I am a Professor of Regeneration and Sustainable Development. During my career, I have worked as a sustainable change practitioner in the public, private, third and now the academic sector. Until June 2007, and for ten years, I was Executive Director of the UK National Centre for Business & Sustainability. I have researched and written about sustainable governance, social enterprise and the recycling sector, the relationship between health in the workplace and business reputation on sustainable development, and on the motivations and influences that can lead to sustainable change.
My current interests lie in the exploration of alternative ways to communicate the need for sustainable change in the built environment. This has included research into motivation and influencing, and on ways to articulate sustainable return on investment. My interest in behaviour change began with the research for my book ‘Positively Responsible’ (Butterworth-Heinemann), written with co-author Prof. Cary Cooper. This deals with winning ways to motivate people and organisations to operate in a sustainable manner. Work for the Environment Agency looked at attitudes of householders towards investing in energy conservation measures (Resilient Homes) and later I ran a trail (Timperley Green Homes) that tested these attitudes in the field using incentives and the actions of a green community group.
My current book ‘The Coming of Age of the Green Community Group’ which will be published by Routledge in 2013 builds on this and other experience in the US and Europe..Other research in this area included investigations into energy consumption in public buildings as part of the SAVE ENERGY project. This involved incentives experiments with the catering team at the Manchester Art Gallery. Currently this element of my work has led me to conduct research in the University of Salford Energy House, testing how much of a domestic energy bill can be attributed solely to the behaviour of the occupants of the house.
My interest in social return on investment (SROI) led to the development of an approach that included other change valuation techniques from the natural and built environment disciplines. Called Sustainable Return on Investment (SuROI), this has been tested to date on a youth inclusion project in Liverpool, and a commercial/retail proposal in north Cheshire. I will shortly apply SuROI to the evaluation of the Irwell Valley Sustainable Communities Project, a £1M 5-year initiative in Salford that seeks to help under-invested areas to adapt to climate change. Recently the RICS Education Trust recognised my work in this field by awarding me the annual Research Fellowship which will require me to test my SuROI approach on projects in the UK and Brazil.
I am from time to time asked to advise various bodies on sustainable change issues. I have been sustainability advisor the City of Liverpool and Co-operatives UK and was an original member of the UK Sustainable Development Panel. I am currently a non-Executive Director for the social enterprise FRC Group, and Migrant Workers North West. I have also served on the Board of Greater Manchester Waste Ltd. I am a frequent contributor to blogs, newspapers, TV and radio programmes covering a range of sustainability issues.