Construction is probably the most ancient businesses harking back to the human civilization. Buildings are the pillar of all round human development. Sustainability has long term relationship with construction business, since buildings meets the primary needs of society, that is, shelter from harsh environment and all odds (Khatib 2016).
In this paper sustainability has been discussed under the banners of triple bottom line, sustainable development and sustainable construction. An exemplary report of triple bottom line reporting of a multinational construction business using the GRI reporting framework has also been presented. Detailed discussion about sustainability and different forms of its representation has been provided (Murray 2013).
Review the general concepts of triple bottom lines (TBL) and sustainable development:
Triple bottom line or TBL is the concept of measuring the social and environmental performance of any business, government or non-profit organisation along with the economic line (Savitz 2013). Through TBL reporting an organisation’s overall performance circumscribing all the three economic, social and environmental lines is measured. It was first introduced by John Elkington in his book ‘Cannibals with Fork: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st century Business’ in 1997. It is said that TBL is mainly concerned with social and economic responsibilities of an organisation beyond its financial line. In his book Elkington has used the terms people, planet and profit for social, environmental and economic lines to clarify the purpose of TBL in modern businesses. The concept of TBL primarily deals with the organisation’s use of natural resources like human labour, energy, water, land and others for its functioning and growth. But rarely are they concerned about the impact they are creating on these natural resources. For spreading awareness among the business organisations about the harmful effects they have produced to gain profits on the surrounding environments is TBL has been formulated. TBL has created mush awareness among the global mass and organisations are showing interest gradually towards maintaining all-round sustainability.
Sustainable development is a concept which incorporates fulfilling the needs of the present generation without endangering the need of the future generations (Pearce, Barbier & Markandya 2013). Development that serves both the purpose of fulfilling the needs of present generation and preserving for the future is sustainable development. This is said to be a very old concept, which has been neglected for years. But with the introduction of TBL, sustainable development is also set on wheels. Sustainable development encapsulates two key concept, these are needs and limitations. Needs refers to the primary needs of the poor races and species of the world. Limitation refers to the boundaries created by the technology and society on the ability of the environment to fulfil the needs of the present and future generations. Due to the continuous industrial evolution the environment has been suffering the consequences of selfish development in forms of reducing ozone layer, extinction of species, climatic change, greenhouse gases, deforestation and so on.
Describe the relationship of TBL with sustainable development by considering key principles, TBL key themes as well as discuss the key questions raised in SD.
Sustainable development is said to be a very old concept commonly known as ‘spaceship earth’. It got attention during the 1990s with the change of term ‘sustainability’. Sustainability is simply concerned about fulfilling the needs of the present without harming the future. Many scholars relate sustainable development with environmental issues created due to the misuse of natural resources. While other scholars interpret sustainable development with social welfare and others emphasize on both the social and environmental factors (Griggs et al. 2013). Triple bottom line is said to be the balancing instrument of all the three aspects of economic, social and environmental line for the all round performance of organisations. Triple bottom lines stands on the base of three principles: profit, people and planet. Profit stands for economic performance of the organisation, that is, net amount of sale, total taxes paid to the government, remuneration of the employees, employment, gross domestic product and others. People stand for the social responsibility served by the company, that is, employment of female candidates and minorities at managerial level, health and safety of labours, accidental compensation, equal opportunities, helping pregnant employees, fostering moral values and good behaviour among employees and customers, charity, organising relief funds and so on. Planet stands for environmental responsibilities, like, reducing carbon emission, recycling of disposals, safe waste disposal, reducing usage of non-renewable energy, water usage and others. It is said that TBL is the advanced concept of sustainable development. It can also be said that TBL is the measuring instrument for sustainable development. Triple bottom line reporting is now practiced by most of the renowned multinational companies to maintain sustainability and gain competitive advantage. Global awareness of sustainability has compelled most of the public and private sector organisations to adopt policies for TBL practice (Henriques & Richardson 2013).
The most common questions found regarding sustainable development are the following ones: What are the benefits of sustainable development in a business? How can any organisation perform equally in all the three lines for sustainability? Why must a business organisation adopt triple bottom line approach? How will the social and environmental performance be measured?
Discuss the significance of TBL in sustainable development by considering the primary features of TBL such as accountability, measurability, benchmarking etc.
As discussed above that TBL is considered as the instrument of sustainability to measure the performance of organisations in the three different fields of economic, social and environmental. Sustainable development refers to the development which fulfils the needs of the present generation without affecting the future generations’ ability to meet their needs. Therefore it can be pointed out that sustainable development emphasizes on the all-round development of organisations which include profit of the organisations, its social and environmental responsibilities (Holden, Linnerud & Banister 2017). This can only be conducted by adopting the TBL approach which acts a balance among the three lines, a way measuring the three lines is by reporting. The TBL reporting has gained considerable importance in public and private sector and in global business. The significance of TBL has been reflected in the policies of multinational companies striving to reduce the carbon emission level, safe handling of the hazardous wastes, recycling of disposal, increasing use of alternative energy over non-renewable energy, equal opportunities for all the employees, safe and healthy work environment, facilities, facilities for individual development through higher studies, charities for the needy ones and so on.
The primary features of TBL are accountability, measurability and benchmarking. Accountability denotes the primary responsibility to report the strategic measures and actions taken transparently to the common people through press release or social media or video conferencing with the help of television channels live program. Measurability refers to the quality of being measured, the profit or the economic performance can be measured by currency, but there is issue regarding measuring the environmental and social responsibilities. Though, nowadays technology has reduced the complexity of measurement of carbon emission, fuel consumption and electricity consumption, soil pollution, air pollution and water pollution. But social responsibilities cannot be measured. For this benchmarking has been successfully applied by the UN organisations to measure the all round performance. Benchmarking denotes to the process of standardising one organisation’s best all round performance as the unit of measurement, on the basis of which theother organisations are judged (Halpern et al. 2013).
Discuss the concept of sustainable construction (SC) and the significance of TBL in sustainable construction
Sustainable construction refers to the process of constructing building structures which meets the standards of sustainability, that is, efficient use of raw materials, preserving natural environment, ethical values regarded, safe waste disposal, economically sound and others (Kibert 2016).The buildings have the capability to contribute to the future development. Nowadays most of the population are shifting to urban areas, so buildings play an important role in social development.
Sustainable construction aims at fulfilling the needs of the present without harming the abilities of the future generations to meet their own needs. It circumscribe a host important considerations, like, design and planning, strong infrastructure, cost-effectiveness, raw materials’ performance, energy efficiency, construction technology and processes, eco-friendly, maintaining ethical standards, long-term monitoring, dependency on landscape, water usage, urban fabric and architecture, flexibility in building use, and so on (Gou & Xie 2017). TBL plays a vital role in the construction business since buildings are the abode of social, economic and environmental development and it also incorporates future-habitants’ potentialities. Construction businesses are judged on their total performance in long term functioning and feedback of the customers and company reports. Benchmarking is a common and proved way of judging the company performances. Many national and international awards are provided to the best companies on the basis of the quality of construction meeting all the essential standards (Winkler, Deller & Marcouiller 2015).
Prepare a sustainability report for a multinational company using Global Reporting Initiatives(GRI) reporting framework
Vinci construction has a history which harks back 150 years ago in France. Presently it is the largest construction company in the world with a turnover of nearly 400 billion Euros. It has expanded its business in more than 100 countries at 5696 locations including UK, Europe, Americas, Africa and Middle-east and Southeast Asia. It has employee strength of more than 180,000. It has achieved much fame in this century and continues to be the numero uno in the world of construction. Greatest competitors of Vinci in global business are Group Acs, Bechtel, Hochtief (Group Vinci 2017).
Strategies and analysis
The prior strategy of the business is to extend its international boundaries through excellence at handling specialised projects. It strives to create a balance in its concession and contracting businesses. The Group Vinci strove to meet the standards set by United Nations Global Compact and engages in continual improvement strategies. It shares its profits with the stakeholders and employees, endeavours in creating green technologies in construction processes.
The Group Vinci has numerous subsidiaries spread in 115 nations. Vinci Construction France, Vinci Construction International Network, Vinci Construction UK, Soletanche Freyssinet, Entrepose are subsidiaries in the field of construction. Moreover it carries out its social and environmental responsibilities efficiently, percentage of Vinci employee shareholders has increased from 55 to 65% in 2016, greenhouse gas emissions has decreased from 70tCO2 to 50tCO2(Group Vinci 2017).
Group Vinci uses the guidelines of GRI reporting framework and the Group’s own software to prepare the report. Moreover the business units prepare their own reports using the Group’s software available in the intranet using their own management indicators. It uses around 60 quantitative indicators for measuring the company’s environmental performance based on the key environmental parameters.
Governance, commitment and engagement
The board of directors leaded by the Chairman of the Board and the CEO (Chief Executive Officer), at present Xavier Hulliard, takes important decisions for the Group. The duties of Chairman of Board and the CEO are separated and combined depending on the need of the hour. The model of governance in Vinci is decentralised. The contracts taken by the business units are the main commitments of the company and Chairman, CEO and Vice President scrutinize the performances of the management bodies annually (Vinci 2017).
Vinci strives to create a equilibrium between its concession and contracting businesses. Its continual development strategies and green technology differentiates it from the other. Its strategies to reduce the use of non-renewable sources and develop long-term and energy efficient structures reflect its management of social and environmental responsibilities.
The Group Vinci has successfully retained its number one position even after 150 years. Its continual developing strategies which include energy-efficient, cost- effective and eco-friendly buildings and infrastructures has differentiated from the rest. It follows the reporting of GRI in its environmental and social reporting software. The boundaries here refer to the GRI reporting framework which has been followed. Also Vinci follows the rules listed in Article 225 in France’s Grenelle II Environment Law. The indicators for Vinci’s sustainability reporting are increase in women manager all over Vinci group by 19% in 2016, carbon emission reduced from 70tCO2 to 50tCO2(Group Vinci 2017). Moreover in future Vinci has targeted to reduce carbon emission by further 30%.
Discuss the challenges and issues in reporting sustainability.
Sustainability as discussed above is differently interpreted by different groups of thinkers. The sustainability reporting, that is, the TBL reporting has aroused many multinational companies to be transparent in their sustainability reporting and devised major changes in their company policies. The GRI reporting framework has to a lot extent eased the effort of the sustainability reporting professionals (Amran, Lee & Devi 2014). Still, the company faces major challenges in preparing and compiling the sustainability reports. Some of the major challenges and issues are given below:
Sustainability report is not just presenting the records of a company’s good deeds, it needs to be very transparent about the performances and impacts of sustainability on the company procedures, it has to be balanced.
Getting proper and exact report from the suppliers and the manufacturing units is another issue.
The employees need to understand the essentiality and benefits of sustainability in the actual terms which is another issue.
The report needs to accommodate the interests all the stakeholders of a company which include different classes of people, another challenge for reporting.
How to link sustainability to the daily activities is a great challenge also.
The legislation demands for more disclosure from the company and the suppliers.
It is not mere a checklist, but a deep and long-term process of investigation and communication for the company.
All the suppliers need to report accurately and transparently. Small suppliers face problems due to lack of proper knowledge (Epstein & Buhovac 2014).
Hence sustainability reporting is a tough nut to crack. But different multinational companies have formulated new policies and employed detailing in their day- to- day activities to self- help in sustainability reporting. They believe that one needs to dig deeper into collecting the exact information and regular communication with stakeholders on daily activities can help one to be more transparent in reporting sustainability. Multinational companies like Microsoft, Apple, Intel and Puma have encouraged suppliers in getting trained in GRI reporting framework. Moreover,technology has aided the sustainability reporting to quite an extent through the tablets and mobiles, social media and others (Milne & Gray 2013).
Environment sustainability, has gained much importance in the last few decades. Consumers and Stakeholders have become much sensitive about the impacts construction business can have on the surrounding environment and society. Therefore they choose to work with those businesses which strive for cost-effective, energy efficient and eco-friendly solutions for their business operations (Hwang & Ng 2013). Triple Bottom Lines have accelerated the much awaited efforts of the ecologists to reduce the harmful effects of industrialization on the nature, though late in creating awareness of the havoc industries have caused on the nature. The paper has reflected the significance of Triple Bottom Lines in maintaining sustainability. Adhering to the guidelines of GRI reporting and its significance and the related issues are also discussed(Glavas & Mish 2015).
Amran, A, Lee, SP & Devi, SS 2014, 'The influence of governance structure and strategic corporate social responsibility toward sustainability reporting quality', Business Strategy and the Environment, vol 23, no. 4, pp. 217-235.
Epstein, MJ & Buhovac, AR, 2014, Making sustainability work: Best practices in managing and measuring corporate social, environmental, and economic impacts, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Glavas, A & Mish, J, 2015, 'Resources and capabilities of triple bottom line firms: Going over old or breaking new ground?', Journal of Business Ethics, vol 127, no. 3, pp. 623-642.
Gou, Z & Xie, X, 2017, 'Evolving green building: triple bottom line or regenerative design?', Journal of Cleaner Production, vol 153, no. 1, pp. 600-607.
Griggs, D, Stafford-Smith, M, Gaffney, O, Rockström, J, Öhman, MC, Shyamsundar, P, Steffen, W, Glaser, G, Kanie, N & Noble, I 2013, 'Policy: Sustainable development goals for people and planet', Nature, vol 495, no. 7441, pp. 305-307.
Group Vinci 2017, vinci.com, viewed 2017 September 13, <https://www.vinci.com/vinci.nsf/en/sustainable-development/pages/climate_strategy.html>.
Halpern, BS, Klein, CJ, Brown, CJ, Beger, M, Grantham, HS, Mangubhai, S, Ruckelshaus, M, Tulloch, VJ, Watts, M, White, C & Possingham, HP 2013, ' Achieving the triple bottom line in the face of inherent trade-offs among social equity, economic return, and conservation', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 110, no. 15, pp. 6229-6234.
Henriques, A & Richardson, J 2013, The triple bottom line: Does it all add up, Routledge.
Holden, E, Linnerud, K & Banister, D 2017, 'The imperatives of sustainable development', Sustainable Development, vol 25, no. 3, pp. 213-226.
Hwang, BG & Ng, WJ 2013, 'Project management knowledge and skills for green construction: Overcoming challenges', International Journal of Project Management, vol 31, no. 2, pp. 272-284.
Khatib, JE, 2016, Sustainability of construction materials, Woodhead Publishing.
Kibert, CJ, 2016, Sustainable construction: green building design and delivery, John Wiley & Sons.
Milne, MJ & Gray, R, 2013, 'W (h) ither ecology? The triple bottom line, the global reporting initiative, and corporate sustainability reporting', Journal of business ethics, vol 118, no. 1, pp. 13-29.
Murray, M 2013, Corporate social responsibility in the construction industry, Routledge.
Pearce, D, Barbier, E & Markandya, A 2013, Sustainable development: economics and environment in the Third World, Routledge.
Savitz, A 2013, The triple bottom line: how today's best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success-and how you can too, John Wiley & Sons.
Vinci 2017, www.vinci.com, viewed 13 September 2017, <https://www.vinci.com/vinci.nsf/en/business-model.html>.
Winkler, R, Deller, S & Marcouiller, D, 2015, ' Recreational housing and community development: A triple bottom line approach', Growth and Change, vol 46, no. 3, pp. 481-500.