Monday, 8 February 2010

Big shot: Dan Labbad, UK Green Building Council

Rebecca O’Connor

Dan Labbad, incoming chairman of the UK Green Building Council, does not fit the stereotype of the expatriate Australian living in London, in so much as he does not live in Earl’s Court and does not watch rugby. The Sydney-born 38-year-old chief executive of Lend Lease Europe, the developer, lives in Hackney and, actually, would rather watch football.
Rather more predictably, as someone who has just become head of an organisation that promotes the green agenda, he cycles every day to work — to Lend Lease’s New Broad Street offices in the City — and is passionate about greening-up construction. Now, in addition to the day job, he must stir the Green Building Council’s membership of contractors and developers to an equal level of enthusiasm for the cause and to meeting the target of cutting CO2 emissions from the built environment by 50 per cent in the next ten years.
Mr Labbad, a civil engineer, was a founding member of the Green Building Council and was head of sustainability for Lend Lease, which owns the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent — yet argues that he is not an expert on green issues. “No one has a monopoly on the green agenda. There are no experts. We are all just finding our way.” He became chief executive of the UK division of the Australian developer in February 2009, after arriving at the London office in 2006.
He started at Lend Lease as a site engineer in 1997, before becoming project director for the upgrade of Sydney International airport in 1999, before the 2000 Olympic Games. He then became chief executive of The Hornery Institute, a non-profit community development organisation.

He returned to Lend Lease in 2004 as head of sustainability, before becoming chief operating officer of Lend Lease Retail & Communities UK.
He says that Australia is further ahead than Britain on issues such as water conservation and waste management and adds that the big challenge for the UK is to make the necessary changes in a cost-effective way. “We know how we are going to do it — we have all the technologies and designs — but we do not have a common platform or any incentives to implement these changes in the industry. We need to build some scale and drive some momentum.”
He will succeed Peter Rogers, a director at Stanhope, as chairman of the UKGBC.
In his spare time, Mr Labbad likes cooking, reading and “experiencing London”.