Carillion surpasses carbon goal five years early

UK construction firm Carillion is "working hard" to set science-based targets for their sustainability programme, after the firm's latest sustainability report revealed that a carbon reduction target has been surpassed five years ahead of schedule.

The company set out its Sustainability 2020 programme in 2011, and the 2016 iteration of the report, released on Tuesday (16 May), revealed that numerous targets have either been met or are nearing completion.

Carillion, recently named as a climate leader by CDP for the third successive year, revealed that it surpassed a goal to reduce its carbon footprint by a third against a 2011 baseline. The company recorded a 3% decline in carbon emissions compared to 2015, bring the total reduction to 34%.

“A sustainable approach to operations is business-critical and the only way we can achieve profitable, long-term growth. Safety and investing in our people will always take precedence, but we are also creating and supporting a smart, efficient built environment through innovation and responsible business,” Carillion’s chief executive Richard Howson said.

Carillion is closing in on an international zero-waste to landfill status, having cut waste by 3.3% in 2016. However, business expansion in the Middle East, which has poor recycling infrastructure, meant that waste diverted from landfill levels currently sit at 95%.

Water is another area where Carillion made progress and experienced issues relating to business growth. Water consumption across all operations has been reduced by 37% since 2011, exceeding the target by almost 10% in 2016. However, water use in Carillion’s office estate was only reduced by 1% due to a higher number of people interacting with the buildings and the “phasing in” of new water systems.

Carillion surged past a 20% reduction goal for electricity consumption in offices, with current reductions sitting at 70%. A 20% gas consumption reduction is also in sight, with Carillion reducing gas use by 16% since 2011. The company is also operating with a 100% compliance to the ISO 14001 international standard in the UK, Middle East, North Africa and Canada.

Built to last

With the built environment sector responsible for around a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, Carillion is striving to extend its sustainability push to suppliers and working partnerships. Almost half (44%) of contracts have been audited for an effective implementation of a Carbon Reduction Plan; well above the 33% target that was set in 2011. The company is close to sourcing 100% of timber to meet Forest Stewardship Council or equivalent standards, and is just 5% short of this goal.

BREEAM and LEED Gold accreditations have been achieved across more than 200 international contracts and managers have been recruited to maintain 100% green energy deals across Carillion’s UK estate.

Carillion is also promoting cycling and car sharing amongst its workers, and fleet vehicles that emit below 75g of CO2 per kilometre are now being prioritised. In total, Carillion has 251 hybrid vehicles in operation in the UK.

A biodiversity risk assessment is mandatory on all contracts, with Carillion planting 1.5bn trees in Canada since 1985. The company is working with the UK Wildlife Trust to promote biodiversity amongst the communities it works in.

Future endeavours

Carillion’s previous sustainability report revealed that the firm had added an additional £33.8m to its overall profits thanks to an increased focus on sustainable business practices. As of 2016, this contribution has reached more than £36m. The company is now focusing on new ways to enhance its sustainability practices further.

“Sustainability continues to make a real contribution to our profit and competitiveness; the 2016 net contribution of £36.1m was again externally verified to demonstrate a clear business case for sustainability,” Carillion’s finance director Zafar Khan said.

One area that Carillion will explore in the future is the prospect of science-based targets, to align Carillion’s CSR efforts with the goals of the Paris Agreement and account for scope 3 emissions. Carillion is already encouraging suppliers to use the Greenhouse Gas Protocol as a standard.

Carillion at edie Live

Carillion’s chief sustainability officer David Picton explores how businesses can adapt to the increasing challenges of demographic and social change at a time when populations are continuing to rise and people in all regions are living longer as part of edie’s Megatrends series.

The series will culminate with a high-level discussion focused on megatrends at the Strategy and Innovation conference at edie Live 2017 at the NEC Birmingham on 24 May. Carillion’s chief engineer Euan Burns will also be speaking on day 2 on the Strategy and Innovation stage.

Find out more about edie Live 2017 and get your free two-day pass here

Matt Mace

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