Delivering Award-Winning Social Value for the UK’s First National Marine Park

26th Jan, 2024

Services Design Solution (SDS), a distinguished sustainability and building services engineering consultancy, is proud to announce its recent win at the Building Awards in November 2023 for its work on the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park. The design team was honoured with the Delivering Social Value award, a prestigious accolade that acknowledges outstanding commitment to incorporating social responsibility into design and construction projects nationally.

The Delivering Social Value award, presented by Building magazine, recognises organisations that excel in creating positive social impact through their initiatives. SDS showcased their dedication to social value through several impactful activities in collaboration with the architect (LHC Design) and civil and structural engineer (Airey & Coles).

Mr Shaun Hoppins, Managing Director at SDS, expressed gratitude for the recognition, stating, ‘Receiving the Delivering Social Value award is a tremendous honour for SDS. It reflects our unwavering commitment to creating sustainable spaces and flourishing communities. We believe in the power of design to shape a better future, and this accolade reaffirms our dedication to this vision.

The award would not have been possible without the willingness of the wider design team and our dedicated staff. It demonstrates the brilliance that can be achieved when local businesses work together to improve the communities for those living in them, encapsulating the very essence of our values.’

Activities centred around the client’s charter commitment to a fairer, greener future. At the design stage, the bid team made pledges against the client’s Charter and set targets for local employment, upskilling, spending, community, and the environment. SDS’s activities connected community needs with the client’s aspiration to increase engagement with the city’s historic waterfront.

The commitments were fulfilled through the organisation of events during the year-long contract, which included monthly data gathering and reporting. SDS’s initiative to create social value inspired other companies on the design team to bolster their own efforts, leading them to sign onto plastic reduction charters and make environmental pledges.

The most noteworthy activity was the water safety initiative held at Firestone Bay, an access point to the National Marine Park. This program offered sea safety lessons to over 80 disadvantaged children from the local area. The initiative served as a pilot project, securing two years of government funding to replicate its success. It also engaged the broader community by encouraging donations of unused wetsuits for families less able to afford them. This effort ignited considerable enthusiasm for the project among both the client and local residents. All participants expressed a desire to return to the National Marine Park, and 98% of the parents or guardians reported feeling more reassured about allowing their children to enter the sea.

Other activities included sponsoring virtual reality sessions that allowed the elderly to experience the ocean, organizing a snorkel safari for staff wellness, constructing seagrass pallets for carbon offsetting, and conducting regular coastal clean-ups. These clean-ups were in collaboration with the international marine research project, Preventing Plastic Pollution, with the most recent one occurring on World Oceans Day.

Tudor Evans MBE, local Council leader, commented:

‘Social value is about making sure people are at the heart of projects. With something so as all-encompassing as the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park, we want organisations and businesses we work with to share our enthusiasm about helping people to connect to the sea – that’s the theory, so it’s great to see what this means in practice – fun, interesting and inspiring.’

The Building Awards are widely regarded as a benchmark for excellence in the construction industry. This success reinforces the business’ position as a leader in the field, setting a high standard for socially responsible design and construction practices. The project was previously highly commended at the Construction News awards in July, with the judges commenting:

‘Unusually, they said, this was delivered by the design team and in the pre-construction phase.’

All work was funded with grateful thanks to lottery players through a Development Phase grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.