New Guidance Launched on Optimising ESG in the World of Offsite and MMC

A new report published by the Supply Chain Sustainability School, Akerlof and the University of Salford guides clients and supply chain organisations  on how to enhance the benefits of the social value created through the use of offsite manufacture.

In the face of urgent challenges, including the need to rapidly decarbonise, combat growing poverty and inequality, and address the cost of living crisis, what and how we build is crucial. Offsite construction and the social value agenda are two responses, driven by both government and industry. This report brings these agendas together, addressing a gap in guidance for clients and the supply chain.

Contributors to the report described how proposals which involve factory pre-fabrication are sometimes disadvantaged during bids, due to clients restricting social value measurement to the municipal area of the development site. Such assessments miss the significant benefits offsite manufacturing facilities can bring to other geographical areas, for example, through provision of stable, higher quality employment.

The report illustrates the potential benefits that can be felt at both development and manufacturing sites across five themes: employment, skills, economy, social and environmental. Across these, we unearthed promising stories of offsite organisations contributing positively, along with significant scope for improved data gathering and communication to support assumptions.

Examples of good work include:

  • Opening up opportunities for employment to members of local communities, students and underrepresented groups
  • Measured reductions in embodied carbon
  • Inclusion of local stakeholders in the design process through the use of digital tools
  • Creation of training opportunities and routes to progression through direct employment

Ultimately, our findings indicate there is potential for offsite to deliver the same, if not more, value to society than traditional construction, providing early communication takes place among stakeholders to understand the possibilities and agree clear boundaries and methodologies.

Pressing forward in this space, there is a great deal of work needed to build up the robust evidence base required to set baselines for improvement and effectively communicate the benefits, which the School and collaborating organisations are keen to support.

Ian Heptonstall, Director of the Supply Chain Sustainability School, said:

I’m delighted to share this guide providing practical recommendations with the offsite sector. I hope organisations will find it useful as a jumping off point to get to grips with their social value offering, measuring and communicating impact for the benefit of all in the sector

The report can be downloaded from the Supply Chain Sustainability School website here.

About Supply Chain Sustainability School:
The Supply Chain Sustainability School (the “School”) is a multi-award-winning initiative which represents a common approach to addressing sustainability within supply chains. Co-funded by near 180 collaborating companies (Partners), the School is delivered by an independent third-party consultancy, Action Sustainability. Leadership is provided by a School Board comprising elected representatives of Partners, responsible for fiscal governance and strategic direction. A Code of Ethics is signed by all Partners as part of the School Constitution and Partners lead the direction of the School content and activities through leadership groups. With more than 50,000 registered users, the School provides free practical learning and support in the form of sustainability training, events and networking, e-learning modules, tailored assessment and a library of over 3,000 online resources.

About Akerlof:
Our industry has a unique opportunity to influence society for the better. Both in what we build and how we build it. Akerlof helps organisations in the built environment to deliver betters, not just goods.

Responding to contemporary challenges with creativity and clarity, we work with ambitious leaders in both public and private sectors to offer fresh and objective thinking on how to deliver economic, environmental and social value through Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).

As a verified B Corp, we care about the built environment and how it shapes society. Our people have worked at front-line and business leadership levels for the UK’s largest contractors and consultancies, bringing their experience, energy and clarity to help our clients do the right things better.

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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.