For our economies to become truly sustainable in the years ahead, a key role is reserved for the vast manufacturing sector. 

To address legislative, economic, consumer-driven and ecological obligations, industry leaders must transition to net zero, incorporate sustainable values, and adopt circular economy principles as soon as possible.

On the brink of this major transformation and strengthened by our comprehensive service portfolio and extensive industry experience, we are guiding those leaders to a more circular and sustainable buildings, operations, and business model.

Holistic approach to sustainable performance

First, let’s explore the concept of the Green Factory. A fundamental document for the development of this idea was OECD’s “Green Growth Strategy”, which outlined the concept of economic growth and development without negatively impacting natural assets.

Influenced by key milestones such as the global adoption of the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement in 2015 and more recently COP26, today’s concept goes much further than its initial focus on waste reduction and optimizing the production process. The contemporary approach is holistic and aimed at achieving sustainable performance for both design and construction, operations and associated supply chains, and last but not least products and their disposal.

The time to act is now

As a result, the Green Factory outlines a set of actions spanning across the entire lifecycle of an asset to help achieve a more sustainable and green facility. From reducing the overall environmental footprint, achieving net zero, incorporating sustainability to circular principles and creating value for local communities.

With the decade leading up to 2030 well under way, evidence of climate change across the globe are an urgent reminder that the time to act is now. At the same time, increased environmental consciousness by consumers is raising the bar for companies, expecting them to reduce their total footprint drastically – and at an ever-faster rate.

Key areas of focus

To help our clients within the industrial and manufacturing sector in accelerating their transition towards a more sustainable facility, we’ve identified a number of key focus areas. From embracing the circular economy principles, to decarbonizing, and using digital tools as an enabler, all the way up to creating a healthy environment for people and the surrounding natural landscape: with our integrated approach we’re striving to be a holistic sustainable innovation partner, helping companies meet their climate goals, and beyond.

Net zero carbon and reduced environmental footprint

If we want to meet our emission goals, reducing your environmental footprint is an essential step. Truly decarbonizing our factories requires a transformation on how our clients design, build and operate their facilities.

With COP26 reaffirming the Paris Agreement targets, legislative frameworks and corporate strategies are actively being developed and implemented as early as 2023. For example, the EU Green Deal is underpinned by a growing body of legislation applicable to both private and public actors. Supported by the EU Taxonomy, which renders sustainability targets measurable and transparent, this is a calling for a radical change in how buildings are designed and used during and after their useful lifespan.

We can help you develop an appropriate strategy and implementation plan – tailored to the specific taxonomy of your market(s) – to achieve a net zero or even energy positive site and align this with your corporate, global and local sustainability strategy.

Efficiency, Monitoring and Management

The footprint of a building consists of much more than the raw materials used for construction. By improving the energy performance of buildings we’re able to realise a considerable reduction in the consumption of resources. Using our digital tools, analysis and assessments, we can provide you with a real-time understanding of how your facility is performing, paving the way for informed strategic decisions.

From improving the envelope performance, introducing energy saving measures, to reducing water usage and waste; we can help you optimise the performance of existing and future sites. Our efficiency, monitoring and management services also include looking after the health of employees – by tracking CO2 data as a proxy for fresh air, measuring particulate matter, all the way to scanning volatile organic compounds and monitoring light levels and thermal comfort.

Circular economy

Consumption and use of natural resources has generally followed a linear approach. Materials are sourced, used and finally disposed of as waste. To achieve a truly sustainable and regenerative facility, sustainable building design requires an understanding of the interdependence of building systems and components within their physical environments and in relation to local communities.

Circular economy aims to decouple economic growth from resource consumption. At Arup, we can help you make the transition to a circular and regenerative buildings, operations and business model, as well as help you apply circular economy principles to your products and supply chain.


Data and digital knowledge enable the transition towards more sustainable facilities. Having real-time performance data as well as calculated predictions simplifies the decision making process both in terms of design and in the optimisation of your operations. Our leading digital services include climate risk impact screening, parametric design and the development and analysis of digital twins.

A digital twin is a realistic digital representation of assets, processes or systems in the built or natural environment. Utilising data, driven through Industry 4.0 technologies such as AI, machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT), we can help clients understand, predict and improve sustainability performance characteristics and KPIs of their physical assets. The big advantage of working with a digital twin is having the possibility to simulate thousands of different scenarios – and their implications for parameters like energy consumption, occupancy and climate - before they’ve actually occurred in the real world.

Supply chain, logistics and operations

Effective logistics and supply chains allow for an optimisation of the sustainable impact of an organisation. The design of your supply chain operations, manufacturing process and goods transportation have a direct impact on your performance.

Logistics impacts the design of buildings on site, their connection to each other and ultimately how a site is connected to the world. Our specialists can help you optimise your buildings infrastructure while allowing for flexibility, future use and automation - enabling you to reduce the environmental footprint of your fleet and facility. With a growing focus on safety, logistics also impact deliveries handling, waste management and how employees travel on site.

On the back of the pandemic, developing resilient and flexible supply chains and operations has become more important than ever. Having a strategic plan as well as the ability to adopt quickly to changes in the market is key. From vehicle scheduling to staff management; sustainable operations pave the way towards a reduced environmental footprint.

Community and planetary boundaries

Creating a Green Factory goes beyond the sphere of your own company, both geographically and socially. We must consider manufacturing facilities in the context of immediate communities and wider society, surrounding environment and biodiversity.

More and more, organisations are putting people at the heart of the facility, creating an environment for work, play and family life. We can assist you in (re)shaping your people and change management, design and optimize ecology and landscaping, set up wildlife conservation and develop green transportation to make your buildings and surrounding site not only sustainable, but also inclusive, maximizing the positive impact on your local communities.