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Blog: Creating a low carbon culture

First published via in January 2022.

JBA’s commitment to sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, and following the recent COP26 conference in Glasgow, carbon reduction is at the forefront of international discussions. In this week’s blog Tony Moran, Associate Director tells us about the challenges and successes of creating a low-carbon culture at JBA Bentley.

Sheaf screen in Sheffield

I recently had the privilege of representing JBA Bentley at the Green Apple awards in London and collecting 2 gold awards and 1 silver award for good environmental practice on our projects (pictured above). All three projects demonstrated social value, habitat creation, but most gratifying was the carbon reductions made by those teams.

Having worked on the Environment Agency Frameworks as JBA Bentley since 2013, we have always been aware of the imperative to reduce carbon. It guided our work, but it didn’t really feel like it was at the heart of decision making. In around 2017, we decided at board level we had to place carbon reduction front and centre of what we were about as a business. It was the right thing to do and made good sense as a business to really challenge ourselves to put carbon reduction first. We reviewed our position at that time and then projected forward what we wanted our future state to look like. From that we created (and refined yearly) our Carbon Roadmap – our plan to achieve the goals.

At the outset, we had some very polarised opinions on the matter within our project delivery teams. We had some passionate advocates, and there were some who thought whilst we operated in construction, we were always going to be a generator of carbon. We also had people in our organisation who knew carbon reduction was a thing but didn’t really think our work could make a significant difference.

We had many enthusiastic practitioners, but developing a culture meant we needed everyone to get on board with it. We initially did some carbon awareness raising training to put carbon into people’s consciousness whilst it still wasn’t something that featured heavily in mainstream media.

Layered upon this we started to change the way we talked to teams about their work – as directors and senior managers we started asking teams regularly about what options they had considered to build nothing, build less or build smart. We also invested in a carbon monitoring tool, the Mott MacDonald Moata Carbon Portal, which gave us a better tool to quickly gauge the carbon impact of or project decisions.

The hearts and minds battle is now mainly won and we have gone past the tipping point. Through our comms platforms and with regular presentations our project teams are now sharing their progress and achievements in carbon reduction.

We have moved from a position where low carbon and sustainability was just something that the environmental team were interested in and would remain on the periphery of our project decision making. We now see how carbon saving is the responsibility of everyone in the project team, from designers to our procurement team and our site delivery teams. Making it everyone’s responsibility, supported by some champions who have better knowledge of the tools and products available, has made carbon reduction part of our language, our everyday discussions, our culture.

We still have a long way to go in many aspects of the wider sustainability question but having started with making carbon reduction mainstream we have a head start in delivering social and environmental change. Creating the corporate message of what is important to us as a business, investing in the tools and training, and most importantly, talking about it at every opportunity has brought carbon reduction into the everyday considerations of our teams.

Winning awards is not the reason why we do this, but by submitting projects for awards, we celebrate the great work our teams do, and showcase to all our teams what we have done so they too can do this, and maybe even go further.

Want to know more?

Email Tony Moran for more information.


Learn more about these and other schemes JBA Bentley is delivering for the Environment Agency on the new JBA Bentley website.



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