With the built environment contributing much of the UK's total carbon footprint, many new projects across the country have benefited from a new strategic partnership – Clear Futures – that brings Robertson Group's experience in sustainable solutions and carbon-reducing innovations to the fore


CARBON reduction and the transformation required to achieve net zero is the immediate challenge facing public sector organisations, many of which are over stretched – while they also address the impact that the pandemic has had on priorities and budgets.  

In 2016, Robertson Group and AECOM became the strategic delivery partners for Lewes and Eastbourne Councils in England to deliver sustainable transformative projects and services at speed, with robust governance and community wealth building at its core.  

The result of the partnership is Clear Futures, a strategic partnership agreement which is now being adopted by other local authorities across the UK to deliver their own local employment, skills, sustainability and wellbeing agendas quickly and efficiently, while providing better places to live. 

Elliot Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Robertson Group, explains: “It became evident early on in the establishment of Clear Futures that this 25-year long term outcome driven strategic partnership could be utilised UK wide, to drive transformation and change through local and national supply chains, whilst creating sustainable responsible economic growth and social value and amplifying wellbeing and biodiversity activity.”

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Participants can expect a long-term OJEU compliant partnership with ESG (environment, social, governance) considerations at its core.  

Elliot continues: “Clear Futures has been established, with embedded energy and sustainability themes, and flexibility in mind to offer a wide range of services to assist local authorities and third sector parties to achieve their net zero targets or Climate Positive agenda. 

“From advisory and strategic support services, through to project delivery using whole life and lifecycle analysis, Clear Futures offers a solution driven partnership. Providing support when and where needed to achieve immediate and long-term plans and provide opportunities for local authority investment and income generation.”

The strategic partnership is also being used to support the development of capital project pipelines from feasibility to development and delivery. 

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An essential part of what Clear Futures does is to address sustainability in its entirety, with community wealth creation and wellbeing, central to the decisions and plans. Clear Futures works with local supply chains and local business, SME’s, micro businesses and third sector businesses, to ensure that where possible spend is retained locally.  

As part of its commitment to ensure local wealth creation, training sessions for bidding and contract management have been set up alongside supply chain networking events to involve local supply chain and support them in being part of the delivery solution, while retaining spend locally and creating employment opportunities.

“It’s essential that, where possible, the delivery of services and products are undertaken locally, the environmental benefits are equally important to the wider community benefit that is also being delivered.”

Having already assisted local authority partners secure £9.5m+ of funding through the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (a similar scheme is available in Scotland – Central Government Energy Efficiency Scheme), the projects target the partners most inefficient and highest carbon consuming buildings and will reduce carbon consumption levels by 3,000+ tonnes of CO2e per annum and deliver operational energy savings of £250k.  

With estate rationalisation and a reboot of town centres planned across the UK, Clear Futures has the skills and capability to help realise net zero and climate positive ambitions as part of existing teams who are tackling these challenges. With the ability to assist development and enhance place creation, Clear Futures also provides capability to utilise private sector investment to take ambitions and plans to realistic outcomes and deliverables.  

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Above, Robertson Group delivered the new Merkinch Primary School in Inverness 


“The key to Clear Futures is partnership, by filling gaps in knowledge base and resource we assist in driving plans forward.  

“With a strategic parentship like this, the customer always has choice, which solution to choose, what supply chain members they want to work with and also what pace they want to move forward at.  

“The flexibility of Clear Futures also means customers can choose what projects they want our involvement in and what stage of the process they want us to get involved.

“Flexibility is one of the fundamental differentiators of Clear Futures.  The strategic partnership is different for each public sector body and has been designed to be able to meet all energy and sustainability, and local needs by enabling participants to control what they need and when.  

“Part of the Clear Futures offer is to maximise existing assets, there are so many buildings that can be repurposed and refitted and have their efficiency improved which can generate both income and saving streams.  

“However, decarbonisation and low energy doesn’t come with a one size fits all solution since the requirements of local authorities, and the pace at which they are moving towards achieving their goals is very different across the country.  

“But, Clear Futures does offer a one-stop- approach, through strategic evaluation and partnership working, we believe all the solutions can be discovered and delivered.

“It’s not about getting energy and sustainability projects completed quickly and a tick in the box, but how quickly the team can assemble and mobilise to start to address the needs in an area, what support is required for the local supply chain to become fully involved and what the needs of the local community are.  

“It’s imperative the solutions that are put in place are not quick short-term fragmented fixes, but fully realised plans for longevity that contribute to the net zero and climate positive agendas, and the wealth creation and place making within communities.”



Successful delivery of 2030 targets ensures a sustainable future

NET zero, climate and biodiversity emergency and a just transition are no longer the buzz words of the day, but the agenda items that are at the top of the list for public and private sector customers in the construction sector.  

As an industry, construction is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions globally and, as such, has a pivotal role to play in not only reducing its own emissions but in helping customers meet their net zero ambitions and leaving a sustainable impact in the communities where it works. 

The purpose of the Robertson Group, one of the UK’s largest privately owned construction, infrastructure, development and support services businesses in the UK, is to assure a sustainable future. In 2020, the company launched its 2030 Responsible Business Strategy, which supports the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and focusses on people, partners, and planet.

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The £330m Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA) is the largest project delivered by Robertson Group to date

Elliot Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Robertson Group, has been instrumental in driving the Responsible Business Strategy and following 12 months from its launch is proud of the delivery against the targets to date.

Elliot explains: “The built environment impacts our daily lives in every way imaginable and it’s our responsibility to ensure that those impacts are for the greater good, not only for our physical environment but for society too.  

“When we set our objectives, our aim by 2030 was to enhance the lives of 10,000 people, by creating work placements and job opportunities, and by supporting apprenticeships, upskilling and new qualifications; create £1 billion of social value, by enhancing lives and spending locally in the areas where our projects are and with social enterprises, microbusinesses, and SME’s;  and to have moved beyond being a carbon neutral business to become ‘climate positive’, generating zero emissions from our offices, commercial fleet and construction sites within our operational control and delivering a biodiversity net gain.”

In 2018, Robertson was one of the first UK businesses in the built environment to achieve Carbon Neutrality, verified by One Carbon World and has gone on to achieve a Platinum Resource Efficiency Pledge through Zero Waste Scotland in recognition of resource efficiency improvements and received UN Climate Neutral Now ‘Gold’ pledge membership for its approach to measuring, reducing, and offsetting carbon emissions.  

Elliot continues: “The recognition that we have received to date has been significant, but that’s not our reason for doing this, we strongly believe in the role that we have to play and in sharing the lessons that we have learned to help others in our industry do better. 

"We are the first tier one contractor to partner with SEPA to create a Sustainable Growth Agreement to support our supply chain in upskilling their workforce, supporting them with free sustainability assessments, development plans and learning resources.”
Robertson is also a founding member of the Edinburgh Climate Compact and is an active member and contributor to the Dundee Climate Action Plan. Both of which have been established to assist the cities in their goals of carbon reduction.  

“In 2014/15, we set our carbon footprint base line, in 2019/20 we achieved a 40% reduction on our baseline scope emissions, and we are continuing to lower our carbon footprint. We have committed that we will retain our offsetting at our 2020 levels, invert our carbon footprint to become climate positive.  We are also working with our customers in both the public and private sector to create a net biodiversity gain on projects, which will further improve the successful inroads we are already making, which in the last 12 months has seen us enhance the lives of almost 600 people, delivering almost £203m of social value and reducing our carbon emissions intensity by 18.4%. 

“It’s only by working together with our customers, supply chain and the wider communities where we work, that we all play our part in assuring a sustainable future for Scotland.”