Net Positive

a collage with an eye, architecture, arrows and paper representing the Hammerson project

Working closely with a FTSE250 retail developer landlord, we delivered a comprehensive implementation strategy to help deliver their ambitious plan to be Net Positive for environmental and social impacts by 2030.

Hammerson shares our vision for built environment solutions in a low carbon economy. During a three year project, we helped our client to set foundations and pathways to fulfil their corporate ambition to embed Net Positive culture on the ground.

"Futureground brought a fresh pair of eyes and a breadth of experience"

Long term vision beyond Net Zero

Hammerson’s sustainability has long been a key strength of their business. This is exemplified in their ambitious corporate target to go beyond Net Zero to Net Positive by 2030. Hammerson were the first property company globally to take these steps.

To fulfil Net Positive targets, you need a comprehensive approach extending beyond the technical to embrace the fuller PESTLE range of factors. Starting in 2017, Futureground began getting under the skin of the organisation to appraise current aspects of Hammerson’s people, process and systems. This involved sitting down with internal and external stakeholders and talking in depth with supply chains.

Working alongside regular collaborator Donna McKitterick from Coriander Cows, our strategist Nick James stepped in as Interim Net Positive programme manager. He was well versed in the complex challenges involved in achieving positive targets on key material issues.

Identifying impact opportunities

In working with Hammerson we carefully positioned the evaluation project as a constructive learning opportunity for their value chain.

  • Modelling, data and reporting
  • Governance and controls
  • Culture and engagement
  • Application in Development and Operation

Following an extensive process of workshops, information gathering and reviewing existing systems, Nick could drive effective ways of working and identify areas for improvement. By appraising tasks, outcomes, processes and essential jobs, we created decision trees and pathways towards the Net Positive goal.

After this, we developed and presented a series of outcome-focused recommendation notes and findings to the senior leadership team. This ensured that the internal teams and managers received the practical tools they needed to understand and implement proposed changes.

Louise Ellison, Hammerson’s Head of Sustainability at the time, acknowledged the pivotal nature of Futureground’s consultancy role: “Working with such complex challenges, external thinking is required, as it’s so difficult to be a prophet in your own land.”

“Futureground brought a fresh pair of eyes and a breadth of experience, technical knowledge and the ability to produce outputs that are industry relevant.”

"It can often be easier to listen to someone from the outside."

Overcoming challenges of sustainable change

Pulling together strategic and cultural thinking while engaging individually with a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders held a unique set of challenges.

The difficult economic climate made it tough to implement some of the higher environmental and social ambitions targets. As a result, these were opposed by some stakeholders. It required careful navigation to unearth new ways of integrating better sustainability practices while working with the grain of the organisation.

In several areas, a lack of existing documented processes made advising on improvement opportunities difficult. But our long standing experience in sustainability and commercial property gave us peerless credibility to gain insights quickly and effectively within the business.

As Louise explained: “It can often be easier to listen to someone from the outside, especially an industry professional like Nick, who can see inside a business from both consultancy and client side.”

Outcome beyond expectation

While our biggest impact was to produce clear insights as to what should happen next, Louise also says the project helped Hammerson’s teams to understand the challenges that other people faced and their different ways of thinking.

“The thoroughness with which Nick works and his level of expertise helped us consider different ways of thinking about processes and different methods of delivery. He’s good at thinking conceptually and applying it in a business context – which not many people are.”

Our approach focused on supporting long lasting positive impact. Futureground successfully defined user requirements and implemented better briefing steps for future property projects. We enhanced governance measures and identified better controls procedures to help optimise and assure the embedding of Net Positive thinking. In addition, we designed a value chain learning programme and portfolio-level reporting and insights.

Looking to successfully implement a sustainability strategy within the context of your own organisation?

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“Futureground brought a fresh pair of eyes and a breadth of experience.”
“If someone asked me whose views on sustainability I value from strategic down to an operational level I’d always recommend Nick.”
‘They brought an understanding of the strategic planning side along with a practical knowledge of how things are working on the ground.”
“They distinguish themselves from the mainstream by delivering a truly tailored outcome genuinely co-created with their clients.”