ESG Strategy | For an emerging business


Ellie Jenkins


Modern Living Solutions (MLS) is on an exciting journey to revolutionise the delivery of attainable, quality homes for the people that need them most. As a young business, setting up for long-term success was a key priority for MLS.

Recognising that a sustainable business model must have sustainability at its core, MLS approached Akerlof to help set a strong direction of travel by beginning to shape an ESG strategy.

What we did

From an ESG perspective, there are hundreds of areas upon which a business could focus and report. We therefore guided the MLS leadership team through their first materiality assessment, identifying the areas that most reflected MLS’s economic, environmental, and social impacts, risks and opportunities.

The voice of key stakeholders from MLS’s investors, parent company Greystar, employees, and suppliers was key to shaping the strategy. After mapping both internal and external stakeholders, Akerlof conducted 14 qualitative interviews, which sought to rank a longlist of sustainability topics, allowing us to gather insights which were then fed back to the leadership team to inform the final strategy.

To ensure the strategy could be clearly communicated, Akerlof worked closely with MLS to gain a thorough understanding their unique history and values. This led to the creation of a suite of graphics and accompanying narrative to integrate the MLS story with their new ESG strategy.

The impact

  • Robust materiality assessment, aligned to the Global Reporting Index (GRI) principles
  • Tailored ESG materiality map that defines core areas of focus, with a narrative report on key findings and next steps
  • An ESG story that captures the journey of MLS, reflecting the social and environmental outcomes that a modular approach can unlock
  • An engaging infographic that captures the narrative in a single visual, winning over hearts and minds
  • Full alignment with parent company Greystar’s ESG framework and the UN Sustainability Development Goals

Don't just take our word for it...

Taking the reins before dirt is moved, gives us the strategic leverage to create the impact in ESG that traditional construction could potentially never deliver.

Deeshna Divakaran, Director, Modern Living Solutions

Jamie Hillier


With a penchant for tweed and jackets with leather arm patches, Jamie began his career as a quantity surveyor, before climbing the ladder to lead major projects for a Tier 1 contractor.

Eventually expanding his book collection beyond copies of SMM7, Jamie has interest in a broad range of subjects linked to delivering better outcomes for society and the environment.

His strategic insights on MMC and behavioural science have made their way into numerous government, industry and academic publications, including the Construction Playbook, Transforming Infrastructure Performance Roadmap to 2030, the Platform Rulebook and the RIBA DfMA Overlay.

John Handscomb


Construction is in John’s blood. Learning from his father who was a planner and project manager, John began his career by working on some iconic projects in both the public and private sector.

As a procurement expert and integrator of new ways of working, John has pioneered the integration of platform principles, DfMA processes and supply chain within over £5bn projects in the last 15 years, for some of the largest building programmes in the UK. Despite his considerable expertise, John keeps it simple, communicating complicated ideas with ease and helping to equip the industry with new knowledge and skills.

Outside of Akerlof, John enjoys his executive role with technology start-up ScanTech Digital, spending time with his family, taking trips down the football, playing a bit of golf with friends and the odd pint. 

Our name is shared with George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist.

His seminal paper, Market for Lemons, demonstrated the devastating consequences of making decisions under the conditions of quality uncertainty and unequal information between buyers and sellers, increasing the chance of buyers ending up with a ‘lemon’.

This 50-year-old concept continues to retain parallels within the construction industry.

Through our insight and experience, we can rebalance this information asymmetry on behalf of our clients, levelling the playing field to deliver better outcomes.