Meet Dr Joe Cairns, one of Parity Projects’ data analysts. As an analyst, Joe helps registered providers manage complex housing data, investment scenario modelling, retrofit strategies, and day-to-day support.
A shift in Focus
Joe joined Parity Projects as a Portfolio energy analyst in 2022 after completing his PhD in Astrophysics at Imperial College London. He was looking for a role doing something that made a real difference. While living in Wimbledon for four years, during his time studying, Joe’s interests significantly changed, and the value of the environment and caring for local wildlife had become high up on his agenda. So, having moved back to a more rural area in the South West, near to where he grew up, Joe started to look for a job that combined his new passions with his experience, which primarily focused on data analysis and computer programming, which is why the opportunity at Parity was such a perfect fit.
Embracing Environmental Values
“I think growing up I’d taken for granted how vital it is to have a strong link to nature for your mental health and wellbeing. Over the four years studying for my PhD, my main passions really shifted from Astronomy and Astrophysics (which I do still love) to sustainability, the environment and the climate crisis. I made lots of lifestyle changes to try and reconnect not just with nature but with the local community as well, but knew that a move out of London, back to a more rural area, was much better suited to my needs.”
Joining Parity Projects
“Parity gave me the opportunity to combine my passion for sustainability and the environment with the aspects of my PhD that I enjoyed the most (namely computer programming and data analysis), and it has been really rewarding. It’s fulfilling to be able to spend the week doing something that you genuinely enjoy, and then to think that the work you’ve been doing will actively make a difference in improving someone’s quality of life and/or addressing the climate crisis. The work is also really diverse – in a given week it could be helping a client develop their retrofit strategy, updating the building characteristics in the underlying data for an organisation, or updating our in-house codes to make the work of the other analysts easier or more efficient, so that keeps things really interesting.”
A rewarding and Diverse Role
“If I had any nerves about making the shift to a completely new field, it was completely dispelled in my first week at Parity. Everyone is exceedingly kind and welcoming, and it has been fantastic to work with a group of people with such a diverse set of interests, but all with a common passion to do something to address the climate crisis. My clients have also been fantastic – really friendly, and they clearly have a genuine passion to improve both the quality of life for those in need of their social housing, and the energy efficiency of their stock.”
The Urgent Need for Climate Action
“It’s undeniable now that we need to stop our reliance on fossil fuels and rapidly transition towards renewable alternatives, and the domestic housing sector clearly has a significant part to play in that. There is certainly cause for optimism within the sector but I am worried about the future – about whether Net Zero by 2050 is even rapid enough to limit global temperature rises, about whether the current government is serious enough to meet its own climate targets, about the shortage of support and skills required to significantly improve the energy efficiency of the domestic housing stock in the UK, and about the mixed messaging and lack of understanding in the media that leads to complacency and doubt on the part of consumers. I think there is generally an appetite for change – I’ve certainly made significant changes in my own life to limit my environmental impact, and I’ve seen friends, family and colleagues doing the same – but I would like to see the UK government taking the climate crisis more seriously, and to implement some urgent changes to get us to Net Zero by 2050.”