At Arup we believe that every project in the built and natural environment should tangibly improve the lives of users and communities. The tiniest details and largest ambitions combine in our thinking – from accessibility for all to educational and job opportunities to historical injustices that should be addressed and overcome. 

Clients and communities’ goals can and should overlap – and we can work to create long-term social value and equity part of any scheme, right from the start. We help clients to identify these possibilities and plan effectively, working across three distinct contexts: cities, regional and national governments; developers and other private corporations; individual projects and locations.

Community engagement

Every community is unique, needing understanding and tailored engagement. We use diverse, inclusive, in-person and digital tools to engage local residents, community groups, small/medium enterprises, social enterprises, not-for profits, education establishments, and local political leaders. This ‘deep listening’ phase reveals the needs of particular groups and how to achieve quality of life improvements. It also builds trust and creates a sense of local ownership to a scheme.

We co-create solutions with these groups to ensure that projects, policies and strategies are designed and implemented to ensure positive quality of life outcomes for those involved. Building strong relationships with community-based organisations is critical to achieving equity and justice goals that overcome past harms in the built environment.

Data, measurement and reporting

Measurement is key to communicating social value benefits, measuring progress and ultimately understanding the positive impact made on people and communities. We provide, innovative and robust approaches to measuring and evaluating social value and social equity outcomes based on an understanding of our clients’ specific needs. We use standard measurement global and local tools, methodologies and frameworks – such as HACT Social Return on Investment, and International Business Case Guidance.

Our team can also integrate social, economic and environmental data and assess correlations and complexities at a project, corporate and city and regional level. The goal is to provide credible reporting that builds support for an approach or offers lessons for future programmes.

Strategy and delivery models

Socially valuable outcomes depend on ambitious strategies and delivery models designed to create sustaining social value and social equity. It means bringing together stakeholders and communities, relevant data and measurement, with a deep understanding of what clients want to achieve. These factors combine as we develop strategy and delivery models that can achieve both large and local scale quality of life and equity outcomes. These include forming social and economic strategies, defining effective charters between parties, or developing leases or land trusts to establish community decision making long-term.

Planning and design

For decades, Arup has prioritised quality of life, health and wellbeing in the planning and design of the projects it works on. Today, we support the development of local and regional plans for cities and produce relevant design principles for the private sector. These enable the embedding of social value and equity outcomes into masterplans and individual project designs.

As experts in Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), we work with communities to design places for all – promoting inclusive approaches and increasing the power of the vulnerable and often excluded groups such as children, youth, women, ageing communities, people with disabilities.