The SDG scan: always investigate the sustainable solutions and alternatives within projects


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) of the United Nations are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. As they address the global challenges we face, we all have to contribute to the goals within our own sphere of influence and within the projects we do. This way our combined effort will create the systemic change that is necessary to reach the SDG’s.

Engineering and technical consultancy firms are a type of service provider active in many different markets on a local, regional and global scale. The projects these companies perform range from public to private sector assignments such as:

  • a municipality requires advice on their new district heating network;
  • a standalone paint factory expanding production by adding a new production line,
  • a pharmaceutical multinational planning to build a complete new factory.

Even though the three aforementioned projects take place in different markets and differ substantially in complexity and size, it is not unlikely that one engineering company executed all of them. The fact that engineering companies provide their services in all these markets makes them an interesting player that can transfer knowledge from one market to another. This gives them a significant impact on the level of sustainability implemented across the board.

Conducting the SDG scan

At Bilfinger Tebodin, we recognize that the choices we make together with our clients in the consulting and engineering phase of a project determine how sustainable the asset will be build and operated. But how do we make sure that sustainable solutions and alternatives are continuously investigated within projects?

We incorporated the SDG scan as a standard deliverable in our large engineering projects in order to present our clients the sustainable options available, even if this is not entirely in scope.

The scan includes six sustainability KPI’s that are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the start of the project, we select the relevant SDG’s. Each SDG has a corresponding KPI (depicted on the image below).

Based on the data available at the start of the project the base case for the relevant KPI’s is determined, for example the amount of water used or waste generated.

In the project itself, a sustainability session is conducted with an integral team of stakeholders. Possible scenarios to reduce the environmental impact of the project are identified and we decide if and how these will be taken into the project in the next phase. This assessment itself will provide valuable insight regarding the contribution to the specific SDG’s and reduction in operational expenditures. 

Some of our projects and results

The SDG scan has already proven successful in numerous projects the past year. Some examples of the results:

  • For a new chemical plant in the Netherlands, we were able minimalize the total on site reactive nitrogen emissions. With NOx emissions down 89% and NH3 reduced with 95%. Additionally we identified a 10% reduction of combined scope 1, 2 & 3 CO2 emissions. 
  • For a new cleanroom at an existing pharmaceutical plant, we reduced the energy usage of the HVAC installation with approx. 35% by engineering an integrated heating and cooling system compared to the predefined heat pumps in the original basis of design.
  • At a large production plant, we identified a substantial CO2 reduction potential of approx. 70% of the scope 3 emissions. The realization of this reduction will be taken to the next step where it will be discussed with partners within the supply chain.

What all these examples show is that there is a huge potential for sustainable improvement in the projects that we execute. When our consultants and engineers get the opportunity to think outside the box of the predefined scope and investigate sustainable improvements, the transfer of knowledge between different markets increases significantly. This will pay itself out in more future proof designs. The results of the SDG scan also provide our clients with the necessary information to easily integrate the sustainability aspects and benefits of the project into their overall sustainability strategy and communication regarding the impact on the SDG’s.

With the implementation of the SDG scan in the years to come the consultants and engineers of Bilfinger Tebodin are committed to contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.