15.03.24 Business

Climate Action Programme case study: Wardell Armstrong

In our latest Climate Action Programme case study, Ali Kemp, Regional Director of consultancy firm Wardell Armstrong, share some of the organisation’s challenges, progress and top tips as it works towards its climate goals. 

Managing multiple offices to achieve one goal

We’re an environmental and engineering consultancy, so to market our services effectively, we must practice what we preach. We have implemented a carbon reduction plan, however, with 13 offices across the UK, we have to retain some flexibility in our approach, as they are all different.  Expertise in this area varies across our different offices, and it can be difficult to balance our climate and business priorities.

Our biggest challenge is that, due to the diversity of our offices and teams, we do not have staff from our Energy and Climate Change team represented in all of our offices. Instead, this team is based on the south-west. To help us overcome this, we have recruited volunteer environmental representatives from across the other technical disciplines, within each office, and they are responsible for securing buy-in from the wider team and reporting any ideas or challenges to the Environment Committee which meets regularly.

Identifying hot spots

Due to the nature of our business being service driven and office based, the largest proportion of our emissions come from business travel. However, reducing our emissions in this area is challenging, not only because our staff need to work off-site and in remote locations, but also because they are usually carrying a lot of equipment, and traveling to undertake surveys, such as for bats, during anti-social hours. When public transport is not a practical option, alongside car sharing, we are also transitioning to using more electric vehicles. We have also embedded a sustainable travel policy and proactively support our staff to use green methods of transport.

We are also now transitioning to a city centre-based office model and moving offices into urban centres from locations not served well by public transport. Where our offices are already well served by public transport, we are seeking to influence our landlords to create more space for bikes (and showers) and electric vehicles and to make changes to our buildings that will lead to carbon reduction, such as through improved waste management practices, energy efficiency measures and renewable energy installation. It’s not a speedy process, but we are having success in some locations. Offering our landlords our expertise and proactively sharing grants and funding opportunities with them is helping.

People and planet

We recognise that if we want to recruit and retain more passionate and knowledgeable staff, we need to continue to demonstrate our commitment to reducing our environmental impact. It is quite simply what people expect, including our suppliers and clients. We’re also aware that demonstrating this commitment needs to happen both internally across our business, but also externally in the communities where our offices are based.

For example, here in Bristol, we recently teamed up with the University of West of England’s Clean Skills for Growth Programme and ran four workshops, educating local SMEs and VCSEs on carbon, energy, and waste management. We were keen to support and engage with both UWE and the diversity of SMEs involved in the Skills for Growth Programme, as it was a great opportunity to pass on our climate action tips and break down some of the barriers to kicking off positive environmental change.

We’re now looking for more opportunities to share our knowledge and experience and work collaboratively with local organisations and businesses here in Bristol.

Top tips:

  • Make it manageable – don’t strive for perfection and don’t try to do it all at once.
  • Start with the easy wins to build momentum – decision-makers are more likely to approve the budget for more complex initiatives if they have already seen an impact. It is also a great motivator for the staff, when they can see positive results from their actions.
  • Be consistent – try to implement a consistent approach across multiple offices, while remaining flexible, as not all offices are the same.
  • Passion fuels progress give passionate staff ownership of environmental initiatives. In my experience, they will be far more effective at engaging the rest of your team and securing buy-in.

For more information about Wardell Armstrong and their work in the environmental sector, visit their website or contact Ali Kemp, who leads the Bristol team.

Through our Climate Action Programme collaboration with the Redcliffe & Temple Business Improvement District, we’re keen to showcase climate progress in this area of the city and create more opportunities for businesses to learn from one another.

If you have an initiative or project we can shout about, please do get in touch (bex@bristolclimatenature.org).


Find out more about the Climate Action Programme

Share to

Photo of Wardell Armstrong staff