Why Laing O'Rourke says sustainability is good for business

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International engineering and construction company Laing O’Rourke has recently announced its global sustainability strategy including net zero and gender parity targets.

Digital Nation spoke to Sam Donaldson National Sustainability leader for Australia at Laing O’Rourke about how the business plans to achieve these targets, as well as why sustainability is good for business.

“I think for asset owners, there's a real benefit for pursuing sustainability because if you look at an infrastructure asset or a building asset, [that’s] 50, 100 years they're going to be used for,” says Donaldson.

“So if you can add in features that's going to reduce emissions that relates to essentially reducing costs for the operation of that asset, so there's a real return on investment when you look at sustainability over the operations phase..”

Laing O’Rourke has committed to targets in line with the Paris Agreement, aimed at limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“There's one [target] which is to achieve net zero for scope one and two emissions, that tend to be called operational emissions or the emissions that we have direct control of, and we're setting ourselves to achieve that title by 2030. And then the last one that we've set our target around is net zero for scope three emissions. So this is related to indirect emissions, it's related to the supply chain, and we've got that achievement to achieve that target by 2050,” says Donaldson.

There are many barriers facing the industry when it comes to the movement towards sustainability, with Donaldson describing the primary factors as cost related.

In navigating these barriers and driving sustainable outcomes, Donaldson believes that data will be essential.

“In Australia, about 90 per cent of what we do is through our supply chain, so we really need to understand through data, how they're performing when it comes to emissions,” he says.

“[Integrating data] allows you to understand the value of solutions that you're testing and trialling. It gives you a good understanding of what of those solutions are providing value, and also allows you to do things like such as understand what are some of those changes that might be behavioural about the technical to improve performance.”

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