Jenna Bates is an environmental advisor in our Regional Building London and South East business and she has been shortlisted as a finalist in this year’s Construction News Awards – Rising Star category. She joined Kier in November 2017 as an environmental advisor following a postgraduate position in Hertsmere Borough Council waste team. She provides risk management and sustainability support, to date assisting on 20+ projects.

Here, Jenna reveals how she embedded key improvement initiatives into the business and how she is heading up the Carbon Zero Action team, the first of its kind in the wider Kier Group.

“Working as an environmental advisor in the construction industry is very rewarding as it gives me a chance to truly make a difference. My first focus was on carbon in our business and following client feedback I identified that a better understanding of embodied carbon was fundamentally important.

After establishing that the BRE Green Guide was being withdrawn and did not offer product specific data I began collating a database of embodied carbon in our preferred product list. I gathered product declarations and, where not available, supplemented information from other recognised data sources. The database, still in development, is currently being used as an optioneering tool allowing design teams to discuss materials with less significant carbon impacts

To provide a framework for the Carbon Zero Action team we developed Kier Regional Building London Net Zero Carbon Strategy and a supporting poster to communicate milestone dates, including 100% of indirect emissions to be renewably sourced by 2022 and carbon neutral by 2045. Our Loughton office became carbon neutral in early 2020.

My next focus was engaging our supply chain to look at how we can all become more sustainable together. I liaised with our plant suppliers, A Plant and TCP, to promote zero/ultra-low emission plant and equipment. We organised a ‘Green Machines’ day at an A Plant depot and are currently working together to deliver the UK’s first ultra-low emissions site in London

To reduce the risk of contaminated materials being delivered to site we commenced a programme of visits to recycled aggregate suppliers to improve compliance with the Aggregates Quality Protocol.

I have also been working with Green Compass to make the PAS 402 (guidance on performance reporting from the waste industry) more usable and promoting uptake by the waste contractors on our supply chain.

Engaging the communities we work in is also very important. To date, we have supported 10 BIG Biodiversity Challenge entries; three were shortlisted and highly commended for national awards including an iconic living wall on Morley House scaffolding, Regents Street. At 100m2 that was, at the time, the largest in the UK.

We also developed and delivered a sustainable construction lesson plan on our Grosvenor Street project with the Construction Youth Trust. Across our other projects we managed multiple community engagement events with schools as part of their Considerate Constructor Scheme activities.

Our Kier environmental team help to review standards and best practice documentation. One of my biggest contributions was developing a Compliance and Consents flowchart allowing project teams to map out the regulatory regimes affecting them, and the evidence needed to deliver compliance; it has been adopted by the wider Kier Environmental team.

I am delighted to be a finalist in this year’s Construction News awards in the Rising Star category and that the work to improve sustainability in the business, not just by myself but also by the enthusiastic teams I work with, is being recognised. I’m so pleased to have been able to support the sustainability in Kier and hope to continue this as we work towards our targets."

Iain Casson, senior safety, health and environment (SHE) Manager, at Kier Construction said: “Jenna has been a role model for her profession and is a highly valued member of our team. As a passionate and committed environmentalist, Jenna’s enthusiasm for pushing the sustainability agenda within Kier Construction has been widely recognised, both by operational staff as well as professional environmentalists. She is quick to understand and communicate to others the technical elements that sustainability and environmentalism is often associated with. A key strength is her well-developed technical IS skills and she has used them to develop tools to improve our management of sustainability and compliance issues.”