Constructing a sustainable future

July 21, 2023
  • Sustainability

Last year CPB Contractors launched its Sustainability Strategy with both short-term and long-term targets. Working on the implementation of the Sustainability Strategy are Christine Mueller – a Sustainability Manager in New South Wales and ACT, and Priya Pathmanathan – a Sustainability Manager in Victoria and Tasmania. We recently jumped on a virtual meeting with Christine and Priya to learn more about their roles and the progress that CPB Contractors has already made in achieving its targets.

How would you each describe your roles with CPB Contractors? And can you share what your day-to-day looks like?

Priya: I’m the Victorian and Tasmanian Business Unit’s Sustainability Manager. I support tenders and projects across these states in implementing sustainability initiatives. It’s a great position with a range of responsibilities, including developing our Business Unit’s Sustainability Strategy, building staff engagement towards the strategy as well as training and the upkeep of various sustainability-related accreditations.   

Christine: …And I have the equivalent role to Priya, but in New South Wales and the ACT! A huge part of what we do is focused on driving a culture of change, whether through supporting innovations, encouraging sustainable practices or sharing information within our region and beyond. Our sustainability function looks to challenge the traditional ways things have been done by encouraging and embracing new technologies, designs and alternative materials that reduce the consumption of resources and lower embodied energy.  

You’ve both been working in the sustainability space for many years. Can you share some of the changes you’ve noticed? Are you seeing progress?

Christine: I’m definitely seeing progress. I’ve been in the sustainability field for more than 20 years, and at the beginning, we didn’t have the metrics to benchmark and measure sustainability impacts in a meaningful way, so it limited our ability to compare options and pursue opportunities. I would also say that the commitment to net zero targets and materials circularity on a global, national, state and organisational level has really sharpened the focus and elevated these.

Priya: The profession has certainly matured, and the tools we use to measure outcomes are more sophisticated - from Green Star ratings to the Infrastructure Sustainability Council’s IS ratings – these are all helping sustainability practitioners operate with greater consistency and to more measured outcomes. 

What actions or initiatives are you most excited about? 

Christine: I get excited about working with our construction supply chain and helping CPB Contractors embrace the opportunity to use its purchasing power to drive demand for more sustainable products, materials and technical solutions. It is remarkable how informed and engaged many suppliers and subcontractors already are. Many are actively seeking and investing in decarbonisation solutions not just to market their brand but to remain relevant and competitive. It’s exciting to share initiatives across our tender and project teams that will support these emerging markets.

Priya: I am excited to be working with the targets that have been set as part of CPB Contractors’ Sustainability Strategy. Having Net Zero targets well before 2050 and including Scope 3 emissions is so important for businesses to head in the right direction and to get there quickly.  We have a great foundation to change the way things have traditionally been done in construction and it’s exciting! The sustainability teams across our business are actively optimising how our projects and offices use recycled and low-carbon materials, embracing renewable energy and an efficient transition to electric/hybrid vehicles and fleets.

At the end of the working week, what gives you a sense of satisfaction about your job?

Priya: We know where we need to get to and by when, in order to limit the worst impacts of climate change, and I feel optimistic to see us taking steps forward. It is also really rewarding to get support, recognition and positive feedback from our clients about the sustainability actions that our teams develop and implement when delivering projects.

Christine: There is something really rewarding about having a conversation with a colleague and seeing that ‘light bulb’ go on, and you know that they’ve just got it. Its also very encouraging supporting emerging sustainability champions across a range of disciplines as sustainability requires strong collaboration to drive innovation, whether you’re a designer, engineer, procurement manager, commercial manager, environment professional, utility planner and all other roles. As they say, if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together!

How do you get everyone in the company to get behind our sustainability strategy?

Christine: I think the support is already there. I’ve found people from all disciplines wanting to be involved in bringing our sustainability strategy to life, which is great. With the impacts of climate change becoming more apparent, people want to be part of the solution and support the positive changes that we can make.

Priya: Showing examples of what can be done to operate more sustainably in the construction industry is important. Sharing successes and the urgent need for action is the best way to get others to act. It is also the case that we can’t reduce or avoid what we can’t measure, so having the data and analytics in place helps our project teams understand the impact of their actions and assists them to make well informed decisions.

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