For Aleksandra Njagulj, Head of Sustainability and Innovation at Bouygues UK and responsible for overseeing its research and development activities, forward-thinking is essential. “We have a commitment to finding alternative, viable and affordable solutions,” she says, “ones that make our clients’ buildings sustainable in the long-term.”

A major UK-based construction and property development business employing more than 1,800 people, Bouygues UK is also part of the global Bouygues Construction network, which operates in 80 countries. “What sets us apart is our comprehensive in-house expertise and our extensive, highly specialised technical knowledge,” says Njagulj. “Through this, we’re able to develop and deliver high-quality design and construction solutions.”

The company’s in-house Technical Department comprises experts from every key discipline, including a team dubbed the Sustainability Hub, as well as Building Information Modelling and Engineering Services. This set-up, along with its ability to collaborate with partners and consultants to devise advanced solutions, gives Bouygues UK the advantage over its competition.


Practical innovation

This expertise has contributed to a new software tool, Rapiere. Designed to facilitate strategic decisions during the very early development stages of a project, the tool assesses the costs, as well as the operational and embodied carbon impact, that will be made over a building’s life cycle. This allows teams to explore alternative solutions quickly, simply and efficiently.

With projects that start from scratch, there’s even more opportunity to create sustainable solutions. At the University of Hertfordshire, for example, Bouygues UK designed and is currently building the second phase of 2,500 new student accommodation units that will be true zero carbon. All CO2 emissions from either regulated energy, such as heating and lighting, or unregulated energy, such as appliances, will be offset.

Partnerships are key to the company’s work, from research projects with British universities to collaborations with industry and environmental groups. Furthermore, as part of a global force in the construction and environmental sustainability sectors, Bouygues UK is able to draw from a wealth of international knowledge, expertise and good practice.

This is evident in the Bouygues Group’s LinkCity project, a neighbourhood-level scheme that provides innovative living solutions in view of creating vibrant, sustainable communities
– socially, economically and environmentally.

But while many “smart city” schemes focus on technology, LinkCity’s emphasis is on the people who live and work in a given environment – so technology responds to a person’s needs, rather than providing a starting point. “We take a holistic view,” says Njagulj, “working with all stakeholders so we understand people’s needs at the outset and propose customised solutions. One example is the use of Radio Frequency Identification Data, which identifies a person’s location and advises them of nearby services.”

These new neighbourhoods are designed to facilitate less energy and water consumption while offering a more connected, better quality of life. And to prove that practical, sustainable design isn’t just theory, the group has put its money where its mouth is – using its own headquarters in France as an example. The iconic Challenger building dates back decades and needed a complete refurbishment in order to meet, and exceed, today’s standards of sustainability. The renovations achieved an impressive 90 per cent reduction in energy consumption with zero wastewater (all water is purified and then recycled for further use on-site). The building achieved the highest sustainability certifications available under UK and international standards.

With more collaborative research planned, Bouygues UK’s bespoke approach to projects suggests that further innovations are in the offing. “We are creative and pragmatic,” says Njagulj, “but always put sustainable construction at the heart of our business.”