Mark Frary

Carillion, the leading integrated support services company, was founded in 1999 when it was demerged from the Tarmac Group.

The company has been involved in several iconic construction projects over the years -" the rebirth of the Tate Modern, GCHQ in Cheltenham, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link to St Pancras and, the Olympic Media Centre for the 2012 Games.

Carillion is a leader in terms of sustainability. It was setting sustainability targets long before it was fashionable for FTSE companies to do so.

Carillion has set itself a number of challenging sustainability targets, including the following targets:

- Diverting 91% of its waste diverted from landfill and plans to up this to 100% by 2015;
- 30% of their spend is local, including SMEs, and they aim to increase this to 45% by 2015.
- Asking all suppliers to "provide products and materials that are responsibly and ethically sourced" by 2020

One of the company's most challenging targets is to reduce by 2015 the amount of fuel purchased by 50% against 2011 normalised levels -" incredibly challenging. Carillion is currently reviewing this target and their plans for achieving through changes to equipment, behaviour, contract design and operations, and through regular communications campaigns.

Yet these targets are not divorced from business reality and it also aims to make a sustainable contribution to profitability of at least £30m by 2015 -" from measures that introduce efficiencies and eliminate waste.

Chief Sustainability Officer David Picton says, "Reducing our use of fuel, energy, waste and water can be traced back to the bottom line -" we achieved a net £10m in 2012 and more than doubled that in 2013."

The company has integrated its 2020 Sustainability Strategy into its corporate strategy and has clear policies on many areas that affect sustainability, including carbon emissions. It has a clear positive outcome of enabling low-carbon economies, and employee business travel is one of the five areas that it is focusing on to do this.

Carillion's travel management company Portman Travel is helping with reducing Scope 3 carbon emissions derived from business travel. As part of Carillion's Smarter Thinking strategy, Portman Travel's online booking system encourages employees to think before they travel. The internet-based system asks if they are making the smartest choice, and shows the emissions that could be cut if they took the train instead of the plane, for example. Thousands have used the system since it launched in July 2012.

The Smarter Thinking programme also encourages employees to consider options such as conference calling and the use of WebEx as sustainable alternatives to travel.

Sustainability is not something companies can deliver alone either and requires the involvement of the entire supply chain. How does Carillion ensure that suppliers are on board?

"It starts with our accreditation process," says Picton. "We have a system called 'My Register' which manages the compliance details of all our suppliers. We then rely on our managers understanding our 2020 strategy and using their supply chain relationships to bring this to life on contracts and projects. There are great examples like the Library of Birmingham, which demonstrate that our strategy, plan and reputation rely upon our work with suppliers to help us deliver."

The company is also a Funding Partner of the Supply Chain Sustainability School, an online learning forum designed to help the construction sector assess and improve its knowledge of sustainability issues facing the industry. Run by an independent third party, Action Sustainability, and supported by multiple construction companies, the school offers free support to suppliers, has so far attracted more than 1,600 supplier organisations and was the overall winner in the 2013 Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Awards.

The company also recognises the need to communicate sustainability initiatives to its employees and customers. Carillion recently won the 2013 Construction Marketing Award for its innovative website

Lisa Benbow, Head of Corporate Communications at Carillion said of the Award: "Rather than simply telling people what we were doing as a business we set out to create a community of Carillion people, outside experts and influencers who could share ideas and best practice. This was a bold approach to involve, rather than just target Carillion's main stakeholders and media and I am delighted that it has been recognised by the industry."

It is not the only award Carillion has picked up recently. Their 2012 Annual Sustainability report won the FTSE 250 Sustainability Reporting category in the 2013 PwC Building Public Trust Awards. .

David Picton said, "The Award emphasised the six positive outcomes that form the basis of our 2020 Sustainability Strategy, permeating Carillion's operations and highlighting those issues most fundamental to our business and to our customers."

Sustainability at Carillion is clearly core to the business and greenwashing this most certainly is not.

Click to see Carillion's latest annual sustainability report.

Linked In
Receive the Sustain newsletter
* indicates required