Sustainability in construction can be an amorphous topic. Where can construction companies start when considering how to be sustainable? Is it about only building projects that have a sustainability rating? Recycling your old construction plans? Who can you look to as an example of success?
New Zealand business Fosters have recently emerged as a market leader in the sustainable construction space, looking internally at their practices and externally at their projects to emerge as the only commercial construction company in New Zealand to hold both top Toitū sustainability certifications.
We recently sat down with Mitika Chaturvedi and Hannah Fletcher from the sustainability team at Fosters to better understand the journey Fosters has taken, from their initial strides to daily operations and more.
A common barrier to sustainable construction is how to prioritise sustainability amongst competing priorities. With the construction industry producing 40-50% of New Zealand’s landfill waste it becomes imperative that businesses find this balance.
For Fosters, focussing on sustainability is a values decision, tied to the very ethos of ‘operating to the highest standards in every way’, with the team remarking that “Sustainability is a core part of the Fosters story, and we are proud of how we operate and are industry leaders in this space. This year marks 50 years of Fosters, and our vision is to hit the 100-year mark – and having a world where we can continue to operate, sustain and make a difference for the future generation is a core part of how we will make this vision a reality.”
For day-to-day measurement and management of their sustainable efforts, Fosters has a dedicated sustainability team that tracks work sites' impact, leads initiatives for efficiency, and raises awareness. The team is vital in leading Green builds and incorporating sustainable design elements while working alongside the project and design teams to ensure buildability/procurement and being cost-effective for our Clients.
Fosters holds both the Toitū Enviromark Diamond and the Toitū Carbon Zero certifications, signifying their diligent measurement of carbon emissions, including waste, electricity, fuel, and freight transport. These measurements undergo thorough verification by a Toitū auditor, followed by implementing strategies to manage and curtail these emissions.
APL Hautapu- A Green Star project by Fosters
Fosters commitment to achieving carbon zero involves “investing in projects that work on emission reduction”. When discussing the company's emissions reduction goal by 2030, the team states, “We have an ambitious goal of 65% reduction in absolute emissions by 2030, which we are well on track to achieve.”
When asked what advice they have for people taking their first step as a sustainable construction company, Hannah and Mitika advise, “Understand the “why” behind your decision to be more sustainable. That will help lead the path of how you can achieve this, what changes need to be made and how extensive this will be. There’s subtle changes you can make, like waste recycling, procuring more sustainably and saying no to unnecessary packaging that is simply the norm. Our supply chains are slowly getting used to how we consume and this is the new way of the world, especially with legislative changes that will make this the norm. Don’t be hesitant to ask and question the way of things.”