Star performance: Balfour Beatty rolls out the red carpet for sustainability
First we had Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, then Franny Armstrong’s Age of Stupid…now we have Balfour Beatty’s Sustainability – A Collective Responsibility. Yes, that’s right, last week the construction giant hosted a ‘film premiere’ of its new corporate video spelling out its ‘2020 Sustainability Vision’.
Rolling out the red carpet for a corporate video may seem rather over the top, but the popularity of the premiere (an estimated 200 people attended), demonstrated there is a genuine interest in corporate sustainability in general and what Balfour Beatty in particular is doing to address it. While Mike Peasland, ceo of Balfour Beatty Construction Services UK, may have joked that the high turn out must have been down to the recession and nobody having anything else better to do, it was clear that those gathered on the night were genuinely interested in gaining insight into the company’s vision for a sustainable business future.
As an outsider to the industry and as someone who still has plenty to learn about sustainable construction, I gained insight from Balfour Beatty’s film too. It showed how sustainability can in general improve the quality of lifestyle for many people and businesses, particularly, by creating jobs and ensuring financial growth. In an environmental sense, the film also gave examples of how construction work of this calibre makes use of renewable energy sources and conserves land space.
I could see from the film how Balfour Beatty’s individual projects were collectively contributing to a greener future. Specific examples included the installation of photovoltaic technology and biomass heaters in schools, as well as building a motorway in Nottinghamshire made from power station ash, car tyres and glass, to encourage a zero waste to landfill policy.
The film depicts three crucial aspects, which determine the sustainability of Balfour Beatty’s operations: profitable markets, healthy communities, and environmental limits.
As many businesses try to move towards a greener future, Balfour Beatty’s vision is perhaps a framework for how businesses can achieve sustainability. It was certainly interesting to see how an international leader in construction aims to develop its financial growth through promoting a strong ecological conscience and to hear that it would only meet its ambitious targets through ‘collective responsibility’.
Whilst the film helps to establish a standard for how similar level businesses can make sustainability a realistic vision for 2020, it should also help to inspire smaller businesses on how they too can have a positive impact.