Case Study: Carillion

By establishing a 'Sustainability Committee', Carillion is able to examine and identify how and where it can set new targets for sustainability.

Carillion is one of the UK’s leading support services and construction companies, with an annual turnover of £2bn and around 14,000 employees.

Carillion puts sustainability at the heart of its business strategy, allowing it to meet the balance between the opportunities presented by economic growth and progress, and the pressures on business to protect the natural environment and promote social equity.

The company’s Sustainability Committee comprises one Executive Board director, senior executives and managers, and two independent external advisors. Chaired and led by the company’s non-executive chairman, the Committee sets strategy and targets such as ‘investigate the feasibility of a zero waste strategy for Carillion’. It also monitors the company’s performance and oversees the publication of annual sustainability reports. While the Committee provides strategic direction, the agenda is informed by a separate Operations Group made up of representatives from throughout the company, which acts as the ‘engine room’ for the delivery of the sustainability strategy. The Group also identifies how and where the company can set targets for sustainability.

Under the Committee’s leadership a sustainability policy is in place, approved by the Board, which includes the statement ‘turn our vision into reality by embedding sustainability into everything we do’.

A ‘Sun’ diagram helps communicate company wide priorities as part of the process to develop a sustainable strategy. The ‘Sun’ depicts how the company’s specific impacts relate to the Government’s four objectives for sustainable development: social progress, protection of the environment, prudent use of natural resources and economic growth and prosperity. Carillion’s model takes the vision of the ‘Sun’ and turns it into reality. It demonstrates business benefit and alignment with and delivery of corporate objectives.

Carillion’s Strategy Model is enhanced with first-hand experience gained in implementing its own projects. For example, Carillion led the consortium that constructed the new Government communications headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham. Carillion initiated a series of sustainability action plans for each aspect of the project, delivering more than the tender specification requirements. These plans covered energy and water use as well as the social impact of the project which included control of site activities to minimise nuisance, a local employment office and communication with local residents. The careful planning of transport of materials led to a saving of around 200,000 lorry miles, equivalent to 300 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions, and waste recycling achieved 48 per cent by weight of all waste.

The Cheltenham headquarters was voted the public-private partnership project of the year in 2002 and won the British Safety Council’s top industrial award.

Carillion’s approach to sustainability was also independently assessed as part of the Business in the Community awards for excellence in 2003. The judges’ selection criteria focus was on the quality of management and evidence of impact. They noted that the company’s move towards sustainability had facilitated greater innovation, enhanced individual and corporate responsibility, and improved product delivery in its construction, maintenance and service activities. Carillion received the top award for responsible business practice and was voted Company of the Year.


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