My reasons for leaving are numerous. The main reason being that it's time to do something else whilst I still have the energy and enthusiasm for a fresh project. So to all of you who think I'm going to be swanning around, sitting in cafes and playing golf (I don’t play golf) then you are (mostly) wrong!
Since leaving school I have always been involved in building. Although I had a few wayward years trying to find out what I wanted to do, I inevitably found myself back on the building track. When I arrived in Bristol I got work with Greenleaf Building Cooperative, where I met Bill. Unfortunately our relationship was short as he was off to Nicaragua and it was some years later when we met again, both finding ourselves at an impasse in our career paths. Bill, a qualified architect and skilled carpenter, was looking for something new and exciting to put his efforts into, and although I had just finished a Masters at Bristol University in Architectural Conservation my real passion still lay in 'hands on' building. This was also about the time that 'Eco-building' was becoming very popular. Low impact buildings using straw, timber, lime and clay - natural materials with minimal embodied energy - was all the rage! We were also inspired by Keith Hall who was promoting Eco building via his organisation and magazine, the AECB.
We set up Greenheart with the express intent of only working on projects that have a significant green agenda. We were busy carrying out small scale 'eco' projects but often it’s about being in the right place at the right time and so it was with us. The Yard project in St Werburghs was just taking off and we were lucky enough to be asked to build one of the houses - then another, then another. We learnt a lot, made mistakes, discovered some great new materials (and some bad ones) but mainly it gave Greenheart the confidence needed to move on and establish ourselves as one of very few Green Builders in the Bristol area.
Fast forward to 2018 (Bill left some years ago and Richard Hatfield became co-director, an essential part of changing and growing the company), Greenheart has now grown into a Design & Build company with a great reputation and a specialism in low-energy, energy efficient new build houses. As ever with any organisation its all about the people who work for and with you, and without the team the business would not exist. This has always been an important factor for me and one of things I tried to achieve over the last twenty years of Greenheart is to challenge and change the public perception of builders and vice versa, builder’s perception of construction as a career. This is something I hope to be involved in over the next few months working alongside The Green Register to deliver training CPD seminars aimed primarily at builders.
I am really happy with how things have worked out. We have created a friendly, easy going yet professional atmosphere within the company and I would like to think those involved feel part of the team rather than just a worker.
We have made some significant and positive changes recently, both in the office and on-site and Greenheart is in safe hands with the future looking bright Green!
- Malcolm McMahon
Sustainable Design & Build in Bristol and Bath, specialising in Passive House construction