VINCI Facilities: How can social value be defined and used as a tool to communicate the wider benefits that behavioural change can bring on climate change?

CCN Blogs | 15 November 2022

Subjects like climate change are emotive. Inflation, interest rates and the energy crisis mean people are focused on survival right now. Issues such as the climate, air quality and decarbonisation are feeling harder to address now compared to the immediate problem of heating a home or feeding a family. But we need to address these bigger, hard to comprehend (existential) issues to make our lives better.

For policymakers and their service providers this presents a problem. How to overcome the click bait, misinformation and human instinct for short term benefits and deliver real social value – for everyone?

Social value is the quantification of the relative importance that people place on the changes they experience in their lives. The aim to deliver this is embedded in law for public sector serve providers. Hence, the argument that retrofitting homes is making the lives of residents better – keeping them warm, reducing bills, improving energy efficiency and enhancing their wellbeing.

Yet, the residents often feel reluctant to allow the work at all.

Likewise, attempts to improve air quality and encourage low emission methods of transport on our streets is a source of rancour amongst communities, politicians and road users.

In all these areas there is competing data and misinformation. Noise often overcomes the truth. And yet, often, the silent majority are backing these cultural shifts and moves towards a healthier, greener environment that will benefit everyone.

How to overcome the white noise and the objectors? How to educate and inform every one of the key stakeholders so that they see the benefit of the policy choice?

Engagement. It is not easy, but it must be done. If you are doing any work in social housing, then putting residents first should be a given. The Fire Safety Compliance Forum (FSCF), which VINCI Facilities is involved in, acknowledged that there have been a series of failings in the way the industry deal with residents. There has been a tendency not to involve them in decision making and solutions, often with the excuse that it is ‘too complicated’ for them to understand. Too often solution providers fail to appreciate the pressures and issues associated of living in an ‘unsafe’ building and the associated costs.

We are working with other likeminded sector players to develop standard for engagement with residents impacted by building safety works. This will include surveys and focus groups with residents to help find out the things that are important to them. It is not rocket science. but it is easy to overlook. Put people first. Not politics.

As solution providers in the public sector, we have a duty of care to residents, communities and the owners and managers of the facilities that comprise the community. It is about embedding the requirements of people in your decision-making process, right from the commencement of a scheme to handover, with all your stakeholders working to keep the community informed, engaged and updated.

So. How do we do that? How can social value be defined and used as a tool to communicate the wider benefits that behavioural change can bring? That is the conversation we want to drive in the workshop we are sponsoring at the CCN Conference this November. None of it is easy and we do not pretend to have all the answers. But there are two starting points – transport and our homes. We need to decarbonise both. How we do that, and how we bring tenants, residents, citizens and businesses onside is what we want to discuss. Our starting point is facilitating the conversation between climate change spokesperson at Cheshire East Council Cllr Sam Corcoran, Dr Christopher Shaw, Senior Programme Lead, Research at Climate Outreach and Cara Kennelly, senior sustainability consultant, Ridge & Partners.

And we want to hear from you – what do you think? How do you engage your stakeholders and persuade them the change required is worth adopting? What are your experiences? Please contact us and we will use your stories to help inform the discussion.

Laurena O’Brien

Business Development Manager for VINCI Facilities