Huw Davies, head of ESG at commercial property consultancy Jones Hargreaves, on his top book and album recommendations, the celebrity he’d most like to meet and his number-one travel destination.

Huw Davies headshot

Huw Davies

How did you join the property industry?

Before joining Jones Hargreaves, I held senior positions at Transport for Wales and Amey Consulting, working on major transport and built environment infrastructure programmes. A large part of the work was often reactive and, as a chartered environmentalist, I wanted to adopt a more proactive approach to managing environmental risk and embedding sustainability.

The chance to focus on commercial property was an opportunity to really put this into practice and be able to make a difference.

What does your job entail?

No two days are the same as I liaise regularly with a range of commercial property sector clients about all aspects of environmental, social and governance (ESG). My remit includes undertaking ESG due diligence surveys and assessments, implementing sustainable design principles in projects and advising on governance and regulatory changes.

What do you like most about the property industry?

It is dynamic and fast-paced. It provides a constant challenge but also an opportunity to effect positive and meaningful change in the way we manage our energy consumption, reduce carbon emissions and deliver social value.

What do you dislike the most about it?

Sometimes there can be a mentality of ‘we have always done it this way’, which can slow progress. Thankfully, this approach is rare and most clients see the value in breaking the mould and embracing the change required to adopt ESG as a means of future-proofing.

What would you change about the property industry?

The idea that it is easier or most cost-effective to demolish and rebuild. The embodied carbon emissions from demolition and rebuilding will more often be higher than through retrofitting. There are exciting and interesting ways to repurpose and retrofit older buildings, which I would like to see used more extensively. Advances in technology mean we have more options than ever before to look at innovative solutions for reducing energy demand and emissions associated with older buildings.

What barriers/challenges have you overcome?

The implementation of ESG across the sector is too disjointed. We have overcome the challenge of disjointed frameworks by striving for consistency in all the work we do. At Jones Hargreaves, we invest lots of energy and time researching the application of ESG and understanding all areas of complex governance changes and interpreting this for our wide client base.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Establishing the ESG team at Jones Hargreaves in 2022 has been a big highlight for me for several reasons. Having the opportunity to lead the development of an area of the business to be focused on ESG and sustainability has been great.

What advice would you give somebody starting in the industry?

Be open to giving different aspects of the sector a go. It is important to be able to interpret complicated processes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge yourself.


Something to read: 

A favourite book of mine is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It retells the history of our species from a completely fresh perspective. I like to be challenged in my way of thinking and this book does just that. It is really thought-provoking.

Something to listen to:

Led Zeppelin IV, an album I borrowed from my dad’s collection as a boy and listened to time and time again, was my introduction to music. Ever since that moment, any number of Zeppelin tracks have been a fixture of my playlists. It also inspired me to start playing the drums – a hobby I still enjoy when I can.

The celebrity I’d most like to meet: 

The celebrity I would most like to spend an hour with is Feargal Sharkey, lead vocalist of The Undertones. I am a big fan of his music and I also admire his recent campaigns to expose the plight of our rivers in the UK being affected by pollution. It would be fascinating to hear his insight into and ambitions for the future of our natural world. 

Top travel destination: 

My number-one travel destination is New Zealand. I travelled there in 2008 for four weeks and would really like to return again soon. It has everything for me from a love of sport (rugby), a great way of life and outdoor culture. Geographically, it is a bigger (and often warmer) version of my native Wales, which makes it feel like home, too.