Corporates enjoy the benefits of joining IEMA

30th September 2015

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Samantha May

To help organisations of all types and sizes prepare for these challenges and equip their staff and the future workforce with the environmental and sustainability skills needed to survive and thrive in the new economy, IEMA has a suite of products comprising IEMA for business, education and consultancy.

Network Rail, Skanska UK and Willmott Dixon are three companies IEMA is assisting to be sustainability leaders, and increase their resilience against coming uncertainty and continue to be successful. Through the partnerships, the three businesses are working with IEMA to share best practice, build their reputations and raise of the competence of in-house environment and sustainability professionals as well as the wider workforce, including senior teams.

Adding value

Nigel Sagar, senior environmental compliance manager at Skanska UK, says the partnership between the construction company and IEMA is producing some very tangible business benefits. The Swedish-owned firm has a clear vision for sustainability and a long tradition of "greening" its construction projects. Deep green is the destination for a journey to a more sustainable future. IEMA has helped Skanska to add to its comprehensive portfolio of training to support its journey to Deep green including approving three training courses delivered by the construction company.

Skanksa has used IEMA's leading with environmental sustainability course to support its clients to better understand the strategic implications of a changing environment on their ability to do business. Sagar, who is a MIEMA and a chartered environmentalist, says this has been of real value for both Skanska and its clients. "Embedding this knowledge among our senior managers, clients and designers helps deliver more sustainable buildings and infrastructure," he says. IEMA is also helping to spread environment and sustainability knowledge throughout the business. The institute has assured the firm's "lifecycle-costing" course. It is an entry-level course on costing what the company does in terms of sustainability. It was developed with Skanska's estimating teams and is delivered by them.

IEMA and Skanska have developed a structured programme of professional development for the firm's 60-strong environment team. This includes IEMA providing support, through workshops and mentoring, to assist those who are ready to achieve full and chartered environmentalist status. Colin Moorcroft, environmental training manager at Skanska, reports that 10 are now MIEMA and CEnvs, and 13 others are going through the process. The framework also supports practitioners at the start of their careers to gain the knowledge to achieve associate status. The support provided by IEMA includes monthly webinars and workbooks geared towards helping individuals taking the associate exam.

"The partnership with IEMA has helped our environment professionals achieve and demonstrate even higher levels of competence and to be influential in change," says Moorcroft, who fully understands the membership process, as he is one of the 10 Skanska employees to achieve MIEMA and chartered status this year.

Away from assisting in spreading knowledge and building competence, corporate membership has generated financial savings and supported Skanska to showcase its leadership on sustainability at IEMA events and in publications, such as the environmentalist. From the start of 2016, Skanska will pay for the annual IEMA memberships of all its environment team in one payment, rather than individuals having to claim back the payment from the company, often at different times in the year. This will greatly reduce the administrative burden on Skanska of dealing with professional membership renewals and is more cost-efficient for both organisations, says Moorcroft.

Willmott Dixon is also benefiting from its corporate membership with IEMA. The company is building IEMA's qualifications into those available through its training academy with a view to supporting its customers to understand the importance of environmental sustainability. The construction company, which became a corporate member in 2012, has also developed self-development competence matrices to ensure employees have the technical skills to deliver sustainable buildings.

This work has included taking the IEMA skills map to construct a programme of environmental and sustainability skills for the whole workforce of more than 3,000. "When I first saw the map, I could see its potential to be translated at an organisational level," says Ballard. The map has been translated into four levels, induction, operations, management and leadership, which mirror the skills map's entry, operational, managerial and leadership levels. Environment managers at Willmott Dixon are expected to attain full IEMA membership and/or chartered environmentalist status. "IEMA corporate membership is very valuable to Willmott Dixon. It has helped us on our long-term journey to gain recognition for the training we have been doing as well as assisting us to move forward and implement it across our entire business," says group environment manager Martin Ballard.

Aside from helping Willmott Dixon to raise the competence of its environment practitioners, other members of staff and clients, Ballard says the value of corporate membership is in the discussions he and his colleagues can have with experts at the institute and its other members. "As a company, we're involved in lots of industry groups, but being able through IEMA to talk about the environmental and sustainability challenges all businesses face and the implications of new legislation, as well as to share best practice and ideas at events like the institute's employer forum, is extremely valuable," he says.

Rhodri Davies, environment manager at Network Rail Infrastructure Projects (NRIP) southern division, reports that the owner and operator of Britain's railway infrastructure became a corporate member at the start of 2014.

The initial focus of the partnership was training. At the time, NRIP was developing a programme to embed environmental knowledge across the division with the view to roll it out to Network Rail's 35,000 employees. NRIP used the IEMA skills map as the basis to identify the skills and knowledge required by staff at all levels, creating a process to identify the environmental responsibilities for each role and to determine whether each employee had the sufficient competence to exercise that responsibility effectively. Training was provided to raise competence where necessary, with NRIP and IEMA working together to design the courses.

The relationship between the two organisations has since broadened. NRIP operates a Principal Contractor Licensing Standard, which sets out the requirements for principal contractors on the level of competence and skills their environment managers and specialists are expected to have based on project value and risk. One specification is for such personnel to be full members of IEMA or an equivalent. "But we found that quite a few of our own staff were not at the correct membership level," says Davies. "So we have worked with IEMA to get more people to achieve MIEMA and chartered environmentalist status." This has consisted of workshops run by IEMA assessors to prepare individuals for the process. So far 10 people have had interviews to become full members and chartered environmentalists. "This has been fantastic in raising the profile of the profession in the industry," says Davies.

The next step for IEMA is to present to Network Rail's senior leadership teams on the sustainability challenges highlighted by the institute's Perfect storm report.

Supporting organisations on their sustainability journeys

IEMA for business

The institute offers two levels of corporate membership based on organisational size - for enterprises with fewer than 250 employees and for those with more than 250 staff. As the experiences of Network Rail, Skanska UK and Willmott Dixon demonstrate, partnering with IEMA is about developing the environmental and sustainability skills, competence and knowledge, and the sharing of best practice and ideas to ensure they are prepared for the challenges of a changing economy and can make the most of the opportunities that will emerge.

IEMA for consultancy

IEMA has a specific membership scheme for consultancies with less than 50 employees, which is designed to help them grow their business by demonstrating their environment and sustainability credentials. By partnering with the institute, consultancies can ensure staff have the skills and competence to support clients to become more sustainability.

IEMA for education

IEMA is working with a growing number of higher education establishments to ensure all students, not just those studying environmental topics, are equipped with sustainability knowledge when they graduate so they can help to build a more sustainable economy. Benefits of IEMA membership include: support for the employability of graduates through course accreditation, careers events and student memberships; access to leading employers offering student placements; and access to environmental professionals to help manage the impacts of university facilities.

Full details are at To speak to IEMA about partnering your organisation with the institute call Sarah-Jane Oates on +44 (0)1522 540069 or email [email protected].


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