Nick Gonios
October 25, 2021
36 min.

The Circulist Quest #6

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About the Episode

Episode 6: Show Notes.

The built environment industry has had a bad reputation for many years because of the detrimental impact it has on the planet. Although the pace has been slow for a number of reasons, the industry is now starting to change, and today’s guest is one of the people leading the charge. Michael McElligott began his career as a construction worker, which is where he began to develop his inherent passion for social development and environmental sustainability. Through a 3 month, 18-hour-a-day deep dive into these areas of interest, Michael came up with the idea for the Smart Green Group, a property development firm of which he is the CEO. Smart Green Group is on a mission to help the built environment industry transition towards regenerative, socially equitable, circular systems. In today’s episode, Michael explains the transitions that are happening (and that still need to happen) within the built environment sector in order to ensure that we are able to survive and thrive on planet Earth for many years to come.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Michael shares where his passion for sustainability and circularity originated.
  • Some of Michael’s biggest milestones during his time in the construction industry.
  • How Michael became involved in the creation of a digital bank.
  • The transformative 3 month period of Michael’s life, from which Smart Green Group was born.
  • Why Michael chose the name Smart Green Group for his company.
  • Reasons that the construction industry is so slow to change.
  • One of the biggest enablers of green building.
  • Benefits of a framework which was triggered by results found by the Royal Commission.
  • Major changes that are taking place across the world with regard to the build environment industry's focus on impact.
  • Version one versus version two of the circular economy.
  • Why Australia’s sustainability sector is unique, and where it fell short.
  • The beauty of the circular economy, and what more we need to be doing to save our planet and ourselves.
  • Five built environment principles which should shape the future of the built environment industry.
  • Some of the other exciting projects that Michael is spending his time on.
  • Challenges of starting a circular economy, and a strategy for overcoming them.
  • The importance of global collaboration in bringing about change.

Quotable Quotes

“My real passion is market changing and society shaping.” — Michael McElligott [0:06:48]

“We won’t call it green building in 10 years, it’ll just be building.” — Michael McElligott [0:10:12]

“The world is absolutely cranking right now when it comes to sustainability, future focused development, the reshaping of the way societies view our living conditions.” — Michael McElligott [0:14:15]

“We need to create a regenerative economy which is totally taken off GDP and going from a whole new metric of how we built out this world, and we really need to take our places as custodians for the planet.” — Michael McElligott [0:18:35]

“Until people’s dollars represent their values and they're willing to talk with their pocket, things aren’t going to change.” — Michael McElligott [0:22:00]

Links mentioned in this episode:

Michael McElligott on LinkedIn

Smart Green Group

Sustainable Digitalisation Project

Host Nick Gonios
Producer Jim Lounsbury

Episode Transcript

Nick Gonios: 0:05Hi everyone, welcome to The Circulist Quest Podcast. I'm Nick Gonios and today I'm speaking with Michael McElligott, who started his career in the construction sector as a form worker on many construction and infrastructure projects. And today is CEO of Smart Green Group, an impact driven property development firm based in Sydney, Australia. Its core mission is to advance the transition of our built environment to regenerative, socially equitable, circular systems. In this episode, we're going to learn more about why Michael believes Earth's future is based on humanity recognising we are custodians of the earth, and how industry 4.0 is at the heart of the new paradigm we're entering. Michael, thank you for joining me on The Circulist Quest.

Michael McElligott: 0:50

Thanks, sir. Thanks for having me.

Nick Gonios: 0:52

I'm looking forward to it. So take us back as a younger Michael.

Michael McElligott: 0:55

Yeah, I actually come through the sector quite a while actually worked my way up through the construction sector. As a worker, I worked on all different sectors from residential, commercial, office industrial, heavy civil, and mining. I did that all around Australia also spent nine years in the UK during that there working on some of the biggest projects out there and continue through when I come back to Australia in 2013. I studied Australian civil structures and then started my business career then at the head of the construction company that way, worked on some major projects around Australia, including port redevelopments, multiple bridges, mining structures, spillways, water treatment plants, and all different things, primarily concrete construction. And that sort of gave me universally gave me a mindset of being able to pull apart the built environment in a three dimensional sort of space that's really helped me in the development game moving forward. And we're just sent into circularity and sustainability.

Nick Gonios: 1:53

Right. So what are some of the memories or sort of points in time as I call them dots in your journey that we're building up over time, as experience that you've had that was like, Oh, my God, like, we can't continue doing it in this way? Where was it in that sort of points in your life, and I'm sure there were several of them. So So take us through some of those, if you can sort of go ba ck in time.

Michael McElligott: 2:14

In construction, when you're on the ground, it's a very tough game. So a lot of your time is eaten up, you lose a lot of years in the industry, as you as you're coming through building a skill sets. It's only as you get a bit older, a bit more responsible, that you start looking at the way things are done, you start looking at management practices, then you start looking at the responsibility of what the construction industry is, as as a sector. And I guess that that education comes with a certain level of maturity, as you're working up. And growing up, the larger milestones are probably on the biggest construction projects, I've either worked on my multibillion dollar, intercity redevelopments, in the UK, particularly in Cardiff. And when I started, I had a couple of bridges on the Southern Expressway in Adelaide. So that was, I think, five $600 million projects, we have smaller contracts of when you're at more gravitating towards the top of decision making, you start to feel a bit more responsible. And you start to think about communities and what your position is in society. It was definitely three years ago that I made the major transition, everything built up to it was a time when I sort of become vegan myself. And so I think, more responsible, and at the same time, I went into partnerships with a good friend of mine, we created a digital bank that's going through licencing. At the moment, he come to me and said, Do you want to be part of this bank and from construction to banking, particularly within finance, I was like, I won't actually get involved unless I can bring value. And he said, What about construction lending. So development, finance, and I was like, Well, I can help there. So when I started piecing that together, the true complementary skill sets that I had, was actually in risk management of development projects for the bank. So if we learned to develop those and they failed, or, or there was a number one things, why project will go wrong, I'd be able to step in as a substitute developer to save the bank. Any downside and the assets, turn the assets over and continuous at third party service. At the same time with becoming vegan and being more socially responsible, I actually found the sustainability and circular economy side. So at that point, I locked myself in a room for three months and from 3am to 9pm. I just did an 18 hour day, deep dive into what sustainability is from finance all the way down to delivery. And at the back of that I was transformed. And that was that was the start of smart green group and my willingness initiatives to turn everything we're working on.

Nick Gonios: 4:45

Wow, that's so cool. I wasn't aware of that. Michael, that's excellent. I can relate to that moment in time of hearing about circular economy and going down that deep and deep rabbit hole of all this content that's available to read, you know and watch and consume. Right, and I did similar things over a five year period, you know, up until now, I can relate completely to where you're coming from, I can see the journey connected in terms of, you know, construction built worlds that are sustainable buildings. What does it mean for you? When you say Smart Green group? What does that mean? What does that resonate? What should it mean to me when I hear you talk about Smart Green Group, right,

Michael McElligott: 5:21

that three years ago, when I done my deep dive, now we've moved deeper into the impact space, Sustainable Development Goals becoming a lot more United Nations SDGs have become a lot more market open, and people know where they are with everything. The three years ago was very smart, green cities wanted to be smart. So we're talking about the implementation and adoption and the future of industry. 4.0. So the deep tech space coming into a smart cities, and also a green and sustainability side, and it was the clash of green and smart coming together. My real passion is market changing and society shaping. So a very social mindset I everything I do, I'm always thinking about the the social ramifications for lower economic communities, disability communities, First Nation communities, and that was where I locked in the now smoke ring group, I think maybe now if very much in impact related communities now. So it might sound something a bit more impact related. That's where we locked in. And that's, so that's, that's a choking, regenerative build cities for the future.

Nick Gonios: 6:27

It's pretty powerful. And I think there's so much potential. So, you know, we talk about impact. I was reminded yesterday from a conversation I had with a colleague from the past, you said to me, you know, when it comes to impact, as a term in the construction built world sector, it's actually got a negative connotation. And I was like, blown away to hear that I wasn't sure where she was coming from. But we talk about impact in this sort of new world phenomenon around circular economy and positive impact and sort of reshaping towards a positive environmental and social impact approach. Right. I wasn't aware of the fact that impact as a term in the built world, and construction, traditionally has been sort of seen as a negative, I try to understand that. Have you had that similar experience of coming from that point of view? And if so, how can the sector sort of transition faster than what it's doing right now recognising that it's a very, very, very slow industry, because it takes a long time to build the built world fundamentally will continue to build right. So what are your thoughts and views on that

Michael McElligott: 7:28

initial point you made on impacted it really just show where you are not where the person was? Impact obviously come from negative impacts. And the first sustainability things that we started seeing coming through from the Green Building Councils were 20 years ago, to ESG screening within the financial market over the last 10 years, and particularly with financing and insurance sector, you saw the screening of, of impact so that the negative screening of things like Tobacco, Firearms, oil and gas, these sorts of things. And so traditionally, over the entire course of the last century, impact has had the negative connotation because our linear economy is creating impact in that sense. But you and I stepped off the plate years ago, you said five years ago. So when we talk impact, we're talking about the positive impact we can do, because that's how we are aligned now. And you can very quickly see the difference between someone's alignment without one question. And the building industry is very slow. So as you said, it's dinosaur it is we are in a heavy transition stage. And I think for the next 10 to 15 years will be in that particularly 10 years, like I went through doing, I did all the sustainable certifications for the built environment from GreenStar, living futures, Passivhaus SDI, and I'm looking at well certification now and even ESCO for the sustainable infrastructure. And these independent bodies and certifications are a reflection of not just the construction industry's lack of ability to change, but also government legislation. So we needed these Building Councils and things to come along and tell us what green building will be. So that foreigners can step out and show their innovation and show their commitment to the new world. And then government legislation and the industry will catch up slowly. That's really what we're seeing that mix with that one of the biggest enablers, we won't call a green building in 10 years, we'll just be building it's when a national construction codes catch up to that the biggest enabler of that is definitely industry 4.0 The Deep tech space and what's happening between digital twins, buildings, material banks and and everything that comes from that would geared on the circular economy.

Nick Gonios: 9:36

Yes. I mean, one of the interesting innovations that I've seen with government sort of regulatory sort of environments, is amazingly been in the FinTech space, which you obviously playing with, with a NEO bank or a digital bank with what you've been sort of doing on on sale on the side, but it's one of many things that you've been doing. They've actually locally here in Australia, they've actually created sort of the FinTech with ASIC has set up the innovation sort of sandbox that was is a great sort of way to contain new forms of leading edge type of innovations in moving innovations in new business models of new ways of sort of thinking about money and finance and so forth, it comes to me that I would think there would be an opportunity to do something similar in terms of not waiting for government, or regulators or standards to sort of come to life, but at least having an opportunity to be able to play and learn more importantly, learn from from experimentation on the edge. And through that in a controlled type of environment, like a regulatory sort of innovation sandbox for our our built world ecosystem in Australia. Right. So I would love to see something like that. I wouldn't know where to start with that, because I don't come from the sector. But what are your thoughts and opinions around that? Or, you know, would it work? Am I seriously flawed in thinking when it comes to the construction/built world sector.

Michael McElligott: 10:57

You've actually touched on a point that's happening right now in our sector. So to start with the innovation piece for the finance sector, in the banking, particularly anything governed by APRA. So banking, insurance, and life assurance is started off with the royal commission because of all the dodgy stuff that was going on, mainly by the big four. So the Royal Commission come through in 2017 2018, the final licence results, what that did was trigger exactly what he said the sandbox, they open up a restricted, authorised deposit taking institution network or framework, so that it produced innovation, a very controlled pathway of innovation in the market, to bring more players in to bring more diversity and spread it out, bringing that FinTech side in a controlled way, it was an excellent policy. And that's exactly why we're in banking right now. Right now, we've just had the same that we had the Royal Commission into the aged care sector, which is obviously built for them, basically a service provided Bill form. So that was one of the first triggers. But everyone would have seen over the last year or two years now the problems with Opal towers, and all the dodgy construction work that's been done. apartment blocks been condemned people being put out on the street of Christmas, what they actually come back on, we've had a new commission into the sector. And right now we're seeing the regulatory framework tightening, but also, I think it's going to have their sandbox policy. So we have class two buildings that they're focused on just to keep it sort of streamlined approach across two buildings, basically, apartments, people living on top of each other, the Commissioner for New South Wales is going through and making a lot of noise, about investigations and new regulations for professionals in the sector. So it's, it's good, it's really good that best players are coming to the surface, the rubbish being weeded out. And it's exactly what we need. This is just the seed of planting an amazing acceleration in the built world to building quality, and everything, any bit of change any bit of innovation feeds on the others and sort of creates this system of change that that's needed. So take some timing right now. It's interesting.

Nick Gonios: 13:08

Well, that's cool. Are you seeing anything similar in other parts of the world, in terms of, you know, the intersection of sort of regulatory frameworks and standards, and the reimagining of the built world and how that could happen

Michael McElligott: 13:20

is huge. As far as the world is absolutely cranking right now, when it comes to sustainability, future focused development, the reshaping of the way societies view our living conditions from China, China's actually upgraded US National Construction Code to be in line with Passivhaus certification. So it's very, very focused on the building fabric and low energy, but they'll also included body carbon, which is amazing. Europe is just the the leader had been for years and and obviously, the Scandinavian countries the same, not just the way we build not just the sector, but it's the social outcomes that come from it and the innovation in housing, like CO housing, where the housing the elderly, with, with, like university students, and you get this amazing deepening of communities and deepening of societies. And it's just so much good work going out there.

Nick Gonios: 14:10

Yeah, yeah, it's actually it's interesting to start looking at material use and the longevity of it. And also, you know, there's a whole time horizon, I read remember meeting a study recently around, you know, looking at the construction sector, both in terms of its outward environment, but also the inward environment. So internal or interiors and external and structural dynamics and obviously place and play setting. You need to be looking it's quite multi dimensional and site complex in its layering. And you can't just sort of be quite flippant, so to speak and simplistic to say we're going to try and solve built world through the power of circularity or circular economy, you need to seriously look at each one of those different layers under a time horizon point of view. So I think that messaging market, it seems to not be resonating strongly enough locally and And most people want to be talking around circular economy. And you know, my views on circular economy version one and version two, right. And so version one being we seem to be dealing with the symptoms of the linear economy, which is waste to recycling right to repair extended product use as what the general sort of market wants to call and label circular economy. But, you know, our views with Circulus is very much version two, which is a complete reimagining of the operating model, and how all the different activism participants and stakeholders playing that going forward to eliminate waste recycling and right to repair as a feature of the system. Right? So when we speak that language, and then you think about the long slow moving nature of the built world, or some to stick myself where do we start with all of this to start demonstrate what we're talking about having said that, we must solve for version one thinking and execution because it's a negative externality of our current lived and built environment. Right, PM, I'm interested to get your views. We've had a couple of conversations about this in the past, but it'd be interesting get your views for our listeners and viewers around. You know that thinking I love

Michael McElligott: 16:08

the way you separate it and clarify that version one being closing the loop version, tubing, designing out the issues, and then it's a really nice clean way to educate the market, the known circular market like because when you're in the sector, you know where you stand. There's a few things Australia is a really unique sector when you come to this because if you look back, we've actually got the longest history of circular nature. We are actually pioneers when it comes to permaculture. So Bill Mollison, in the 70s created permaculture and permaculture, standard for permanent culture was started off with urban agriculture and then the homestead and then they built out so they got from 12 to 200 principles that depending on how deep you want to go in, and it was the first really all inclusive regenerative way of living, it's a global phenomenon, it's an amazing way to be, but where they fell short is they did not step into the industrialised sector of our economy. And so they said, there was a lot of theory on changing a GDP and taking off the importance for us to produce stuff to rate the economies. And it was all great thought leadership, they're very, extremely useful all the way up. And this is where circular economy actually has that grant. And that bias, where it's like, alright, this is where the money is, and this is how we're going to fix it. So that's what I like. But So Australia's long history, but we are also very slow. And the other thing to remember with circular economies, it still is only a transitional economy. And I don't think everyone even the strongest advocates for it. At the end of the day, we need to actually create a regenerative economy, which is totally taking off GDP and then going from a whole new metrics of, of how we build out this world. And, and we really need to take places as custodians for the planet. With that framework, you need total global coordination, which is something a guy, there's a really interesting article I think I showed you, Daniel Trachtenberg from the consilience project, talking about the three generator functions that are biggest issues. So when we talk about circular economy at the moment, yes, it's the next step. Yes, it's the most obvious step. But we've got to remember, it is actually only the very bare minimum, we need to not die. We are choking to death, choking this world. And the circular economy will just give us a baseline to build something better from and we've got about 15 years, I would say 1520 years of really changing the beauty of the circular economy as a gives it values change and transition to the big players and big corporates that then influence legislation and governments. And then this changes mindsets and communities. And that's the beauty of it. It's this real. It's a massive lever on what we need to change the world. And it's the best thing we've got coupled with industry. 4.0

Nick Gonios: 19:00

Yeah, no. So I wanted to share with you just a snippet of a quote from a report that was put together by Eric one of the leading sort of design engineering firms globally in September 2016, which was titled The circular economy in the built environment. They quoted in this centre, which is quite interesting with sort of natural resources are currently being consumed at twice the rate. They are produced by 2050. This could be three times which is unbelievable growth in the world's population, and in particular, its middle class, which will expand from two to 5 billion by 2030 2030. Right. Adding to existing demand for homes and services is putting unprecedented pressure on natural resources, competition for resources and disruptions to the supply are already contributing to volatile materials prices, creating uncertainty in the short term and increasing costs overall. And then you add to that into These challenges that we have with COVID. Right? I mean, it's a force and a point in time for us to seriously rethink the systems and the design processes and the management of our built world in a brand new way, how can we continue accepting these facts to continue, we just need to find ways to seriously reinvent, you know, the jobs that we do in the built world sector in across the board every single job and how it's related to how it's currently operating, which is predominantly focusing on price versus outcome and value. I mean, such a big question to talk through. And I'm just seriously intrigued to hear your thoughts and sort of comments around sort of that dimension around just looking at materials and resources and accepting the fact that they're not going to last

Michael McElligott: 20:50

forever, it's an obvious thing that needs to be addressed. And it's not one level is not one, one lever within government legislation is not just industry, a lot of thing I actually say is it actually comes down a lot to a person's pocket and what they, the dollar actually has to represent their values. And until people's dollars represent their values, and they're willing to talk with their pocket, then things aren't going to change. But what we do have is we have a few functions within the market that are coming together strongly that are helping shape this all in one. And a lot of that has to do with the impacts based on what's happening with the financial world and where they're investing. So at the moment with the screen out of negative things, but with the SDGs. And all the investment indicators coming in, and the popularity rising, we're getting money diverted to the right projects, you look at the supply chain of materials, and in the built world, you start with mining straight off the bat, yep, we're going to need these materials, we're going to need raw materials. But then you've got obviously the transportation and the embodied energy embodied carbon that's put into just producing these assets, not only the unsustainable nature of what the amount we're using, and the way we're using it, they're addressing things like mining heavy industry with green hydrogen and things for the fuels, we're lightening up on materials were before in the built world, we build everything, I've built buildings that are gonna last two 300 years, and we're gonna knock them down in 50 years. And it's just that we're changing the way we're new lightening it up within my lens of what I see within the built environment, I start with five principles and embody operational energy, embodied carbon, sustainable density, livability and affordability. And they deepen our as well, it's the low energy of the building to keep a running light and not a non renewable, but it's also the embodied carbon. So the amount of waste or concrete very heavy, obviously, we don't want to keep mining everything, we want to use as much timber as we can. And when you're talking about this, you don't want to shipping in from offshore for transport, energy and waste and pollution. But it's also we've got to look at the deepening of economies and keeping us a good quote yourself, Nick, and I can't quite remember it, it's, it's something like local and can't remember what you say you've got it, you've got to keep a light and keep it local or something like that. And I think that's a it's a brilliant way to things. So we got to develop our own manufacturing, onshore and close, just like your micro factory facilities, interlocking our cities a lot tighter and producing things locally, and keeping that supply chain clean all the way through. That's the way we're going to grow it out.

Nick Gonios: 23:18

Yeah, sort of leads into sort of the thinking around, you know, bringing the world to becoming more human centred, and sort of planet oriented. Right. So we've been talking about it, but for me how that how that manifests is sort of moving and shifting away from Mega factories and global supply chains, driven by price as the financial measure to now pushing out that centralised capability to a decentralised local city by city approach that actually create new jobs for the future in sort of ways that are interconnected with you know, man and machine robots and modern smart collar jobs, as we're calling them, that actually creates local value in local cities, right? We're seeing a growing early movement, I'd love it to become mainstream. It's our fundamental mission at Circulus. To see that become mainstream and the norm, right. So when we think about manufacturing as a term, we don't slap adjectives in front of it with regards to modern manufacturing, and advanced manufacturing, and all these other adjectives. And it just becomes an ability to sort of do things locally to deliver local value, right? So we seem to do that in Australia locally, but it's still very backache, I was gonna say dumb, it's very archaic and inefficient. And you know, there's a whole step change of power or even a paradigm shift for the local sector to take on and I'm talking about, I'm not talking about like developers and builders, I'm talking about sort of the oligopoly, or the small midsize operators that really need to step up and sort of reinvent who they are and what they do. And by doing that, taking in considering a brand new operating model or brand new business model and productizing what they do, so I'm quite vocal about that, as you know, and it's based on 30 years of experience in the software sector. I'd seen how that's been shaped and transitioned. to where it is now, what are some of the other things that you've been working on, you're busy with a few different sort of initiatives and ventures what tell us a bit about some of the other cool and exciting things that you're working on as well, that that sort of keeps you up at night,

Michael McElligott: 25:11

one of the other mayor's so we're in with Circulus, obviously, and then also with the sustainable digitalization project. And that's to do with the ethical and sustainable implementation of digitalization of the built environment. And this one gets me a lot because it's a whole of market approach. And it ties in all my loves of the Sustainable Development Goals, my connections and networking with the impact investors being able to connect industry and thought leadership across the world, our whole societies, and everything is played out within the built environment within the bow world. And so when you're looking at the sectors of, you know, buildings, mobility, communication, energy production, all these things have played out close. And as we move into industry 4.0, the ethical delivery of this needs to be really looked at, and no one is really addressing at a policy level. So you look at things like was Google through alphabet, we're doing Sidewalk Labs in Toronto, a multi multi billion dollar waterfront development, a collapse for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons was social capital. People were like, well, who's holding all this privacy, we're getting monitored, there's too much surveillance, this is everything. And it's the same that's happening in our major cities here in Australia. We're obviously behind the COVID smart cities, there's about 500 Smart Cities just in Asia being developed, right, our built out, and probably about 1000 in the world being implemented. Even though we are behind the curve, it might actually play out well for Australia once we get our policies right and, and our understanding is, with Auto V coming in, what's our smart infrastructure when it comes to traffic and how it's played out. The SDP is a thought leadership programme that are very strong behind so it's really market guiding stuff. Within smart group group, we're looking at sustainable developments within disability. So we're looking at class of house related disability group homes and working out the whole built environment side and consulting on a couple of different Circular Economy things. One of the exciting projects, we're just starting to work with Glenn Finn from SDG XA impact venture capitalist. They've got a globalised programme, or we're looking at starting a circular economy hub that joins the network's all the nodes of circular economy around the country, which is really exciting. Because the circular economy space has that really unique feature of wherever someone is there's a local issue that is more at the forefront of their mind than somewhere else. So on in South Australia with Jimin Choudry, with circular economy, Alliance, Australia doing amazing work tied in with the United Nations and green industries, South Australia Circulus, we've got here obviously, there's the New South Wales circular groups, they're doing this up in New South Wales coast, there's groups all sort of doing their own different thing when it comes to either material banks or, or what wicked problems they're sort of serving. So we're sort of looking at putting together a collaboration group, where we all come together and discuss and then pulling industry pulling, universities pulling, pulling everyone there that wants to really address this and act as a really larger system thinking network for the country.

Nick Gonios: 28:22

That's so good, that you're transversing all those different areas. And I just see that many more people like you to sort of go out and start sort of driving and instead of waiting, and so one of the important things for me is to, you know, one of the reason we started Circulus was very much around this epiphany that I had, which was there's too many people referencing the same case studies around the world. And it's like, we can't continue referencing 1020 3040 of the same case studies around the world, we should be working towards driving in creating more doors in the world that actually going to take that from 20 3040 to 2030 40,000 100,000 sort of examples, right to start building that momentum. And I think we're all coming together, it's to sort of make that sort of come about as an overarching movement and an approach and it's complex, it's going to take time. But that's the reality, you know, you and I know this is going to go beyond our lifetimes, right? As I say, quite openly, I'm quite stoic about it. So I just need to accept the fact that we're just on mission to sort of, you know, try and do as well as we can and do good wherever we can every day. So maybe just the last thing I wanted to talk about was actually, the whole area around when it comes to the built world, we seem to be gravitated towards existing new formations that are coming through in terms of new built world experiences. But the reality is, and I only learned this recently was that that's only 2% of construction on board, sort of, you know, buildings or sort of built world experiences that that come to life every year. And we seem to forget that there's 98%, a very, very high margin, a very, very high majority that is still existing that needs to be sorted for and dealt with. And when you think about impact, and think about leaving because we clearly need to go after the existing environments, you know, built world environments and experience to try and solve for, you know, circularity going forward, right. So when you think about that, how do you think about the fact that we need to basically deal with, you know, the large, if not the biggest challenge, which is rethinking out our existing environments?

Michael McElligott: 30:22

I think I've started talking to a good friend of mine, Mark Mumford is an excellent article. So I've asked him to help me map cities or create a framework where we're able to map cities about what they're missing within a framework that would help to deliver a circular economy. Circular Economy is a very hard thing to start, you need a systems approach to go because what you want in any situation is a flywheel effect. Well, if we put this here, that'll help there, that'll help there. And then you start moving, and then suddenly, you're turning and you're moving. What happens when you when you sit down and you know yourself, you're trying to crunch? Where do I start? What's the very first lever I pull, you actually become less of a flywheel and more of a hamster wheel you just got around a circus. But I need to do that, to do that, to do that, to do that. So one of the things I've sort of I'm leaning towards is the development of version one circular economy, supportive infrastructure. So when it comes to recycling sectors, into city recycling, making things a lot smaller, so you just want to, as you said, the built form, we've already got our capital cities, and they're the biggest wasters. But they're the biggest opportunities as well. So as that urban mining feel of how do we put one to 1020 little bits and pieces here are microfactory. They're a unique textiles, like block tech are doing, how do we do these little pilot projects that are enough to change one thing, though, I like to look at the way China does things when they change a policy from a communist totalitarian aspect. Rather than try and try and turn to the country, they'll go, okay, just this little city slash Province will just changed the functions on this. Let's just see how that goes. And if it works, we'll roll it out to the rest of the country. And I really think each city needs to do that. Okay, well, this suburb or this group of LGA is, we're going to look at a very extensive recycling programme, this data, you know, name your project, and start rolling these things out, start getting real data on the back of it projecting on and then that's where we get the layers of people that there is money sitting on the table, ready to go into these initiatives and projects to see the commercial value of the back of it to measure the impact against actual real measurable targets and indicators, like the Sustainable Development Goals, the Global Impact initiative network, you know, there are a platform, there's a PRI, GRI. There's hundreds of indicators that we can actually get real data for and say, Well, this was not only going to save the planet, it's going to drive jobs. And in a future of automation, this is something that we really need to look at deepening our economies, urban mining, urban agriculture, regenerative Ag, and sustainable density, bringing our cities in stop the urban sprawl, I can go on all day.

Nick Gonios: 32:57

I agree, I don't know you well enough to know that, like, on that note, you actually let's let's try and like you know, wrap up and you know, what you just share sort of ultimately seems like your your final thoughts, but we've had a great conversation, there's so much more to be done in the sectors and space overall, you and I are very sort of mission oriented, and missionaries per se trying to sort of execute on this journey and getting it happening and advocating and driving change. What are your final thoughts that you wanted to share with our listeners around your journey around where you're at and around where you're going?

Michael McElligott: 33:26

Maybe that's about me, but maybe more about where we are going as a society and our culture and the importance of everyone. As I said before, dig deep and find out what your values are, whatever you really believe in in yourself, vote with your dollar vote with your pocket, speak up, say support people reach out, share podcasts, support the people that are in the industry, doing the things that you love, and you believe in, it's only a click away. There's a quantum sort of process that Rupert Sheldrake is created, as worked on for the last 3040 years to illuminate is something that's a fourth in nature of how we learn. It's called morphic resonance. It's a way of if one of us learned if one of our projects or one of our communities learn something, for some reason, is quickly more adopted by the broader community. It's like the four minute mile, everyone thought the guy would die when you ran the four minute mile. And then the minute he ran it, the mind shifted. And suddenly 37 People ran it the next year or something, some fingers like this. So whatever you're passionate in, just do it, get it in the market, or support the people that are doing it. That's the biggest thing we can all do. And we'll get there.

Nick Gonios: 34:33

Michael, it's been such a great conversation, my friend. I really enjoyed it. And I hope to we speak again sometime soon in the near future as you progress, what you're doing with Smart Green Group and various other sort of initiatives that you're doing going forward. So, on that note, I'd like to thank you, Michael, for joining me on The Circulist Quest Podcast. It's been great learning more about your thinking about reshaping the construction sector and the Build world towards a circular and sustainable economy. For those of you who are interested in finding out more about Michael and keen to discuss any of the projects and initiatives he's focused on, you can check out his profile page on LinkedIn or visit Smart Green Group at At The Circulist Quest we're always interested in stories about entrepreneurs, designers, engineers and scientists who are helping to accelerate the shift to the circular economy. If you now have someone we just have to talk to will have any questions about the technology we're developing to help product manufacturers close the loop? Visit our website at or write to us at

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