In a drive to balance the needs of People, Profit and Planet, GCW is working with consultancy Wylde Connections. Wylde Managing Director Denise Taylor outlines how embedding robust sustainability strategies will not only help business in the property sector hit Net Zero but ensure we embrace the right models, policies and practices to future proof our urban centres.
Wylde Connections offers businesses a unique blend of consultancy, learning and development and stakeholder engagement. The company works as a trusted partner, taking clients on a transformative journey to develop and implement their sustainability strategies. Its vision is to help companies and their stakeholders move beyond Net Zero and adopt regenerative practices that have a positive impact on the world around them.
Sustainability is now a business imperative. Whether it is pressure from legislators, occupiers or investors, there is growing consensus that business as usual is no longer an option. The property sector has a huge opportunity as well as a responsibility to create green, clean spaces that support the triple bottom line. At the same time, sustainable business models and policies will help companies within the industry to cut costs, drive efficiencies and secure a competitive edge. This can all be achieved whilst putting actions in place that take account of ESG (environment, social and governance) issues.
GCW first engaged with Wylde in 2021. The team had become increasingly aware of how issues around sustainability were impacting on urban environments and their regeneration. They were also feeding into their clients’ desire to curate more sustainable communities.
GCW Partner Oli Horton says: “We are passionate about taking the lead and working with partners across the industry to help meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities ahead. Working with Wylde is pivotal to that. They have helped focus our minds, influence our thinking and get us excited about how we can really start to influence change.”
Trusted sustainability partner
Wylde takes its clients on a transformative journey using a five-step approach of ASSESS, DEVELOP, IMPLEMENT, ENGAGE AND TRANSFORM.
Wylde Managing Director Denise Taylor says: “We equip clients with the tools they need to become ethical and responsible businesses. Our team of experts help develop their sustainability strategy, action plan and road map whilst imparting knowledge about the wider issues faced by the company and its supply chain.”
For GCW that started with Wylde taking a deep dive into the business to understand where it is now and what it needs to do to meet its sustainability goals.
Delivered through a mix of consultancy and blended learning programmes, Wylde’s 5-step programme provides a framework aimed at reducing risks and negative ESG impacts. It also starts to look at opportunities that can be gained from regenerative practices that will help to secure a more sustainable future for all.
Much of that work involves focusing on the company’s value chain and how it can be aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For GCW as a property consultant, this is particularly pertinent as urban built environments are at the heart of communities and have a major role to play in determining how those communities live, work and play within our planetary boundaries.
Thinking outside the box
Given its breadth of expertise and track record in town centre rejuvenation, GCW is ideally placed to influence change. Alongside reducing risks and negative impacts associated with its own day-today operations, the business is welcoming the opportunity to shape the debate and start to be recognised as an architect of change.
That requires working with a range of industry partners to explore more sustainable placemaking options. Wylde encourages long-term stakeholder engagement and GCW has taken the opportunity to learn more about what is important to the groups it works with and how they can work together to make meaningful progress. This has been achieved by undertaking a detailed Materiality Assessment which included stakeholder mapping and communicating with different stakeholder groups.
From an environmental perspective, collaborative working involves a host of initiatives, from adopting green building standards to integrating schemes with public transport links, integrating green spaces into mixed use developments to embracing sources of renewable energy.
In terms of the “social” aspects of ESG, more sustainable approaches put people at the heart of projects and ensure that places meet the needs of all their users. GCW’s experience integrating alternative uses will allow it to work with clients in providing a holistic offer.
“As our town centres evolve, we have the opportunity to make them far more sustainable and better placed to serve the needs of their catchment”, says Oli. “That’s about innovative design, removing the need for unnecessary journeys and providing spaces where people can connect with nature. The opportunities for innovative initiatives that put people and nature at the core are endless. They range from energy saving schemes through to integrating nature into new project builds in the form of initiatives such as green roofs, and environmentally friendly landscaping that provides for biodiversity.”
What happens along the value chain in the built environment is the key to a more sustainable future. More emphasis is being placed on the raw materials at the start of the value chain, from mining the resources required for buildings and using innovation to reduce the carbon footprint of cement, right through to end of life disposal of buildings. There is growing recognition that retrofitting older buildings brings costs savings and a host of environmental and social benefits. This is especially true as businesses are forced to meet more legal and legislative requirements.
Denise agrees: “Construction is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases and the property sector as a whole can play a key role is helping us hit Net Zero. But it’s important to look beyond that narrow goal and think more holistically about how sustainable communities can support regenerative design.”
She adds: “Green space is not only important in combating climate change but will play a key role in improving people’s physical and mental health. Together we can find ways to encourage biodiversity, keep materials in the value chain as part of the circular economy, and support the development of sustainable smart cities.”
GCW is working with Wylde to help unlock these opportunities. It is finalising its internal blueprint and action plan, whilst producing an external document to highlight its vision and strategy. Embedding sustainability as part of a business strategy is an ongoing process and one that involves changing mindsets to understand the wealth of environmental, social, and business benefits on offer. Let’s come together to put sustainability at the heart of placemaking.
To find out more about how Wylde can support your business on its sustainability journey please visit: www.wylde.connections.co.uk, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.