Employees bringing corporate environmental commitments to life
22 September 2022 - Sustainability - France
All stakeholders are key to supporting companies’ environmental strategies – especially employees, who are playing an active role in the environmental transition. In France, 68% want to take environmental training as part of their work. This goes beyond simply raising awareness of daily environmentally friendly behaviours that they can adopt; rather, they want to learn how to truly harness their motivation and expertise to progress the environmental transition at their companies.
What better way of involving current and future employees in a company project than asking them to lead it? Environmental programmes are springing up everywhere, giving workers the opportunity to submit their own initiatives.
It is up to companies to create the right conditions so that everyone can take part, structure their ideas, and offer support. At VINCI, initiatives have been created with three main focuses in mind: taking action for the climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions; using the circular economy to optimise resources; and preserving natural environments and biodiversity. Now it’s over to you for the ideas!
HARNESSING EMPLOYEES’ EXPERTISE AND IDEASBringing initiatives from the field to light
The larger and more decentralised a company, and the more diverse its activities, the more ideas abound. VINCI has over 260,000 employees in 120 countries and over 3,200 business units, working in a wide variety of businesses – building and infrastructure construction, the energy and digital transitions, mobility infrastructure concessions and more.
These employees are well-suited to finding solutions to local needs and challenges.
This was highlighted by the Environment Awards, a Group challenge that aims to structure, streamline and bring to light ideas from the field.
They must be innovative, impactful and replicable solutions that can be shared throughout the company.
Local offshoots have been set up in every region to steer the process and help candidates prepare their applications, which can then be submitted via an online platform where all employees are able to vote for their favourite projects.
“These thousands of initiatives form a jigsaw; each piece is part of a greater whole. They demonstrate that the lifeblood of the company is enthusiastic and really wants to get involved, and the extent of our capacity for change.”
Isabelle Spiegel, Environment Director. .
The Exegy range of low-carbon concrete, a VINCI Environment Award-winning initiative
From initiative to start-up
Employees can also embark on another course of action – transforming their projects into start-ups and becoming intrapreneurs. VINCI’s forward-looking innovation platform, Leonard, incubates these start-ups for a number of months as part of its Intrapreneurs programme, which offers coaching, expert advice and connections to networks of innovators. VINCI Construction employee Jérôme de Tomasi, for example, developedWaste Marketplace, a worksite waste management platform.
From start-up to subsidiary
After that, certain projects incubated at Leonard go on to become fully-fledged VINCI companies. Maxime Varin is proof of that; his start-up, SunMind, became a VINCI Concessions subsidiary. SunMind designs, finances, builds and maintains photovoltaic power plants which, installed on rooftops or other unused surfaces, provide companies with self-sufficient energy. And the start-up has already made a promising start – it financed, developed, built and now operates Portugal’s first airport solar power plant in Faro.
BOOSTING EMPLOYER APPEALThese interactive programmes are a win-win; not only do they enable new solutions to emerge, but they also boost VINCI’s appeal to jobseekers and current employees alike. A study by CSA confirmed that 48% of people in France were considering changing their job in order to work in a field that contributes to the environmental transition.
For that is another aspect of the programme – participants can acquire skills that address current challenges. Involving local offshoots in the Environment Awards enables VINCI to expand and diversify its network of people who are qualified to address environmental challenges.
We met Sarah Colombié, a VINCI Immobilier employee who came up with a VINCI Environment Award-winning initiative, “Redeveloping brownfield land”
How would you sum up your initiative?
“Redeveloping brownfield land” involves rehabilitating and remediating 50 industrial brownfield sites located throughout France in order to combat land take and urban sprawl.
What stage of deployment are you at today?
We are rolling out the initiative all over France, in every region where VINCI Immobilier operates. Deployment involves two aspects, the first of which covering the 50 industrial brownfield sites that we acquired three years ago. We have begun decontamination work on around 10 of these sites and secured the future usage of around 40 others. But we are now looking at other opportunities to develop this partnership and further combat land take.
Do you work with any partners?
We are of course rolling out the initiative with external partners – associations, companies and local authorities – as well as VINCI Group companies. It’s a truly cross-disciplinary project that entails various aspects: technical, social and societal.
What impact has your initiative had?
This initiative has had a strong impact in our business as it resonates with the French Climate and Resilience Law recently passed in France, which aims to combat land take and achieve the goal of zero net land take. As a property developer, we largely contribute to this objective, and even more so through initiatives like this one.
What do you think is needed for this initiative to take on an even greater scope?
We need to build a network of partners – in the VINCI Group, for example – to identify other industrial brownfield sites that we could remediate and renature, developing sustainable real estate projects. The goal is for half of VINCI Immobilier’s revenue to come from urban land recycling by 2030.