What are our clients’ top sustainability drivers?

Annabel Clark
Beyond time, cost, and quality - sustainable development requires a collaborative and long-term outlook by society that integrates social, economic, and environmental value.

Many of the aspects that influence a company’s performance and profitability— energy costs and availability, supply chain impact and resilience, regulation compliance and public reputation, among many others, are changing rapidly. All businesses must adapt to these systemic challenges and societal responses. This means it is critical to embed sustainable decision-making to enable effective operation and transparent communication.

 

Our clients set the vision of a project and drive decision-making. Therefore, arguably the most important factor behind sustainable design is clients specifying sustainability properly. There are some key sustainability drivers in the market:

1. Regulatory compliance

The increased awareness of sustainability has led to the development of laws and regulations. This has also led to increased pressure on the transparency of information and the open disclosure of sustainability information.

2. Clients and Investors demand it

Growing numbers of investors are pursuing sustainable investment. It is understood that sustainable companies are better positioned for environmental, economic, and social change that our world is facing, and are better prepared to maintain their growth and financial returns over the long term.   Therefore, it is increasingly important to meet client expectations and align on sustainability aspirations for tenders and contract bids.

3. Cost savings from a reduction in the use of resources

Clients can reduce resource use and realise cost savings through embedding sustainability principles to reduce energy use and reduce waste. A proxy for sustainability is efficiency – driving better, faster, and greener delivery. Clear outcome-based specifications facilitate innovative, cost-effective solutions, ensuring there is a major focus on social value and sustainability.

Increasing costs in estate management are leading our clients to consider whole life cost rather than capital cost expenditure. This has resulted in a focus on better asset management, standardisation, Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), and innovation. This has resulted in a shift in our clients asking for value through economic, environmental, and social metrics.

4. Reputational benefits

Communicating on sustainability is a key aspect of reputation management. Client’s sustainability agendas strive to stay relevant, transparent and ethical - three critical elements for reputational and financial success. Public perception is vital and so is the importance of integrity and ‘doing the right thing’ (e.g. not greenwashing).

5. Improved efficiency and increased productivity

Clients are increasingly focused on ensuring employee satisfaction to improve efficiency and productivity. Health and wellbeing is an important factor in providing an optimised environment that supports learning and development. In a sustainable building, the consideration of human-centric factors such as thermal comfort, daylighting, air quality, ventilation, green spaces and biophilia are important in making a good working environment, where individuals are happy and can be productive.

6. Reducing risk

It is understood that better management of risks that arise from sustainability issues begins with detecting key risks of operational disruptions from climate change, resource scarcity, or community issues. This also includes reputational risks linked to investment in projects with damaging consequences, financial performance risks from volatile energy prices or compliance risks triggered by carbon regulations.

7. Recruitment and staff retention

Employees expect to be able to match their values to the company that they work for. Individuals are demanding greater sustainability and social responsibility through positive impact from their business leaders. The companies that can deliver on these sustainability commitments and make a difference are benefitting from greater staff engagement, loyalty, and retention.

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