S3 #8 'Moving from Sustainable to Regenerative Business', with Russ Avery

Season 3 Episode 8


[00:00:53] James Gill: Hi there. Welcome to another episode of the EcoSend podcast. I'm your host, James. Every week I have the honor of speaking to amazing people, usually in the world of business working on purpose-driven businesses. EcoSend itself, you can learn more about EcoSend on our website. We're a climate conscious email marketing platform. And the podcast really started as a journey to understanding more about the world of purpose-driven businesses and the climate in particular.

[00:01:20] This week I'm honored to be joined by Russ Avery. Russ is the co-founder and CEO of Avery and Brown. A BCorp certified sustainable marketing agency, which specializes in supporting companies within the built environment sector. Although Avery Brown is only three years old, Russ has been working in sustainability for almost 15 years.

[00:01:41] He lives in Surrey with his wife and three kids, and I'm so excited to be talking to you today, Russ, because you've got a lot I'm sure you're gonna be unpacking with us and I can't wait to learn more about what you're up to with Russ Avery and about the Built environment. I, I wanna unpack a lot of stuff here.

[00:01:57] So welcome to the show, Russ. Thanks for being on the show.

[00:02:01] Track 1: Thanks a lot for having me, James, and yeah, it's great to be here.

[00:02:04] James Gill: Great. Great to see you. So, Russ, tell me a bit more about yourself in your own words. I, I know I've, I've read off a little bit of an intro spiel there, but what are you, what are you up to of Avery Brown. Tell, tell us all more.

[00:02:17] Track 1: Great. So yeah, my journey into sustainability started from as early as on as I can remember, really. And I've got growing up on the beautiful West coast of Scotland to, to thank for that. So I'm very lucky, so privileged to grow up surrounded by beautiful countryside because I know that not everyone has has access to it which is part of the problem. And yeah, that was largely responsible for a love of nature and wildlife from, yeah, as early as I can, as early as I can remember. However, it wasn't until I was about 25 or 26 or something that I actually started to think about sustainability in terms of a career and what I wanted to do.

[00:03:02] So I, my journey began in earnest in 2009 10 when I got a foot in the door with a small ocean conservation charity called Sea Web based in London which was which was a fantastic place to work. And I was there for a couple of years before I then fell into corporate sustainability consultancies.

[00:03:21] And I worked for two of those in Central London,

[00:03:24] for six years before I then left to become an independent marketer for sustainable brands. And to give you the nutshell version, I guess yeah. Avery Brown was born in in August, 2020. So we're a covid baby

[00:03:39] and Yeah, so we're just over three years old and yeah, I'll leave it there for now 'cause I know you've got more, more questions about the specifics.

[00:03:47] James Gill: That's, that's super interesting. I mean, you say you, you know, it's also good hearing, hearing about the, the very early days of being in the Scottish countryside. That sounds delightful. So that was a, was it an element of that transition from being in the countryside to being in cities that sort of got you quite interested in it in this, or was it that contrast that maybe spawned some thoughts about what to do or?

[00:04:13] Track 1: Potentially like, maybe subconsciously I'd be lying if I said that was a conscious thing. But I mean, I think, yeah, it probably did play a factor. So I've always lived or sorry, a lot of the, a lot of my life I've lived by the coast and surrounded by the countryside. So I definitely really do miss the sea, for example.

[00:04:31] 'cause I don't live by it anymore. I'm in I'm in Surrey. So we're, we're a landlocked county. But yeah, like working in living and working in Central London is obviously worlds away from living living next to Loch Lomond.

[00:04:44] Which is where I was, which, where I was from. So yeah, and I, I just I thought about what I actually wanted to do in life as a career.

[00:04:52] I got a degree in languages from the University of Exeter, but I didn't want to use them directly in anything for a career. So I didn't want to be a translator or an interpreter or anything. So it was a relatively useless degree from that perspective, Um, and then I did a couple of years of temp jobs when I graduated, and then yeah, took a step back and decided what, what do I actually want to do in life?

[00:05:14] And although I had nothing to show for it in terms of academic qualifications, I decided to try and, yeah, get my foot in the door. For just some sort of organization that was doing something good in the world,

[00:05:25] and for the planet. So I got that job at Sea-Web while I was doing a certificate in Natural and Environmental Sciences from the Open University.

[00:05:33] So at least I was studying while I got the job.

[00:05:36] James Gill: Yeah.

[00:05:36] Track 1: Yeah.

[00:05:37] James Gill: see. How, like how did you come across that job then? And like, was

[00:05:41] Track 1: Uh,

[00:05:42] James Gill: were you were just naturally...

[00:05:43] Track 1: I was just job hunting on, I, I only when I decided that's where I wanted to go down, I only started job hunting on specific job ad sites. Like, I think it was literally called Environment job.co

[00:05:55] James Gill: Yeah.

[00:05:57] Track 1: If, yeah, if that, if that still exists, then there's a nice little plug

[00:06:00] for them. I've.

[00:06:01] James Gill: if it does, we'll put it in the show notes. Yeah.

[00:06:06] Track 1: so I was looking at those kind of jobs, jobs, boards, and obviously I was looking at really entry level positions. 'cause I didn't know what specifically I wanted to do . So, yeah, it was great to just get my foot in the door.

[00:06:18] James Gill: Very inspiring though, that sort of to, to just jump in and, I mean, not too much of a pun, but to dive in at the deep end there. But but like to, to do that without really, you know, thinking, oh, I need to, I need another degree or I need I need lots of extra knowledge. I think especially when it comes to climate and something we've found is that sometimes you can be so worried you're.

[00:06:43] Doing the wrong thing and, and not, not do anything. It and, and a fear of a lack of knowledge can sometimes, I think from a lot of conversations I've had can hold people back sometimes. But you were, you were quite keen to, to jump in and start trying to make an impact sort of one way or another?

[00:07:01] Track 1: Yeah. Well, I knew I'd have to work my way up. I knew I'd be against going for jobs against other candidates who had maybe relevant degrees and degrees in Sustainability and Natural Sciences or maybe even Ocean Conservation and Marine Biology related degrees for the job at Sea-Web.

[00:07:20] But yeah, I I just went for it and I knew that, well, I hoped that having something on my cv, which in my case was doing my my certificate at the OU would just have, you know, show that I was actually serious about this and I wasn't just going for a job in a completely unrelated field. So yeah, it was a gamble, but it paid off.

[00:07:40] James Gill: What, what did SeaWeb actually, what did they actually do out of interest?

[00:07:44] Track 1: So they, we did a lot there actually. The main kind of campaigns and initiatives that I was helping out with in my two years. There were sustainable seafood, coral conservation and in fact those were the two main main things I worked on. So, sustainable seafood was a big one that Sea-Web were heavily involved in, which is a really, really interesting interesting world.

[00:08:06] In fact it was really interesting to see a couple of years ago when Seaspiracy came out on Netflix. I dunno if you've seen

[00:08:13] it.

[00:08:13] And everyone was still,

[00:08:14] James Gill: it myself.

[00:08:14] Track 1: yeah. So it's definitely one to check out, but that got people talking for all sorts of reasons. Some people hated it and thought it painted a lot of these issues and a lot of good organizations in a really bad light.

[00:08:26] James Gill: Right.

[00:08:26] Track 1: But what it did do was was massively raise awareness around the, through the general public of the dire state of the world's oceans. And,

[00:08:36] Yeah, what's happening to them in terms of the overfishing and, and everything else. So I think overall it was probably a good thing because so many people didn't know

[00:08:45] James Gill: Yeah, it's a,

[00:08:45] Track 1: about these issues before and that's what we need to do, right, is reach outside the echo chamber and the bubble that we all work in as sustainability professionals and try and engage the masses.

[00:08:55] So we need documentaries like that, to, to help us achieve

[00:08:59] that.

[00:09:00] James Gill: It's almost, it's better for people to have some awareness e even if it's maybe not ideal or not 100% you know, unbiased or whatever. But awareness is better than total obliviousness to to, to the topic.

[00:09:14] Track 1: Exactly. And you know, people then naturally fall down the rabbit hole a bit 'cause they'll google certain topics and things that they've seen in the film and then they'll, you know, hopefully end up learning.

[00:09:25] Even more than the film itself teaches them through their own reading and stuff. So

[00:09:30] yeah.

[00:09:30] James Gill: Well, you've definitely made me wanna line something up on Netflix there. I don't think I've got enough value from my Netflix subscription lately, so I hopefully can do some good in the world with that

[00:09:39] Track 1: Yeah. Yeah. There are, there are some good some good nature and climate related documentaries on there.

[00:09:44] James Gill: Yeah. Yeah. I see. Well, thank you for the, yeah, we'll, we'll see if we can link to that as well actually in, in the notes. And yeah, so I, I know I've got very hung up on SeaWeb there. I, I got caught in the, the SeaWeb net. So after that though, that was sort of, you were there for a bit and then you started working more in a, in a more corporate kind of world, but still trying to bring these values to the, to, to business life,

[00:10:07] Track 1: Yeah. So the stars really kind of aligned for me on my next job because after two years at Sea-Web my wife and I were looking to move out of Central London where we lived at the time. And we we decided to move to Farnham in Surrey, which is where I still am now. And so I left Sea-Web to get a new job and I managed to get a job. I mean, this is crazy, right in Farham where we were moving. with a small startup sustainability consultancy. So it was just like ideal.

[00:10:39] Uh, so that we Were, yeah, so they were called Carbon Credentials. They're now Carbon Intelligence part of Accenture. And yeah, it's called Carbon Credentials based in Farnham, about six people based in a small office by Farnham Station.

[00:10:54] And I joined them as their marketing and communications manager in 2012. And by the time I left them, four years later, we were about 60 people based on

[00:11:04] Street in Central London. So that was an amazing journey to be a part of

[00:11:09] James Gill: Farnham and Regent Street. They're very similar! What a trajectory that is. That is awesome.

[00:11:16] Track 1: Yeah.

[00:11:16] That was a great, a great journey to be a part of. And yeah, I wrote, I learned so much in those, in that four years and also made a lot of good friends who I'm still friends with today. Most of us have since moved on from there. And it's great seeing all the different jobs that my old Carbon Credentials colleagues have gone on to get in, like still in Sustainability, but with other with other companies and see, seeing what they've gone to do. Yeah, it's great.

[00:11:42] James Gill: Amazing. And so was it literally from there to, to then now running Avery Brown and?

[00:11:49] Track 1: No. Then I did two years for one of Carbon Credentials competitors who at the time were called Sustainable Commercial Solutions. And then I led the rebrand of them into Evora Global, which is what they're still called. And I was there for two years and they were a or still are, sorry, a Corporate Sustainability consultancy specifically for the Commercial Real Estate Sector. And I did two years there from 2016 to 2018, and then that's when I left to, to go it alone and stopped commuting into London four days a week and and all that other good stuff.

[00:12:25] James Gill: Yeah. And I can see that maybe inching towards the sort of topic of the built environment and where you specialize now. And so I know you wanted to talk about purpose-driven businesses. Was there a point where you felt I need to work at one, or I need to start one, or I need to be spending my time only with purpose-driven businesses?

[00:12:49] Like was there a, a tipping point in that journey or?

[00:12:52] Track 1: yeah, I really wanted to, I really wanted to start one. So working for one absolutely would've been the second choice. But I, I thought about things a lot and starting my own was something that I really wanted to do so that I could have, so that I could do what I wanted to do in terms of the direction that I wanted to take a business and not have to, not have to. Seek approval or convince, you know, a boss that that was the right thing to do, and to see what I could, what impact I could do if I was starting my own. And so, you know, it was still two years though before Avery Brown was formed. So first I was just Russ Avery Consulting Limited, and I was doing what we do at Avery Brown just as a one man business.

[00:13:35] But it's, while I was doing that, that I met Tim who had recently gone freelance as a graphic designer and I started using Tim's graphic design services to fulfill some of my client jobs. And we just really enjoyed working together and decided to make it formal and we closed down our respective businesses and formed Avery Brown.

[00:13:55] And from day one, you know, being purpose driven and having our sites set on becoming a certified BCorporation, for example, was... you know, it was something we literally did talk about in our kind of Avery Brown kickoff meeting,

[00:14:09] James Gill: Oh wow.

[00:14:10] Track 1: was, which, which took place in my garden shed in summer. In summer 2020.

[00:14:15] Yeah. We incorporated the business a month later or something in, in the August. But yeah, like it, we haven't pivoted as an agency, like it's been sustainability.

[00:14:25] James Gill: From day one. Yeah.

[00:14:26] Track 1: From the, from the get go. And then we'd only been going for about six months, I think when we started talking about regenerative business.

[00:14:34] James Gill: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So yeah, and that's a term, I mean, yeah, I've got so many questions about the shed, but I must say the logo's very cool too. So it helps having a co-founder who knows about design. Huh?

[00:14:46] Track 1: Yeah, that's, that's definitely handy. Yeah, it's nice we get, we still get nice comments about our, our own branding and stuff, which is a really good a really good proof point in terms of what, what we do for our clients.

[00:14:57] James Gill: Yeah. Usually a good indication, isn't it? ? Never quite trust the design agency if their logo looks like it was done in, in word art or something.

[00:15:05] Track 1: Exactly. Yeah, exactly.

[00:15:07] James Gill: But yeah, you know, you wanted to talk about Regenerative business as well. Yeah. And, and you were, you're just touching on that, and that's the topic that's come up on a few of the episodes on, on the show.

[00:15:17] And I guess, yeah, a lot of us talk about Sustainability. We talk about this whole field of sustainable business and doing things sustainably, but that is perhaps not, not enough. And re what does, what does regenerative business mean to you? Or what, what do you, what do you think about when, when you, when you say that?

[00:15:37] Track 1: Yeah, that's right. So to your, to your point you just made, for us, it's the fact that Sustainable business is just not enough anymore. Like it's way too late in the day for that, unfortunately.

[00:15:47] If we're to believe the scientists, which of course I think we should, but actually now you only just really need to look outside and turn on the news to see the latest extreme weather event that's taking place somewhere in the world.

[00:15:59] So being sustainable as the very word and name of sustainable business implies that you operate in such a way so that you can keep going and maintain your, maintain your operations over time. We now need businesses that actively give back more to both society and the planet than they take. So it's not just about being sustainable, it's about using your profits.

[00:16:26] Because again, purpose and profit are obviously not mutually exclusive. Like they're now happily, dozens of dozens of examples to prove that that's very much the case. Thanks to things like the BCorp movement and stuff. And it's about how using those profits for good to give back more. So, you know, one, when you've done some what I know some sustainability consultants would consider to be kind of Sustainability 101 and like reduce your business carbon footprint and things like that. It's like, yeah, but then what can you do? Can you, can you keep further reducing it to try and be a carbon neutral or a net zero business? What can you use your profits for?

[00:17:05] Can you support local, you know, environmental regeneration projects either locally on your doorstep or internationally through supporting the right kind of charities and companies? Can you give back, can you give back to society by supporting local charity or supporting your local food bank?

[00:17:24] You know, food banks is a really interesting example actually, because Farnham, for example, is a really affluent area. You know, it's Commuterville it's like, you know, chichi Surrey kind of town, but there's also a lot of poverty around. And you can easily forget that when you live somewhere like this and you're surrounded by like nice houses and people driving Land Rovers. But there's also like a bunch of food banks around and people who, you know, the cost of living crisis and everything has like, hit them really hard. So thinking, thinking globally and acting locally, which I know is probably a massive cliché. But it's, it's a cliché for a reason because it's true, right?

[00:18:03] And I think these are all the things that we need to think about and it's, it's a privilege to run a business where you can choose how to use your profits and what impact you can have. And if we can get more and more businesses to think In these terms, like, 'Is the world a better place because my business exists?' Is a great question to ask yourself. Which was the theme of the, the Better Business Summit up in January up in Manchester in January, sorry, early this year.

[00:18:31] I think that's a great question that if every business asked themselves that they'd immediately think of all these different little things that they could be doing and you know, maybe that's a good opportunity to mention our Regenerative business mind map that we made. Because that's what we tried to get people to do.

[00:18:47] So that all started with our own iPad sketch that I did back in April, 2021, where I was just sketching down some of my own ideas for our, well, for what we were then calling our sustainability journey here at Avery & Brown. And I shared it on LinkedIn, but I was never expecting it to get such a huge reception.

[00:19:05] But it did. So we, we took it further and we took people's comments into consideration for the next version, and then we created a next version and the next version. So I think we're on like version. The version that's available on our website now is version three. And it's just meant to be a great source of inspiration for anyone who wants to start their journey towards being a better business, but has got absolutely no idea where to start.

[00:19:28] And you can literally dive into this mind map, which looks very complicated from the nature of being a mind map, but actually it's broken down by section and you, you can start wherever you want and it should source as a great yeah, serve as a great source of inspiration for, for what you can do.

[00:19:43] James Gill: That, that is awesome. I know. We'll, we will definitely have that in the, the notes as well for this episode. So anyone, anyone listening can absolutely go, go grab that. It is so inspiring to hear you, hear you talk Russ because you know, I think, well, well, anyone running either a Sustainable business or even better a Regenerative business, like they probably haven't, well, unless they're like you, they probably haven't been doing that all the time they've been running their business.

[00:20:08] And for us, we were on this journey ourselves and for a long time, a heck of a long time running GoSquared my mindset was like, 'we've gotta survive , we've gotta build our business'. We've gotta try and, you know, try and make more money than we spend. And there's a whole other sector called the charity sector that does like the good stuff.

[00:20:30] And, you know, I love what they're doing, but like, that's not for us to worry about. And since on this journey with EcoSend and, and building things and taking a different mindset, it's just incredible. To see how much you can do as a business to make the world better. And it's infectious I think in that like, once you start doing that, you want to do more and you realize how much more there is to do and you wanna tell everyone. You try and like think a bit more and hopefully, yeah, as you say, it is truly a privilege to do that.

[00:21:03] Track 1: I completely agree. Our purpose at Avery & Brown is to inspire others to be a force for good. So...

[00:21:10] James Gill: Doing a good job so far I say!

[00:21:13] Track 1: Thank you very much. So we, you know, we thought about that a lot as you, as you can imagine, and as you would hope. And that's what we came up with as our purpose because it's not about the fact that we're a sustainable marketing agency and we've got, you know, we've got our vision and our mission as well, but our purpose, we really loved that because it speaks to so, so much more than just the fact of the, what we do as a sustainable marketing agency.

[00:21:40] So that is why we share so many free resources, you know, that these things take us a lot of time to make. It costs the business a lot every time we pull together one of our free resources that we share. But we do it because we really do believe in trying to live out our purpose and yeah, do exactly that.

[00:21:59] Inspire others to be a force for good. We can go quickly if we go alone, but we can go far if we go together, right? We need to get other people. Engage and onboard. And if we can help do that in some small way by sharing our knowledge publicly, then great, we'll do it. But that's what it's all about.

[00:22:16] It's like we need to, we need to get people on board. We need to rally the troops. We need to, we need every business doing this, not just a small handful of us who will go to the Blue Earth Summit and stuff like that. You know?

[00:22:28] It needs to be, it needs to be everyone.

[00:22:31] James Gill: Absolutely! And, and that mindset as well, it is easy to take for granted that you're willing to share things like that because, you know, in the world of business at times it can sometimes feel like, 'Oh, we've discovered this thing that makes us unique and let's keep it secret and private' and you know, we don't want other people copying this or doing this better than us. Whereas like on this subject, we all share this planet together. The chances are you want someone to come along and do a better version of that mind map and show you, show you, and then get a V four out. I, I would imagine.

[00:23:02] Track 1: Yeah, a hundred percent. And yeah, anyone's anyone's free to, to go and do that. And it would be great. It'd be great to see what they come up with. Yeah. As long as they, as long as they reference back to our original one, that'd be great.

[00:23:15] James Gill: Make sure there's a back link. Yeah.

[00:23:17] Track 1: Yeah.

[00:23:18] And you know, you mentioned something else interesting, James, which was the whole, you know, the charity sector being thought of as the people who are doing the good, like 'over there'.

[00:23:27] That's what I thought as well when I, when I worked at SeaWeb and before I worked at SeaWeb, and it was only when I joined Carbon credentials and then I, while I was there in my four years there, I started discovering lots of different companies and this, this movement called B Corp, which back then is still really unheard of.

[00:23:45] I guess in 2012, I guess B Corp was maybe only six years old

[00:23:50] James Gill: Early days. Yeah.

[00:23:52] Track 1: So really early days. And yeah, so it's when I discovered that, oh no, you can be a for-profit business but still do good in the world. And in fact, sometimes you can do like, potentially even more good than a charity can, which is a really bold claim.

[00:24:08] But actually charities is such a complicated landscape with the way...

[00:24:13] James Gill: I would agree.

[00:24:14] Track 1: ...charity finances and stuff like that work and getting the aid to the right places and using the, using donation money like in the most effective way and stuff like that. And don't get me wrong for a second, there are some charities that do that amazingly and are really transparent about how many, you know, how many p's out of your pound goes to the actual end cause that you're trying to support and stuff.

[00:24:35] But I think the private sector plays a massive, massive role in the creation of a better planet. So we need more purpose driven businesses to to rise up and yeah. Use their profits and their voice and their message for, for good.

[00:24:51] James Gill: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I guess on a high level, it's like we are not really in a very good situation if the companies do the bad stuff, the charities do the good stuff and hopefully the charities do more good stuff than the bad. The companies do bad stuff. Like we can't, we can't have that as a solution.

[00:25:08] Track 1: The charities are just effectively trying to firefight all the bad stuff that the companies are doing.

[00:25:13] James Gill: It'd be a good idea if the companies did some good stuff! Yeah. And so I know we've already been whizzing through the topics here, Russ, and I know you, you said that we'd easily go a half hour without covering everything.

[00:25:26] Track 1: Yeah.

[00:25:26] James Gill: I know we critically, we really want to talk about the built environment, which is a big, well your big focus at, at Avery Brown. So tell me more.

[00:25:36] Track 1: Yeah, so this came about really organically and it wasn't our focus from day one to, to begin with. We were just I say just, but we were a sustainable marketing agency for any purpose driven business, no matter what sector they were from. However, B2B was where our experience and expertise lay.

[00:25:57] So even, even Tim hadn't done as much B2C stuff as he'd done B2B businesses in his design work. Previously I'd been B2B because I was in-house marketer at two corporate sustainability consultancies. So we were never gonna be a big consumer goods sustainable marketing agency, which is, you know, probably what most people think of maybe fairly as the sexier kind of side of it. Because you are getting to market, market cool products instead of services. But, you know, actually B2B doesn't have to be boring. It's about, it's about making it more interesting for your client. I think it's actually more of a challenge. But the built environment thing came around because actually most of our clients just happened to be in that space, and that is, as you said, that is directly linked back to my, my jobs at both Carbon Credentials and Evora Global. Because I had loads of contacts in the real estate sector and the built environment space.

[00:26:57] And we won a few of those people as our clients in the early days of Avery Brown. And so before we know it without kind of deliberately trying or focusing on that sector, yeah, probably about 70% of our clients were built environment related clients.

[00:27:13] And for those that don't know the built environment is a phrase that encompasses buildings, towns, and cities and infrastructure.

[00:27:20] So everything that...

[00:27:21] James Gill: Just a few things there!

[00:27:22] Track 1: Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, it's what humans have built. So you've got the natural environment, which we're rapidly losing at an alarming rate. So that's our last wild places and, you know, countryside and the ocean. And then you've got the built environment. So yeah, that, that which humans have made.

[00:27:40] So it's great because it's a niche, but it's a massive niche because it includes construction companies, property developers, real estate firms, architecture practices. Renewable energy and technologies that are making buildings and cities more sustainable or regenerative. So it's actually vast because there are so many companies that we'll have never heard of who are doing really cool things in trying to, trying to make our buildings, towns, and cities more, more sustainable. So that is our focus. Do we still talk to other cool purpose driven businesses from outside of that sector? Yes, absolutely. But in terms of like what we're going after, we're looking to acquire more clients from that space. Just because we think it'll be good to have a niche and, and a focus.

[00:28:25] James Gill: Absolutely.

[00:28:26] Track 1: And also because the opportunity for positive impact is so huge. That's the other reason we do it. So, you know, there's a fact that gets thrown about a lot in this space, but it's for good reason, which is that buildings account for 40% of global CO2 emissions. It's massive. So we've absolutely got to make our, our built environment more sustainable if we're gonna have, you know, any chance of preventing runaway climate change. So it is a really cool sector to have a positive impact in as well.

[00:28:58] James Gill: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And you, you see it in, in London, like living near London, like in London and working in London. And you know, you, you try and do all the good in the world and you see skyscrapers going up, primarily made of concrete and steel and glass and often with a lifespan of maybe 40, 50 years. And and you think, wow, that's that's an interesting situation we're in, isn't it?

[00:29:25] Track 1: A hundred percent. And there's, so, there is such a massive amount of work to be done to, insulate existing building stock, retrofit existing buildings to make them more sustainable.

[00:29:38] And these are huge jobs and, you know, all of that needs to be done. And yet what drives me crazy is that even these brand new buildings that you just mentioned and brand new skyscrapers and stuff, they're not being built as sustainably as they could because of lack of regulation.

[00:29:54] You know, it's mad that there are at any new houses, for example, to talk about the residential side of buildings, that it's mad that there are any new houses being built that don't have bee bricks and swift bricks and sedum roofs and you know, ridiculously well insulated and stuff as absolute standard. Because these things are really easy to do and we know how to do it. If the regulation's not there and the house builder doesn't need to do it, they're not gonna do it.

[00:30:20] James Gill: Yeah. Yeah. Wow. I feel like we could easily go into another whole hour show about this in particular. Russ, you warned this would happen!

[00:30:30] Track 1: I did and there are some cool things being done as well, James, as you'd expect. Amazing things being done with timber, timber frame buildings and timber buildings now. So there's a whole wooden kind of mini city being built. I think it's just on the outskirts of Stockholm or even in part of Stockholm.

[00:30:48] So, you know, there are obviously loads of really cool things happening and there are much better Housing developers and property developers who are going above and beyond what they need to do from a regulatory point of view, by creating more sustainable homes. Which is fantastic. But you know, it's not the majority. That's the point.

[00:31:07] James Gill: And hopefully, hopefully that will continue to change. And I guess it's where companies like yourselves are helping those companies stand out more and thrive and grow. So I guess, yeah, I'm optimistic for the future. Speaking of the future, I know you wanted to briefly mention maybe like, I don't know, any, any thoughts on how you, maybe it's an extension of what you were just saying there, Russ, but like in, in sort of five years time, what do you think is gonna change or stay the same within, within the business landscape?

[00:31:38] Track 1: Yeah, so I realized that I kind of, this is where I was supposed to like wink at you and send you my code words, so not ask me or something. But I probably haven't thought this through well enough, but I think you know I'll start with the pessimistic size of the coin size, I guess because what scares me is that with how quickly things have changed in terms of climate this year alone.

[00:32:02] James Gill: Yeah.

[00:32:03] Track 1: It's been kind of, well, it's been terrifying to put it frankly, like the climate scientists have been massively alarmed with how quickly things have changed this year in terms of average temperature increases and what's been happening with ocean surface temperatures and stuff like that.

[00:32:21] And it's happening much quicker than they thought. And so I think, my God, in five years time it'll be 2028, nearly 2029 'cause it's nearly the end of the year already. And If this pace of change continues to, continues to happen or accelerates due to, due to tipping points and positive feedback loops, then you know, we're gonna be in a really, really sh*t state.

[00:32:47] But my hope is that the, the better business movement will kind of continue to accelerate, will continue to put ever increasing amounts of pressure on world leaders and governments, and I mean, my hope would be that in five years time businesses which operate like B Corps or like regenerative businesses are just 10 a penny.

[00:33:13] And that there are loads of us out there and that the groundswell has like really happened. And we finally reached a point where any business that's not like that is looked at like an absolute dinosaur and they can't, they can't attract anyone to work for them because the shift in people wanting to work for such companies has changed as well.

[00:33:33] So we just need this massive snowball effect to happen that makes old traditional business models completely defunct and, not, not viable.

[00:33:42] James Gill: Yeah changing the default of what's expected of business.

[00:33:45] Track 1: Exactly, but you know, it would be a hell of a lot easier if we had world leaders that actually cared enough to help us make this happen. So we didn't all need to put in as much effort, but sadly that's just not reality. And you know, we obviously think in terms of the UK here because that's where we live, but we're just one country in the world. We have influence and, and, and impact, but we're just one small country. And this, this has got to happen like around the world, quickly.

[00:34:15] While obviously the onus is on is on the northern hemisphere and, and all the big countries like the UK, which have contributed so much to the damage thus far.

[00:34:26] The onus isn't on, you know, southern hemisphere, poorer nations, which have had absolutely nothing to do with the climate crisis. It's on us.

[00:34:35] James Gill: We should be setting the example for how to put it right.

[00:34:38] Yeah.

[00:34:38] Track 1: We've gotta lead from the front, set the example, and show, show how we can turn things around. So, yeah, five years time. Wow. It's scary. Age is a way to talk about 20, 28, 29, but it's actually gonna come around really quickly. And yeah. Four, four or five more years, like this year is gonna be gonna be pretty tough to deal with.

[00:34:58] James Gill: Yeah. Hopefully that will inspire a few people to maybe make some changes in their lives and start, start businesses of their own maybe. And yeah I I think hopefully as you say, the, the kinds of companies putting be, becoming purpose-driven is gonna become more and more of a norm. And doing things in a better way is, is gonna become the default.

[00:35:21] I would hope for that as well. And yeah. Let's, let's see where we are. Hopefully we don't even need to, we don't need to wait five years either to get to, to a better place. So yeah. Thank you for sharing that, Russ. I know I know you, just to make sure it's clear your resources you wanted to share. So the, the business mind map hopefully will help others if they, on that very poignant note, you've just been sharing there to, to actually start changing your own business and do something about it. Like that's a good place to start, I guess.

[00:35:54] Track 1: Yeah, I just hope that anyone who's even remotely interested, which, you know, I'm guessing the listeners of this podcast already tick that box, which is great, but if they're not sure how to take the next step on their journey, then the mind map should provide lots of ideas.

[00:36:12] James Gill: Awesome. And you also have another resource, which is the Ultimate Impact reporting checklist, which also sounds good!

[00:36:19] Track 1: So that's, that's our latest free resource which has been a long time coming. And we're really proud of this one as well. So, anyone who is thinking about publishing an impact report which certified B corporations have to publish as part of the B Corp process between their recertification years. And which other companies are now beginning to do voluntarily just because they want to show leadership and talk about their, their journey.

[00:36:47] This should be really, really helpful because it can be really overwhelming not knowing where to start, not knowing what information to include. And it's full of as you'd imagine a checklist, loads of things to think about and tick off. And yeah, it will help you get started on that journey. And if it still feels really overwhelming, then that's exactly what we can we can help with.

[00:37:10] James Gill: Sure. Thank you, Rus. We'll, we'll link both of those in the notes and if anyone wants to find you online, there you are on Twitter at therussavery you're on Instagram, also therussavery, and you're also on LinkedIn, Russ Avery, and you've got your website russavery.com and there is averyandbrown.com.

[00:37:28] So we'll link all of those. In the notes. And yeah, I guess if you are working in the built environment and you want to chat, then Russ is the person to talk to. But yeah. Thank you so much Russ. I, I feel like it's been a fantastic show packed with what Inspiration, some hard, hard truths there and, but also lots of actionable resources to, to hopefully help people on their own journey, which has been amazing.

[00:37:54] So thank you for, for joining me.

[00:37:57] Track 1: Yeah. Absolute pleasure. Thanks a lot for having me, James. It's been it's been great to chat.

[00:38:01] James Gill: Thank you, Russ, and thank you everyone for listening. If you've listened and enjoyed this show, we always want to hear from you. Please do tell anyone you think might be interested in the show about us. It always helps spread stories like Russ's here and we'd love to see you next time on the show.

[00:38:18] So thanks for listening and catch you next time.


Creators and Guests

Russ Avery
Russ Avery
Russ is the co-founder and CEO of Avery & Brown – a B Corp Certified sustainable marketing agency which specialises in supporting companies within the built environment sector. Although Avery & Brown is only 3 years old, Russ has been working in sustainability for almost 15 years. He lives in Surrey with his wife and three kids.
S3 #8 'Moving from Sustainable to Regenerative Business', with Russ Avery
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