Industry Information

Our sustainability story: collaboration and accountability

October 10, 2023
Gade wellfare
“Two core realities help to drive our sustainability programme. The first is that sustainability improvement doesn’t live in mission statements and policies. It’s about how we approach every project and how we work – day in, day out. It has to be measurable to be meaningful. “The second reality is that we can’t deliver sustainability alone. A large percentage of every project is delivered through our supply chain partners. We need sustainable relationships with our partners so we can help them on their journey and deliver the bigger picture together.”
Catriona Cliffe, Director of People and Sustainability

Supply chain engagement

There’s a commercial element to sustainable supply chain partnerships. Our partners need to see that Octavius is in it for the long haul. By way of practical support we offer training and free access to learning resources to help accelerate their progress. For example we’ve recently hosted sustainability school sessions focusing on biodiversity and understanding social value. These are supported by online learning resources that are free for all our partners to use. Net zero and sustainability were also major topics at our most recent supply chain event. We outlined the steps Octavius is taking and communicated our vision for the future. We’re determined to bring our supply chain with us on the journey. The main way of reducing carbon is to emit less by following the carbon hierarchy and adopting the principles of build less, by not building in the first place wherever possible. Our approach is also to build clever and switch to low carbon materials and methods of construction. We also aim to build efficiently to reduce carbon emissions by improving the efficiency of processes, materials and design. We need full engagement with our supply chain partners to make all of this possible.

Without measurement it’s meaningless

“You can set as many lofty goals as you like, but reality is reflected by the tangible delivery you can report. So we put a lot of emphasis on recording and reporting using the Thrive tool.”
For example, on a single highways upgrade scheme we have delivered over £940,000 of social value through spending with local SMEs, local hires and learning interventions. We also measured an equivalent reduction of 52 metric tonnes of greenhouse gases. Frameworks magnify the sustainability benefits. By applying the Thrive tool we’re able to demonstrate 22/23 we generated £67m worth of social value across our business. That equates to 30% of our turnover.
“Improving biodiversity is another priority. Every project includes a biodiversity net gain measurement. We’re also planting 4000 trees this year.”
Transport infrastructure is an essential part of a functioning advanced economy. But it has also tended to carry a high sustainability debt through the very nature of the work we do and the materials we use. Octavius feels that this puts the sector in a unique and privileged position. We have the opportunity to make a major impact. And that’s what we remain determined to do – in lockstep with our supply chain partners and with full accountability through robust measurement. For more information contact Mike Todd (

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