More and more companies are incorporating the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development goals into their business strategies and goals. The challenge is to make the goals specific and being able to prioritize between them. This kind of consistent approach to working with the Development Goals is still lacking in the Danish market, according to a report published by the accounting- and consultancy firm PwC.
In this area, there is a lot to do for Nanna Gudmandsen. She is part of the first generation of “sustainability indigenous” engineers. And her professional challenge and passion is to enable NIRAS’ clients to use the Development Goals as standard points of reference, when they commence comprehensive building projects, such as metro stations and office domiciles.
On her latest project, she assisted Metroselskabet, the Danish metro association, when they needed inspiration as to how the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals will impact future metro lines, and she helped Aarhus Vand, a Danish water company, who commenced construction of a new sustainable domicile for their employees.
“I value being an ambassador for sustainable buildings. The more experience we gain from our clients, the better we become at understanding the ways in which the goals affect their business and building projects. Several clients wonder why they don’t naturally integrate the Development Goals into their projects and e.g. make demands to their suppliers. The next step for the building industry is to start exchanging their experiences with each other, instead of working individually with their own tools and concepts. I would like to encourage this,” Nanna says.
Tools to promote sustainable buildings
When the management team for building in NIRAS sought to establish a committee to work with initiatives within sustainable buildings, Nanna was eager to raise her hand. Nanna received the role as a tour guide for her colleagues in their journey towards making the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals become an integrated part of NIRAS’ projects.
One of the initiatives Nanna has contributed to is the process tool SDG Measure, which can help determine how a building can become as sustainable as possible.
“SDG Measure can measure on different variables and determine to what extent e.g. solar cells, wood, or recycled materials affect the sustainability of a building. With this tool, we can support our clients in translating the Development Goals to the context of their particular building, and make sustainability measurable,” Nanna explains.
A role model for the next generation of engineers
The thing about creating logical rooms and buildings has been an interest of Nanna’s since her childhood. And this passion led her all the way to an education and career in engineering.
“In Denmark we spend a lot of time indoors. It is consequently important that rooms and buildings appeal to people aesthetically and are comfortable to be in,” Nanna says.
With her passion for the UN’s 17 Development Goals as a common language for a more sustainable future, Nanna also takes responsibility and passes her expertise along to the next generation. Many children are learning about the Development Goals from an early age, and Nanna has multiple times volunteered as an educator for young students in the 9th grade and in high school. These students get a chance to test their abilities as sustainability entrepreneurs and work on initiatives with help and feedback from Nanna.
“All of the climate-related challenges, which we face today can be alleviated, countered, and prevented by engineers. If children and young people want to have a future with a meaningful job, I highly recommend engineering. This is something I would like to be a role model for,” Nanna says.