Climate Change adaptation- Sustainability is essential and makes business sense!

Increased temperatures will pressure crop resilience creating a modal shift to cities, urban heat island effects, population increases, flooding, air pollution, and congestion which put a strain on wider economic and social problems such as affordable living. I believe that policy and strategy drivers are essential for sustainable living. Implementing plans on areas such as biodiversity and energy alongside the use of smarter digital solutions is required to ensure cities and towns are resilient against pressures of climate change. 

There is much demand to implement the circular economy concept and move from our current linear economy (make–use–dispose) towards one where our products, and the materials they contain, are valued differently; creating a more robust economy especially with pressures on resource scarcity and extraction of fossil fuels. Strong government strategies to drive the sustainable agenda are essential. Crossrail is at the forefront of one, with stringent industry environmental best practice required by the Crossrail Act 2008 alongside legally binding Environmental Minimum Requirements (EMR). These have driven performance, as well as legal compliance.

Sustainability governance and performance assurance  

Before joining Temple Group, I was the EMS and Performance Manager for Crossrail, working in the client team from October 2011. Crossrail was an exciting and ambitious project to work on and my role consisted of collaborative working with Tier 1 contractors. It was clear throughout Crossrail that by going beyond legal compliance, environmental best practice is promoted and helps to drive innovative solutions. 

Reducing the environmental impacts of Crossrail was the principal purpose of the EMR, which were recognised as environmental best practice. Performance assurance reviews were successful in driving improved environmental performance from EMR compliance to world-class in a number of instances. 

Construction Environment Management 

It is important that sustainability principles are embedded throughout an organisation/project to contribute to long term challenges. In order to demonstrate that environment management is at the forefront of construction, such commodities could include the implementation of a robust Environment Management System and associated environment and waste/resource  plans which are continually updated to reflect risks on site, community engagement plans, embedding training awareness programmes, ongoing construction monitoring such as air quality, noise and ecology and the use of sustainability tools such as BREEAM/CEEQUAL, carbon footprinting. 

Measurement of best practice  

I believe that stringent requirements and a robust methodology to measure performance are essential in increasing sustainable performance. At Crossrail, there was an evolving correlation between contractors who were demonstrating strong sustainability performance and those who were also innovative in their approach. 

It is essential that leadership are bought into environment and sustainability policies and that all interested parties critical to the success during delivery are fully integrated and collaborative to warrant a joined up approach. Innovation is also important across the supply chain to increase environmental performance by identifying approaches and materials which will help reduce costs and environmental impacts. 

Sustainability makes good business sense 

Sustainability principles as well as being morally important also make business sense. An article in the IEMA publication “The Environmentalist” in July 2015 illustrated that sustainable businesses are continually reviewing processes and situations and have regular periods of innovation and change. Due to such changes, sustainable businesses are going beyond environment compliance undergoing transformational change. 

Rhian Locke, Principal Consultant, Temple Group

Temple Group comprises leading environment, ecology, planning and sustainability expertise which have delivered specialists advice to infrastructure and development clients. Such clients include High Speed 2 Limited (phase 1 and 2), Crossrail 2, Northern Line Extension and London Overground Capacity Improvement Programme to name but a few. We have assisted clients in both pre-consent and post consent situations by providing advice and expertise on suitability performance of scheme design options and development of Appraisals of Sustainability reports as well as support and monitoring throughout construction management. 

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