Marion Ellis 1:05

That embarrassing bit where I fluffed my lines. That's where I usually say hi, and then forget who I'm talking to. It's great to catch up with you. Because your name sort of kept on popping up on my feed in various guises for the last couple of years, I think. And I was urging you to go for Young Surveyor of the Year Award until you found out your a month too old.

Gemma Cornwall 1:29

It's fine, it's fine. I'll pretend that I've got it anyway, that I’m a bit young enough.

Marion Ellis 1:35

Could have been an award winner Gemma Cornwall. And I was trying to think where I will be first connected. I think it might have been the Surveyor Hub, the Facebook group, wouldn't it?

Gemma Cornwall 1:47

Yeah, it was probably slightly more than two years ago, now coming up two years ago. And I had just finished renovating our own house. And I was thinking I'd quite like to do this as a job. And I was just on Facebook and I sort of typed in surveyor or something along those lines. And that came up and then yeah, I've done that. And then we obviously had the Women in Surveying group as well, briefly before I took my Facebook pages.

Marion Ellis 2:13

way. You know, we've got over:

Gemma 4:01

quite busy. And then this was:

Marion Ellis 9:17

It's like many people will resonate with different parts of your journey to get to where you are Gemma. I know mentoring and getting work experience through lockdown was one of the hardest things ever. And I think that's where platforms like the Surveyor Hub, listening to podcasts just sort of help inject a bit of what it's really like to, you know, to bring it to life, I think for people good and bad, because that has been so, so incredibly hard and you know, to go for job interviews. I know a lot of students or you know people early on in their career. It's hard enough going to a job interview in the first place, but having to go in No circumstances. And I know, when my husband works, they've recruited people that he's never actually met physically. And they and all those things make quite a difference, you know, but I guess really, it's, it builds resilience. And that's the thing to take from it. Although it can feel really hard when you're not moving forward. It's interesting you say that about recruitment, because right now, as we were recording this, it's in August, it's darn hot. And there's lots of adverts on social media, recruiting for 20 surveyors taking on the graduates already, I guess, for the next term, and I have to say, a lot of job descriptions, a lot of job adverts are boring as hell. I've had a bee in my bonnet about this over the years, in that we just commoditize and commercialize it, it's sort of this is a salary, this is a job, these are the hours, let's see if you're good enough, you know, whereas I think now we need to be thinking about the whole social impacts, and what's important to people and more than ever, I think, global pandemic has made us feel, if I'm going to spend time here doing something got to be more than worth it. And it's not just about the money. So it's really interesting to see all the different job adverts come up, and nobody's ever going to like those posts anyway, in case someone else gets the job, or whatever. So you never know how successful but I do think they could do more to bring it to life.

Gemma Cornwall:

I think there's a couple of recruiters that I follow on LinkedIn that have followed since before I got the jobs that I've had. And it's really interesting to see how differently they approach it. Just too extremes sort of come to mind. There's Jess Reid. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And her posts are always so kind of down to earth. And this is the job. And here's a bit more about it. And here's the right kind of person, we think it fit and, you know, some people would say kind of flower, but I don't think it's flowery. I think it's making sure that people understand enough about the role not just like you say, this is a bullet point list of things you'd be doing, this ishow much you'll get paid.

Marion Ellis:

And Jess, Jess runs a podcast as well. Then, yeah, I'll link to in the show notes. Next, we're building foundations. Yeah, yeah.

Gemma Cornwall:

So it's much more kind of personable than it's like this. This is the right person not, I think when people refer to being candidates as well, I don't know it's a little bit compared to another one. And I can't remember his name. I can't even name him. But I wouldn't anyway, where I was obviously copied and pasted a message asking if I'd be interested in a job. And throughout it referred to the candidate as a he. No, no, you know, he will be responsible for driving the company forward. And he'll be doing this and he'll be doing that. So I'll send a message back. And so just just to let you know, I'm not looking for a job, I'm very happy where I am. But just a bit of a heads up for the future, maybe sort of proofread your messages or just don't gender them. You don't need to gender a job advert.

Marion Ellis:

I don't think you've allowed these days.

Gemma Cornwall:

It's bizarre, it was just and I don't know whether men would read it and not notice it. And whether it's just what the notice if it's a she. So it just makes things difficult for you. So it's a bit like my previous employers won't be listening to this when I used to be a teacher. But if I used to copy and paste one school report, you don't put any gender in. Not that I did that. Obviously, I wrote very personal details, school reports for every single student. But yeah, you just didn't make it up for yourself. But it does. It's those little things that are kind of it's not, I wouldn't call it a microaggression. But it's one of those where you just think no, this job was designed with a man in mind, obviously, because it's written as he threw out. And that's the kind of thing where you just think that maybe we're still not fully accepted.

Marion Ellis:

It's the unconscious bias, isn't it? Yeah, it's just it is in those little things that cumulate together to make a difference. And I heard a great question to ask that in interviews, actually, recently. And it was something like, and this is for you, as an interviewee to ask your potential future employer was, something like, tell me about the person or business who is least like you? And you know, what can you tell me about them? And that says a lot about, you know, the culture someone's prepared to address that, you know, do they even know? Perhaps, you know, if you've been interviewed by a white, gray haired man, do they actually know that person of color? And what makes them tick? And, you know, and that tells you a lot about how diverse they are, how defensive they get about asking those questions, and whether they actually get to know each other. You know, it's always hard answering questions, but I thought it was a really good one. And I think also for people going for jobs. I think there's one of the things I think you should look out for is social proof. Because when you see someone advertise a job, and they say, Yeah, we really look after our people. And yeah, we do all of this stuff. And the only proof that you've got of that is them telling you, or you might get to speak to someone that they've identified that you speak with to validate it. But I think there's lots of ways that a company can share its true values through its brand. And when you're marketing your business, you know, your work. It's not just to get future clients, it's also to get future potential people into your business. And so social proof of you know, if you say, you know, we mentor and support people through is that well, where's the evidence of that? Is it just the picture of everyone qualifying at the end, you know, getting their jobs and car and everything? Or do you see key people from that business commenting on posts, contributing to different platforms, or whatever, because it really tells a story about how generous they actually are. And I guess there's an element of, you know, confidentiality, and when all of those things, but, you know, if you're genuinely there to help people and nurture talent through the industry, where's the social proof that you're actually doing that? It builds trust, isn't it? You know,

Gemma Cornwall:

I think with our industry, because we don't have to be chartered. But you know, that's the obvious route for a lot of people for when they start, you need that support, you need the guidance, and the mentoring, and the teaching. And it's really easy to say, we support people through their APC, as in, we'll give you enough work to get you through your APC. But that's not really support. So again, I've not got a hell of a lot to compare it to, but I know there’s AG Academy, and I really liked that idea. But I will be honest, when I first started coming from a teaching background, I thought it was a bit cynical. And I was thinking, you know, this is just gonna be not very well organized, and you know, whatever else, and I don't know if my boss will listen to this properly. How dare you think that I was not going to be organised.

Marion Ellis:

It’s absolutely true. You know, there are lots of corporates out there, I've got academies and programs, and you know, but how do you really know, they're really going to help you and I get lots of students and surveyors reach out to me asking for help, because they don't know. Or they're asking, Is this how it should be? Yeah, that's it, you know, particularly in terms of things like working hours, number of jobs they do a day, particularly on the residential side, from the conditions that they're, they're put under sometimes, and that's a hard thing, because a lot of trainees and students are out there effectively fee earning in some capacity, even though someone else might be signing off a project or a job. But there's still an element there of well, you're learning, but what pressure are you under? What responsibilities are you taking? Do you feel not just technically supported, but mentally supported? It's the consequences to all the work that we do. And I get lots of people reaching out to me, you know, and some of the work in practices, you know, quite frankly, shocking, and I worry about them. And, you know, the other thing, I think that we're signing up to roles which have a trainee qualification element in it, is to look at your contract. So I'm not gonna scare you off you and your boss, talking about it, because you're signing up to commitment to get qualified, just to say some people don't want an 18 months qualification program to get ASSOC or whatever, at the end. And that's quite a commitment for both people both know company in the new, but what if it doesn't work out? You know, and I know I've recently heard of one wants to be a left a company and he's got a massive bill for the training and the loss of fee earning he would have had, or you just think that's not helping anyone, it's certainly not helping anyone's mental health and but it made me think about how when we're younger, in our career, I, you know, similar things when I was in a graduate program, nobody's given us legal advice on this employee contracts that we're signing, when we've never signed one like that before. So it's quite daunting thing I think, to go through and that's where I think the likes of Matrics and support networks and mentors in other areas can really nice to help you younger guys, if you like coming.

Gemma Cornwall:

It can be quite a lonely even though we do work with people all the time. It essentially be quite a lonely sort of job. And I think I feel like I've been very lucky. You shouldn't have to feel like you're lucky but I feel like I've been very lucky and that you know, I've got this now and the AG Academy is actually brilliant. And it is I didn't need to be cynical at all and the support and like you say the kind of the social and the mental side of it, that everybody cares about how everybody feels, and nobody's sort of taken advantage of but then when you when you go and you talk to other people in other roles are under the companies just think my God, you know, the days where you feel like you may be hard done by because you've had to take on a little bit of extra work but then there's other people that are not able to sleep at night and running themselves ragged. You think no, like, this should be a job that you're doing because you enjoy it, and it gives you as much back as you give to it. And there's just so many people that aren't in that situation, but again, sort of don't know where to go for help. So I think it's great that the things like Lionheart and Matrics are much more sort of publicized now, and hopefully, there are protected people taking them up on their services. But yeah, I think

Marion Ellis:

It's almost as though you know, we, you know, as I look back on my career, now, I'm an oldie look at and think, you know, I remember people saying to me, oh, yeah, and you learn on the job. And it's experience and that, and that, that is on the technical, you know, the actual job itself. But what's really hard is how to be employed, how to handle that first job, and no one gives you support on that. And one of the things I'm really grateful for is when I took a few years out for health reasons before I went back to do a degree and then I had a graduate job and everything. And in that gap, I did everything, Gemma. I was a cleaner in a bakery, I did a YCS on a school resection I dealt with on the telephone, mail order car parts, customer service, a good mistake, I know, a big golf ball and roll cages, or did you know and British Gas VT, you know, and I temped for quite a bit. And whilst that was uncertain and hard, and all of those things, it meant that when I started my graduate job, I remember there were six of us. And they were all were in Hamburg department, it was sales or something. And and they were all worried about picking up the phone and speaking to someone apart from me, I remember thinking, How the hell am I going to survive 18 months of a graduate program, but it gave me that just bit of confidence that if it all goes wrong, then I know I can do something to earn money.

Gemma Cornwall:

There's so much to be said, for having a career before your career, almost some jobs at least. So yeah, I know exactly what you mean, in terms of picking up the phone. I've seen the same with graduates when they first come in, and I don't want to speak to this contractor or I don't want to whereas I suppose if you used to, in my case, anyway, picking up the phone to somebody to tell them their child has been a little..

Marion Ellis:

It's not just the skills that you bring, it's that that element of maturity into an industry and type of work where we need that we need to be a calming influence, we need to put our foot down some time, Joe, it's bringing that maturity in life experience into a role. I'm really interested in the fact that you did computer science and economics. I know quite a few teachers, actually, people who've then become surveyors later. So it'd be interesting to see how that shapes your career going forward and things. You were never interested in valuation?

Gemma Cornwall:

Not really. No, I mean, I've assisted with a little bit here, we do a lot of commercial property, we have done some valuations on some of the residential ones before they turn into projects. It's not something that kind of fires me up, really. But I think, even in the 18 months, two years that I've been here, what fires me up has already changed. Again, when I was younger, I never used to keep boyfriends for very long, I'd get bored and move on. So I think it's sort of transpires into other parts of my life in that I've lived in 20 houses in 36 years, and don't tend to stay anywhere for more than a couple of years. And it's a bit like I'm on a sort of witness protection program. But I'm not.

Marion Ellis:

It’s that variety, isn't it and when you get that adrenaline dopamine rush and the next thing and ya know, like I that that totally resonates with me in some parts of surveying can be like that with project work. And I think with residential, it might sound like you're doing six jobs a day, six properties, but actually all of those are different, potentially different. And so it's how you how you view it, but I'm disappointed that valuation didn't ring any bells for you, Gemma.

Gemma Cornwall:

It might do in the future. I don't know. It's yeah, I think maybe commercial property valuation would potentially interest me.

Marion Ellis:

I think it's just interesting, cuz it's not just about the numbers, it's very much for me, I think about customer psychology and the economics of what's going on in our country in the world at any one time. So that's the view that I've taken. Some people just look at it as, as the thing about, like, surveyors are all so different, aren't we, that there's no to the same and different things make us make it stick. Tell me about the work that you're doing, or how you got involved in the sustainability side of things. Tell me a bit about that.

Gemma Cornwall:

Si it's a bit of a running joke in the office that I'm kind of resident tree hugger, that you know, haven't eaten meat for a very long time. Drink oat milk, and wear recycled shoes and do all my shopping and charity. shops. So for a long time, that was kind of running joke. And then the more conversations we had with clients on both the residential side and the commercial side. So with the residential side, we tend to have clients that are registered providers, or they do assisted living, that kind of thing. So we've got portfolios of properties rather than just individual ones. But the more conversations we're having, the more we realize our clients actually don't have a clue where they need to go, they really want to know where they need to go and what they need to do. And they're being as proactive as they can, as much as time allows in their role. But the clear, concise information isn't coming from anywhere. And it was very much the case where we like to solve their problems. And if you can offer them more information or a different service, that would tick another box for them, then great, because obviously, we want them to have a fantastic experience with us as a company, we don't just want to offer them part of the service that they want, we want to feel talking about the whole thing. So we've got talking more on the commercial side, obviously, there's different deadlines coming in for different levels of APC. If they're investor owned, then the investors need to want to make sure that their portfolios still worth something in what we've got now, eight years, but they don't want to be left with these assets that they can't sell that aren't worth anything. So we had a good chat with a lot of our key clients and came up with an initial service offering. And because I was interested in it, and you know, he seemed six, six to kind of empower people and let them do what they want to do. Well, here you go, this can be yours, you have this as a project to run with almost. So we we've built up a service offering now whereby we can offer APCs as a standard, but then we offer consultancy professional commentary with that, to explain what they can do some of the different options available to them, we've got QS is here. So the QS is can cost up these different options. And then we can model lots of different scenarios in terms of the energy energy outputs, so we can offer them that in a really clear way. You know, we're not giving it to many consultants, we're giving it to people who manage property, or who own property, they don't want loads of numbers and loads of computing figures, they just want it simply do we tick the boxes? If we don't, what do we need to do? How much will it cost us? So it struck me is really crazy that that didn't actually exist, it's very small pockets. There's some brilliant, brilliant people that do it. But then there's a lot of gatekeepers, the people that are sort of early adopters, and the companies that are early adopters into kind of ESG strategy and that sort of thing, they seem to have assigned themselves the role of gatekeeper, which just seems crazy, because they're not telling anybody how they're going to improve the environmental standard.

Marion Ellis:

I find this quite fascinating. And I see it in different aspects of the industry and on different topics and subjects. But effectively, it's sharing the wealth to the greater good, and we're talking about the planet areas, as farcical some people might think that is, you know, we're talking about the planet and art and impact our everyday lives. And therefore, you know, those that have the knowledge, the experience do need to be much more generous with their content, spreading the word thought leadership. But there's a misconception, I think, that if you start to share that, you lose your competitive advantage, and you only lose your competitive advantage if you don't do it the right way. And that's where it comes back to purpose and, and why you're doing what you're doing. And there's lots of evidence on brands and marketing brands and how you can do that. Earlier today, I was recording a podcast with a chap called Professor John Edwards, I'll put a link to it in the show notes. And he teaches this stuff, retrofits and things. But we talked about the guidance, and where do you go for that sort of one source of the truth. And it's really confusing. It's really, really complex. And you know, what, what we talked about, what I said was, you need to be in the tunnel. It's alright, having you know, all of the, you know, headlines, all of these stats, all of this is what you should do. And there's a lot much there's much more on the commercial side, and there certainly is on the residential side. So you've got to be in the tunnel, you got to be where, where those people are at to know what they need, what makes them tick, you know, what mode it needs to be in, you know, so is it numbers? Is it words is it videos, easy read? Just to start the conversation going and start things moving, but also knowing that, you know, this is a moving feat at the end of the day, because you know, what we think might be energy efficient now, actually, you might get it wrong. You know, there's a lot of waste. And so the whole the way that we approach it and start to spread the word I think is important, but there's so much more that we can all do to empower people. It's interesting, you seem you're talking to your clients, and they're coming to you to help, you know, we can help our clients be better by knowing what they need. And lots of them need to tick off environments and Corporate Social Responsibility things. And so we need to help them tick their boxes. So we need to know what they need to do. You know, and I think that, so it's always thinking, so it's always thinking wider, isn't it? Much bigger picture, much bigger picture.

Gemma Cornwall:

From a commercial point of view, I think you're absolutely right, knowing what they need. And the fact that we've talked to our clients quite so much, it's not guesswork. You know, some of them have come to us and say said, we need this in other in other ways that said, right, you own offices that you're having done, you haven't renovated, you haven't refurbished, we're overseeing the project, have you thought about having them certified? You know, it's owned by investors, if you can show that you've actually got something solid, you've got preamp certification, you're not just said, Oh, we're working on our ESG. You've got certification there to show that actually you've My favorite quote, Deeds, not words, you've got to bring Emmeline Pankhurst into it, you've actually done something that shows that you've made a financial commitment to improving your sustainability. So we'll link that in as well. But I think yeah, it just completely baffles me that anybody that's involved with this, perhaps naively, from my point of view, me thinking everybody wants to save the planet. And actually, people just want to make money. But anybody involved would would gatekeep that sort of information. Because my God, there's enough of it to go around. We work really closely with some brilliant companies in the area, some individuals that share their knowledge, and we share what we're doing as well. And then we can, like you say, we'll make mistakes, but we can build on them. And it's the people who, as with any sort of service offering, any sort of business, I suppose it's the people who offer that knowledge and share it around that are going to be successful, and they're going to have a good time being successful in that they will, they should hopefully get a lot more personally from what they're actually doing. I think to me, it's not about one company coming up with the perfect solution. As with sustainability as a whole, it's not about one person or one government coming up with the perfect solution. It's about everybody, 10s of millions of people making tiny, tiny changes, and doing things imperfectly, but giving it a go. That's when the tide starts to turn. It's not, we don't sit around waiting for the set of instructions that will lead us to this.

Marion Ellis:

I guess, though, that's how things have always been done in that somebody somewhere has told us what to do, or what the rules are, whether that's our RICS, or their code of conduct and red foot valuations on what, you know, whatever. Well, the government, you know, it sort of that what we're always looking for is that one source of the truth to tell us, this is the path that you need to take, this is what it should look like. But when we don't know that not really, I mean, there's lots that we do know, but it's so uncertain, then that we need to find a different way of working together. And that's things like collaboration, there's a scary word for lots of people. One that I remember, there was only two times I've been really overwhelmed by a spreadsheet, once was when someone sent me a spreadsheet, I had to fill out for GDPR when I was working in a corporate, which I thought was fine. And then I opened it up, and it was massive. And I was like, Oh my God. And the second time was when I got sent or downloaded spreadsheet, it was actually from the RICS. It's to do with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. And I can't remember what that campaign was. But effectively, it was sort of in this spreadsheet, if you fill it in, it'll help you work out how to meet the goals, how to meet sustainability, it was a couple of years ago now. And I opened it up and you know, I just got totally overwhelmed and thought, well, there was looking back now I recognize I'm dyslexic, and so ever anything like that was going to be overwhelming, but I just couldn't join the dots between how do I fill this in me working for myself or me doing what I do. And then this sort of big goal of let's all tick the boxes to save the planet and it was too big a gap and I think we need to be really interested in that gap. And so the more that we can do to showcase what we do and importantly how we do it and the benefit it has means that we can all make small changes you know I'm doing in a meaningful way because how you might do it for you and your business and clients is going to be different for me but showing that it's possible makes a difference you know. So I'm a company I've partnered with before is called B1G1 one by one give one and you know when I run at the time, the mastermind I was running courses I was running every time someone gave an accountability report or completed it they would donate money and they would get to choose whether it was you know electricity for a hospital or bricks for home somewhere or whatever then so it's you know, as as you do, you give it this at the same time. I mean, it just becomes part of what you do, rather than let's raise money for charity, or, you know, the stuff that just seems so synthetic these days.

Gemma Cornwall:

Corporate Social Responsibility.

Marion Ellis:

We all say, you know, we recycled paper, and then use carrier bags and stuff like that. But that's really the tip of it, but it's integrating it into our work. So it becomes much more meaningful. And going back to the whole recruitment thing that we were talking about. People want to work with companies who can live their values, and also hire people like that. I mean, I'm sure you never got asked on your interview, did you buy your show clothes in a charity shop? Or are you vegetarian? Not that everybody needs to do that or be like that, but it just shows you're clear on your values, and what's important to you.

Gemma Cornwall:

Absolutely, definitely, I think we're definitely finding kind of linking it back into the work that we do. The landlords that we work for, that have got things like offices, obviously, like we're saying, when after COVID people aren't coming back into the office unless they absolutely have to. So if they're trying to attract and retain talent within the industry, whatever industry they're in, they do now need to make it obvious that they're doing something. And yeah, a few recycling bins aren't gonna cut it and like sensors on the toilets and things you know, because there are options, and there are options are known about, and because a hell of a lot of the workforce is now millennial. And we need to be ticking the boxes, doing the visible actions to make sure that they're not just words. But yeah, I think there will be a wave of change, one when the regulations change, and companies and landlords are going to have to make the changes, but to when people realize that they can't actually just they can't employ the best people in the industry, by greenwashing what they're doing. But I think keep saying to people, it'll be like a sort of trickle at the moment, and then give it a few years, give it maybe, I don't know, three, four years, and then there's going to be this kind of waterfall moment where there has to be sudden change. And hopefully, it'll be irreversible.

Marion Ellis:

It's interesting, because you then start to think about targets, goals and quotas, for different things. And for a lot of people on a lot of firms until it becomes fiscal implications, or, you know, there's rules, regulations, etc. fines, people won't do it, in part because they don't know how to make it into their business or, or whatever. When I did a lot of customer experience work, one of the things I will talk to clients about is a maturity matrix. So it's looking at, describing, you know, what it's like now, but what it could look like in the future, what will you be doing? How will you be feeling? How will you notice things? And and so the one was sort of a measure on a, how mature do we feel as we go through, rather than have we hit the target? Have we hit the numbers? I think, you know, I think there's a common what the law is, it's a, you know, as soon as something becomes a target, it ceases to become a good target Parkinson's Law? I think it is. Yeah. And that's where people just focus on the goal. That's what we've got to do. And they forget, actually, there are other things that can make a difference. So, you know, are your people in your business acting and thinking environmentally, is it a topic that always comes up at meetings, or do you have to force it on the agenda? He knows, there's lots of ways you can feel as though you're heading in that direction. You got to tune into it, you know, get the feedback from your employees, get the feedback from your clients, and always depends on what you're measuring yourself against, obviously, but it's just tuning into that, because that's when it becomes credible, that becomes real and authentic. And people then feel comfortable to have the good ideas, and also say, you know what, this is just the wrong thing to do. Yeah. And it gives them that confidence to do that. And that can help really shape and steer a business to where it wants to be.

Gemma Cornwall:

Absolutely. And I think that confidence is building, but I think it's gonna take time.

Marion Ellis:

Is it going to be a generational thing? Yeah, when everyone retires, but I just think that's a shame.

Gemma Cornwall:

But interestingly, a lot of the people that I've come across that are sort of genuine eco-warriors almost. And it feeds into every aspect of their life. They're actually, you know, the older generations. So well older than me anyway. So it's about I suppose getting the right people in the right places, the right bums on the right seats. And then in these kinds of meetings, there'll be a voice that speaks up and says, no, we're not doing it this way. We can't do it this way. And we can't do it this way, because it's not the right thing to do not we can't do it this way, because it'll cost us too much money or we can't do it this week, because it's too cheap, you know, not linked to the commercial aspect, because it's just the right thing to do.

Marion Ellis:

Yeah. Which is why, you know, it should be people, plan it, profits, you know, that just reminded me, my granny used to make her own clothes, or she would recycle clothes into quite 50 and make it into something else. And then if I think about, you know, my upbringing, it was shopping at Tommy girl Etown River Island, aspiring to you know, and that whole sort of churned consumerism. And if anyone's ever seen the thing, it's a Stacey Dooley documentary on jeans, you'd never buy jeans again, you know, and so just thinking about that, but, you know, I guess I always sort of want to take my granny's mindset of okay, well, how can we reuse these materials? You know, how do we make an mend? You know, make do kind of a positive way. And those skills are the same. And perhaps we've just laid over it a level of climate anxiety, and a bit of dramatics and language that some generations might not understand. But they've got the concept of how to do that. It's a tricky thing, isn't it?

Gemma Cornwall:

I think it's become quite cool now, because it's quite retro to like shop in charity shops, or to mend things, you know, reuse and that sort of thing. But you're absolutely right. You know, if you look back, plastic bottles weren't a thing when my grandparents were younger, and my parents were younger, potentially. My dad had a milk round, and he used to do it with glass bottles, it'll tell me and people played outside, we sat inside watching TV with the heating on and all sorts of things like that. And it was just accepted that that's what was done. And I think there is this narrative, the boomers have killed the planet and the boomers are responsible for everything, and okay, yes, they are responsible for something. But it's we can't apportion blame to any age group or to any part of the world or, we're all as responsible and fast fashion is, I will hold my hands up, I love a Primark bargain as much as the next person, but it does give me that sort of anxiety. Now, when I think I don't actually need I will, I will actively not buy stuff now, and feel good about it because I don't need that stuff. And that stuff is just going to end up in landfill, and save money, but it's, I hate it when more stuff turns up in my house, and you'll know what it's like with kids and how they just seem to accumulate plastic, plastic with absolutely no use whatsoever. And it just seems to appear, they just seem to manufacture it out of nowhere. And grandparents do what grandparents do, grandparents are there to spoil your children. And my mum and dad are absolutely fantastic, but every time my mom turns up at my house, she's got to carry about full of stuff, either for me or my husband, or my daughter or for all of us or for the house or for cattle, you know, so she's always thinking about other people not thinking about itself. But I think we've had decades and decades now of that overconsumption. And I think it kind of settles my mind to think that we could be moving towards not over consuming and just living on what we need. And obviously, I don't want to force people into poverty to actually achieve that. But if inflation at the moment is going to have a bit of that effect, and we're maybe not driving as much, we're not buying as much in the same way that COVID helped the environment, maybe this horrendous cost of living crisis will help the environment. But again, you shouldn't have to make that sort of trade off.

Marion Ellis:

I know what you mean. And it's I think a lot of this is, again, understanding consumer and public psychology. Not that much. Psychologists.

Gemma Cornwall:

It’s behavioral economics.

Marion Ellis:

Yeah, might ask you about that. Because I think it's understanding why we buy so much. And there's a great podcast, actually, I'll link to it in the show notes. I think it's actually on Audible, it's Darren Brown, and he talks about the psychology, you know, the tricks that he does, but each of us psychology of it at all, I think it's understanding why why do we buy so much plastic crap, what is because my, my grandparents and everything are not the same as what why do we do that? What is satisfying? And it's interesting, when I worked at my corporate job, I used to do a lot of shopping, clothes, shopping for things I didn't need, and it was all about making myself feel better, to look better, feel more professional, confident, you know, weight went up and down with babies and all of those things. And when I started to work for myself, I stopped and it wasn't about having less money. I didn't have any money when I stopped working. I didn't need to. I was feeling satisfied and fulfilled in my life and working in other ways. And so I guess it's understanding the reason behind all of that, and then also finding ways to work smarter. So for example, a friend of mine is a stylist, I’m very exotic here, but you know, she's a stylist and she helps women find the clothes that suit them and and you know, my colors done, and all of that, and by investing in that, I now buy less, I buy smarter, and I buy better quality, and I'm happy with it. And so I don't have that urge to go and shop. And I think if we apply that then to how do we get people to change in terms of environments, it's all about convenience. And it's about scratching that itch, putting the heating on, because you don't want to wear a jumper, once you know what, let's get some good quality jumpers that will keep you warm, you know, it's changed the way that we live and operate, but it's doing it in a way towards motivation, rather than I don't want to be I don't want to be without gifts, I don't want to be without that luxury and, and I guess having money in your pocket and being able to spend in that way makes us feel comfortable, doesn't it, in terms of how good we feel about our lives and things. And so that there is a deep seated, seated piece there in terms of unless we get to that psychology of how we can make people feel good about their choices, and better, things aren't really going to change.

Gemma Cornwall:

It feels like there's quite a lot being done in terms of marketing, eco-friendly products in then are being marketed as the luxury good, and that they're superior to the ones that you can buy 100 of for the same price. Look at Tesla, you know, they're okay looking cars as far as they go. But they're sort of nothing when you look at that compared to a Lamborghini, obviously, the Tesla is quieter, streamlined, not as fussy, doesn't shout at you quite as much as Lamborghini does. But they're the fastest selling cars in the world. So they are as bonkers as Elon Musk is, he's obviously got very good marketing department, in that they appeal to the mass market that can afford that kind of car, and that they're doing good for the planet and so on, because they're being marketed as cool.

Marion Ellis:

They are, but what they have is a sense of purpose. Yeah. And people buy into that. And I guess also, it's that generosity of understanding the brand that has now enabled other car manufacturers to then go ahead and share and do similar or better and push that innovation forward. And I guess you know, on a, you know, bringing it back round to property, that's where we'll be there'll be these market leaders, these firms are these people, key people of influence out there, who not necessarily tell us how to do it, but show us what they're doing, how they're doing it, why they're doing it. And that has a massive ripple effect then, which allows those who might not understand the graphs and the spreadsheets, and it's being in the tunnel, oh, actually, I can see how this now might affect me and how I can move forward. And, I'm big on social impact of making a difference, even in small ways, and I think that we all did more of that. But thinking that way, then, oh, save the planet.

Gemma Cornwall:

If we all make a tiny, tiny change, and there's however many billion people on the planet, and everybody makes a tiny change, there’ll be a huge change. And that's, that's the way we need to look at it. Rather than looking at we have this massive hill to climb, we have to hit net zero by 2050. But I'm not going to tell you how to get there. And if we don't, then we'll all drown. I don't think that's really the way to encourage uptake.

Marion Ellis:

And I think that's the thing with sustainability, climate diversity, even you know, even as surveyors or people in working in property, if we all started to do one thing, or explore one thing or even just talk about it, then that just has an impact on, and pushes that momentum forward, doesn't it? Gemma it's been honestly, it's been fabulous talking to you. I can't believe I've told everyone about my shopping habits. Thank you ever so much. I know people will really enjoy listening to you and, and learning about your journey to become a surveyor and look forward to seeing how things go.

Gem:

Yeah. Thank you. I'll keep you updated.

Links