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Engineering student carves out role for herself at Morgan Sindall Construction following a year-out placement, championing sustainability and educating on carbon use

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Having started on a placement at Morgan Sindall Construction over a year ago, year-out engineering student Ella Shuttleworth has been hired in a permanent role following her work for the Yorkshire and North East region as an engineer and Carbon Champion. Starting this September as a Sustainability Assistant, Ella has pioneered a new role within the company that aims to help others better understand and discuss carbon and sustainability.

Ella, who is a student at the University of Leeds, completed two years of her Civil and Environmental Engineering Bachelor's degree before undertaking the role of Carbon Champion during her placement year at Morgan Sindall Construction. As Ella embarks on her final year at university, Morgan Sindall Construction has onboarded the student for two days a week as her commitment to learning and teaching has greatly benefitted the region.

Focusing on sustainability, Ella’s contribution to the team has been widely recognised as vital, meaning Morgan Sindall Construction is keen to nurture the relationship further throughout her final two years at university.

It all started one month before starting the placement in July 2021, when Ella received a call from regional managing director, Andy Hall, asking if she would like to take on the title of Carbon Champion alongside her engineering role. Ella was nominated in recognition of the knowledge and enthusiasm she had shown for carbon management in her interview.

My role consists of developing research, insight, and understanding toolkits as well as discovering helpful ways to encourage supply chain members to discuss how they can be beneficial to each other’s climate goals,” says Ella.
My day-to-day responsibilities generally require me to be on-site, but I also visit sites across the region to talk to regional team members and senior management about what they’re doing and how they can help us reach our climate goals”

During her placement year, Ella has been able to spread her knowledge and passion for sustainability as the company continues its journey to achieving Net Zero Carbon emissions by 2030. Ella is a volunteer for the company’s Virtual Work Experience (VWEX) programme, educating secondary school students and supporting the next generation into technical construction careers through online classes.

Morgan Sindall Construction’s partnership with the Carbon Literacy Project has enabled Ella to undergo the training she requires to deliver an eight-module course to students across the region, opening the sector up to the next generation of the work force. Alongside volunteering her time to VWEX, Ella supports school site visits to talk to young people about her career in order to increase accessibility and understanding of the field.

Taking home the Future Star award, Ella was recognised for her significant achievements and contributions to the business at Morgan Sindall Construction’s annual ALLStar event.

Ella also utilises Morgan Sindall Construction’s CarboniCa, an intelligent carbon calculator created by Tim Clements, Head of Carbon and Environment, and led by the Central Carbon & Environment team at Morgan Sindall Construction. The tool, created five years ago, is of huge benefit for measuring environmental goals, as Ella explains:

CarboniCa calculates the total carbon use of a project. By entering all the information of the building, it will calculate how much carbon it will take to produce the materials, build the building and run it for the entirety of its lifecycle. This is a really valuable addition to how we measure carbon outputs, and is really appreciated by clients.”

The easy-to-use tool has been externally validated by Arup to the latest industry standards and is flexible to allow for the different project types being undertaken. Underpinned by Morgan Sindall Constructions’s Intelligent Solutions approach, the tool uses modern methods to decarbonise projects for their entire lifespan.

It’s my job to simplify CarboniCa for teams across the region, helping other employees understand the findings, the workings and the necessity of tracking and reducing emissions,” says Ella.

With the construction industry contributing up to 40% of all green-house gas emissions in the UK, it’s vital that leading businesses in the industry utilise their resources to work towards a more sustainable future, from the materials produced to the way in which they’re built.

Collating all of the region’s emissions from 2021 - from projects to offices and even cars used by employees - Ella calculated a baseline carbon number for the year. The region is now looking to see a 30% reduction in this number by 2025.

Ella’s work forms part of Morgan Sindall Construction’s transformational approach to collaborative carbon reduction, Decarbonising Communities, designed to support its customers in achieving their environmental ambitions as well as helping to meet the company’s own target of Net Zero Carbon by 2030.

Our carbon reduction strategy aims to engage our customers, employees and members of the supply chain to reduce the amount of carbon associated with each project,” explains Ella.

By applying science-based benchmarks and utilising innovative tools such as the CarboniCa, the company can help upskill and empower clients to make environmentally friendly decisions based on meaningful and robust data, in order to reduce the harmful effects of carbon emissions on local communities.

In addition to the carbon reduction strategy, every member of staff at Morgan Sindall Construction has made a Personal Carbon Pledge, which will allow each individual to make small yet significant, consistent changes to their way of working.

Morgan Sindall Construction also has an innovative partnership with the Carbon Literacy Project which will oversees its staff visiting schools to tell school learners and teaching communities about the role that the construction industry can play in decarbonising communities.

Being the first construction company to have adopted scientifically proven carbon targets, Morgan Sindall Construction is devoted to exploring ways in which projects can be built and designed with less embodied carbon, reducing green-house gas emissions.

I’m extremely grateful I was trusted with this role, and I can’t wait to see how the industry changes for the better over the next few years.” concluded Ella.