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The implications of climate change and the threat of diminishing natural resources are compelling us to rethink the way we design, engineer, construct and operate our buildings and infrastructure.

It is inevitable that demand for housing, hospitals, transport, power and other vital infrastructure will rise. This is, of course, good news for our industry. But for development on this scale to be feasible, it must be safe and sustainable.

Traditional construction methods are carbon-intensive – and the built environment is the single biggest source of global CO2 emissions. Collectively, our sector consumes around one-third of the world’s natural resources, generating vast amounts of waste and pollution in the process.

The challenge is enormous - and no organisation can solve it in isolation. To this end, we are working with academic and industry partners to develop smarter processes and more sustainable products, delivering energy-efficient structures. At the same time we remain focused on reducing carbon and eliminating waste.

Change through innovation

Our Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) approach has the potential to significantly minimise negative impacts in delivery and maximise efficiency in use. This is reinforced by Building Information Modelling (BIM) – a digital prototyping tool that enables us to integrate data about a structure’s design, engineering and operation. This ‘virtual construction’ approach reduces waste at all stages of the project lifecycle.

For more information on how we’re reducing carbon through DfMA and BIM, click here.

Cutting carbon

We have set ourselves the target of cutting our carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2020 (against our 2008/09 baseline). By 2050 we aim to achieve an 80% reduction. Working with independent environmental bodies and government regulators, we are actively taking steps towards these targets. We have invested in more fuel-efficient fleet, while making improvements to our systems and processes.

In 2011, our Australia business registered under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act for the first time. Having demonstrated continued performance improvements, our UK business has been accredited for the second time under the Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS). We are also registered with the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme and provide emissions data to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Eliminating waste

Our primary objective is to eliminate waste at source through efficient design, procurement, manufacturing and engineering methodologies. In line with this, we have set stretching waste reduction and recycling targets. This includes a 50 per cent cut in construction waste by 2020 (against our 2009/10 baseline) – with this figure rising to 80 per cent by 2050.

Where waste arises on our projects we operate strict management protocols. This includes mandatory recycling quotas. Last year, we diverted 94.8 per cent of waste from landfill – well ahead of our 2012 target of 90 per cent. By 2020 we aim to recycle 100 per cent of non-hazardous waste.

Working with the National Community Wood Recycling Project (NCWRP) in the UK, we have recycled more than 1,000 tonnes of wood. The NCWRP is a network of social enterprises that provides a collection service for wood waste, while giving disadvantaged people employment and development opportunities. Our contribution - alongside that of other supporting organisations – has helped to fund 150 permanent jobs nationwide and provide 38,000 days of training and work experience.

Sourcing responsibly

Our responsible sourcing policy mandates the selection of products with the lowest environmental impact. This includes the use of non-hazardous and/or reusable materials, wherever practical. We also require our timber suppliers and suppliers of timber products to provide FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) accredited materials. Further details on our sustainable timber approach can be read here

Our Explore Industrial Park and Bison have been awarded ‘very good’ status under BRE’s responsible sourcing standard (BES 6001). To qualify, organisations must provide detailed evidence of how social, environmental, health and safety, and other ethical issues are managed. It is the first time composite precast concrete components have been certified under the scheme.

Protecting biodiversity

We are committed to protecting and, wherever possible, enhancing the natural environment on and around our sites and offices. This is mandated thorough our biodiversity policy and environmental management system – and underlined in our target to eliminate all Category 1 environmental incidents. To ensure our projects fully understand their responsibilities, we deliver ‘environmental launches’ on new projects.


We work to the highest standards of environmental compliance and management. All Laing O’Rourke Group businesses operate to ISO14001-accredited environmental management systems.

Strengthening our systems

We have made substantial changes to our ISO 14001-certified environmental management system. To ensure our sites are as energy and waste efficient as possible, the new system provides enhanced guidance to help our projects set up and dismantle in the most sustainable way. 

Environment Policy

Laing O’Rourke is committed to the protection and enhancement of the environment. High environmental performance is an ongoing priority and is achieved by our actions in line with this policy. This policy sits alongside our Sustainability policy as part of our global policy framework, underpinned by our Global Code of Conduct.
Our goal is to minimise the negative impacts of our operations and maximise the quality of the built environment for future generations. Through innovation and application of good practice, we aim to steer the industry to design a sustainable and high-quality built environment with as little environmental impact as possible through the whole asset life-cycle.
Our goal will be realised by:
•         Continual improvement of the environmental performance of our activities, products and services through clear objectives, targets and programmes
•         Complying with relevant legislation and requirements and regularly evaluating this compliance
•         Proactively minimising environmental impacts, including being industry leading in minimising direct and embodied carbon emissions, and providing energy efficient/low carbon assets for our clients
•         Improving resource efficiency by reducing the use of natural resources, reducing waste and diverting the waste we do produce away from landfill sites
•         Reducing our water consumption and improving water efficiency
•         Minimising polluting emissions or discharges to the environment
•         Proactively protecting, preserving and enhancing wildlife/flora and their natural habitats
•         Enhancing employee understanding of environmental sustainability, through stimulating cultural change and providing clear direction
•         Engaging our supply chain in improving their environmental performance and responsible sourcing
•         Maintaining registration to ISO 14001:2004 for our principal businesses and progressively securing registration for our products and services businesses
•         Strong governance of the environmental agenda, underpinned by monitoring and reporting of progress against environmental targets and objectives
Our policies are reviewed and updated annually to react to client needs and evolve with the world around us to make Laing O’Rourke the company of first choice for all our stakeholders, whilst challenging and changing the image of construction worldwide.

Thanks to organisations like Laing O’Rourke, we have saved over 20,000 tonnes of wood from landfill. As well as the environmental benefits, the income generated through our timber collection service provides disadvantaged people with employment opportunities. So far we have created 150 permanent jobs and provided more than 38,000 training days.

Richard MehmedManaging Director, National Community Wood Recycling Project