When Claire Hodgson talks about sustainability, and climate change, she talks with passion. It’s a topic that is close to her heart and as Arcadis Australia’s newly appointed Sustainability Representative for the Arcadis Global Sustainability Team she’s well positioned to make a difference in this space. We asked Claire about the work that Arcadis is doing on sustainability.
What do we mean when we say 'sustainability'?
It’s a complex topic and can be difficult to define. The Brundtland Commission Report is often quoted, it defines sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. For Arcadis, sustainability is about striving to improve quality of life and make a difference through our projects and our people.
Why is it important to Arcadis?
We are a workforce of 27,000 people operating in all corners of the globe, this puts us in a position where we can influence outcomes on projects across the world and in doing so have better quality environmental outcomes. The thought of 27,000 people using their combined strengths to ‘improve quality of life’ is powerful.
What work has Arcadis done globally on sustainability?
Too much to mention! The Corporate Sustainability Report provides a good summary. Some really interesting work includes being active members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
The WBCSD is the voice of business in several bodies, including the UN Climate Summit. Our team has been heavily involved with developing the Natural Capital Protocol with WBCSD, so we are globally at the forefront of the latest in sustainability thinking.
What are the areas of focus for Arcadis?
To put it simply, there are three ways we make a difference: the work we do with clients, how we operate our business and the activities of our people.
Is there a shift towards more sustainable outcomes on projects?
The introduction of Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) ratings on infrastructure projects is contributing to progress in this area as we now have a way to benchmark environmental outcomes on infrastructure projects in the same way we have had on Green Star building ratings. So we are starting to see organisations like Transport for NSW including mandatory ISCA ratings on all projects with a capital investment of over $100 million. Many of the Government authorities across Australia are also mandating sustainability standards for major projects. It is slowly becoming ‘part of the way we do things’.
Is there a link between sustainability and commercial outcomes?
Yes, absolutely. One example that comes to mind is when Arcadis was commissioned to do master planning on Casuarina Square Shopping Centre, the largest shopping centre in the Northern Territory. Our team’s focus on sustainability throughout the design process was important given Darwin has one the highest electricity rates in Australia. Arcadis used the latest technology and some smart design options, to save our client $500,000 per year and reduced the energy consumption by 20%.
What other benefits can we see as a result of sustainability?
Some of the largest infrastructure projects across Australia are also now working towards getting an ISCA rating in place. One such example is the Furlong Main Blackburn and Heatherdale Level Crossing Removal projects in Victoria, where we are assisting in delivering the projects' IS rating by providing advisory and design services. The projects have embedded sustainability initiatives throughout the design and construction, and aim to be among the first infrastructure IS ratings in Victoria.
Our team has also done some great work on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We undertook a feasibility study to give the NSW Government clear direction on how to provide access to the bridge’s pedestrian walkway to people with disabilities. This iconic Sydney experience has for over eighty years, been unavailable to this section of our community. This sort of work really demonstrates how Arcadis is making a difference in world and achieve our end goal of ‘improving quality of life’.
The world is a complex place, Arcadis helps you navigate this complexity by understanding the bigger picture. Click here to read our latest thoughts.
Arcadis is committed to providing a healthy and safe work environment for all employees.