James graduated with a management degree from the University of Leeds in 2007 and wasted no time in cutting his teeth as an analyst at Deloitte, where he learnt the basics of assets and finance. He was then a successful commodities trader at Schneider Trading Associates, now Marex Spectron, before co-founding IKEN CAPITAL with George Hutson and Christophe de la Celle in early 2012. When the company was bought out in 2014, the three founders took portfolio manager roles at Millennium Partners.
James then took a break from his financial career and moved into property development. With the ethos of aiming to “give back more than I have consumed in my life” he worked to renovate properties using sustainable building and landscaping materials; however, he struggled to find companies in this sector that provided good customer service – and this sparked a business idea!
In January 2015, James founded EnviroBuild, a supplier of sustainable WPC decking and landscaping materials. He then brought on two partners, Neil Waller and James Street, and was joined by Aidan Bell as director in February 2016. Based in Brixton, London, EnviroBuild supplies green building materials and construction solutions to households and businesses across the UK and Europe, and prides itself on efficient and personal customer service. EnviroBuild actively supports the Rainforest Trust and donates ten per cent of its profits to sustainable causes.
When he’s not in the office, James maximises his time outdoors and enjoys kite surfing, hiking and cycling. He is also a keen traveller, his most recent destination being Madagascar.
In 140 characters (a tweet) or less – what is EnviroBuild?
An ethical sustainable building supplies company with great value, functional, beautiful products.
What was the driver for creating EnviroBuild specifically – what gap does it fill?
The industry required a commercially astute company that would make being sustainable easy. Too many companies are either entirely driven by the profit motive or rely upon their customers wanting to make the right choice. We’re not looking for companies and consumers to purchase just based upon their ethics, but to judge our products against the rest of the market. If they find we’re at least as good value as the others, then we’ve made an ethical choice an easy one!
Who is it primarily for?
It is for consumers or clients who want excellent value and brilliant products, with great informed service. The fact that it is sustainable is a bonus. Hopefully that is everyone who is in the building trade, or looking to improve their own home.
What difference does EnviroBuild want to make?
The potential we have to make is twofold:
Increase the value of recycled material by making a market for future products. This can drive societal behaviour and make a real difference.
Raise the awareness of embedded carbon within the building industry.
What are the barriers to making that difference?
The biggest barrier for us is to continue to find and develop products which we can sell profitably while ensuring they are excellent quality and saleable over existing technologies.
Who’s helping you overcome those barriers?
We’re working with manufacturers to constantly push the boundaries of technology use and to develop processes. We’re also trying to work with specialists in life cycle analysis to ensure that we’re making sustainable decisions.
Is the building sector doing enough to deliver a sustainable built environment?
The building sector is driven by profit and to think otherwise is to misjudge those within it. Increased sustainability in the sector will only be driven by legislation, and it’s therefore a shame that the building sector pushes back against such sustainable legislation, but it is inevitable.
How can people find out more about EnviroBuild?
We’re a modern company that lives on the web, it is at the heart of everything we want to do, so please visit us at www.envirobuild.com.