Blogs & Thoughts

Squaring the Triangle

Now and again a phrase goes in one ear and, rather than going out the other, it gets stuck and becomes a go-to phrase to be repeated often.

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  • Date 2 February 2022
  • Author Chris Carr

Sustainability. There. I’ve said it. Today’s topic is the same as yesterday’s topic is the same as tomorrow’s topic. At least until 2045 in Scotland and 2050 in the rest of the UK …

Last week, I attended a webinar on ESG – Environmental, Social, and Governance – co-sponsored by BCO and ARUP. It was on the theme of “ESG: from strategy to reality”. With 300 people watching online and another 50 perched on ‘Hellerup’ seating in one of Arup’s offices, sustainability and ESG strategy is obviously an area of interest and a mere hour barely allowed the surface to be scratched.

As sustainability and ESG becomes more central to discussions (not only regarding workspace but regarding every walk of life), I’ve often used the phrase: “finance and sustainability are two sides of the same coin.” I don’t know who said it first; though, it definitely wasn’t me.

The key takeaway and soundbite came from the mouth of Nils Rage, Head of ESG at Stanhope PLC.  It was (and here I think I am directly quoting him) that the “Cost-Quality-Programme” triangle has now become a square with Carbon as the 4th vertex. Now, that square need not be a perfect quadrilateral; but then again, in reality the triangle is rarely equilateral either.

As we are all only too aware, implied in the C-Q-P triangle is a certain amount of tension in project delivery. Adding another vertex is only going to increase the amount of tension, and there may be some clients for whom the addition of the new Carbon vertex is very much a step into the unknown. What was clear from the speakers is that the construction industry will lead, with clients needing education (as part of an ongoing process for us all).

Apart from the above soundbite, was there anything else we learned from this webinar on ESG strategy?

ARUP discussed the ESG journey from the strategy world to the delivery world, involving stops along the way at buy-in, accountability, evaluation and feedback. Lendlease promoted clarity from the outset and encouraged sustainability consultants to be part of every project. Nils also gave examples of where projects have delivered on social value benefits through engaging with communities to understand local needs.

This will not be the last ESG webinar, but it’s good to see that experiences are being shared. We’re all on this journey together.

Keep an eye out for the webinar on the BCO YouTube channel.