As a company that is enthusiastically committed to corporate social responsibility, we recognise that the work we deliver affords opportunities to create lasting benefits for local communities and the wider environment.
These can be expressed not only in terms of carbon reductions and the improved fabric of buildings but also in terms of enhancing people’s skills, work experience and their prospects for secure employment.
The following sections outline the various policies that govern our work in this field.
When submitting our proposals for any new scheme, we always consider the wider local community - examining its composition and specific social needs. Rather than simply respond to a tender invitation, we will proactively investigate the area and examine what additional funding sources might be brought to bear to magnify the impact of the scheme.
We excel in identifying new sources of funding, not only from Government or the EU, but also from energy companies, with whom we have strong and positive relationships. By bringing these disparate sources together and making them work coherently with clients' capital budgets, we can often extend the scope and reach of client schemes - thus making a marked difference to residents' quality of life.
We also aim to make all the benefits of our work as accessible and as inclusive as possible. For example, when working with social housing providers, we will actively promote our private finance offering to encourage local private homeowners to take advantage of the same works. The resulting economies greatly reduce the costs for householders and help to ensure that benefits can be extended throughout the whole neighbourhood. Our private finance offering is supported by Barclays Partner Finance and regulated by the FCA.
As a result of our work on longer term frameworks, we operate in certain areas for long periods of time, often over many years. This gives us the chance to forge links with local communities and to ensure that our presence generates spin-off benefits for residents and neighbouring businesses alike.
For example, to support local training and employment, we organise careers days at local schools, we offer work placements for pupils, we recruit locally for our resident liaison officers and - on larger schemes - we will typically set up our own local, dedicated training centres. We run a thriving in-house apprenticeship scheme but we also actively participate in shared apprenticeship pools set up by clients and by national procurement frameworks.
In addition, we regularly hold 'meet the buyer' events for local suppliers and, provided that strict quality standards are met, we seek to use their services as much as possible. This ensures that money re-circulates within the local economy whilst the use of local labour and materials helps to minimise the environmental costs of long distance transport.
We are always keen to participate where there is a shared commitment to promoting local prospects for employment and creating new opportunities for people experiencing long term worklessness.
The Sustainable Group is registered as an Investor In People and is keenly committed to ensuring equality, diversity and the development of all its employees. We strive to be an Equal Opportunities employer and we will only accept supply chain partners who adhere to these same positive principles.
Apprenticeships play an important role in our activities and recruitment processes. A great many of our employees - including a number of our senior managers - started out as apprentices and have remained with the company ever since. This has given us a close-knit workforce whose strengths include excellent internal communication, a keen understanding of the Group’s collective capabilities and a shared focus on quality and customer service.
The ultimate goal of much of our work is to improve the energy efficiency of buildings or to prolong their useful lives, thereby helping to reduce their carbon footprint. However, we are very conscious that there are negative environmental impacts associated with any building work, be it new build or refurbishment, and we are anxious to keep those impacts to an absolute minimum.
In line with our accreditation under the ISO14001:2004 scheme for Environmental Management, we continuously monitor and refine our activities with a view to minimising waste and enhancing resource efficiency. This takes into account conventional considerations such as waste materials, energy costs, local procurement and effective resource planning but it also extends to more proactive efforts to reduce a project's collective impacts. For example, we actively seek to identify, test and share examples of best practice with regard to the use of improved new materials, procedures or access techniques - all of which can deliver significant 'whole lifecycle' benefits.
As a responsible OHSAS 18001-accredited employer, we endeavour to comply with all relevant legislation. We have in place a rigorously observed safety management system that has underpinned our excellent safety record for many years. For every project, we prepare site specific method statements, risk assessments and COSHH assessments and we disseminate the details to personnel and subcontractors at pre-start safety meetings.
All safe working practices are routinely monitored by site foremen, supervisors, managers and our Health and Safety consultants. Checklists (including types of access equipment in use, hand tools and other work equipment) and site reports are completed and any highlighted actions are implemented accordingly.
The Sustainable Group is accredited to ISO9001:2008 and we have a continuous improvement culture. All our team, management and resident/client meetings focus on service quality improvement, working to set objectives and milestones. Typically, we hold monthly project meetings, post-contract debriefs and monthly framework meetings with stakeholders.
On site, before starting any work, we produce a Quality Plan. This sets out specific holding points at which work will require signing off by a Site Manager before further work can proceed. This ensures continuous quality monitoring, provides full accountability and prevents repetitive errors. Video and photographic evidence of each stage's completion is normally held on our storage cloud for reference and may be accessed by the client, as required.