Originally published in Sustainable Brands April 3, 2017.
Global stressors — from water scarcity to modern-day slavery — are reinventing traditional business models across heavy industries that support a more secure, sustainable future. As one of the largest engineering, procurement and construction companies in the world, Bechtel is uniquely positioned to be part of this transformation. We’ve completed more than 25,000 extraordinary projects across 160 countries on all seven continents. From executing a $25 billion infrastructure master plan in Gabon to building Europe’s biggest construction project that includes a 100km-plus rail line in London, we recognize it’s no longer enough to build the biggest project in the world; we want to be known also for building the best projects for the world.
A big part of building a more sustainable future rests in applying relentless innovation to change the way we design and build. In October of 2016, we delivered a liquefied natural gas complex on Curtis Island off the coast of Queensland to meet the growing global demand for low-carbon fuels. The construction was part of the largest private capital investment in Australia’s history. At peak, the project employed 30,000 people and paid more than $1.5 billion in local wages. The complex included three facilities adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, making biodiversity protection a key priority. At one of the facilities, we developed an advanced wastewater treatment plant that removed more than 95 percent of nitrogen and phosphorous from sanitary wastewater produced at the site and its work camp. At another facility, we maximized recycling efforts to reuse almost 90 percent of materials, enabling us to keep timber, concrete and soil onsite to control erosion, build roads and manage stormwater drainage.
In Peru, where we are working on a copper mine project in that represents 2 percent of the world's copper production, we developed an environmental management system that resulted in zero environmental impacts during the construction phase. Through the project we also helped create 5,000 jobs, purchased $100 million in local goods and services, and delivered more than 24,000 hours of business training in the area.
As our customers and governments recognized us for the positive impacts we made, we saw tremendous business value in advancing Bechtel’s approach to designing and building for the next 100 years. Our journey starts with a set of new, ambitious 2030 sustainability goals and targets, which we will announce next month. They were formulated to inspire and empower our employees to innovate and create new ways to deliver sustainability that brings value to Bechtel, our customers and society.
Our four sustainability goals are:
- Contribute solutions to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- Reduce our environmental footprint on projects and facilities;
- Increase the resilience of people living in communities vulnerable to natural hazards; and
- Promote sustainability and responsible business practices in our supply chain.
- With these goals, we’ve set specific targets to challenge ourselves. By 2030, we will: contribute 100 ideas to help achieve the SDGs; improve the resilience of 5,000,000 people to natural hazards; use sustainable material alternatives to reduce our environmental footprint on 100 percent of our key projects and non-project facilities; and engage 100 percent of our key suppliers to promote sustainability in the delivery of materials and/or services, and preventing modern-day slavery, including within their own supply chains.
At Bechtel, we created the Future Fund to encourage our employees to pursue new ideas and foster a community of intrapreneurs. If selected, an idea will receive resources to develop the concept as a prototype. If the prototype is approved, an individual can receive additional funds to progress the prototype into a pilot program, and possibly be adopted as a part of our core business process.
We believe the next 100 years will be defined by sustainability innovation. And as we become focused on meeting our 2030 goals and targets, we are not only building a better society but also building a better Bechtel for decades to come.