Sustainability Scholarship

Sustainability will impact every business going forward the Sustainability Scholarship encourages a company to carry out sustainability research using one of its employees.

The sustainability agenda, though it continues to evolve and develop, will impact every business going forward. Whether you are interested in the advent of carbon accounting on projects or the importance of water conservation in the future, the Sustainability Scholarship encourages a company to carry out research using one of its employees.

Established in 2007 jointly with the CIOB and the University College of Estate Management, the £3000 scholarship is awarded annually. The subject of the research must benefit both the individual company and the wider industry.

The successful scholar will continue to work full time during the scholarship year, carrying out a research project which will benefit the scholar, their company and the industry. The subject of the research could relate to any area of construction management including forms of contract, processes on-site, emerging trends or management practices. It could be a new topic or extend existing work to increase its value to a wider audience in the industry.

Companies must agree to host the scholarship before putting forward a possible candidate and will continue to pay their salary during the scholarship year. That candidate will then meet with experts every few months to receive support and mentoring, with a presentation, hosted by their company, to share their findings at the end of the 12-month scholarship period.

Countries available

  • The UK only


Key Dates

  • The closing date for applications is Friday, 30 November 2020
  • Winner selected by 11th December 2020
  • Selected Winner informed by 18th December 2020

The Application Process

  • The aspiring candidate emails their CV and a brief report (approx. 500 words) expressing why they wish to become a scholar and their proposed research topic to [email protected].
  • If they pass this stage of the process, the candidate is invited for an interview and gives a 10-15 minute PowerPoint presentation to a small panel of representatives from CIOB, the Worshipful Company of Constructors and the University College of Estate Management, followed by questions and answers.
  • The successful candidate (scholar) will then meet with experts every few months to receive support and mentoring, with a presentation, hosted by their company at the end of the 12-month scholarship period, to share their findings.
  • In addition, the scholar must also produce a report or other suitable outputs which details the findings of the work.

Meet Our Scholars

Szilvia Zakar

Award Name: Sustainability Scholarship

Host Company: Sir Robert McAlpine

Educational Institution: MSc in Environmental Technology, (Distinction) Imperial College, London

Research Topic: Valuing Natural Capital in the Construction Industry

Award Year: 2015-16


Szilvia is a Sustainability Manager with Sir Robert McAlpine currently working on the flagship Bloomberg London project, before that, she was General Contracts Environmental Advisor on the Grosvenor Estates projects. Szilvia has 14 years’ experience, advising and monitoring site construction teams with regard to environmental protection and the implementation of ISO 1400 and BREEAM. She also sits on SRM’s Carbon Group and leads the Biodiversity Action Group. Before joining SRM in 2011 she worked as a Senior Consultant at BRE for 5 years and as an Environmental Advisor on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link for Skanska UK Civils. Szilvia has a first degree in psychology and a Masters from Imperial College in Environmental Technology and has recently qualified as an ISO 14001 Lead Auditor.

Abstract of Report

This paper explores the applicability of Natural Capital Accounting to the construction industry by first placing Natural Capital thinking into a theoretical framework in order to show how it differs from other approaches to environmental preservation. It then goes on to elaborate on the key financial and accounting concepts involved and looks at some objections from within the wider environmental movement. Having defined and explained the principals involved, a number of practical examples are examined, by way of case studies and interviews, both within and beyond the construction industry with a view to illustrating the practical benefits of implementation, as well as some of the obstacles and shortcomings emerging from concrete experience. The results of a limited awareness survey of construction industry sustainability professionals are presented before the above strands are pulled together into a set of both practical recommendations and areas for further study.


The Sustainability Scholarship was wonderful opportunity for me to take a deep dive into a subject that has interested me for a long time: how are we to reconcile the apparently conflicting requirements of a thriving construction industry and environmental protection and regeneration? Through the scholarship I was able to explore in detail the Natural Capital Accounting paradigm developed by Dieter Helm and others which seeks to build on the thinking of economists and accountants and apply this to the maintenance of the natural capital on which we all depend. Emerging directly out of my work for the scholarship I have been appointed by Sir Robert McAlpine to lead my company’s Biodiversity Group and to push forward our efforts as a company to become a leading player in environmental protection.

Emma Gains

Award Name: Sustainability Scholarship

Host Company: Faithful+Gould (Atkins Group) 

Educational Institution:  MSc Sustainability (Environment and Development) from the University of Leeds

Research Topic: Review of industry fit-out toolkits and the part they play in adapting to climate

Award Year: 2015-16


Emma Gains is a Sustainability Consultant at Faithful+Gould. She holds an MSc in Sustainability (merit) from the University of Leeds and is a BREEAM assessor managing projects for the University of Cambridge, Crossrail and Met Police. 

Emma is currently undertaking an Environmental Auditing role on the £1.1 billion North West Cambridge Development. This project incorporates over 830 homes, public amenities and the UK’s largest rainwater recycling system. She helped create the audit benchmarking system which was awarded a ‘Green Apple’ for one of our onsite contractors. She is also managing a new approach to sustainability for their Estates department, with new tools, new management processes and a change programme. Emma manages the Faithful+Gould Graduate programme, with over 150 young professionals, ensuring they get the support they need to get chartered and commence their careers in the built environment.

Abstract of Report

The potential industry responses to the risks of climate change and sustainable adaptation has been the subject of much discussion. There have been methods developed that look at ways for adaptation against these risks and in some instances these have been represented in working toolkits. The research undertaken highlighted two key climate change risk areas for London; increased temperatures and elevated precipitation levels. Following this the aims and objectives of this research analyse the industrial response within the fit-out office sector to mitigating these suggested climate change. The principal findings of the research show toolkits and guidance can provide an array of different topic areas around adaptation and present ideas to deal with possible climate change risk aspects. The analysis concludes the content of the guidance is only reaching a selective audience and is restricting the application to the wider industry. The findings recommend more needs to be done to provide a combined guide that has a broad outreach and looks to address a wide variety of topic areas that ensure the fit-out industry can adapt quickly to climate change risks.


Over the course of the past 12 months I have undertaken a research study into understanding the climate change risks facing the UK office fit-out sector and a detailed review of toolkits available to provide adaptation methods. My research pulled out two key climate risk areas, increased precipitation and increased annual temperatures. In looking at how guidance and toolkits respond to these risks I selected four specific toolkits for detailed review and then presented several key recommendations to the industry. I was thrilled to be selected as a scholar for this sustainability program and have found the process challenging and rewarding. It has taken time and commitment to complete my research, however the presentation evening was a great celebration of the final result. 

Inga Geach

Award Name: Sustainability Scholarship

Host Company: Willmott Dixon 

Educational Institution: MSc Sustainable Environmental Management from the University of Plymouth 

Research Topic: Investigating the Role of Sustainability in Contractor Selection and Evaluation

Award Year: 2015-16


Inga Geach (MRes, BA (Hons)) is the Sustainability Manager for WD’s Cobham office. Inga joined the company in 2014 whilst simultaneously finishing her Masters degree in Environmental Management. In her role Inga is responsible for overseeing all projects in preconstruction and operations. Inga offers in-house sustainability advice from the early tender stages through to the post-completion of projects. She is also responsible for staff training and ensures compliance with WD’s Transforming Tomorrow sustainability strategy.

Abstract of Report

Contractor selection has long been dominated by lowest price considerations. More recently, however, the idea of best value rather than best price has gained increasing popularity. Considerations, such as experience, quality of construction and ability of the contractor to complete a project within a given timeframe have arguably become as important as the budget. It is within this widening of contractor selection criteria that Inga decided to investigate the role sustainability plays in contractor selection and evaluation. 

To explore the role of sustainability in contractor selection Inga employed a broad range of research methods. In addition to a thorough literature review, a series of Willmott Dixon’s recent pre-qualification questionnaires, two sets of questionnaires and a series of interviews were analysed to gain a better understand of the importance of sustainability to our customers. Inga’s study confirmed that sustainability played a considerable role in contractor selection but it emerged that different types of customers had very different ambitions regarding sustainability, all of which will be discussed in more detail throughout Inga’s presentation.


"The Sustainability Scholarship has been a fantastic experience for me and is something I will always think of fondly. From the initial interview, through to quarterly progress meetings and hours of report writing I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. Carrying out a research project which in its volume and complexity was fairly similar to my Masters thesis whilst simultaneously working full-time was not always easy and required a lot of determination, focus and discipline. However, when I presented my findings in front of an audience of industry leading professionals back in May I realised that every single minute I spent working on this had been absolutely worth it. The evening went amazingly well and receiving such positive feedback from so many people whom I had never met before was extremely humbling. I can only recommend participating in a CIOB scholarship to anyone and found the contacts I made throughout the process invaluable."