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This World Environment Day do more with less

Kris Karslake Kris Karslake 01 Jun 2015

I recently visited AkzoNobel’s Planet Possible™ learning zone at their Slough office after a UKCG meeting. As well as presenting their sustainability journey in an interactive way, the zone reflected their commitment to ‘doing more with less’ which reminded me of this year’s World Environment Day (WED) theme: "Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care." The theme highlights the need for us to carefully consider our resource use, with over seven billion people on the planet and many nations consuming more than their fair share of resources.

 Sustainability, and doing more with less, is being communicated in interactive ways 

Depending on whose figures you look at, if everyone on the planet lived like someone in the UK we would need between three and five planets’ worth of resources to sustain us. In our children’s lifetime it is anticipated that vital resources we rely on, such as copper, will have all been extracted from the ground. This poses businesses a problem – how will they continue to grow, or even simply function if resources that we have come to rely on will no longer be available.

Resource efficiency isn’t a new thing but businesses are changing their approach. Sustainable businesses have been reducing the amount of waste they produce for a while. For example, since 2010 BAM has collected key performance indicator information from all construction projects, to track performance against our 2015 vision. This has shown continuous reduction in energy and water use as well as waste production. Some highlights from our 2014 Sustainability Report include a 40% reduction in construction waste since 2006, a 28% reduction in CO2 emissions since 2008, a 20% reduction in water use since 2010 and 99% of timber procured from verified legal and sustainable sources.

Our 2014 report highlights our performance against our 2015 vision

But now businesses are taking resource efficiency a step further – by doing more with less.

BAM realised this in 2013, which is why we were the first contractor to join the Ellen MacArthur Circular Economy 100, which brings together companies and innovators across the globe to make the circular economy a reality. As defined by the UKCG, “a circular economy approach maximises the value from resources in use and enables them to be recovered and regenerated at the end of each service life”. And they estimate a circular economy has the “potential to boost EU GDP by up to 3.9% by 2030 and savings of Euro 630Bn.” No wonder then that in a recent UKCG survey, 61% agreed that a circular economy offers an excellent solution to future challenges of resource scarcity, and 70% believed there is a strong business case for the circular economy in construction.

At BAM, we’re working with manufacturers to see if we can instil circular economy principles in our supply chain and buildings. For example, working with lighting manufacturers we're putting together proposals to supply lux levels rather than light fittings in some of the buildings we are building and maintaining.

And we want to work with organisations who share our mantra of doing more good. We recently developed a retail park in Cyfarthfa for Kingfisher, who have a similar approach with their net positive strategy. We built a new bespoke B&Q eco-store for them, which includes a green roof, transpired solar collectors and has achieved BAM’s first FSC® Partial Project certification. This demonstrates the commitment of Kingfisher, and BAM, to creating a building that has a positive impact on the environment around it and ensuring products are sustainably sourced.

View of our FSC Partial Project Certified B&Q store from Cyfarthfa Castle

As our Chief Executive, Graham Cash put it, we have “moved away from a traditional industry approach of doing ‘less bad’. Our focus now is on doing ‘more good’…”

There are plenty of ways to do more good, and be more resource efficient. Sometimes it’s by making small changes or stepping back to improve a business process. So for world environment day this year, we are challenging everyone at BAM to challenge the way we do things and suggest ways we could be more resource efficient. How could you be more resource efficient?


Kris Karslake is Senior Environmental Advisor at BAM 

BAM is a CE100 company working with the Ellen MacArthur foundation to change our approach to waste and enable a circular economy. If you would like to talk to us about the circular economy, contact us.



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