Dave Hampton tells Lucia Graves how he encourages clients to create buildings that are better for people – and greener.
What do you do?
Put simply, my purpose as director of consulting engineer ABS Consulting is to help clients make buildings better for people, and help make them greener. My main areas of responsibility are: developing and marketing ABS' innovative services, ABS' London-based environment and sustainability group and our Swindon office. I've been in construction for 20 years, and seeking sustainability in architecture and engineering is a personal passion of mine.

Our projects have included producing a guide called The Liveable City with the Corporation of London (available on the corporation's website), a waste audit for London Underground and environmental training courses for Lloyds TSB. Most jobs are a combination of training and environment/sustainability advice.

What's a typical day?
There is no such thing as a typical day. A normal day starts at 9am, but may not end until 10pm or 11pm. It's a combination of management meetings, project work in teams or alone, a lot of networking, presentations and site visits.

Today I was involved in delivering a training course for the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers on a new process we call continuous commissioning. We have a slogan "fit for purpose, fit for people, fit for the planet". That means buildings must be businesslike and cater for social and environmental needs. The fit buildings network that we run exists partly to capture the spin-off benefits that occur when you pursue all three goals together

I'm also a registered adviser for the Design Advice scheme, under which the government pays for a free day of consultancy for private sector companies. Typically, we hold a meeting with the design team and the client and throw ideas about. Most have a blind spot somewhere. Often, I will point out something very obvious, such as have they thought of water conservation. You are looking for the moment when people say: "Yes, we can do that." The penny drops.

How did you get this job?
I was headhunted by an agency. At the time, BRE was being privatised and I thought that, if I was going to be in the private sector, I may as well go all the way.

Can you think of a high point?
Too many! A recent high was our work with Unison (which you can read about in a first review of the Design Advice scheme, a coffee table book available from BRE). We came up with some simple improvements in a refurb job.

We recommended pressure testing to locate air leakage. You put an enormous fan against the outside wall of a building, and blow large volumes of air into it. Pressure builds up and it indicates how well sealed the building is. You can also blow visible smoke, so that you can find the leaks on the inside of the building.

The worst leaks were sealed and high-efficiency heating installed. Not all jobs are this simple. But the real buzz comes from making it happen.

How has the industry changed?
As far as sustainability goes, it has not changed as fast as I hoped at the start of my career. But all the signs are that positive change is happening and people are more enthusiastic about this – welcoming it privately if not publicly.

What do you do outside work?
When I'm at home, I spend time with the family trying to be a good parent. I have four lovely kids aged between one and 10. I've given up rowing now, but back in 1982 I was in the lightweight team for Great Britain. I still coach occasionally.

Dave Hampton

Age 41
Current job Director of ABS Consulting; I’ve worked with ABS since May 1997
Employment history I started with British Gas in 1980, looking at environment-friendly appliances. In 1987, I moved to engineering consultant WS Atkins and, in 1990, joined BRECSU at BRE, working on the government’s energy efficiency best practice programme. In my final two years, I headed the BREEAM team
Qualifications MA (Hons) in engineering from Cambridge
Lives Marlow, Buckinghamshire
Family Wife, Jan, and four children