Sowing the seeds of environmental management

10th June 2011

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Related tags

  • Management ,
  • Construction ,
  • Mitigation ,
  • Management/saving ,
  • EMS



IEMA's Acorn scheme has been in operation since 2004 and has guided hundreds of organisations of every size and sector through its phased approach to implementing an environmental management system (EMS)

Beam and D20 are two businesses that have been using the Acorn scheme. Here they describe the benefits the scheme brought them.


London-based graphic design consultancy Beam registered to the Acorn scheme in 2008 through inspection body NQA and is currently at phase I.

Why the Acorn scheme?

“We adopted the Acorn scheme because the decisions made in the planning and creative stage of a project can have a massive impact on how sustainable the process and final product will be.

“Following certain guidelines we have created our own working processes leading to more sustainable designs,” said Bream’s director, Christine Fent.

Sustainability Scorecard System

To calculate its overall environmental footprint for a design project, Beam has created a unique Sustainability Scorecard System. The system assesses a product’s impact against a three-point criterion, which takes into account its source, energy impact (during production) and disposal. Using this simple measure allows Beam to choose the best and least harmful processes and materials.

Plans for the future

Beam plans to work its way to phase III when additional resource and time can be allocated.

It will continue to raise environmental awareness internally through “switchoff” campaigns and “green” days.


D20 is a civil engineering contractor supplying earthwork and groundwork services to the construction industry.

Operating predominantly in southwest England, D20 works across industrial, commercial and local authority projects.

Why the Acorn scheme?

Prior to joining the Acorn scheme, D20 had a range of environmental procedures in place. To achieve more formal recognition and to boost its environmental profile, D20 registered to the scheme in 2010 through inspectors AJA registrars.

“The decision to implement a formal EMS was straightforward as we could see the long-term benefits to our business,” said operations manager, Tom Reeves.

D20 also found the staged audit process a worthwhile experience. “Being audited in stages allows you to have confidence that you are heading in the correct direction. The auditor would give helpful feedback to focus our attention on what areas of the system needed improving” said Reeves.

Drivers and achievements

In joining Acorn D20 wanted to address:

  • Waste disposal – D20 handles large amounts of hazardous and nonhazardous waste. The firm wanted a system in place to ensure safe disposal and compliance with regulation.
  • Recycling – A system for ensuring used materials and products are recycled where possible to avoid prosecution and reduce rising landfill costs.
  • Conservation – D20 wanted a system to mitigate any potential impacts its projects could have on habitat species.

Now the organisation has been certified to phase III, D20 has been able to tackle such challenges.

Plans for the future

  • To look deeper into its supply chain and at options for using the most sustainable materials on the market.
  • Explore strategies to further reduce waste going to landfill.
  • Start the journey to achieving 14001.


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