The Sweco Sustainability SunTM
Leading-edge sustainability assessment for climate-conscious businesses
The Sweco Sustainability SunTM is a visual assessment tool that provides at-a-glance, data-driven illustration of an organisation’s climate action and wider sustainability successes – or shortcomings. Developed in 2018, it was the first digital innovation in the industry to give business the ability to assess if, and to what extent, its product, programme or whole project activity contributes to the 17 UN Sustainability Development Goals (UNSDGs).
The wider roll-out of our Sweco Sutainability Sun comes at the perfect time to re-adjust our focus on sustainability and the challenges we all face today – as awareness increases around climate change, and the world prepares to collaborate on next steps to meet the growing urgency for action.
Charlotte Parkin Senior Environmental Consultant at Sweco
How does it work?
Using a rigorous and universally recognised multi-criteria assessment (MCA) methodology, the Sun looks at economic and social factors (rather than technical and scientific data alone) to analyse qualitative detail such as project ambitions, motivations, and potential impact to generate a score for each variable. As the name suggests, this information is then presented in an easy-to-understand ‘Sun’ diagram.
The score ranges from -2, indicating a poorer UNSDG performance, up to 3 where the highest possible contribution is made towards a given goal.
Set to be embedded in all Sweco project delivery, the game-changing Sun concept provides a unique and independent lens through which we and our clients can maximise sustainability in all our planning and design work. Providing organisations with a simple and easily shareable overview of a proposed scheme’s green credentials, we’re able to give climate action the focus it needs – and offer clients evidence-based, institutional sustainability assessment to address challenges they face from both a social and financial perspective.
Having offered the Sustainability Sun as part of multiple projects over recent months, we’ve found the tool has most impact when used for strategic assessment, especially in the early stages of design. Unlike many environmental assessment methods, it provides an at-a-glance visual reference to encourage open (and evidence-based) conversations about a project’s sustainability.
This offers the ability to invite stakeholders and ‘critical friends’ into the discussion and also highlight any potential negative impacts to open up the dialogue on potential mitigations.
Claire Chapuy Environmental Engineer at Sweco
How our innovative assessment tool can be used:
Add necessary focus on climate action through independent evaluation
Increase internal and external decision-maker engagement
Offer visual evidence for funding applications (CEEQUAL, ERDF etc)
Identify projects to prioritise in your roadmap
Enhance the optioneering process with data-led hypotheses
Track real world progress
Choose from Word, Excel reports or image formats
Add to webinars and sustainability conversations
Use in accreditation, consultation and marketing communications
The Sustainability Sun in action
The Sun was recently used in the Peterborough Integrated Renewables Infrastructure (PIRI) scheme, the largest smart city energy regeneration project in the UK, to help demonstrate the impact of every project component.
It is also being used to identify ongoing opportunities for improvement to contribute to the UN’s SGDs more effectively throughout the project’s lifecycle, including more effective engagement with local stakeholders to leverage complementary projects and initiatives.
The simplicity of the Sun visual combined with the universally recognised UNSDGs as the basis of the assessment means it’s easy to get everyone talking about sustainability regardless of where people are located or their level of knowledge. This done at the right time will help ensure important decisions are driven by achieving positive sustainable outcomes. For me, this is the most powerful use of the tool.
Lucy Davidson Sustainability Sun Delivery Team
2020 was the first year where we saw a slowdown in progress towards hitting the UN’s SDGs – a direct result of the impact of Covid-19. Tools like our Sustainability Sun therefore have a critical role to play in making it as easy as possible to identify how any project, big or small, can play a part in supporting each of the 17 targets.
Our goal is to champion MCA as an alternative to the more widely-used cost-benefit analysis (CBA), giving organisations the means to demonstrate project viability in its very earliest stages when data for CBA may be limited. By making MCA a core component of day-to-day decision-making, we hope to accelerate the UK’s contribution to the UNSDGs and cement its position as a world-leader in green initiatives.
Dr Tanja Groth Director of Urban Resilience at Sweco