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Willmott Dixon: securing a hat trick of Queens Awards for Enterprise



The Queen's Award for Enterprise are the most celebrated accolade that a British business can have.

We've been privileged now to be awarded the Queen's Award in the category of sustainability for the second time.

Joshua Armstrong, Framework Manager, Willmott Dixon Interiors:

It's important for me to work for a company that takes environmental issues seriously. Winning the Queen's Award really hits home the impact of the changes we made as a business. It shows that sustainability and the environment is at the forefront of what we do, as well as just building excellent buildings and delivering for customers. Their end users and their staff would want a contractor to be procured in a responsible manner. And they'd want them to know that we're carrying out works with the environment in mind.

Joel Cardinal, Head of Energy and Sustainability, University of Warwick:

The University of Warwick is already working for several years now to make its building specification more demanding. We currently procure buildings from partners like Willmott Dixon, which are about 60% better than building regulations. And that helps us to make sure that those buildings are very economical. And we have evidence that shows the building is working well. This graph, very fortunately for us, has showed that over the last 10 years our carbon emission have reduced by 46%. Would we not have had a good contribution and good relationship with Willmott Dixon, those buildings would consumed more and we would not have achieved our 46% reduction.

Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer, Group Sustainability Willmott Dixon:

We have been carbon neutral since 2012; the only company in our sector to do that. We use natural renewable electricity on our sites and offices where we pay the bills. We've slashed carbon emissions. We've doubled the turnover of the company, but we spend no more on fuel. We've managed our resources much more effectively. We've again cut massively the amount of construction waste that comes from our sites. 99% of our impact is through our supply chain partners.

Malcolm McDermott, Managing Director, McDermott Building and Civil Engineering:

The Queens Award is a fantastic achievement for all Willmott Dixon. They've helped us to become a better business. We spent 2 years working with Willmott Dixon, working on our carbon footprint - simply by switching off lights, recycling, switching off engines when the machines aren't being used. we have a fuel bill, year-on-year, in excess of £1.5 million. And over the last 12 months we have been able to save in the region of £100,000. We're able to take these measures, put them into everyday practice so they become good practices, and they become part our DNA.

Julia Barrett:

We deliver some amazing projects and it feels like we've always been pushing the boundaries.

One of the most recent examples is the Passivhaus secondary school for the London Borough of Sutton, which has been a massive challenge. It's the first time that a secondary school has met the Passivhaus standard. And I'm delighted to say it's achieved its ambition, and actually achieved one of the best air tightness ratings that we've ever achieved on a project.

James Fisher, Principal, Harris Academy Sutton:

I think that for a Harris Academy Sutton to be part of a project with Willmott Dixon, under the London Borough of Sutton, and to be recognised for the impact that the the project as a whole, over a period of 3 plus years, has had on the environment and the local communities... I think that's really important for everyone involved to have that recognition.

I think the sustainability and thinking about the environment is important on 2 fronts. I think, first of all, there's just the impact of building a good building has. So actually it's reducing your carbon footprint, it's making sure that your emissions are low and your energy usage is acceptable. That then has a cost benefit, which is obviously good for your organisation. And I think secondly, specifically to a school context, the message it sends to the children. That actually these things are important; that we're building this into the fabric of the design of the society in which we want to live. That then gives them an embedded message as they go on and they'll take it to their children. So it's a two-fold thing really.

Joel Cardinal:

I see it as an example of a company taking an extra step to really demonstrate to their peers, and maybe their customers, that it's possible to be competitive, make buildings, and have a successful company, still demonstrating that they can support the UK to becoming more sustainable. Setting an example, and being able to share that, is building confidence amongst the supply chain and the customers, which is exactly what we need.

Julia Barrett:

Not all of the buildings we build or we work on are new. One of the most interesting examples recently was at Alexandra Palace, an amazing Victorian building, where we took an arrested decay approach, recycling floorboards and bricks. So it really is a homage to that Victorian era and the best of our historic buildings.

We're also embracing innovation. So the M-Sparc building at Menai Science Park is really future-facing. They were using VR goggles, so that the prospective tenants could wander through the building. And they achieved a massive 37% take-up of occupancy, and they'd only targeted 15%, so it just shows the power of innovation.

The energy and enthusiasm of our people just never ceases to amaze me; whether it's the Waste Task Team at interiors and they're plastic hoarding; whether it's recycling plastic from our sites and putting it into tarmac, as demonstrated by Wales and the West Team; or whether it's embracing and trialling new technology, such as the energy generating paving that the Midlands Team did at the University of Birmingham's Green Heart. We have got some amazing people across our business, who are really up for delivering buildings fit for the future, building stronger communities, minimising our impact. They understand why sustainability is actually about good business.