SISK achieve ISO50001 accreditation

Following its recent IS0 50001 accreditation, we look into the journey that led to Sisk achieving world class standards in energy management.

John Sisk & Son has become one of the first Ireland/UK construction companies to achieve ISO 50001 accreditation. This journey was led by its Building Services Department in conjunction with the HSEQS (Health, Safety, Environmental, Quality and Sustainability) department and resulted in the company pushing boundaries to identify, manage, monitor and implement a continuous standard of energy reduction across all of its company offices, vehicle fleet, workshops and construction sites. The accreditation underpins Sisk’s strategy of Building Excellence, ensuring that they explore every facet of their business to deliver the highest standards for their clients, using the most sustainable and environmentally responsible methods possible.

A Changing Landscape Of Compliancy

In 2012 the compliancy landscape began to change with the EU Energy Efficiency Directive. The directive established a set of binding measures to help the EU reach its 20% energy efficiency target by 2020. Under the directive, all EU countries are required to use energy more efficiently at all stages of the energy chain from its production to its final consumption. EU countries were required to transpose the Directive’s provisions into their national laws by 5 June 2014.

As a result of this, Article 8 of the directive was transposed into UK (ESOS) and Irish Law (SI 426 ; 2014), making it mandatory for large enterprises to identify their energy savings opportunities by way of  an energy audit every four years, where ISO 50001 accreditation was not already in place. With SISK operations in both Ireland and the UK already complying with ISOs 9001, 18001 and 14001, with the latter branding its business as environmentally responsible, the pursuit of ISO 50001 was the next natural step and suited the Company’s well-established integrated management system and business model.

The Journey Towards ISO 50001

In order to decide the best way to manage its own energy consumption, Sisk decided to set up the SISK Energy Forum. Formed in October 2014 and led by Building Services Department Manager Padraic O’Connor, the forum aimed to take advantage of the extensive skills base that exists within the company. The forum is made up of representatives from Sisk’s Irish and UK operational business units, with help and input from support functions such as Procurement, ICT/HR/Vehicle Fleet and HSEQS working collaboratively to achieve the objective of ISO 50001 certification.

Ruth Riordan took the role as Energy

Coordinator UK & Ireland within the forum, and along with the Energy Steering Group, the forum created a business case leading to an Energy Policy and Energy Action Plan, taking into account an analysis of energy usage, opportunities for energy savings, communicating an action plan to the Sisk staff, assessing savings made and monitoring the action plan as it was rolled out. A key job of the Energy Steering Group was to identify Capital Expenditure and Cost Benefit Analysis for Energy Saving Projects. “The forum took into account the huge skill base within the company, and drew from it in order to achieve our goals,” says Padraic O’Connor. “We had already achieved 1SO 14001, and had to decide which route we would go down in order to be compliant with the new laws that were coming in. After pooling our resources, it was apparent to us that with some hard work, we could achieve ISO 50001.”

Significant Energy Users

The starting point for the Energy Forum was to establish a baseline of the company’s energy use and to identify its Significant Energy Users (SEU’s).  As a result of this analysis they identified the SEU’s as diesel for transport, diesel for site vehicles/equipment, electricity and gas. “The forum helped us to identify a six point energy action plan,” says Padraic O’Connor. “For example, diesel fuel consumption was accounting for 42% of our energy consumption. This was something we were interested in decreasing significantly, so we piloted some energy efficient driver training, and trained those drivers to drive their routes in a more fuel-efficient way. It showed potential savings of up to 13% in L/100km (or mpg) in some cases, but people, being what they are can fall back into old habits and require gentle persuasion and reminding for responsible energy efficient driving methods”. Sisk will be rolling out more energy efficient driver training courses as a part of their action plan for the next two years. This is an example of one of the action points on the Energy Opportunity for Improvement (OFI) register which in turn was used to develop Energy Action plans that the company are implementing in order to achieve the energy savings targeted for 2015/2016.

Navigating The Challenges

One of the most significant challenges that the Energy Forum encountered was the analysis and comparison of key performance indicators for energy usage across all of their construction sites, as many variables such as the type of project, duration, method of construction, site working times, site accommodation arrangements, commissioning duration etc. made it difficult to produce accurate comparative data. SISK’s focus in the shorter term is therefore to control the inputs to energy use by way of the introduction and planning of energy efficient designs to their temporary electrical installations, combined with procedures and guidelines in the use and selection of plant and equipment to help in the reduction of their energy usage. “This journey was all about combining our Building Services Department’s technical knowledge with our HSEQS department’s experience of operating ISO Management Systems,” Padraic O’Connor explains. “We are all still learning and challenging our opportunities to maximise our energy efficiencies and recognise we are at the early stages rather than the end of our Journey.

A Zero Philosophy

“Everyone has their own version and way of describing what sustainability means to them,” he continues. “I heard someone once describe sustainability as using the Earth’s natural resources to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the rights and ability of future generations to be able to meet their own needs. I think that’s a great way of describing it in a way that every one can get their head around.” Sustainability and Safety are key watchwords at John Sisk & Son.

The sustainable development approach taken by the company is to maximise sustainable construction and minimise the environmental effect of a project on society.  This approach is rooted in the recognition that active engagement in social progress, environmental protection, and economic balance is necessary for long term development. 

Fostering The Culture Of Zero

John Sisk & Son believe that in order to achieve the very highest of goals, you have to be constantly vigilant, keep raising the standard and reviewing business practices. By constantly challenging themselves to be better, the company has achieved a standard of excellence largely unrivalled by its counterparts. They call this their Zero Philosophy. The ISO 50001 accreditation is a badge of honour for the company; showcasing its determination to provide the highest quality of delivery and achievement in a working environment that is safe, environmentally aware, delivered on time, on budget and to the Client’s satisfaction.

Padraic O’Connor says the company’s message is clear. “By fostering our Zero Philosophy we are embedding this culture of zero into our normal day to day operations so that it becomes a culture that people take in their stride. It is not something people will think about, it’s just something that they will live.”

Setting The Bar

Achieving ISO 50001 is something that John Sisk & Son are extremely proud of, and rightly so. By harnessing the skills that exist within their company, they have set a new standard for their counterparts, and they are eager to share their knowledge. Already this year, Padraic O’Connor has spoken about their journey at the Health & Safety Review Environmental Conference 2015 offering their experience as a learning curve for companies wishing to start their own journey towards ISO 50001. The message is clear. “We’d like to think that we set the bar and set the standard. We are very proud of this achievement, and hope that other companies will follow suit. At the end of the day we all have individual and collective responsibility here, and that’s the way life works”.