The Balancing Act… What is Sustainability and What Does it Mean for Construction Projects?
“The ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
Since this 1992 Rio Earth Summit definition (The Bruntland Report) the concept of the triple bottom line has emerged – that is People, Profit and Planet. Sustainability is about getting the balance right.
You can’t have environmental management schemes at any cost. You can’t have profit at the expense of social equity. You can’t just cater to societal demands without considering the impacts on the environment and business.
Osborne cares about investing in and creating a Better Business, a Better Environment and a Better Society – with a balanced approach.
Understanding what sustainability is and what it means to Osborne must go hand in hand with what it means to our customers.
The fact that sustainability is gaining importance is demonstrated by the increased share in the overall bid score, sometimes as high as 15%. Questions are focussing on the social and environmental impacts of both our projects and our overall company performance. (a Better Business)
Our customers are demanding that the construction industry increase training and job opportunities via apprenticeships and graduate placements. There is also recognition that investing in a community leaves a positive legacy so commitment to locally sourced labour and products is essential.
Promoting the health and wellbeing of employees and supply chain extends beyond safe working. Mental health is a very real industry concern leading to increasing awareness and support through campaigns such as Mind’s “Time to Change”, behavioural change programmes and provision of dedicated helplines.
The recent introduction of the Modern Slavery Act requires companies to report the steps for ensuring that slavery and human trafficking are not taking place on our sites and in our subcontract and material supply chains. Customers are recognising the benefits of diversity and they expect us to demonstrate fairness, inclusion and respect (FIR) at every level of the supply chain. (A Better Society)
Our customers want to know we are using natural resources wisely and reducing impacts. How much water are we using in construction activities? Are we using materials with recycled content? Are we reducing transportation? Are we sourcing ethically?
Increasingly we have to demonstrate how we protect and enhance the natural environment. Are we making space for nature with homes for bats, birds, and various endangered species? Are we encouraging biodiversity through the seed mixtures that we sow? Inner-city boroughs are looking for green roofs and green walls as they are shown to have value in reducing air pollution, flooding, temperatures and noise, stress levels of occupants and increasing productivity. (A Better Environment).
There is an increasing legislative requirement to disclose non-financial corporate social responsibility performance for many of our customers. The challenge for the industry is to be agile and develop innovative approaches to balance those demands. The challenge for us is to align ourselves with our customers’ future requirements.
Sustainable development has enormous impacts on the industry, as our customers meet their own needs whilst protecting the needs of future generations and we meet our customers needs.