Just the job Dave Hampton explains why he left the directorship of a consultant to become a ‘carbon coach'

So, Dave, what's a carbon coach?

It was my "brand" adviser Jeff Fuge who advised me to call myself the carbon coach. He looked at the sector at large and realised there were very few personalities, which is why my face is the first thing you see when you go to my website - the idea is to make this personal.

The business is about coaching individuals who know they want to reduce their carbon footprint. Having been in the construction industry for 25 years, I know how hard it can be to bring about change - there are still only a handful of projects in the UK that are significantly more sustainable than the best projects of 100 years ago. What it boils down to is that it is hard to change major projects, but in many cases I've found you can influence projects if you influence individuals - if you've got the leader of the design team or a client who really wants a sustainable project, it's going to happen.

What does the actual coaching involve?

It's all about helping influential people reduce the carbon dioxide emissions they are responsible for. Ideally I arrange to see the client at their home. Recommendations can involve something as simple as a change of car, installing a solar thermal panel for hot water or switching to a green tariff, which guarantees that electricity comes from renewable sources. Most of us know we've got to do this stuff, we've just never managed to make it urgent. That's what I do!

What's the average carbon footprint?

The average total (for home energy and personal transport) is about 5 tonnes per person per year. But for a high-achieving captain of industry it might be 40, or even 80, tonnes a year. Basically, we have to slim down to an average of about 1 tonne each by 2050 or we're stuffed. One analogy I draw is that it's like a boardroom with a dead polar bear's head on the middle of the table. Everybody comes in, talks about the weather or the football, sips tea, and gets on with the day's business. It is as if the effects of carbon emissions, there right in front of us, are strictly not to be mentioned.

Has becoming a coach involved a major lifestyle change for you?

Not really, I've always been passionate about sustainability and have always worked around energy consultancy. My family's carbon footprint is now down to about 9 tonnes and falling.

Professionally, day to day, I'm doing similar stuff to what I've always done. Even though I left my directorship at ABS consulting in July, I still earn some of my income from sustainability consultancy and giving talks - I love being provocative about the industry's future!

Dave Hampton

Age 46
Employment history Initially worked for British Gas and then as an energy consultant for WS Atkins. Spent seven years at the BRE and headed the BREEAM team until 1997, when he became a director at ABS Consultancy
Qualifications MA in engineering from the University of Cambridge
Lives Marlow, Buckinghamshire (five-bedroom house, fuel bill £500 a year)
Family Wife, Jan, and four children, Tom, Dan, Martha and Grace (combined carbon footprint of 9 tonnes a year)