Green Week on Place North West, published in association with the Environment Agency, Envirolink Northwest and Hill Dickinson
▼SMEs shaping up for climate change
Smalls firms should embrace the sustainability agenda, writes Tony Baldwinson, project manager, NW Construction Knowledge Hub. With the increase in the cost of supplies and slashed budgets in the private sector, public sector projects have been seen by many contractors as the 'golden goose'.
But now, the inevitable cut in public spending, coupled with the obstacle course of OJEUs and sustainability policies – the energy bill, carbon reduction commitment and sustainable buildings' policy to name just a few – getting on a public sector framework is a challenge in itself, let alone securing the work and, dare I say, making a profit.
So what do SMEs in the construction sector need to do to set themselves apart from the competition and become an innovative construction company with a healthy order book?
First of all, if margins are being squeezed from every angle, contractors need to look at their own spend. By reducing their own site waste, reducing over-orders and recycling materials, SMEs can increase their profit margin and become contractors with the sustainable agenda at their core, instead of claiming to be green in a prequel, simply to get onto a framework. From procurement and design to innovation and people, SMEs must demonstrate added value to the client if they are going to get onto the framework. 'Better with less' is the way now.
Secondly, contractors are no longer seen as builders who need to deliver a project on time and to budget, but instead seen as a vehicle for the client's own service improvement.
Getting through OJEU submissions and then winning 'actual work' is no longer about just ticking the boxes, so differentiate your service offer and invest energy and time to sell your business – those who do, won't be disappointed.
Finally, this pro-active approach must be instilled from the top down. The supply chain needs to be as engaged as the contractor. For example, some of the supply chains we are working with are aiming for 'zero waste to landfill' – make no mistake this is the future, but can also be the differentiator, which helps contractors get onto the framework and ultimately win work.