Jul 13
CEO on Sustainaibility
CEO on Sustainaibility
In an interview with News & Views, L&T CEO & MD Mr S N Subrahmanyan explains how the conglomerate has institutionalised ESG practices
Q. Many people think it is incongruous to say that a company like L&T, which is majorly into engineering and construction, is sustainable. What is your response?
A: Corporate Sustainability, also termed ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. It has three main pillars: economic, environmental, and social, which are informally referred to as profits, planet and people. L&T is one of the few companies which started to report sustainable practices long before the regulators mandated the use of business responsibility and sustainability reporting formats for various industries. Since FY18, L&T has been following an Integrated Reporting framework, which goes beyond Sustainability Reporting. With extensive use of technology, process improvements and innovation, we are making a positive impact vis-à-vis the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals as well.
We at L&T fully recognise our responsibility as a global engineering, construction and manufacturing conglomerate to make our operations sustainable, and are fully committed to building a safe and prosperous future. We focus not only on our operations, but also engineer sustainable solutions for our customers. We approach these solutions holistically, going beyond just the environmental regulations that govern them, to fully consider the communities and environments they impact.
We aim to create long-term value by operating sustainably in the ecological, social, and economic spaces. Development and destruction need not be synonymous – and L&T is proving it every day.
Q. So, what does sustainability mean for L&T?
A: Sustainability is a business imperative and is tied to all its functions, more so for L&T because we serve sectors in which there is an increasing focus on ESG issues. L&T is an organisation with a social conscience – sustainability and governance have, for long, been internalised by the organisation. In fact, it is our solemn duty to give back to the society that has enabled our growth. Therefore, we continue to provide impetus to many initiatives and processes in this regard.
Our focus has broadly been on people, the communities we operate in, the environment at large, and on expanding our green portfolio. Thrust areas such as employee safety & well-being, community development through health, education, water & sanitation and skill-building, energy conservation and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions have been identified, and the progress in these areas has been good.
Q. Could you please elaborate a little more?
A: The recent inauguration of L&T’s Skill Trainer’s Academy is a case in point. Then, initiatives to reduce water consumption, increase recycling and so on have gained significant momentum. Across India, we now have 24 water positive and two carbon neutral campuses. Around 25% revenue is being generated through our green products and services in a wide spectrum such as solar power business, utilisation of energy-efficient equipment, hydropower projects, etc. We are also committed to providing necessary resources to realise our ‘zero accident vision’.
Again, a robust CSR programme was institutionalised in L&T much before it was mandated by law. L&T has stood with the nation during national calamities or crises such as COVID-19. We continue to do all that is in our capacity to alleviate the effects of the pandemic. Taking a holistic view, L&T’s core values such as transparency, accountability, compliance, trust, etc. are enablers for a good performance in the governance area as well.
Q. How does L&T adopt sustainable practices in its operations?
A: There are many ways for a corporation to follow green and sustainable practices to reduce the effect on the environment. Let me count the ways we are adopting these practices across L&T businesses. We at L&T make sustainable products using sustainable materials and production processes, while cutting down on the use of hazardous materials like plastic. We reduce wastage at our sites. Also, we conserve water usage in all our projects. All our policies and processes at our project sites are adopting these greener strategies, adhere to ‘best practices’ and comply with the emerging international standards.
Then, we optimise energy utilisation through clean and green energy practices with sustainable re-cycling programmes. Energy-efficient products and environment-friendly products are used to meet internal requirements. We extend these to all stakeholders – including employees, partners, and suppliers. We ensure that we partner with companies that follow green practices. We encourage employee engagement in green practices through various internal initiatives and training programmes. We set goals on these green practices, measure and monitor them across all our businesses.
Safety is crucial to our business. At any given time, we are undertaking 1,000+ projects and our safety processes are now ‘smarter’, for we harness digitalisation to keep people and property safe.

Q. Could you enlighten us on L&T’s ‘green’ business portfolio?
A: Our green portfolio currently stands at nearly Rs 325 billion. Cutting across the several existing capabilities and adjacencies, green and clean technologies are the mainstay of L&T’s offerings, and cater to sectors such as renewable energy generation from solar and wind, energy storage and transmission, decarbonisation, hydrogen generation & utilisation, etc. We have emerged as a global technology player for solar plants. We have recently secured an order for one of the largest solar PV plants having capacity of 1.5 GW in Saudi Arabia. We are India’s largest EPC company to build hydel-power plants, the largest market player to build nuclear power plants with a total capability of 9360 MWe, including some ongoing projects, on an EPC turnkey basis, with the capacity to make important critical components like steam turbines, generators, end-shields and other critical equipment.
We have commissioned over 2.1 GW of utility scale solar projects and are operating and maintaining several of them. We have a diversified renewable portfolio of 32 MW floating solar power plants, 135 MWH of battery energy storage projects, 500 micro grids and 14,000 solar water pumps. We have developed over 25 million sq ft of certified green buildings, several of which are Platinum and Gold rated by the Indian Green Building Council.
We are also focused on desalination as the future source of water. Combining indigenous technology with its high-calibre engineering resources, we are building one of India’s first seawater reverse osmosis desalination plants with a capacity of 100 million litres per day. By partnering with multinational companies, we are building capabilities in Selective Catalytic Reduction technology and Flue Gas Desulphurisation technology to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Q. L&T says it is into building social infrastructure. Could you please elaborate?
A: Social infrastructure is indispensable for progress. L&T is India’s leading builder of major infrastructure projects and is equally committed to projects that contribute to the quality of life. These include roads, schools, hospitals, skill training institutes, water supply & distribution and sanitation facilities. Tangibles that contribute to intangibles that are immeasurable – yet highly impactful.
Much before CSR became a buzzword – and almost since L&T’s inception around 80 years ago – the Company has been quietly transforming the lives of the underprivileged around its establishments countrywide. We do this through initiatives in water & sanitation, education, health, and skill-building. That is how we repay our debt to society. 
Q. What is the impact of L&T’s sustainability initiatives?
A: Our initiatives help reduce carbon emissions on our campuses, project sites and the infrastructure that we build for our customers. Our energy conservation efforts across the organisation have contributed to 5.6% decline in the total energy consumption (y-o-y), with over 118 Mn kWh of cumulative energy being saved while reducing 100,443 tonnes of CO2 emissions. This, in turn, improves the quality of life and complements India’s environment and sustainability goals. Our CSR programmes are well-entrenched, focussing on areas that align with the global and national metrics of development: water & sanitation, health, education, and skill-building. Through these programmes, we impact thousands of lives every year.
As part of our integrated community development programme, we cover 38,420 households in nine water-stressed districts in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. Through these initiatives, we have achieved water adequacy for drinking, sanitation and agriculture through watershed projects across five locations, 5% increase in water storage capacity, 3.14 m increase in the water table and helped 95% households to obtain safe drinking water in these areas. We have created waterbodies to increase groundwater levels and initiated rainwater harvesting in communities and schools. L&T enhances the quality of education in resource-stressed slums, rural and tribal schools by strengthening the concrete infrastructure as well as by improving the quality of education in many ways. These include technology-related interventions, introduction of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), ‘Engineering Futures’ projects, building infrastructure, providing educational supplies and so on.
Under skill development programmes, L&T runs nine Construction Skills Training Institutes (CSTIs) in eight states, training about 10,000 youth every year. A large proportion of them is employed by us. Overall, there are 1.38 million beneficiaries of our various CSR initiatives.
As regards the benefits that we reaped and are reaping, our people initiatives have paid off by reducing attrition, building cohesive teams, fostering innovation, and enhancing productivity. We aspire to do much more, and we plan to pour even more effort into our sustainability endeavours.



 on 4/6/2022 4:08 PM