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Sustainability in 2019: Engagement, innovation and millennials

Paul King

The one thing companies can all agree on is the need for certainty, and that is the one thing that most do not expect to have going into 2019.

Sustainability is about taking the long-term view, and with so many short-term obstacles on the horizon it might be tempting to put off worrying about anything else. But that would be a mistake.

For starters, the forthcoming overhaul of Building Regulations is long overdue in terms of closing the gap between the intended and actual performance of buildings. While many in the industry are at risk of thinking carbon reduction was yesteryear’s agenda, the reality is we are only just beginning to deal with a challenge that gets greater every year we put off effective action. 

The first month of 2019 will be the first anniversary of Carillion’s collapse, a company thought too big to fail.

Perhaps the biggest sustainability challenge some will face in 2019 is simply to survive; that is, to retain their licence to operate in an increasingly sceptical world.

The industry needs to take the lead in rebuilding public trust. It needs to get on the front foot to ensure that the highest levels of safety, quality and sustainability are hallmarks of its everyday activity, not optional extras that can be value engineered out. 

Better engagement sought

Construction is going to have to work much harder to recruit and train a local workforce and to succeed it will need to appeal to a broader spectrum of people, men and women, of all ages. It needs to close the gender gap and embrace the benefits diversity will bring.

Construction will change more in the next 10 years than it has over the last 100, and that challenge presents exciting opportunities to innovate, and to embrace new technologies that will make it more accessible and more attractive to more people. 

A sustainable construction industry is, by definition, one that has a long-term future, that will appeal to the next generation and represent a career choice for young people that parents can be proud of.

“Construction will change more in the next 10 years than it has over the last 100, and that challenge presents exciting opportunities to innovate”

Young people increasingly look for an employer who can offer them a sense of purpose.

According to a report published by PwC this year, 88 per cent of millennials want to work for a company whose values reflect their own, and they will comprise 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025. 

And, as we step into the inevitable uncertainty that 2019 will bring, it’s never been more important for us to listen to our customers and the local communities within which we operate, and to invest more effort in building mutual understanding and trust.

Paul King is managing director of sustainability & external affairs at Lendlease – Europe

Readers' comments (1)

  • The uncertainty might always be there, but we need to move forward with developing more ambitious plans within constructions. 'Sustainable construction' however, is more dependent on the clients. As long as we don't see a shift in thinking and drive for innovation, we will struggle to create a more sustainable industry.

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