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The recognition came not just against a field of constructors, but across 13 categories including organisations such as CSIRO and Meat and Livestock Australia. It’s a substantial recognition for a culture that’s deeply ingrained in everything we do.
Midway through the year, ACCIONA was crowned the Australian Financial Review’s overall 2023 Sustainability Leader for Impact. The award placed ACCIONA at the top of the Sustainability Leaders List, compiled by the AFR in association with Boston Consulting Group. The win came not just against a field of constructors, but across 13 categories including organisations such as CSIRO and Meat and Livestock Australia. It’s a substantial recognition for a culture that’s deeply ingrained in everything we do.
The winning submission demonstrated the role of ACCIONA’s Sustainability Master Plan, known as SMP2025.
‘It’s evidence of what differentiates us from other businesses,’ says Chris Bourne, Senior Manager, Environment and Sustainability Australia & NZ. ‘The plan is a mechanism we can measure ourselves by, implementing it through our projects and asking ourselves: What impact is this having in our business?’
The SMP2025 governs ACCIONA’s decision-making, helping create a regenerative business while trying to find solutions to some of the planet’s biggest challenges – decarbonisation, water shortages and biodiversity loss. Last year, ACCIONA reduced its emissions in Australia and New Zealand by 15 per cent, and more than 90 per cent of investments in Australia were directed towards sustainable activities, including building wind farms and electric railways.
Lyndal Isakhan, Regional Sustainability and Environment Manager for the Southern Region explains how the SMP shaped the award submission. ‘We used our SMP2025 and its four pillars to answer questions like how do you reduce CO2 emissions? Materials re-use and Waste reduction? We talked about innovation, ACCIONA’s Decarbonisation fund and the fact that we are one of the few contractors to put an internal price on carbon.’
We also pointed out that in Australasia in 2021, ACCIONA avoided 13.4 million tCO2-e through renewable energy generation, equalling 7.6 million households powered by renewable energy.
For Chris the award was a validation of our work. ‘We were competing against a lot of top contractors. We were in the construction and building category, but to win the overall impact award takes it to the next level. This is a sector with serious challenges in abating emissions: we use concrete, steel and diesel, and we clear vegetation to enable new infrastructure. But we work in an organisation that puts governance around these things.’
Lyndal agrees. ‘We’re absolutely on track to being a regenerative business,’ she says. ‘We’re in the right space, and slowly but surely transforming our industry.’
Although the AFR win is a local victory, the values that underpin it is what has always driven the business globally. Immediately after the Paris Agreement in 2015, ACCIONA publicly stated its commitment to being a carbon-neutral business* which we achieved in 2016. Across the company our activities are designed to contribute towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially focusing on development solutions aimed at decarbonising the economy.
Recently Acciona announced the commencement of tunnelling for Stage Two of the Western Harbour Tunnel. This project is an example of the extra-high standard that differentiates regenerative infrastructure from the merely sustainable. The original planning was for an immersed tunnel, which would have required dredging, destruction, dumping, and an untold impact on the sea floor ecology. ACCIONA’s design eliminates the need for any dredging activities in Sydney Harbour, minimises impacts to the marine environment, and significantly reduces noise and visual impacts for local residents and harbour users.
Within the infrastructure industry, the award stands as a demonstration of ACCIONA’s capability and the continued focus on delivering projects that are inherently sustainable for people and the planet. It is all about step-change, and empowering our people to apply a mindset that challenges the status quo and looks for innovative solutions that will continue to change the industry.
*Scope 1 and 2 emissions as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol