Public sector shows how ESG’s ‘S’ gets a boost out of building

Although much of the focus of the social aspects of ESG is on completed buildings and how they can provide social benefit, the construction phase is an opportunity to yield social dividend too.

In particular, the public sector procurement process provides lessons as it has been required to produce community and social benefit for some time.

“We have been in a landscape in construction and the built environment where social impact, community benefit, social value, whatever you want to call it has been an established part of the fabric for a decade or more now,” said Chris Clarke, performance and improvement director at UK-based public sector procurement specialist Scape.

Clarke said UK legislation, The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, has required that community benefit results from public investment. “It’s a big part of what Scape is all about, making the pound go further than just building something,” he told Real Asset Insight’s Richard Betts.

All procurement that the company is involved with, whether that is infrastructure, new building, refurbishment or consultancy has social value requirements built into their key performance indicator, he explained.

Examples include providing work experience for ex-offenders or former members of the armed forces, working with schools to highlight careers in construction, or sourcing materials locally to keep money in the community.

“In some cases, we’ve seen 180% return on investment when you turn the social impact into fiscal value. It’s hugely beneficial for communities,” Clarke said.