People News

Our People: Yana Georgieva.

08/09/2020

Transforming sustainability challenges into opportunities.

Yana is a Sustainability Consultant based in our London Office and she has become our firm’s representative for the UKGBC’s social value task force.

My sustainability journey began…

…whilst I read law at the University of Nottingham! One hot summer towards the end of my degree, I was visiting family in Bulgaria when I stumbled across an opportunity to intern at a local non-profit organisation. They were working on an EU project to facilitate a pan-European knowledge exchange in the implementation of low-carbon strategies in housing renovation.

This experience introduced me to the world of sustainable development and the built environment. I was fascinated!

I then pursued an MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College. After this I worked in the corporate sustainability domain advising FTSE100 businesses on their sustainability strategies and, in 2018, I joined Hoare Lea’s London office.

I have always been interested in…

…the application of a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to sustainability that looks at problems from all angles. I think that the Five Capital Framework for sustainability provides an excellent conceptual model which stimulates a wider, comprehensive analysis of sustainability challenges. There has been an increased pressure for organisations to demonstrate their contribution to society. As the social context evolves, new opportunities arise for our industry to create value.

There is now a growing awareness of the critical role that business plays when it comes to driving societal progress.

I’m excited to help organisations navigate the evolving landscape and maximise the overall value creation for their immediate stakeholders as well as society.

Sustainability is changing…

…and we are beginning to see a shift to ‘ESG’ at corporate level, otherwise known as ‘environmental’, ‘social’ and ‘governance’. While sustainability has traditionally been primarily associated with environmental considerations, the reality is much more complex.

ESG brings together the three main pillars that collectively contribute to effective organisational performance. This can generate tremendous benefits to both wider markets and society. In response, in the recently formed ESG team, we seek to bridge the language gap and enable a better integration and strategic alignment of sustainability aspirations engaging directly with investors and other decision-makers at corporate level to maximise impact and value creation on individual projects. To build on our existing sustainability capabilities, we approach ESG through the lenses of our Five Capital Framework comprising five key elements: Natural, Social, Economic, Human and Physical.

I am passionate about social value…

…because it provides a new perspective on the role our industry plays in wider society.

There is solid evidence that creating quality spaces can improve occupant health and wellbeing while cultivating a sense of community and togetherness. With statistics showing that the average Briton spends over 90% of their time indoors, we as built environment consultants are uniquely placed to make a positive difference and maximise synergies between placemaking and wider social value creation.

I have recently joined a UKGBC task group…

…called ‘Defining Social Value’. Together, we will work to develop a definition of social value that is relevant to a broad variety of development types, geographies and communities. We aim to provide a much-needed common language, a set of consistent principles and an agreed hierarchy of delivery.

Delivering social value is a process, not a prescribed set of interventions or outcomes. I hope that through collaboration and open dialogue, we can establish a common understanding.

I look forward to the day when we can answer the question ‘what does good look like?’ when it comes to the socio-economic impact of built assets on the local community and wider society.