Sustainability Strategy: The business strategy

Author: Hannah Rich, Rail Sector Environmental Manager

23 January 2015

Sustainability is becoming increasingly integrated into business strategies among leading companies worldwide, bringing direct benefits to their long-term success. Reports have shown that by implementing a sustainability strategy, savings have been made in terms of reduced energy and water consumption costs as well as in waste disposal costs to mention a few.

To address sustainability issues in the rail sector, Costain has developed the sustainable rail business strategy; which incorporates several categories that contribute to the overall rail sustainability vision. These include:

• Economic Progress
• Climate Change
• Sustainable consumption
• Environmental protection
• Safety, Health and Wellbeing
• Our Communities
• Maximising people potential

By incorporating these categories, we can address long term social, economic and environmental objectives that are affected by the construction industry.

This initial blog focuses on the climate change, sustainable consumption and environmental protection strands of the strategy (you will need to read the next one to hear about maximising people potential and safety, health and wellbeing!), however as you will see from below, many of the sustainability topics addressed below have much wider impacts.

Costain’s sustainability targets for 2015 – environmental focus

A target-setting workshop was held to discuss sustainability objectives and targets for 2015 to incorporate into Costain’s sustainable rail business strategy. These objectives were determined based on their experience of sustainability issues, which include:

Minimising the use of natural resources

Vision: Sustainable consumption; economic progress

Minimising the use of natural resources ensures that the impacts of all operations are reduced to the lowest possible levels. There are several ways to minimise natural resource usage including local sourcing to reduce transport distances and sourcing materials that are processed in accordance with specific environmental standards.

Minimise damage to the natural environment

Vision: Environmental Protection

Ensuring we do not harm the communities and local environments in which we work is key to our sustained business. Protecting the local environment can involve reducing noise or light pollution, eliminating the release of harmful substances and minimising pollutants entering the atmosphere.

To encourage Costain and the Supply Chain to actively reduce Carbon emissions

Vision: Economic progress; Sustainable consumption; climate change; our communities

Reducing carbon emissions is on everyone’s agenda due to the increasing negative impacts it is having on the environment. Reporting on carbon emissions allows us to measure the aspects of our activities that have the highest emissions and focusing on ways to minimise these.

To improve Costain’s image in the rail sector as the leader in the industry for environment

Vision: Economic progress; maximising people potential; our communities

Being the industry leader for the environment has several advantages, including brand recognition as well as loyal customers. It is important to monitor environmental performance and constantly strive for new and innovative solutions to lead the way in the industry.

The objective is to ensure that the Costain rail sector is perceived as the leader in the UK for environment/sustainability issues and therefore strengthen customer relationships. To achieve this, a baseline of environmental issues will be created and performance will be measured against an external brand perception map aim to achieve higher placing year after year.

To improve environmental culture and awareness in the rail sector

Vision: Maximising people potential

To obtain visible leadership and commitment; the aim is for all leaders to attend a Costain rail project and carry out a minimum of one environment inspection per year. All site supervisors and graduate engineers are to attend the SEATs training course to raise awareness of site environmental issues.

These priority areas for the 2015 sustainable rail business strategy aim to address the key sustainability issues that are affected by the construction industry, specifically within the rail sector. The strategy also aims to raise awareness throughout Costain on sustainability issues, as well as to increase recognition nationwide for our environmental performance and lead the way in the industry.