Meet Adrian Joyce, leader at combining architecture and energy efficiency

Adrian is Secretary General of EuroACE and Director of the Renovate Europe Campaign. He granted us an interview in which we talks about his career and the Roger Léron Award. Enjoy the read!

Meet Adrian Joyce, leader at combining architecture and energy efficiency

Adrian Joyce has more than fifteen years of experience as a practising architect. During his career in the building sector, he has paid a lot of attention on how to bring innovation to this field towards a more energy efficient approach. In 2003, he joined the Brussels-based Secretariat of the Architects’ Council of Europe (EuroACE), of which he became Director in 2010. Adrian is Secretary General of EuroACE and Director of the Renovate Europe Campaign since August 2011. His innovative vision and hard work in EuroACE has been recognised by external agencies on several occasions. For instance, he was included twice in the Euractory TOP 40 Most Influential People in the EU on the Energy Union Framework.

Despite his busy agenda, Adrian Joyce granted us an interview, in which he explores with us the main challenges in his career and what were the keys to face them.

EuroACE helped to shift the attention to efficient use of energy in buildings by working to incorporate it to relevant EU policies. What was the greatest challenge for you at the time to increase the awareness about the importance of the building sector on the pathway to reducing carbon emissions?

Indeed, there was a very long time when the importance of the building sector to many other sectors was not recognized at all. This has always been astonishing to me, maybe because of my training as an architect, as I have always considered that the buildings we live, work and play in are of great importance to our well-being and sense of identity.

So, the first challenge that we had to overcome was to get the recognition that action on buildings is a sector in its own right and that it can be regulated by coherent policies and legislation.  What I mean here is that buildings were for a long time, considered as a subset of other sectors like construction, which includes heavy engineering works and infrastructure works (roads, ports, power plants etc.).  Then we had the challenge of gathering reliable statistical information on the sector and I am happy to say that EuroACE was at the root of the research that was first to identify that our buildings consume about 40% of all primary energy and emit about 36% of all CO2 emissions in the EU.

The challenge was then to broadcast these statistics and inform policy-makers about these basic facts and to impress upon them that without action on buildings, the EU could not achieve its long-term energy and climate goals.  In broadcasting these statistics, I realised very quickly that there is a huge number of policy-makers that need to be informed – in the tens of thousands – and that the work would take years.

I was not wrong, as that basic work still continues today!

You have inspired different individuals in the energy sector with your innovative proposals and your leadership. During your career who was the person that inspired you the most?

I am lucky to have had a varied career that has seen me working in several different domains, at several different levels of responsibility, although always in fields closely related to architecture and building technology.  It makes it difficult to answer your question as it is more the qualities of people that I have observed or met that impress me and not just their position of influence in society. I admire people that are constantly creative, people that avoid getting stuck in a rut and who always innovate and evolve.

In the field of architecture, there are many architects that possess these qualities, but I would single out Renzo Piano for a special mention as my favourite living architect.

In this year’s edition of the Roger Léron Award, FEDARENE highlighted some criteria such as creativity and strategic vision, in order to award this prize. In your opinion, what is the main quality that has helped you to overcome challenges and barriers?

Your question is very flattering for me and I am happy to say that the answer for me is clear:– tenacity, diplomacy and patience are the qualities that have served me best in my policy work as the political processes we have to follow usually only unfold over long months and years.  On top of that, the impacts of our achievements in the policy field are only felt after a period of between three to five years (at best), meaning that impatience to see results only leads to frustration and stress. But I would also cite other qualities such as liking people, being sociable and being ready to help as qualities that also assisted me in achieving recognition and success here in Brussels.

In my opinion, we are in a period where high impact is best achieved through cooperative and collaborative efforts between willing partners that can come together around a shared common purpose.  In our field, the very best example of this is the Coalition for Energy Savings, which brings together the NGO community with industry, civil society with research institutes. Such cross-sector cooperation gives much greater impact to the joint messages that are developed together.

What would be your advice for the future generations that would like to work and upgrade this field?

I am already very encouraged by the high number of very talented young people that are active in our field and it makes me feel confident for the future.  I would advise that they continue to build on the good work that has been done to date, learning from the pitfalls and constantly seeking the best way to communicate about our field.  It is essential to ensure that the way we talk about our concerns is appealing to our audience and is not framed in old phrases or in words that have the potential to alienate the audience.

I would also encourage them to be innovative and not afraid to try new approaches that will keep our messages fresh and relevant.  I know that this is challenging, but it is also one of the most rewarding aspects of our work as advocates for ambitious, long-term actions on buildings, actions that must capture the huge potential for energy savings that is tied up in them.

We are honoured to have had the opportunity to get to know more about Adrian Joyce, a pioneer in the field of energy efficiency! Leaders like him inspire many individuals in the field of sustainable energy to keep creating innovative projects. It is no coincidence that he and EuroAce are communication partners for the 5th edition of Roger Léron Awards!