The Value Toolkit focuses on the three pillars of sustainability

Jenny Hughes
Jenny Hughes 02-08-2022

Sustainability, climate change, and social value consultant Jenny Hughes trialled the Toolkit while working with Stantec. Jenny has now taken up a new role, as Associate Director, at consultancy Nature Positive. Jenny calls for the industry to view value-based decision making as the way to deliver better outcomes and tackle the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.

The built environment and construction sector needs to move to value-based decision making to ensure better long-term outcomes for the environment and for communities. There’s huge benefit in making sure we are delivering consistent methods and processes. We can only do that if we come together as an industry. One organisation alone cannot change the outcomes.

Success in enacting significant change depends on both top-down and bottom-up action. The Value Toolkit has been extensively trialled throughout industry and I have seen first-hand the benefits it brings in helping the construction and built environment sector focus on value, not just cost. I’m excited to see how the toolkit has been refined.  For industry-wide take up, it would be helpful if the government were to mandate the use of the Toolkit so we can secure its benefits throughout the sector for the future.

The Value Toolkit enables us to have different conversations about sustainability, which can be a dreaded word for some people in the industry. The Toolkit flips the sector’s traditional approach on its head by putting the three pillars of sustainability at its heart. When sustainability is central to thinking, and no longer an optional add-on, consultants and practitioners can have conversations that effectively focus on value.

There is currently a significant disconnect within many organisations. At the governance and senior management levels, many of our organisations espouse strong values and principles but it is often difficult for leaders and employees to translate their ethics into practical decision making.

When I trialled the Value Toolkit with a housing association client, I saw the importance of taking  broad stakeholder perspectives covering all life cycle stages into consideration.

The client was working on an urban regeneration scheme and had a mission firmly centred on delivering social value. We trialled the value definition phase of the Toolkit and touched on measurement and valuation aspects. We delivered three workshops with the client team, which represented a broad range of stakeholders. Nevertheless, the trial showed we would have also benefited from including representatives from the operational and construction phases of the project. The Value Toolkit shone a light on the fact that we need to be making decisions including all stakeholders.

Ultimately, as a sector we need to view value-based decision making not just as a different way to do things but as the best way to do them.