The wood for the trees
This is a guest blog by Zoe Le Grand, Senior Sustainability Advisor at Forum for the Future.
It can be easy to forget the intended outcomes of a project, when you’re focussed on delivering it within a short time table to a tight budget. Construction projects in particular see budgets getting more and more squeezed, and time tables can be thrown out by anything from a snowy day to a great crested-newt.
Those working in the built environment industry know these pressures all too well, and yet it is the outcomes of their projects specifically that offer a unique opportunity to deliver real change. The buildings we live in and the infrastructure that we use have a huge impact on the way in which we live our lives. If you look at the bigger picture, it's clear that the people working in the industry are not just providing a hospital or school (on time and to budget). In fact, they’re contributing to improved patient recovery rates, higher educational attainment, a more mobile population and, ultimately enabling more sustainable living.
That was the message that 35 built environment professionals heard at a recent Forum event in east London. Trying to maintain that focus on the wider purpose of the project can be hard, but bringing the client and the rest of the supply chain together at the very start of the project can really help the whole team to work together. And as Jon de Souza from Constructing Excellence pointed out, it can save time and money too. Aaron Reid and Helen Jones from Carillion talked about the inspiring work they’re doing by not only providing a school building, but also working with the kids to help to raise their aspirations. They found that when you embed sustainability throughout your operations - for example by ensuring that all projects have carbon reduction plans and working with the supply chain - the outcomes can be better for everyone. Polly Turton from Arup also provided a timely reminder that anything built now needs to be flexible, adaptable and efficient, not just for today’s conditions but also for the next 20-40 years.
Building the cities, towns and infrastructure of the future is a great opportunity but also a great responsibility. By looking beyond the boundaries and immediate pressures of the construction project, and focussing on the shared outcomes, we stand a much better chance of helping people to live happier, healthier and more sustainable lives.
Add your response below to discuss this story or start a related discussion thread using our forum rooms