Foundations 21 - December 2017

3 assets that we should try to protect. So there is still much to be done. The Foundation has developed a very coherent, rigorous, and disciplined way of taking apart elements of this massive jigsaw and really shining a light on them. What have you learned through your work for the Foundation? I learned a huge amount, because I don’t come from a construction background. So every event, every Forum, every set of prizewinners was a revelation to me that there are people doing things differently and in ways I wasn’t aware of. What you need to bear in mind is that public policy is always extremely conser- vative. The things governments do are based on a very cautious view of what’s possible in this world. Politi- cians are an extremely cautious folk! They usually have no idea that there are ingenious, very clever people out there in engineering, chemistry and such who have already seen that you could go much further. What I’ve learned is that there are far more opportunities, far more things that we could be doing and that peo- ple are doing. And the Foundation is a very good way of bringing those people together and giving them profile. There’s no shortage of bright people and ingenuity, but it’s difficult for those people to break through. So I think the catalytic role of the Foundation is really important. Will you remain associated with the Foundation in the future? I hope so! I’m hoping I can get away from work to attend the next Forum in Cairo, for instance. And I definitely want to be copied in on all the activities of the Foundation. What are your most vivid memories from your Foundation years? I was in Mumbai, I was in Detroit, and both events stick out in my mind. I’ve met some extraordinary people and seen extraordinary things. But of course people like special memories! Okay, it’s a little unfair because it’s the most recent, but: The sheer surreality of Detroit really sticks out in my mind. We were driving to see certain sights. Looking out while on the motorway, there were streets where all of the asphalt had broken up; the houses – if they existed – were burnt up or a wreck. It was a gray day, snow fell, and it felt really surreal. And suddenly I saw a house that was still there, two four-wheel drives, a flag flying – and you had the impression that those people are hanging on! And on the other end of the scale, we were in this big building, looking down at the city. And what was the main industry in the city of Detroit? Casinos! It could not have been further from any conception of sustainability. What are your wishes for the Foundation in the future? It’s probably a complacent view, but I hope the Foundation just goes on doing what it’s been doing, and that is: being a platform for innovation, a source of interconnection for different communities and academia. And I hope it goes on running the Forums because they are choosing excellent cross-cutting topics. What’s been really good is that the Founda- tion is not just a place for architects and engineers to talk to one another. The people who come to these meetings are cutting across different communities. You’ve got economists, environmentalists, sociologists, anthropologists, engineers, and ar- chitects coming together. And in this world we’re living in, which is highly interconnected and under systemic stress, you have to have all of those communities coming together. The Foundation needs to keep on doing that! Interview: Marius Leutenegger Back to New Zealand In October 2017 Simon Upton was appointed Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in his homeland New Zealand. The Commissioner is one of three officers of Parliament who are inde- pendent of the executive and who may review activities of the executive government and report directly to Parliament. The primary objective of the office is to contribute to maintaining and improving the quality of the environment through advice given to Parliament, local councils, business, communities, public agencies, and the Maori people, the original inhabitants of New Zealand. The Commissioner may, among other things, investigate any matter where the environment may be or has been adversely affected, and assess the capability, performance, and effec- tiveness of the New Zealand system of environmental management. The office of Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment was introduced in 1987. Simon Upton is the fourth person to hold this office. “Foundations” is the LafargeHolcim internal magazine of the LafargeHolcim Foundation and may also be distributed to external stakeholders. This publication can be downloaded as a PDF at foundations Editor: Edward Schwarz, LafargeHolcim Foundation Layout: Schadegg Grafik, Zurich Production: Karl Schwegler AG, Zurich Printed in Switzerland on FSC paper LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction Hagenholzstrasse 85 8050 Zurich, Switzerland Phone: +41 58 858 82 92