Sandbags have been used since the 18th Century and we need an upgrade to meet the challenge of doubling flood rates expected across Europe by 2050. Greenhouse speaks to Simon Crowther, the innovator inspiring change by developing a lightweight, reusable and efficient alternative to help the one in six UK homes at risk from flooding.
What drives you?
In 2007 my family home was flooded. The upheaval, expense and stress caused was enormous and devastating. In 2012 a Water-Gate barrier, holding many advantages over traditional methods, kept our house free of flood water. The Water-Gate is portable, self-inflating and reusable. I am driven by improving our response to flooding to reduce the impact on people and the environment so that more people can benefit from flood defenses that actually work.
What is the campaign/innovation you are most proud of this year?
In 2014 we supplied Thames Water with around 800m Water-Gates for use as an alternative to sandbags and they proved effective but also required fewer people to deploy and manage, bringing huge cost benefits. We ran a PR campaign around this to promote their use instead of sandbags.
What are the key characteristics that inspire change?
Being bold, being disruptive and finding a niche challenge that your product can solve.
How is what you are doing inspiring change in others?
By using reusable products, we are inspiring change for reducing waste, improving efficiency and providing a product that is superior to the most widely used, existing alternative.
Who are your green business heroes?
Michael Farnsworth, the MD and founder of Stormsaver, is someone in the field that I highly respect. His talk on rainwater harvesting was inspiring and it is fascinating how he has created a business from his passion.
What excites you about the future and our progress towards a low carbon economy?
My dissertation was on the effect of sea level rise on the UK, and the future looks scary. With new technological advances we can promote a green and low carbon economy. Within the last 10 years we have seen a big shift in people towards recycling, walking and respecting the environment. I am excited about the rate of change and the number of companies delivering different ways we can all live a low carbon lifestyle.
Simon and Flood Protection Solutions were nominated for the Business Green Award in the category of Young Sustainability Executive of the Year.