September 2021 marked the anniversary of the launch of Now or Never. Our decisive decade. By the end of the year, we had made good progress in the first year of delivering across all three themes of the strategy.
Our 2021 achievements, which are detailed in the review, include:
- The Town House for Kingston University was named as the winner of the 25th Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize.
- Delivered £13.4m worth of social return on investment in addition to the amount we spent on goods and services in local communities.
- Delivered 343 programmes to over 2,900 young people and people facing significant barriers to work.
- Carbon neutral for the ninth year running.
- Reduced absolute carbon emissions by 17% since 2020.
- Reduced mileage from business travel and commute by 45% since 2018.
- First contractor and third company globally to be certified to Level 3 of the Carbon Trust’s Supply Chain Standard.
- Secured a sustainability-backed loan guarantee from HSBC.
- Average supply chain payment time 28 days; 98% paid within 60 days.
- Named in the Times Top 50 Employers for Women for the third year running.
You can find a summary of our progress against all of our 2030 targets here. Whilst we have made a great start, some activities are behind our planned trajectories. The benefit of reviewing progress each year is that we have the chance to reinvigorate our activities and get back on track for 2030. Furthermore, Now or Never has provided us with the opportunity to present a single consolidated review of our 2021 performance across social and environmental sustainability, replacing the individual Sustainable Development and Willmott Dixon Foundation Reviews of the last ten years.
We couldn’t agree more with the IPPC scientists who declared in early 2022 that it is 'now or never' to limit global warming. Businesses like ours must seize the initiative and demonstrate that sustainability is not just an agenda that has to be addressed, but also an opportunity which can drive business growth, stimulate innovation, increase efficiency, enhance recruitment and retention and improve business resilience.
In October 2021, there was a flurry of net zero related announcements by Government in the run up to COP26, and I suspect we could see the same as we approach COP27 in Egypt in November 2022. The long-anticipated Taskforce for Climate Related Financial Disclosure Regulations will help to embed climate-related risk at the heart of businesses, and we hope that the Future Buildings Standard will drive the focus to in-use energy performance and embodied carbon.
All of these anticipated policy changes are in line with our existing Now or Never targets but if we need to raise our ambition levels and go further, we will embrace the opportunity to adapt and respond to the challenge.