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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

Leading sustainability transitions: Responsible leadership in the building industry


The building industry recognises the importance of investing in developing future leaders who can champion sustainability transition. UKGBC has been at the forefront of developing multi-stakeholder networks and initiatives to transform the industry by incorporating sustainability.

The sustainability transition challenges facing the building industry requires new approaches to leadership and responsibility. As companies address the challenge of putting sustainability at the heart of their future strategy, they need to develop responsible leaders with the motivation, skills and attributes to succeed in achieving sustainability transition.

Dr Nayak has recently concluded a project on responsible leadership. This project focused on senior executives engaged in the process to develop the SDGs in two multi-stakeholder initiatives coordinated by the UN Global Compact (UNGC) and two coordinated by Unilever in partnership with other organisations. A key finding from this study is the importance of understanding and developing senior leaders’ value orientation to becoming responsible leaders. The UKGBC are keen to learn from this study and develop their leadership programme to ensure that it leads to change in the building industry.

This project aims to work with the UKGBC to evaluate existing leadership programmes for sustainability transitions.


1. The project will lead to engagement with the leadership programmes at the UKGBC. Dr Nayak will collate the real-world impact stories in companies. For example, Dr Nayak will document changes in business strategy and practices at the companies that programme participants lead. The intended impact is changes to the UKGBC leadership programme.

2. The project will lead to increased engagement with UKGBC and companies in the building industry. This will enable Dr Nayak to develop funding bids and identify skills gaps in this industry. By developing a strong partnership, Dr Nayak will be in a position to leverage investment into Southampton Business School from the UKGBC and partner organizations. The intended impact is a longer term - making a difference in society. Net-zero and sustainability are key challenges facing society and the UK companies have an important role to play in delivering COP26 targets. The project supports business engagement and is likely to drive more industry engagement in the future.

Project Lead

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