Franco-British Business Awards: Action Sustainability wins for its reporting tool

Winner of the 2020 Franco-British Business Award for Innovation, Action Sustainability was recognised for its software solution which helps companies in the built environment sector track and analyse their sustainability performance.

As the appetite for sustainable businesses grows, with investors, consumers and the wider pubic, so too does the need for accurate and reliable measurement and reporting of a range of sustainability metrics, from carbon emissions to social impact.

‘We’re going to see increased pressures to report, to be transparent and to make sure that companies are accountable for their actions and the actions of their supply chain,’ says Charles Naud, Lead Consultant on Action Sustainability’s cloud-based sustainability management solution.

The Sustainability Tool, launched eighteen months ago, collects and analyses environment and socio-economic data reported by teams, systems and suppliers, and is currently in use by large construction and estate management companies such as Grosvenor and Bouygues Energies and Services.

It sits within the wider operation at Action Sustainability, a specialist consultancy business in sustainable procurement and supply chain engagement, with a focus on the built environment sector.

‘Since the beginning our two directors have said that we need to build on our consultancy and package up the knowledge into products that can be scalable,’ says Naud. Their work with Grosvenor, for example, uses the Sustainability Tool to manage performance against thirty-one sustainability indicators, aligned to the commitments from its Supply Chain Charter, developed with the guidance of consultants at Action Sustainability.

The Sustainability Tool is the second product they have brought to market, preceded by the Supply Chain Sustainability School, an online hub for learning sustainability best practice in the built environment. Both were developed using ‘lean’ and bootstrapping’ business methodologies, to which the team still adheres.

‘One of the key innovative features of the tool is that it is almost agnostic to your sustainability strategy, and that is unique in the market in terms of reporting tools,’ says Naud, who explains that the tool will take a holistic view of a company’s sustainability footprint, rather than be limited to a particular area of activity.

This means looking at carbon emissions, a priority area for improvement throughout the built environment sector, as well as the use of plastics, energy and water consumption and more – including biodiversity impacts, in line with upcoming legislation in the UK.

‘Another really interesting area is social value,’ said Naud of the measurement of the direct and indirect social impact of an organisation. ‘It is complex to measure, but what it is interesting is that in the UK, we are beginning to monetise social value.

‘If you hire an apprentice, for example, there are financial proxies that we can use to show the impact of hiring an apprentice is equal to a cash figure per year to society at large. These measurements are being used by organisations mostly on public tenders to make the case to local authorities or public bodies.’

Naud envisions a future iteration of the tool which leverages the data they have already collected to make predictions towards the future success for projects. ‘We might be able to foresee a project failing for instance on its water consumption commitments or its recycling commitments,’ rather than assessing this in real time.

With innovation at the core of the technology, Naud notes positive reception the award has had internally. ‘It’s great for the team to be recognised for the innovative work that we are doing – and that someone new to our proposition can see that and value that – it reinforces with us that we are doing something ground-breaking, in some way.’

 

Action Sustainability was represented at the Franco-British Business Awards by Charles Naud, Sustainability Consultant. The Innovation Award was sponsored by Sanofi

Looking back on the Innovation Award

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