Sarah Lee

Senior Associate Architect

Sarah is the current RIBA South West Chair and the Founder of Future Plymouth 2030. Using her position as a designer and industry leader, she has become an influential advocate for urgent action to reduce carbon in the built environment and construction industry, promoting opportunities for learning, upskilling, collaboration and empowerment.

Sarah is currently busy leading Stride Treglown’s own Net Zero Carbon and Passivhaus strategy. She is on the Low Carbon Devon Steering Group and has recently also become a Non-Executive Director of PEC-R (Plymouth Energy Community-Renewables).

And if that wasn’t enough, she is also an active member of both SWWIC and Building Plymouth, and assists with mentoring both school work experience and university students.

What is your favourite project you’ve worked on to date?

Developing the Future Plymouth 2030 initiative has enabled me to provide a learning and sharing platform with a local emphasis to help inspire and educate anyone that will engage about the opportunities for carbon reduction in the built environment and construction industry. This is achieved by inviting speakers from different backgrounds or professions to talk about their experience, knowledge or project on a similar topic at each webinar to help raise awareness and understanding about different areas where this can be achieved. This is helping to upskill and educate many people in the opportunities available to us and the need to act more quickly in our efforts to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2030.

Do you have a proud moment?

My initial idea for Future Plymouth 2030 – a one-off local conference to raise awareness of the Climate Emergency’s impact of the construction industry in collaboration with the local university and council – developed into a regular webinar series due to Covid lockdowns, and has now been extended into a rolling annual programme of events! It has been nominated for several local and regional awards, and recognised and discussed nationally by the RIBA. I have been invited to many events and on to boards of sustainability focussed organisations because of it, and it has even resulted in my recent shortlisting as AJ100 Awards Sustainability Champion of the Year 2022!

Who is your career influence?

We moved house quite a lot when I was growing up and my parents have never been scared of drastically altering properties – my mum is very creative and had the vision, my dad was the extreme DIYer to deliver the vision!

Because of that experience and an early appreciation of how spaces can be improved and inspirational, I decided that I wanted to be an architect when I was only eight years old and I stuck with that thought, tailoring my educational pathway to suit. The more I found out about the career and what it involved, the more I realised that it was for me, and to this day I still enjoy the diversity and the challenge of the job, supporting clients to get the building that they need, to suit the purpose or requirement in a beautiful and inspirational way.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.

I take part in pilot gig rowing regularly all year round; a type of rowing in large, beautiful traditional timber clinker built fixed seat boats unique to the South West. I do it to keep fit and strong, both mentally and physically, and it offers a great antidote to the sedentary nature of working in an office or in front of a computer. It’s a great team sport that connects you with nature and couldn’t make you feel more alive! The annual World Championships held down in the Isles of Scilly are my highlight of the gig racing year which I have been to twelve times now.

Industry Bodies:
  • RIBA South West Chair
  • Founding Member of Future Plymouth 2030
  • Low Carbon Devon Steering Group
  • Non-Exec Director of PEC-Renewables
  • Member of South West Women in Construction (SWWIC)
  • Member of Building Plymouth
  • Former co-chair of the RIBA Plymouth Branch (shared with Nicholas Morris)
  • AJ100 Sustainability Champion 2022 – shortlisted
  • UKCW Role Model 2022
  • Insider South West Property Power 50
  • West Country Women 2022 – Women in Construction & Property – nominated

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