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BAA aims to build sustainable projects culture

Sustainability By Kevin Walsh  

BAA’s new capital sustainability manager, Simon Jennings explains how he plans to develop a new culture within BAA.


BAA’s planned CO2 reduction at Heathrow East compared to the existing emissions from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2  


Despite having only stepped into the role of capital sustainability manager last month, Simon Jennings has a clear idea of what he expects from all involved in BAA construction projects.

“Our priority undertaking is capacity building – to engage with the whole community of people involved in capital delivery and to help them embed “sustainability” in the phases of the process that they own – and to harness the latent potential of many in our capital community who already have good ideas about how to make progress on this agenda,” he explains.

This has become a common goal throughout the construction industry, as businesses strive to incorporate

Sustainability will be considered alongside other factors like safety, cost and time

sustainable practices into their everyday routines ahead of the department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform’s (BERR) finalised “Strategy for Sustainable Construction” paper.

After spending four years as a sustainability manager for United Utilities, Jennings is now responsible for providing sustainable technical leadership for over 300 development projects across the BAA portfolio.

“Throughout the capital investment process, sustainability will be considered alongside other factors like safety, cost, quality and time,” he says. “It has to be a thread running through design, construction, integration and decommissioning.” Jennings adds: “Flagship projects like T5 prove how this philosophy can yield excellent results – now we have a great opportunity to promote the same approach across the whole population of projects in the programme.”

Learning the ropes in his new role seems a daunting prospect, given the number of individual projects he must familiarise himself with. However, Jennings says he is getting to grips with the practicalities of providing an efficient sustainability support service to address each project’s particular concerns while maintaining consistency with BAA corporate policy.

“At the most basic level, we help projects manage their efficiency in use of energy, consumption of resources, minimisation of waste, selection of materials and so on,” he says. “Obviously gains in these areas are good for the environment and good for the business because they reduce waste of various forms.”

Within the wider strategic context, the main challenge for BAA Capital Projects is, he points out, to deliver airport assets that are world class in sustainability terms. So it is vital that it is alert to new thinking and that it works with supply chain partners and industry to stay up to date.

  BAA is committed to earning a reputation as an exemplaryconstruction client, driving sustainability

“In Capital Projects we need a project-centred approach that is complementary of efforts in other parts of BAA’s business: we support a joined-up approach to the way high level business aims translate into assets on the airfield,” he adds.

Jennings has far-reaching ambitions for the future of BAA’s sustainability programme. “BAA is committed over the next few years to earning a reputation as an exemplary construction client that drives sustainability at all levels of its capital programme and sends the right signals to its supply chain to spur sustainability advances in the wider construction sector,” he says.

“I think you will see BAA begin to establish a leading position by embracing sustainability not just in a handful of flagship ‘mega projects’”. but as a cultural characteristic that is expressed in every project in the programme.”   

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