Arup has been recognised for its legacy of innovation in tackling complex sustainability challenges by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) in its annual list of Australia’s Sustainability Leaders for the second consecutive year.

The list named Arup as a leader in the professional services, advisory and engineering category for its innovative Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) which provides employees and teams with financial backing to achieve tangible sustainable outcomes through the project work they are undertaking with clients. 

Arup’s Australasia Region Co-Chair Kerryn Coker, said the SDF was enabled by Arup’s employee-owned structure, allowing it to lead the industry and create impact beyond the scale of the firm. 

“Our structure – and the fact that we are trust-owned by and for our people – means we are able to invest a percentage of our profit back into the business to be used in a way that scales our response to climate change. We have made bold commitments, for example to achieve net zero emissions across our operations by 2030, but we know the biggest impact we have is through our projects and the work we do with our clients.”

The SDF was established by Arup in June 2020, to help the firm deliver on its commitment to contribute meaningfully to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and create shared value for our clients and our communities while safeguarding our planet. 

It provides everyone at Arup with the opportunity to apply for seed-funding of up to $15,000 AUD to accelerate sustainable development outcomes on their projects, helping to overcome constraints that may be a barrier for clients and partners embracing new approaches to enhancing sustainability outcomes. To date, $2.2 million has been invested through the SDF in Australasian projects.

All Arup employees can participate, manage and lead projects under this firm-wide initiative, also designed to develop the capability and skills of employees and strengthen client relationships. Learnings are actively shared firm wide to enhance learning and support faster adoption of new innovations. 

Some of the sustainability outcomes that SDF has helped to deliver include:

  • Completing a carbon assessment at the Haigslea/Amberley Intersection Upgrade Carbon Assessment, Queensland, enabling the development of whole life cycle reduction pathway for the project
  • Assessing sea level rises at David Low Way, Queensland, improving visibility around sea level rise impacts and helping to grow utility providers capacity to both anticipate and mitigate water-related shocks and stresses and provide sustainable resource resilience; and
  • Enabling youth participation through participatory place-making as part of the Somerset Youth Masterplan development process in Singapore, enabling the creation of a precinct for youth by youth, enhancing the quality of the precinct by adopting regenerative landscape architecture strategies and water sensitive urban design to enable youth exploration and long-term precinct stewardship.

“At Arup, we believe everyone has a role to play in addressing the climate challenge and social inequity.  Breaking down the barriers to innovation and empowering our people to try new ways to enhance sustainability outcomes across all our projects, and sharing our learnings so they can be replicated and scaled across our industry is helping to achieve the scale and pace of impact needed to address simultaneous climate, biodiversity and social equity crises.”

“By driving sustainability into the core of our business and empowering all of our people to drive better sustainability outcomes we’ve begun to unlock its potential to improve employee engagement, organisational performance and innovation,” added Kerryn.