The path to the future

Posted by Morwenna Vinall on 04/03/20 11:00

Increasingly companies are looking at sustainability, not just at the systems that they design and the impact those can have of customers’ energy use but also at the way that they run their own organisations. So it is not surprising that Colt, whose products are concerned with making the built environment more sustainable, has embarked on this journey.

It has set itself a target of becoming a zero-carbon company, signing up to the Pledge to Net Zero This is a place where organisations in the environmental sector commit to taking a leadership role in the transition to a net-zero economy. They make the following commitments:

  1. Set and commit to deliver a greenhouse gas target in line with either a 1.5°C or well below 2°C climate change scenario – covering buildings and travel as a minimum.
  2. Publicly report greenhouse gas emissions and progress against this target each year
  3. Publish one piece of research/thought-leadership each year on practical steps to delivering an economy in line with climate science and in support of net zero carbon. Alternatively, signatories may choose to provide mentoring and support for smaller signatory companies in setting targets, reporting and meeting the requirements of the pledge.

Construction signatories include large design practices AECOM and WSP. Morwenna Vinall, who is Quality, Health, Safety and Environment manager at Colt, a chartered environmentalist and a member of the Institue of Environmental Management and Assessment, is leading this strategy. She is excited that Colt is in the same boat with these larger organisations. ‘It will be a challenge but I am eager to see what the industry can achieve together,’ she said.

At the moment, Colt is developing the details of its strategy, which it will announce at the end of May, including targets and plans to become net-zero.

So far, it has been working on the broad and ambitious outline. Too often, we forget the full meaning of sustainability, looking at the all-important environmental aspect but forgetting the economic and social fields. Colt however is tackling all three, planning for a resilient economic situation in the face of pressures, looking to be efficient and also to innovate in a changing world. Looking after the company and ensuring that it continues to have a workforce that is well trained and well looked after is key.

Vinall asked, ‘What actions do we have to take to be around through the next 20, 50 or 100 years: Colt is its people. There is nothing more sustainable than making sure that you have talent within the business.’

The sustainability strategy identifies10 priorities with long-term goals, and also a framework of targets and actions designed to achieve them, to move them from goals to realisation. These goals will be in line with Colt’s mission which it describes as ‘Expertise built on proven experience delivering innovative, cost effective and sustainable solutions’. The priorities are set out in the graphic below:

Sustainability Framework

Particularly exciting is the approach to innovation, which focuses on two areas. One is the change in challenges in car parks with the introduction of electric vehicles. Now that the government has moved its target to end sales of new petrol cars from 2040 to 2035, we can expect a rapid shift towards electric vehicles. As a result car-park ventilation will change.

This is one area that Colt is exploring. Another is the change that will come in office buildings. Where once air conditioning was near-universal in new offices in London, now there is a move to mixed-mode and natural ventilation. As a company that specialises in ventilation as one of its fields of expertise, this is an opportunity that Colt will explore further.

Sustainability is of course a field that Colt has considered for many years, but this is the first time that it has set out to create a strategy covering all the activities of the entire organisation. The work that has been done so far is very much about a direction of travel. In the next few months it will firm up some key targets and actions that will benefit both Colt and its customers. Watch this space.

Topics: sustainability