Behind the Job - Ben McGeachie, Sustainability Advisor at Equans

  • 3rd March 2023

Tell us about you and your job

I originally studied Zoology at the University of Glasgow. The course, which was mainly theory led, opened my eyes to the true scale of humanity’s impact on not only animals but the wider environment. Inspired to pursue a career within sustainability I went on to study data science, at the University of Glasgow, as I knew this would be a key skill in terms of capturing our impact and tracking our progress towards change. 

I joined Equans’ Sustainability Team in June 2022 as a Sustainability Advisor for the North West. Equans work with housing associations and local authorities to refurbish as well as build educational and public buildings ensuring that they are energy efficient - to help lower carbon emissions and bills.

Everyday, I work with different departments right across Equans to highlight new sustainable technologies and funding sources that are available to our clients as well as share the latest sustainable news and advice.

What key skills do you need as a Sustainability Advisor?
Adaptability is crucial. As a Sustainability Advisor, I speak to many different types of people both within Equans and the wider local community - from residents to schools and even prisons.

A thirst for knowledge is also a must. Sustainability is an ever-evolving field driven by data, new insights and legislation. To advise you need to be on top of the latest research and updates. I’m always looking to expand my knowledge and learn something new.  

What does your typical day look like?

Every day is varied. In the morning I could create a college presentation outlining our impact on the environment, the importance of sustainability and profiling green skills to present later in the week. 

I could then move onto researching solar panel providers to offer advice and guidance to a local police station wanting to invest in green low cost energy. When working on a project like this I’ll usually be involved from the research stage through to costs, design and then following installation to measure its effectiveness. 

Typically in the afternoon I’m out and about meeting people. For example, a key part of my role is to work with residents to keep them informed of the changes to their properties, how the new technology works and how the updates will help save them move as well as cut down carbon emissions.

I also carry out continuous monitoring of different projects to capture key data that I can use to evaluate Equans’ decarbonisation efforts. 

Why did you choose a career within sustainability?

I have this distinctive memory of working toward getting the green flag for my primary school. The feeling of being able to make a long-lasting positive change, no matter how small or big, really stuck with me. 

Being able to bring about real action to better the lives of others is what drives me. I wake up happy knowing that I’m playing my part in helping the planet. 

Why is sustainability so important in the construction sector?

The built environment and construction sector accounts for 38% of global carbon emissions. To put that into perspective, it has been estimated that globally a city the size of Paris is built every week. 

Through green careers, new research and technologies as well as government initiatives, funding and legislation, means real tangible change is happening right now. 

While we will always need to build homes and infrastructure, how we approach construction is being revolutionised so we can care for the planet.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about a career within sustainability?

Do your research. It is a vast field with an ever growing range of roles right across different sectors - not just construction. 

Find your passion and then delve into work experience, widening your knowledge and skills to carve out your own path within sustainability.

How did you find working with the team at Coleman James?

Faultless from start to finish. Fresh out of university I was nervous when it came to getting my foot in the door. However, thanks to the support of Charlotte Smart, Senior Consultant of Construction I was able to get my dream first job.

Charlotte took the time to learn about and understand me as a person. Throughout the whole process she walked me through each step, offering advice and interview tips. From the very start she kept me informed throughout the whole process and still checks in with me.