News & Blog

Read the latest business news, blogs and thought leadership articles from our members, as well as updates on the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce's work in the city.

News & Blog

Construction Giant Leads Charge to Smarter Building

Posted: 3rd March 2021

Leading international infrastructure company Balfour Beatty is helping lead the charge to a new age of smart construction – increasing customer choice and reducing its carbon footprint in the process.

Being engaged with Circular Economy thinking means the construction giant is at the forefront of new thinking in the sector – working with customers, partners and universities to see how they can continue to help businesses move away from outdated “make, use and dispose” models.

The company is engaged with Circular Edinburgh and is aligned with Scottish Government aims and targets, believing their aims will help create a catalyst for all organisations to rethink how they go about their business.

The Circular Edinburgh project is supported as part of Zero Waste Scotland’s Resource Efficient Circular Economy Accelerator Programme, which will invest £73m in circular economy and resource efficiency projects, thanks to support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This programme provides funding and support for small and medium sized businesses in Scotland to be more resource efficient and create a more circular economy.

Poul Wendhansen of Balfour Beatty stressed that the business has a proud history of pioneering new technologies and systems that help transform the build environment.

Poul Wendhansen

“Balfour Beatty’s refreshed Sustainability Strategy Building New Futures sets out our ambition to have a positive sustainable impact and the targets we have set reflect the environmental and social challenges of society.”

“In my view the scale of opportunity that a circular economy – offers businesses and organisations across sectors is only limited by the constraints of historic business models and traditional solutions to our society’s needs.

“The goal of decarbonising Scotland by 2045 set by the Scottish Government is a catalyst for all businesses and organisations to establish the environmental and social impacts that they have and to take the action they can to improve that situation.”

Historically Balfour Beatty has contributed to the circular economy through the reclaiming, reuse and recycling of construction materials. Traditional construction approaches have always ensured that when possible excavated soil is reused while demolition or waste materials are segregated so that they can be recycled.

However, Zero Waste Scotland research states that the construction industry employs 10% of Scotland workforce, consumes 50% of all resources and produces 50% of the countries waste.

Poul Wendhansen added: “This research shows that there is a massive opportunity for targeting resource consumption improvements and efficiencies in their use.

Balfour Beatty is working with our customers to target the:

  • Adoption of modern methods of construction to industrialise the sector i.e. off-site construction
  • Digitization the construction process i.e. Industry wide adoption of Business Information Modelling Tool known as BIM
  • Whole life cycle carbon assessment of the built environment
  • Adoption of biodiversity net gain
  • Identification of servitization opportunities (this means adding value by adding services to products, for example through improved asset management)

We are also engaged with several of Scotland Universities on the research of the embodied carbon of the built environment and the adoption of circular low impact construction materials and techniques which will enable the maintenance and development of our built environment to be completed as efficiently as possible with the least environmental impact and enable circular economy solutions to grow.”

Poul Wendhansen added: “I think the circular economy bill that the Scottish Government is due to release offers the opportunity for a real green economic recovery.  Along with the National Planning Framework 4 (currently in preparation) it offers the chance to enable a sector wide approach to embed the circular economy into planning, design and construction.

It will really bring together all the work that has been completed over the recent years and provide an opportunity of a significant economic boost to the industry, creating jobs and increasing supply chain resilience.

It  will also support the fact that Scotland has started to consider the true cost of carbon while helping build on action to reduce the amount of carbon produced by the country as well as its businesses and organizations.”

For further information please visit or contact Mayan Grace or Lauren Ridgley on 0131 221 2999 (option 5) or email

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
Read more here