The NZGBC 5 Green Star Rating
Years ago the demand of customers was for quality products and services but now in the present information age, customers are more aware of quality and can often find a choice of “quality” suppliers. Therefore organisations need to provide something additional in order to delight the customer. That’s why delivering a service that is unique to each customer is becoming more important than delivering a standard solution. In other words, organisations need to offer innovative solutions instead of trying to cut the cost of goods or services if they want to stay in business.
One of these organisations is eCubed Building Workshop Ltd a leading sustainable building services consultancy with offices in Auckland and Wellington. eCubed specialises in green buildings design and have a strong commitment towards customer service. In 2010 one of their buildings was certified by the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) as New Zealand’s second six-star building, with a rating of 83 points. It is currently New Zealand's highest rated Green Star building and received a record four out of a possible five points for innovation. Due to eCubed’s focus on innovation and customer service they have won 9 awards since 1999.
Below is an interview with eCubed’s Director Patrick Arnold talking about his journey with eCubed Building Workshop Ltd.
The entrepreneurial building science graduate teamed up with fellow building science guns Quentin Jackson and Barbara Joubert to form the Wellington company Building Workshop. The company offered technical services such as thermal, daylight and energy modelling.
As the green building sector grew, the team realised they needed an engineering component to offer a whole solution to customers so in 2005 it merged with Auckland engineering consultancy eCubed.
A typical project? "We get asked in by an architect who will have a concept sketch of a building which could be anything from a couple of lines on the back of a napkin to a full computer drawing. They'll say – this is what I want to do. What do you reckon?"
Sustainable design was optimising the building and making sure it would work, Arnold said. The building science aspect meshes with the engineering side to assess the design, using computer simulation before building begins to make sure the design team is on the right track.
"Once the building is complete and operational, we can go in again and do things like energy audits and post-occupancy evaluation to provide more feedback on how things actually worked."
eCubed Building Workshop is trying first and foremost to be the best at what it can do. "If we end up taking over the world that's great – as long as there's no drop in the quality of our work."
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
"A couple of reasons. Firstly, my previous work experience had been in London on OE in a nine-to-five office job and I was determined not to work for `the man'. More seriously, the larger, more traditional companies didn't really offer the opportunity to do building science as a career per se."
What have been the biggest obstacles in running your company?
"A lot of the construction industry in New Zealand has a very short-term focus, particularly on upfront capital costs. So to start off, we had to really educate the market, and industry in general, as to what we did and why it was worth it.
"We were lucky in that we were doing this at the same time as the natural tipping point occurred and a lot of what we were talking about became mainstream.
"Recently we've also had a combination of the [global financial crisis] which has tightened everybody's purse strings – unfortunately sustainability in construction is still often seen as a nice-to-have, which makes it one of the first things to go when money gets tight … coupled with certain political frustrations."
Name one thing you've learnt while in business and from whom?
"This is going to sound like a cop-out but we all learn things every day from the other directors, the staff, clients and even the hard way – from our competitors.
"Learning (or at a corporate level, research) is fundamental. As soon as you stop learning or doing research or creating innovative solutions on projects, it's probably time to stop and have a think about what else you could be doing."
What are your business and personal goals?
"When I was younger (and probably more naive), I was really quite angry at how New Zealanders' houses were cold, damp and inefficient. I wanted to provide a service to change that – even if only one house at a time. Nowadays I'm less angry but I've extended my focus to all buildings and making sure they work.. .
"As a company we're focused on trying to be the best rather than the biggest, so we're very focused on the quality of our work. This means we don't like to walk away as soon as the mayor has cut the ribbon, but prefer to stay involved, monitoring the building to make sure it's behaving and learn from it."
Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?
"Don't be scared to be bold, but be prepared to be patient."