Blazing trails of good for all to follow

26 Apr 2023

When Buildcorp set out to develop an environment plan in 2021 it engaged Introba (then Integral Group) to create a framework that was true and unique to the business. Here we speak to Mary Casey, Principal, Sustainability at Introba, and Carmen Prince, Head of CSR, Buildcorp, to learn how two Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) members built a meaningful framework for a dispersed business, committed to positive environmental and social outcomes.

Environment, social and governance (ESG) issues weren’t new to Buildcorp when it set out to formalise its approach in 2021. Buildcorp had been a GBCA member for almost 15 years, a long-time user of Green Star and an industry leader in sustainable building practices. It was a business created by a philanthropic family, generously supporting grassroots sport, giving back to communities, and with an Indigenous apprenticeship program already in place.

Carmen Prince started with Buildcorp as Head of CSR in 2021 and an environment plan was one of the first projects on her to-do list. She says that for a company like Buildcorp, figuring out the tangible actions was the easy part, because so many already existed.

“Buildcorp began as a family business and today it’s a business based on family values. What struck me when I started was that when making business decisions, Buildcorp is always asking, ‘is it the right thing to do?’ ESG was already embedded in the culture,” she said.

Carmen wasn’t the only one working on the plan from a new role. Mary Casey had just joined Introba as Principal, Sustainability, and the strategy was one of her first pieces of work too.

“Soon after starting with Introba, I held a series of workshops to help Buildcorp connect their existing environmental work to their purpose. This helped us ensure the strategy wasn’t just a tick the box exercise but woven into the company’s fabric, continuing it on the trajectory it was already on,” shared Mary.

“Buildcorp was a company with a history of pushing the boundaries, so next we looked at how we could help it blaze a trail for others to follow,” she said.

Like many of GBCA’s member companies, Buildcorp is a business made up of various roles, across multiple sites, often spotted around Australia, but Carmen and Mary found a way around this challenge.

“When it comes to ESG issues, I’ve found people want to know and want to be part of it. We had planned a series of in person workshops but then we went into lock down so took the workshops online meaning even people in remote locations were able to contribute,” said Carmen.

Mary says staff engagement from the outset is crucial to create an authentic strategy that resonates with the whole workforce. To do this she says it’s essential that all involved understand the “why”.

“When everyone understands the point of being on the journey you get the benefit of the collective intelligence, will and desire - from there it takes off. It’s not a compliance activity, it’s part of the culture and day-to-day business,” explained Mary

To engage staff, the implementation of the strategy - the “how” - needs to be appealing too. One way Buildcorp brought staff into this journey was with an app that allows team members to track fitness activities through their smart watch or phone. Each time a fitness target is reached, the user receives points that contribute to emissions reductions through a blue carbon project in Madagascar.

“It is fascinating to see the data and watch the competition between staff and teams, some take it very seriously!” said Carmen.

“The app has recently been updated and the next round of competition will focus on our scope three emissions. For example, when a staff member is traveling for work, I can tell them their carbon footprint and they can find a way to offset it through exercise. I see this as a win-win for the whole business – it’s a win for culture, a win for health and a win for the environment,” she said.

Despite COVID-19 and the threat of a recession, in Australia the interest in ESG is booming. In 2022 KPMG research found 90 percent of the ASX100 recognise climate as a financial risk, 90 percent report on social risks to business and 89 percent are reporting carbon targets.

Mary says that for a strategy to thrive and survive in the long term, the process can’t be rushed, and purpose must be established early

“Sometimes clients expect us to walk in, set their targets for them and give them an ESG strategy, but that’s a bit like going to the doctor and asking him to fix you without letting him do an examination. It’s important for us to find out what’s important to the company, what the objectives are, what the motivation is and why that matters,” shared Mary.“If the company is being reactive or is creating the strategy from a place of fear, that’s when we see unintended consequences. Instead, we try to develop a meaningful strategy from a place of deep care and commitment, so it can evolve and grow with the business,” said Mary.

More about Introba:

Across five countries are over 1,000 engineers, designers, and consultants collaborating to elevate the human experience, create more resilient communities, and protect the health of the planet. We transform the built environment by creating dynamic solutions — living systems — that are smart, resilient, and connected.
Introba are specialists in developing ESG Frameworks. In addition to being an increasingly essential business responsibility and pathway to capital, they see ESG Frameworks as an opportunity for organisations to translate their values into value-adding processes.

By offering a structure to articulate and express their intentions about the contribution they seek to be, they can galvanise and inspire and support meaningful results that are aligned with the unique character and mission of the organisation.

Introba’s ESG Methodology bases itself around the strength of engagement, a capability-building process, data as essential for performance support and assurance, and finally, third-party advice and review to ensure a robust and credible framework.
Is your organisation ready to set out on its ESG journey? See how Introba can assist here, and for more information, reach out to Mary Casey.
At GBCA we work closely with our members and partners to meet our shared climate goals and we thank Buildcorp and Introba for their ongoing support. We're grateful to count Introba as a Climate positive partner, learn more here.