CSR AGENDA HIGHLIGHTED AT LEEDS KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE EVENT                                                     

Leeds Knowledge Exchange Event sets Business Responsibility Agenda.

“Corporate Social Responsibility is about communicating visions, ethics and the way we operate internally and externally”. This quote from Keynote Speaker, Mel Starrs, Associate Director, PRP Architects, kicking off Green Vision’s Building CSR in Construction Series, at Old Broadcasting House last Thursday – and was a sentiment that ran true throughout the emotive inspiring half day conference.

Run by Leeds Metropolitan’s Centre for Knowledge Exchange and the Construction Sector Network supported by Fairsnape, the event saw over 40 construction and property professionals, with others participating online through social media, explore themes around real competitive advantage through effective CSR.

Session discussions covered effective engagement of the Supply Chain, adopting an innovative deep green Building standard (The Living Building Challenge), the need for better dialogue between Education and Business, setting real CSR objectives grounded in local community needs, the need for transparency and honesty along with the importance in sharing best practice through open networks.

Mel Starrs discussed where Buildings fit in the CSR agenda, often as the second or third largest company expenditure, and a tangible representation of a company’s CSR strategy. She highlighted the importance of design being ‘measurable, accountable and repeatable’ and the effective use of BREEAM both as a tool for effective collaboration within project teams and for clients to demonstrate commitment to its CSR credentials. She also outlined the productivity benefits of green buildings with the most prominent green tenants, and how green buildings rarely change hands.

Speakers and delegate responses in the roundtables discussions and networking debates highlighted that in their experience whilst there was a real need for step change around CSR in construction, for many delegates making small changes was an effective way of starting from the bottom up.

Throughout the day many references were made to the leaders who are influencing, inspiring and shaping an emergence for a new built environment based on social responsibility.  A summary of these Hero’s and Texts can be found on our blog below.

For some, CSR is about working with local communities prior to a construction project, engaging education to develop appropriate apprenticeships to meet the needs of the sector. For many it is ensuring the CSR plan is at the heart of a company strategic plan and aware of the need to engage boardrooms to get Social responsibility to the heart of their business.

The live Internet presentation from Tamara Bergkamp, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) based in Amsterdam, clearly highlighted the move to integrated reporting, promoting GRI’s fourth generation of Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, (now in development and available focore view on their website.) One of the objectives of GRI is to offer guidance on “how to link sustainability reporting into business reporting aligned to the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC).

Following a series of informative and entertaining Pecha Kuchas (Eddie Murphy, Mott Macdonald, Faye Jenkins, Laing O’Rourke, Rick Hamilton, Co2 Sense), the lively closing Q and A sessions covered topics such as apprenticeships, community engagement, regional leaders, social media and technology in the sector and the benefits of working together to share knowledge and best practice.

Claire Walker Project Manager for Green Vision said: “Yesterday’s event was a particular success as the event evoked not only lively debate but real enthusiasm and drive to really make a difference within the region. We are making headway in terms of getting the property and construction sector to focus on sustainable practices, but what we need now is to grow Green Vision from a strong core of companies driving the agenda in Leeds to work with other regional Green Networks to strengthen our message and enhance our ability to create real change.

‘Green Vision is a platform that can open up discussions and debates that in turn help delegates within their own organisations, take learning back to their teams, and enable change. We continue to have great responses from those who attended and are already looking forward to the next one!”

More information along with presentations, transcripts and links can be found on our Green Vision site – http://ckehub.org/greenvision