When two employees were crowned sustainability champions, little did they know it would take them to the heart of Africa...

Willmott Dixon, is sending two of its people, Alison Brough, from Manchester, and Anna Koukoullis, from London, to Uganda on October 22, to visit the Uganda Water Borehole carbon offset project.

Willmott Dixon is the only construction company to be carbon neutral and investing in projects like this in Uganda is how the company continues to remain a neutral emitter of carbon. It’s part of Willmott Dixon’s long-held values that it has a purpose beyond profit, and this includes investing in overseas projects that reduce carbon emissions by the same amount the company emits.

A water borehole project may not immediately strike people as a project that would reduce carbon emissions. But improving water supplies are important in the fight against climate change. Water from boreholes is clean, so it doesn’t need to be boiled. This means that local communities don’t need to build nearly so many fires. And since unsafe drinking water is a huge cause of death and disease, particularly among the young and most vulnerable, the project is bringing huge health benefits, as well as environmental ones.

Alison and Anna will be seeing how the project team identify and repair broken boreholes and talking to people who have benefitted. They will be documenting the project for their colleagues back home, to give them a better awareness of what carbon offsetting is, and why Willmott Dixon does it.

So what are the two champions hoping to discover?

Principal environmental manager, Alison Brough, said:

"I have never been to the African continent so am really looking forward to it. I have two children who have gone through primary education in the UK and I think visiting two primary schools in Uganda where every drop of water is required and collected through rainwater harvesting or pumped from a borehole will be very different. Water is in relatively free supply in the UK, especially where I come from so I’m looking forward to visiting different communities to see how they collect and conserve this precious resource."

Willmott Dixon Interiors community investment and apprentice manager, Anna Koukoullis, said:

“The Ugandan borehole rehabilitation and maintenance in Lango sub-region, Uganda, will be the very first programme to implement the new Gender Equality methodology from the Gold Standard. Gender equality is something that is very close to our hearts at Willmott Dixon, so I am keen to see what this looks like in action.”

Rick Willmott, group chief executive, said:

“Since 2010 we have cut our carbon emissions relative to turnover by nearly 60%. However, using current technologies, constructing buildings remains a carbon-intensive process. Paying to offset our unavoidable carbon emissions is a way in which we can mitigate our impact on the environment, while making a real difference to people's lives. Alison’s and Anna’s visit will really help to bring the project to life for all of our people and hopefully raise awareness, beyond our business, of the benefits of carbon offsetting. We’d like to thank Carbon Footprint Ltd, our offset partner, for organising this fantastic experience.”

Follow Alison and Anna throughout their Ugandan trip on Twitter by using #WDinUganda.