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Wed June 19 2024

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Heavy plant wipes out contractor’s sustainability gains

15 Jul 11 Willmott Dixon made significant reductions in the amount of waste it generated last year and the amount it sent to landfill but still saw its carbon footprint grow.

The small rise in total carbon emissions to 24,098 tonnes was attributed to the use of heavier machinery on its construction projects, scuppering the company’s aim to become carbon neutral.

In its 2010 sustainability report, Willmott Dixon otherwise made good progress, with 91% off all site waste diverted from landfill – up from 60% just three years ago. Some £2.3m was saved in disposal costs, landfill tax and value of material otherwise sent as waste

Average company car emissions are now down to 135g CO2/km, down from 160g CO2/km in 2007.

Group chief executive Rick Willmott said: “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.

“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 £2.3m 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.

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“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 intends to 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 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.

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