Businesses challenged to plan now for 2030

15th May 2015


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Organisations need to "futureproof" their operations against changes in demographics, climate change, resources and technology, according to business leaders.

Business in the Community (BitC) has launched a project to help organisations identify potential problems arising from global megatrends and make plans to avoid them. As part of the project, BitC will provide mentoring and access to sustainability experts.

It is also publishing guidance looking at megatrends in different sectors. The first, developed by the consultancy WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff, suggests ways to futureproof assets, infrastructure and operations in the built environment. It forecasts that environmental trends in 2030 will include disruption of supply chains due to bad weather and peak temperatures in cities regularly reaching more than 35°C.

To combat pressures on resources, 3D printing could dramatically cut waste from buildings, it says. The guidance also recommends that buildings are constructed to allow for changing use. New materials will transform insulation and energy generation, it suggests.

The guidance also includes case studies of organisations that are already taking megatrends into account in housing and infrastructure. For example, Great Ormond Street Hospital has taken predicted increases in flooding into account in its redevelopment, and is locating most electrical equipment on roofs instead of basements.

Meanwhile, Westbrook primary school in Hounslow, west London, has installed natural ventilation to remove the need for an expensive mechanical ventilation system as temperatures rise.

Mark Hurley, head of environment at WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff UK, said: “If we think back 10, 15, 20 years, it’s remarkable how much the internet and consumer habits have changed, not to mention human nature, work-life patterns and the homes we live in. The businesses that have succeeded and really made a difference have been those that have embraced innovation and planned ahead.”

Gudrun Cartwright, head of innovation and partnerships at BitC, said: “We are asking senior leaders to engage employees and suppliers in conversations to develop ideas and innovations that will futureproof their businesses and help support local communities.”

Other partners in BitC’s project include Pinsent Masons, Lloyds Banking Group and Cisco. Pinsent Masons has led on guidance for manufacturing, which will be published in July.

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