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Bankers Without Boundaries Talk Series: II

Laudes Foundation Built Environment: How are we tackling the beast?

Image credit: PLP Architecture in collaboration with Cambridge University, Provost and Smith & Wallwork

BwB’s Jennifer Faust and Rufus Grantham hosted the latest of BwB Talk Series, where we bring innovative leaders in impact and the environment to speak to our network around the world. Last week, we welcomed James Drinkwater, Head of Built Environment at Laudes Foundation. James provoked an engaging exchange of ideas and experience during his talk, entitled ‘Laudes Foundation Built Environment: How are we tackling the beast?’.

The three main takeaways from this talk were:

  • The opportunity to decarbonise is significant but financial innovation must address four major challenges: carbon emissions and a stagnant industry; raw material extraction and waste creation; the drive for profit making; and incrementalism. Laudes approaches this by promoting circular design and bio-based materials to reduce embodied carbon, to deliver a transformative shift towards negative emissions. James also highlighted the need to embed social outcomes into built-environment development. BwB added the importance of interaction with strategic investors to understand risks and return, and the need for more pilots.

  • Accelerating Europe’s timber construction transformation could deliver a sea change towards net-zero targets, though collaboration between ‘Big 6’ stakeholders, developers, investors, designers, asset-owners, insurers, and cities will be necessary. This can be done by connecting and enabling and amplifying pioneering stakeholders from the ‘Big 6’ to influence the wider industry. This is particularly important on the buy-side, within developer-investor relationships. BwB highlighted relevant previous work such as advising on KPI bonds, discussing structures of size and scale that exist in the built environment space and what opportunities there are for growth.

  • Consortium projects, working alongside relevant stakeholders, are an excellent way to test innovative solutions and provide proof-of-concepts. We have seen this first-hand working alongside Laudes in two construction projects, utilising bio-based materials, and circular design, in two major European cities. We are driving bankability through tailored project preparation using our City Finance Framework and BwB Deal Engine; developing customised financial models; and identifying untapped value streams. The challenge of deploying enough capital to generate significant progress in the built environment was raised. BwB drew comparisons to work we are doing on sovereign debt with countries around the world, integrating nature and climate outcomes into the vast issuance that is going to take place over the next 18 months.

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Bankers without Boundaries, an innovator in finance, is a not for profit powered by former investment bankers to assist high impact projects that benefit the environment and social good. BwB works with local and sub- and national governments, cities, institutions, and foundations to provide advisory and research services to mobilise capital. BwB applies financial concepts and structuring to public projects to align them with the investment needs of capital markets, thinking about risk reduction, scaling and generation of financial returns alongside broader positive co-benefits and impacts. To learn more about Bankers without Boundaries and our work visit

Launched in 2020, the Laudes Foundation aims to challenge and inspire industry to harness its power for good. As part of the Brenninkmeijer family enterprise, they build on six generations of entrepreneurship and philanthropy and stand alongside the COFRA businesses and the family’s other private philanthropic activities. Laudes Foundation is joining the growing movement to accelerate a transition to climate-positive and inclusive economy. They envision global markets that value all people and respect nature and an economy in which industries uplift all who participate in them, and regenerate and restore nature as a fundamental part of what they do. To learn more about Laudes Foundation and their work visit


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