My career: David Partridge

17th July 2012

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Construction ,
  • CPD ,
  • Skills



David Partridge describes the epiphany that took him from engineer to sustainable development specialist

Why did you become an environment professional?

I had an active interest in environmental issues at school. Through my early building services engineering training I was able to see how science could develop sustainable solutions in buildings. Working for a firm which pioneered solar energy really opened my eyes to the possibilities.

What was your first environment job?

It wasn’t until I became an independent consultant 10 years ago that my day job became specifically focused on the environment, but all my previous roles in building engineering had major sustainability elements.

How did you get your first environment role?

I had an epiphany in my kitchen one evening while hosting a dinner party. At the time I was working as a senior manager, but after moving the conversation on to environmental issues for the umpteenth time, a friend suggested that I follow my passion and specialise in sustainable development, so I did. Giving up a good job was daunting, but I didn’t look back and within three months I was working on my first project.

How did you progress your environment career?

Having already qualified in both mechanical and electrical engineering, I went on to study behavioural sciences and then sustainable development through distance-learning courses. I later became a Chartered environmentalist.

What does your current role involve?

Mainly surveying buildings and analysing their impact on the environment through waste, water, pollution and energy. I then apply scientific calculations to provide ways to lower these impacts. My solutions range from high-level master planning to detailed engineering design and include addressing the psychology of occupiers – ensuring positive human behaviour with regard to recycling and energy management, for example.

How has your role changed over the past few years?

Many new legislative drivers have been introduced to encourage organisations to manage their environmental impacts, but I’ve also seen a significant increase in the number of clients voluntarily opting to use my services.

What’s the best part of your work?

Designing bespoke, integrated sustainable solutions and then seeing them finally constructed on-site. There is an enormous satisfaction in being able to measure the amount of water, energy or carbon emissions that will be saved over the life cycle of a completed design.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

Fighting the constant battle with “eco-bling” and greenwashing. There is so much rhetoric about renewables and eco-gadgets that provides little value in terms of real sustainable development. It’s sometimes very difficult to influence clients in the right way and still keep your commercial footing.

What was the last development/training course/event you attended?

A seminar on variable flow systems and an IEMA social event.

What did you bring back to your job?

That it’s important to keep up to speed on technical areas that I may incorporate in my designs. With the IEMA social events I always really enjoy talking to the professionals working in diverse environmental fields who attend.

What is/are the most important skill(s) for your role, and why?

I live and die by my ability to communicate and influence decision-makers. It can be really tough knowing how to address issues of sustainable development with some audiences.

Where do you see the environment profession going?

I’ve seen big changes in society, with environmental issues now conventional topics, but with the sad demise of the Sustainable Development Commission there is a real need for environment professionals to speak out, particularly in the current economic climate.

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

I’d really like to have travelled and seen first-hand the issues of climate change and sustainable development in other countries.

What advice would you give to someone considering entering the profession?

This can be a really rewarding profession, so make good use of events. Stay open-minded, but be outspoken in your views and, most importantly, never stop learning!

Career File


MIEMA, CEnv, Chartered Scientist, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering

Career history

2002 – to now Independent consultant in sustainable development
2001–2002 Head of projects, buildings, Deutsche Bank
1998–2001 Project manager in building services engineering, Citinet Services
1992–1998 Designer for building services engineering, self-employed
1989–1992 Infantryman, Parachute Regiment, HM Armed Forces
1985–1989 Trainee in building services engineering, VF Lewis Engineers


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

A social conscience

With a Taskforce on Inequality and Social-related Financial Disclosures in the pipeline, Beth Knight talks to Chris Seekings about increased recognition of social sustainability

6th June 2024

Read more

While biodiversity net gain is now making inroads, marine net gain is still in its infancy. Ed Walker explores the balance between enabling development and safeguarding our marine environment

6th June 2024

Read more

David Symons, FIEMA, director of sustainability at WSP, and IEMA’s Lesley Wilson, tell Chris Seekings why a growing number of organisations are turning to nature-based solutions to meet their climate goals

6th June 2024

Read more

Sarah Spencer on the clear case for stronger partnerships between farmers and renewable energy developers

6th June 2024

Read more

Groundbreaking legislation on air and noise pollution and measures to tackle growing concerns over disposable vapes provide the focus for Neil Howe’s environmental legislation update

6th June 2024

Read more

A system-level review is needed to deliver a large-scale programme of retrofit for existing buildings. Failure to do so will risk missing net-zero targets, argues Amanda Williams

31st May 2024

Read more

Chris Seekings reports from a webinar helping sustainability professionals to use standards effectively

31st May 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close