A sustainable society
The past decade has been one of the warmest on record. The transition to a sustainable society is widely considered to be the decisive issue of our time. As the frontrunner in urban development, Sweco believes that it has a great responsibility and opportunity to influence this transition through our client projects and in our own operations.
Sustainability is central to our entire business. We define sustainability as sustainable development in line with the UN’s definition and the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We support and work with all 17 goals. Our operations are primarily focused on combatting climate change, (Goal 13), promoting the development of sustainable cities and communities, (Goal 11), sustainable energy for all, (Goal 7), gender equality, (Goal 5), and sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure, (Goal 9).
It is through our client projects that we have the greatest scope to reduce impact on the climate. By combining local knowledge with international expertise, we ensure our clients develop solutions that ensure cities and communities can become sustainable living spaces of the future where people can live, work and thrive.
Sweco also reduces climate impact by minimising the environmental impact of its own operations, including purchasing, office space, and transport. In 2019, Sweco Group announced it would strive to be climate neutral by 2040. In addition to the work we do in our own business operations, we apply our expertise as proactive business representatives and experts at UN climate summits.
Sweco UK develops sustainability strategies for a wide variety of clients and projects throughout the UK. We are at the forefront of a significant shift in how we plan, design, and construct the sustainable cities and communities of the future.
“As signatories to the Pledge to Net Zero we recognise that we must lead by example by setting ourselves ambitious internal targets.”
How we address the climate crisis
Global carbon emissions must reach net zero by 2050 to prevent catastrophic climate change. Hundreds of organisations, municipalities, and nations have declared climate emergencies and pledged to achieve net zero even sooner. There is growing understanding that drastic change is required. But clear guidance is in short supply. Sweco’s role is to join the dots between strategic climate ambitions and practical implementation. We show our clients where efforts can be best directed.
In 2015, as a signatory to the Infrastructure Carbon Review, we publicly committed to enabling carbon reduction in all our major projects. In 2018, acknowledging the urgency of the climate crisis, we revaluated and revised our commitment to include all our projects. But we want to go beyond just enabling carbon reduction in our projects. We need to make it happen. To do this, we continue to raise industry awareness and make carbon reduction a contractual standard across the supply chain.
Recognising our projects’ crucial contribution in tackling the climate crisis, we calculate and affect carbon emissions associated with everything we design. Through a programme of continuous carbon management, including design team training and the introduction of enhanced digital techniques, we highlight new opportunities for carbon reduction to clients. If carbon management is applicable to a project but not requested, we set out the opportunities that it offers.
We have developed digital techniques to clearly communicate the carbon impact of design decisions. This helps to build awareness among clients, engineers, and key stakeholders. Developments in artificial intelligence are set to automatically optimise carbon and associated costs in the near future. We are currently developing parametric design techniques – a process that uses computer algorithms to generate solutions to satisfy specified design parameters – and using machine learning to identify optimal carbon cost solutions.
We help our clients actively challenge their supply chain through procurement mechanisms that require carbon reduction, encourage innovation, and ensure that focus is maintained on carbon impacts throughout project lifetimes.
With Sweco’s assistance, we’ve been able to integrate key aspects of carbon reduction at all stages of the project to maximise positive outcomes and contribute to its ultimate aims. Sweco’s proposals and continual focus on carbon across our processes have been instrumental in developing projects that incorporate this important issue throughout.
Jillian Ferguson Perth & Kinross Council, Cross Tay Link Road Project Manager