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Happy Earth Day 2020

Posted by 4MAT Administrator
Posting date:4/20/2020 9:08 AM
22 April 2020

Making a tangible positive impact today and every day.

Sustainability is woven into every aspect of our work. From small actions at our desks to the way we design, engineer and manage mega projects. Earth Day 2020 celebrates its 50th anniversary with the theme, 'Climate Action.' So, we interviewed two members of the Sustainability team to hear how Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, is honouring this year's theme. And for tips on how we can take individual action while in lock-down. 

Meet Divya and Freya…



Divya is a Sustainability Consultant in the Planning and Environmental Consenting team in the Infrastructure Division based in Epsom. And Freya is an Environmental Consultant based in Bristol. Here are their perspectives:

How big is the sustainability team at Atkins, and who sits on it?

We drive our culture of Sustainability at all levels of the business, starting at the top. Atkins' President, Philip Hoare, has the ultimate responsibility, helping to enable a sustainable future through our leadership roles, our operations and the services we provide.  Our SNC-Lavalin Global Head of Sustainability, Sarah Jane Stewart, is responsible for implementing our Sustainable Business Strategy (SBS). She directs a team of Implementation leads in each business that ensures our SBS is embedded within all our projects wherever they are in the world.

"How we put Sustainability at the heart of everything we do.”

Sustainability is a multi-faceted topic, covering all aspects of environmental, social and economic well-being and we place it at the heart of everything we do. Atkins has more than 250 members of staff, including leading experts, working across a wide range of sustainability disciplines across all sectors. Our Sustainability Technical Network pulls all these experts together to allow us to deliver Sustainability across our projects. 

Divya and Freya, where do you fit in?

Freya and I sit amidst a growing team of sustainability experts who manage Sustainability through the design programme. In our role, we link in with the technical discipline leads, engineering and design teams, project managers, environmental leads and the clients to embed Sustainability in our projects. 
 
How is the organization helping clients take Climate Action in 2020?

The world's leading economies are on a fast track to a low-carbon future. And it's our responsibility to help our clients across the world understand and prepare to deliver infrastructure in a carbon-conscious world. We're doing this with our low-carbon design expertise and digital sustainability tools. 

"Our experts are also engaging with teams to increase carbon literacy.”

We work closely with engineers, economists, planners and other specialists to help build a future in which people, organizations and infrastructure are resilient to changes in the climate. And our scientifically robust assessments and scenario planning, are supporting decision-making on resilience policy and practical adaptation measures.

Any recent projects where you have worked on ‘Climate Action’:

An interesting project I have recently been working on is a framework of asset management projects developing a fully integrated engineering and low carbon design process for Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL).We have been collaborating with the Atkins engineering design team, Heathrow Airport Ltd and Heathrow supply chain organisations to deliver this. The combined carbon saving across the programme so far is 16,080 tonnes CO2e which equates to an average reduction of 38% from the particular baseline. Collaboratively with HAL and other key stakeholders, we have identified key opportunities for carbon reduction and are following this up throughout the lifecycle of the project, at each key decision-making stage. The consideration of carbon throughout the project lifecycle has resulted in new, more sustainable ways of thinking across project delivery at Heathrow

Freya is currently working with the Environment Agency to deliver a low carbon engagement programme for teams delivering flood and coastal infrastructure projects. A highlight of this work has been a two-day expo with a focus on sharing practical low carbon solutions. The event featured an exhibition space, seminars and workshops delivered by supply chain, other infrastructure clients and industry bodies. The event was attended by over 300 delegates from 35 different supply chain organisations and has generated a lot of enthusiasm about bringing new ideas to projects.

How is the organization celebrating internally?

This year, Earth Day comes at a time when there is global uncertainty, and many people are feeling isolated. Atkins' has a long-established digital transformation and agile working policy. It's meant we've been able to continue providing world-class service to our clients remotely while communicating well internally. 

"It's more important than ever that we connect with each other.”

The Sustainability team is encouraging all colleagues to join the Sustainability Network's Yammer Group, to share personal Climate Action ideas and achievements, and to engage with colleagues over video calls as much as possible. Over the past few weeks, we've done a lot of fun things together, including 'Working From Home Bingo,' a random Easter Fact Quiz, and collaborated a Spotify lock-down playlist!

What are the team's top suggestions for protecting and restoring our planet during the corona virus lock-down?

There are so many ways we can take Climate Action in our own lives. The global response to the current pandemic has shown that we are capable of finding new ways of working, relaxing and connecting with each other. We see this as an opportunity to explore some of the changes we can make to participate in this fight against climate change from our homes. Here are some ideas from us to start you off:

Power down



While you're working, try to keep your home in 'off-mode' as much as you can: think about what it would be like if you were not there during a weekday, and replicate it as far as possible. You could sit near a window and turn the lights off, or wear an extra layer and turn the heating down.

Positive energy



During your free time, do activities which don't use energy. Instead of watching TV, read a book, do a craft or pick up an indoor physical activity like yoga to stay fit.

Eat local



Keep your food miles down and support local businesses by buying food grown in your local area. You could even turn your hand to digging your own. For those without a garden, herbs will do well on a sunny window sill!

Reduce and recycle



Spend time thinking about what you could repair, re-purpose or reuse. Darn the sock you would usually have thrown away. Find a tasty recipe for your vegetable off-cuts. Reducing our personal consumption and waste is a great way of taking Climate Action!

What opportunities do you think corporations and governments have to effect real, sustainable change?

The UK Government declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 pledging to become net zero carbon by 2050. Our local authorities and business organizations have since been working on developing a net zero path to meet this target but we think sufficient progress is yet to be made. Our response to the COVID-19 crisis is an excellent example of how we are capable of making quick decisions and taking extreme measures to come together to fight a common enemy. We think the biggest opportunity for our government, corporations and for each one of us is to reflect upon our business as usual practise and innovate to become 'Net Zero'!

Find out more about how we are keeping the world moving forward with our approach to Sustainability.

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