Sustainability awareness has become an important requirement for business success in the property, construction and infrastructure industry, according to new research carried out by the Supply Chain Sustainability School of Australia. Sixty three per cent of respondents in the study reported that sustainability knowledge has become more important over the past twelve months, up 11 percentage points from last year.

These findings confirm that sustainability across property and infrastructure supply chains is becoming a higher priority; company managements are recognising the need to upskill their workforce and suppliers in order to meet their own goals and align with the requirements of customers. Even when assessing prospective employees, companies look for the candidates’ understanding of key sustainability issues, according to the study.

“The increased value of informed and skilled employees to organisations is reflected in the survey results, with over a third of organisations now having base-level knowledge requirements for employees and more than one in four embedding it into job descriptions,” explains Robin Mellon, CEO of the Supply Chain Sustainability School.

“Almost two in every five members have noticed an improvement in their supply chains since they’ve been a member of the School (37 per cent), and 46 per cent of members have seen economic, environmental or social benefits from improved supply chains,” says Mellon.

Expertise in sustainability is more of a consideration in project and tender assessments, with sustainable procurement now a key driver of innovation in materials, waste and energy. Respondents also highlighted the need for senior management to drive sustainability to ensure that it isn’t simply seen as an added cost.

Social sustainability – modern slavery in particular – is an important issue across organisations as well as the industry. Another focus area is energy (renewables and battery storage, energy efficiency, literacy, efficient design and retrofitting) as well as waste (diverted from landfill, reduction, management and closed loop). The study also revealed the need for strong educational support to back ‘the business case for sustainability’.