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21 Sep, 2023 All

Meet the Builders: Ben Lawry

Introducing Ben Lawry, Associate Director at Roberts Environmental Limited

Our Meet the Builders series spotlights the fantastic people and organisations who are part of our community at The Building Society. They include practices from across the built environment responsible for ‘building’ and communicating the projects that define our rural and urban landscapes – from designers, engineers and planners to surveyors, developers, photographers, and more!

Tell us a bit about you…

I grew up in the countryside and from a young age have always enjoyed the outdoors. Studying Earth Science at University combined my interest in the environment and how it influences everyday life which led directly to my career start at Roberts Environmental in 2019.

In 2021, I made the move to open the Robert Environmental London office and now my day to day includes collaborating with developers, investors and project managers and writing and reviewing reports or proposals. I also speak at industry events and provide CPD talks to current and future clients.

Outside of the office I enjoy cooking, travelling, and catching up with friends over a drink.

And Roberts Environmental? 

We are experts in geo-environmental engineering, contaminated land risk management and delivering sustainable solutions for our clients. We provide transactional due diligence, development advice and site investigation services to a wide range of UK property investors and developers.

We are a SME with a team of 13 employees. Technically backed, pragmatic and commercial advice is at the heart of what we do. Removing the technical jargon to provide the information needed to make informed decisions.

Tell us about a project or initiative you’re proud of.

A project that I am proud of is Anchor – Newnton Close, a nine-storey apartment block redevelopment in Hackney, London. The project involved conducting a site investigation while the site was occupied by active retirement apartments and residents, presenting challenges such as restricted access and heightened health and safety considerations.

Another challenge was to determine the contamination status, information for future foundation design and the existing foundation construction at the basement level. This required digging deep hand-excavated pits up to 3.5m with shoring and protection of tree roots.

Due to the complex nature of the project, the logistics and selection of the required equipment were crucial. But once successfully completed, it was a very rewarding project.

At The Building Society we are united by a purpose: to engineer a better society. Is there one change you’d like to see in the way things are done in the built environment? 

From a geo-environmental perspective, there are practices who can improve the sustainability of the development process whilst simultaneously saving clients’ money and time. However, we see a tendency to revert to “standard” historical practices rather than adopting new ways of working.

An example of a new ways of working is the use of Materials Management Plans to re-use materials either on- or off-site, rather than disposing to landfill (dig and dump). These plans are often required to manage soil movement on brownfield or greenfield sites when undertaking earthworks or remediation. Materials Management Plans reduce the requirement for soil disposal and importation, lower carbon emissions, noise and traffic and contribute to sustainable development. They also provide significant savings from current landfill tax rates by reducing the volume of material being considered for disposal.

Favourite thing about working in a coworking and collaboration space?

I was drawn to The Building Society as I thoroughly believe collaboration is key and there is a need to do away with working in silos.

The Building Society offered the opportunity to collaborate, in addition to being focussed on people working in the built environment. Working alongside one another creates opportunities for creativity and innovation through diverse and dynamic thinking across built environment professions.

What are your desert island essentials?

  1. Book: Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
  2. Music: Red Hot Chilli Peppers “Stadium Arcadium”, Milky Chance “Blossom”, Ben Howard “Every Kingdom”.
  3. Luxury item: A phone?