Harry has recently set up a not-for-profit community interest company called RAFT (Retrofit Action For Tomorrow) that works with schools on the path to becoming zero carbon, where children help to survey and recommend measures for improving their own school buildings. He's also an architect and director at Arboreal Architecture and 15-40 Architecture, where his projects include new environmentally focused buildings, as well as deep eco-retrofits.
Why did you choose a Triodos personal current account?
I’ve worked with a lot of sustainable architecture organisations in my career, such as the AECB (Association for Environment Conscious Building) and the Passivhaus Trust. I believe that I must have heard of Triodos through those networks, about three or four years ago – but I didn’t open an account at the time.
Recently, we developed a household sustainability plan. We all sat down together to discuss what we can do and gave each member of the family their individual actions. We know that we’ve got a deeply sustainable home, so we’ve already halved our energy for heating, but we are also moving towards a low-carbon diet and we avoid flying. With the household plan we wanted to capture any more actions that we could take.
One of my measures was to move my money into the most ethical and transparent bank that I could find – and it’s pretty obvious that it’s Triodos. I really appreciated the transparency of the bank – for example, the fact that it’s got a magazine full of wonderful projects that you really do want to read about.
I really care about where my building materials come from – when I specify products, I don’t just want to buy any old wood or insulation, I want to buy the low carbon insulation from a sustainable source with optimal performance. So why on earth should you not do that for your money?
How do you feel about paying £3 a month for your account?
I feel good about it. My understanding is that everything has a cost associated with it, and there’s obviously a cost with running a bank account. I like that Triodos doesn’t penalise customers unfairly and some of that monthly £3 is what makes that possible – it prevents any punitive high rates that suddenly kick in.
For me, as part of a community of people needing to bank, I think that it’s certainly a price worth paying. It goes with the general ethical landscape – about having values around society, as well as the environment.
Why's it important to you that your bank supports your values?
I’m acutely aware of the sheer volume of oil and gas that’s being constantly extracted all around the world. Looking at the projects that my previous bank was involved in, I was absolutely horrified – yet not at all surprised – to see that it supported a lot of projects that are not aligned with my values around low carbon living.
Money is very abstract and it’s easy to think that it doesn’t make much difference. But whatever money you have invested becomes part of that bank’s power – it can do things with your money and I want the right things to be done. It matters hugely.
What sectors in society would you most like your money to support?
I’d like my money to support renewable energy projects, the sustainable built environment (such as low carbon construction and retrofitting) and also education around the environment – anyone who’s worked with children will see how quickly they soak the information up and go on to influence their parents.
How do you reflect your values in your daily life?
One of the major elements is my house retrofit. I feel very passionately that it should become aspirational to have a high-performance, energy efficient home – that you don’t just have a gorgeous bathroom, but a lovely bathroom with a fully insulated bathroom wall.
I’m also very passionate about learning to connect more with nature. For example, I’ve got a little project with my son, where we planted a tree three years ago and have been observing how it’s grown over time – for the first time last year, to our delight, it produced beech nuts. It’s a hugely important part of education – for adults as well – as nature works much more slowly than our fast-paced lives.
Want to find out more?
If you’re inspired by Harry’s story, find out more about our personal current account.