Ian Flewitt
MEng MSc CEng MIStructE

If you walked into a particular multinational fast-food restaurant in Leeds in the 1980s, you may have passed Ian Flewitt at the door. Ian was part of a university group protesting the restaurant chain’s environmental record on deforestation in South America. By his own admission, he was the only member of the engineering department present at the demonstration.

Ian has always been a climate action pioneer - advocating for the health of the natural environment and our need to protect it. He wrote research papers on the need to limit embodied carbon in construction decades ago, long before the subject entered the broader discourse. At Price & Myers, he leads the practice’s commitment to action on climate change. He was central to the development of the ground-breaking PANDA software that can hugely reduce embodied carbon at concept stage in new build projects.

Ian knows that early intervention in the design process is crucial to lowering embodied carbon and helping to secure a net zero future. ‘Engineers put a lot of effort into designing what’s in front of them efficiently, but if the strategic decisions on a project have already been made, then the opportunity to optimise the design has been largely lost. The technological tools becoming available, such as PANDA, which is best used during the formative stage of a project, are a tremendous asset,’ he explains. ‘They can help communicate a range of options that the design team can look at to lower carbon. My experience enables me to interpret and fill in around the data, and advise on the issues that we'll need to confront as the design develops.’

It’s not just about environmental performance either. Ian likes to get stuck in early, to ensure his projects start and continue in the right direction – whether that be design or finance, technically or environmentally. ‘I like to influence projects where I can, particularly at the start, and ensure that everyone has the right tools to deliver properly.’ His work with the PANDA team continues, developing the tool into a fully architectural one that includes assessment of massing, form, orientation, façade and envelope. The goal is that every architect and engineer in the country will be using PANDA before making it globally available.

An advocate of life-long learning, Ian is an engineer who believes in constant, incremental improvement – ‘we learn from each project and do even better the next time, moving forward little-by-little’ – but he knows that more radical change will be required to tackle the climate crisis. ‘It’s good that we are talking about these issues and taking action, but we are chipping around the edges,’ he laments. ‘Young people are the hope, and these issues are embedded with them. There are more people with more interest in making a change for good, and that movement is getting stronger.’

As a Partner at Price & Myers, investing in young engineers gives Ian a great deal of satisfaction. ‘There’s a great variety of work at P&M. Every day is something different. I enjoy helping people develop their skills and their careers.’ He led the establishment of the Oxford studio in 2006, and nurtured its presence into one that now enjoys an enviable reputation in the region. ‘We had always worked in and around Oxford, particularly the universities and colleges. They are institutions that want high quality buildings, longevity and environmental performance. They are owner-occupiers so they want low energy costs and low running costs,’ Ian notes. ‘These are qualities that fit very well with our approach and our philosophy.’

So what does Ian see when he looks into the crystal ball? He has been instrumental in setting up Price & Myers’ most recent studio in Bristol, and is looking forward to assisting the team develop and grow in the south-west. He is also committed to communicating with governments and industry bodies for greater leadership and policy to alleviate climate impacts. ‘We can do what we can do, but we need significant change in planning policy if we are to avert disaster. If the urban development model is unsustainable, then whatever else we do means little.’

Ian knows the path forward is not an easy one. There will be setbacks, obstacles and false starts. But any pessimism he may feel for the future is tempered by his experience. When that young student protested outside a fast-food restaurant in the 1980s, the restaurant chain contacted the university and threatened legal action if the students persisted. Ian’s environmental group was closed down by the uni, but his fire remained undimmed. It remains a problem to be solved. And as Ian says, ‘I like a good problem.’


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