March 21, 2022

People of Kids Under Cover – Derek Layfield

Derek Layfield is Managing Director of Ortech Industries and has enjoyed a productive relationship with Kids Under Cover for more than 25 years. Ortech produce the sustainable materials that our studios are made from and Derek understands the importance of providing stable, secure and comfortable homes for the young people who need them.

What drives you to have supported Kids Under Cover for such a long time?

We’re all touched in some way by family issues. At some level, we’ve all experienced it. And Kids Under Cover is doing all the right things for all the right reasons and delivering really good outcomes. I strongly believe these studios offer a real way of improving family life and helping the kids. They’ve got their space and they feel valued. This is the thing. The kids aren’t going into some sort of institution. They feel like they’re valued because they’re receiving a good quality building that feels secure. They know it’s strong and it feels good. I think that’s really important.

What makes your product the world’s most sustainable building material?

Let’s start with the raw materials. After a wheat harvest, you’re left with the straw stubble in the paddock. This is usually burned releasing carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. It’s a huge issue. Rather than burn the straw, we take it out of the paddock, pay the farmer then put the straw through our machine to produce the Durra Panel that goes into the studios. Every square meter of that studio is storing that carbon and locking it away rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. That’s a massive plus for the environment.

On top of that, those studios can be repurposed time and time again. They go to a family in need and once they’ve fulfilled their purpose they can be relocated. And at the end of the useful life of the panel, it can be shredded and returned to earth safely to help grow more food.

What’s it like to live in a studio made from Durra Panel?

Human beings like to connect with nature. It always feels good to walk through a forest. Or into a nice timber lined building. It’s surrounded by nature. So to be surrounded by a straw panel…it feels good. I can’t describe it. It feels strong, it feels comfortable. It feels like a really comfortable internal environment. That’s why architects want to use natural materials.

Why do you think Kids Under Cover has stuck with this sustainable building material for so long?

It’s part of what sets Kids Under Cover apart from a lot of other organisations. It’s smart. It’s a win win. They’ve made a choice to minimise the environmental impact with everything they’re doing in their buildings. If you can use an otherwise wasted resource… I mean how nice is that? It’s cradle to cradle. It comes out of the earth and gets returned to the earth. It’s a beautiful thing.