Willmott Dixon, the UK’s second largest privately owned capital works, regeneration and support services company, reports on sustainable development progress in 2010.

Key points:
• 91 per cent of all site waste diverted from landfill
• £2.3 million saved in disposal costs, landfill tax and value of material otherwise sent as waste
• Average company car emissions now down to 135g CO2/km
• 14 post occupancy surveys carried out on completed projects to assess performance ‘in use’
• Eight percent less waste generated per £100,000 of construction spend
• £5 million invested in management trainees and apprentices
• Four BREEAM excellent projects delivered
• Slight rise in carbon footprint to 24,098 tonnes
• Energy display monitors to be installed in all offices in 2011

Group chief executive Rick Willmott says, “We made some excellent progress against our sustainable development targets, but also faced considerable challenges. Diverting 91% of site waste from landfill is tremendous progress when you consider three years ago that figure stood at 60%. We aim to reach 100%, although we have to take into account the closer we get, the harder that last element becomes as there are certain items that can only be sent to landfill.

“Another area of improvement was vehicle emissions, where we reduced average emissions on company cars by 16% from 160g CO2/km in 2007 to 135g CO2/km.

“Cutting down on waste, improving energy performance and being efficient in how we carry out our work has major benefits to the bottom line. For example, reducing waste to landfill resulted in £2.3 million being saved last year and helped us reduce non-value adding costs for our clients. Given the ever increasing costs of doing business, the rationale for showing leadership in sustainable development has never been more important.

“We cannot ignore that 2010 saw an increase both in our carbon footprint and in our annual energy bill. This was predominantly down to utilising heavier mechanical equipment, the rise in energy costs and the improvement in how we capture and measure fossil fuel use. New efficiency measures we are rolling out in 2011 will help mitigate against these rises and we remain absolutely determined to be a carbon neutral business.”

Willmott Dixon continues to invest in collecting data on performance ‘in use’, including carrying out 14 post occupancy evaluations in 2010 to assess energy consumption. Data collected from such surveys form the basis of design ideas which are incorporated on new projects to deliver better ‘in use’ energy performance when completed.

To focus on carbon performance in offices, Willmott Dixon will install remote monitoring and display units in each office where it is possible to do so to capture energy and water use, which will allow us to collect data to influence behaviour. It is also carrying out detailed energy surveys in offices using the CIBSE TM 22 assessment methodology, as well as making sure each office has a Display Energy Certificate, a practice which Willmott Dixon has been calling for all private companies to do through the UK Green Building Council.

On construction projects, the company acknowledges that reducing energy consumption is a tough challenge as plant and equipment consumes significant fossil fuel energy. Its in-house sustainability brand Re-Thinking is leading this task, developing a Group Carbon Management Plan and working with the Strategic Forum for Construction.

Non-executive director Jonathon Porritt says, “What’s clear is that companies like Willmott Dixon that want to be successful in the built environment need to show leadership if we are to deliver the ambitious carbon reduction targets required from property. That includes having the ideas and expertise to shape and tackle the issues of embodied carbon, renewable technology, energy performance ‘in use’ and the emerging Green Deal agenda for domestic housing.

“Our engagement with Government and industry bodies like UK Green Building Council and UK Contractors Group in areas like defining zero carbon for homes and introducing Display Energy Certificates in commercial property to drive low carbon change is essential. Likewise 2011 will be about capturing and sharing the knowledge we gain from groundbreaking schemes like the UK’s first zero carbon ‘in use’ school, a major retrofit programme in Cambridgeshire, Code level six housing and creating a BREEAM outstanding health facility.

“Market forces will ensure that measures to protect against the rise in energy costs become more prominent in the board rooms of companies. By having solutions to these concerns, we’ll have the foresight and commitment to show sustainable development leadership, rather than follow the market.

“The important point to remember is that there is no end point to sustainable development, only levels of better performance.”