Neolith: leading sustainable construction and architecture
Global businesses are increasingly focusing on sustainability.
Contributing 39% of global carbon emissions, there is particular pressure on the construction industry as well as those in architecture and design. Along with preserving our natural resources, the success of companies within these sectors will progressively rely on their continuing to search for more eco-friendly solutions in 2020 and throughout the decade ahead.
New technology and production processes are improving the green credentials of materials used for a variety of design projects, and alternative approaches to sustainability such as offsite production, retrofitting and refurbishing are becoming more widely used in these sectors.
Sustainable design and manufacturing are equally important for the companies who supply these services as well as those who employ them. Whether for office refurbishments or new buildings, businesses should seek out eco-conscious architects, designers, and contractors to help deliver workplaces which benefit their staff, their reputation and the environment.
Here are three reasons why creating a sustainable built environment is essential and why businesses should take a green approach to their design needs:
The most important reason architecture, design and construction companies should become more sustainable is the benefits to the environment. 17% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions come from commercial, industrial and residential buildings, therefore changes in how these sectors operate can help make the country a cleaner and healthier place.
New decoration technologies also contribute to a concerted effort to protect the environment. One such example is premium Sintered Stone brand, Neolith’s, HYDRO-NDD 2.0, which uses water-based inks rather than solvent reliant variations to reduce CO2 emissions. Another is Neolith’s partnership with PURETi, a leading manufacturer of water-based photocatalytic preventative maintenance solutions, which offers architects and designers a sustainable surface treatment for exterior façades—especially useful for commercial buildings and skyscrapers in busy cities.
Additionally, materials made of natural components can be recycled, minimising the amount of waste going to landfills. Integrating the circular economy into construction projects from the design stage can maximise re-use of components and reduces embodied carbon through a building’s whole lifecycle.
Offsite rather than onsite construction also reduces the amount of energy used, minimises waste and extends the lifespan of materials. Rather than demolishing existing building stock, retrofitting and refurbishing should always be considered first, as they create more energy-efficient, high-performance buildings, which cost less to operate, increase in value and are aesthetically pleasing.
Designing and building sustainably benefits the companies who offer these services as well. Working towards protecting the environment helps build and maintain a good reputation, painting them as leaders in their respective industries and demonstrating their dedication to CSR.
Being seen as a visionary is also likely to contribute to financial growth and lift morale internally among team members. Leadership comes from the top down, so when employees are part of a forward-thinking industry, they feel encouraged to do their best work.
Good for business
Becoming more sustainable benefits all, particularly the businesses employing construction and design companies for their projects.
Ultimately, working with architectural practices and contractors with certified green credentials, as well as specifying eco-friendly materials, results in a healthier working environment for employees. It also helps create a positive brand image from the inside out.
A sustainable approach doesn’t necessarily require dramatic action. From the significant design aspects of a modest-sized office to large commercial construction, all actions a business takes are steps in the right direction.
By Mar Esteve Cortes, Director, Neolith
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.