How Jacobs and Dunlop are engineering a green industrial revolution

EXCLUSIVE: With question marks still looming over the Tata Steel crisis, manufacturers large and small are taking steps to ensure that energy-intensive industries aren't left behind in the global movement to a low-carbon future.

With manufacturers’ organisation EEF recently warning that permanent exemption from energy policy costs – including the carbon price floor – is the ‘only long-term solution’ that can secure the future of energy-intensive business, manufacturers themselves are evidentally struggling to implement energy-efficienct practices and begin driving a green industrial revolution.

But, speaking to edie ahead of their appearances at edie Live next month (scroll down for details), the systems manager for SME Dunlop Systems and the director of sustainability at industrial maintenance and management group Jacobs Engineering have both revealed how they are planning on ushering in new energy efficiency measures to create a more holistic approach to sustainable business; changing the mentalities of employees and clients alike.

At the larger end of the industrial spectrum, engineering firm Jacobs is having to engage with stakeholders on sustainability issues both internally and externally, in order to reduce operational costs and drive revenue for clients. With more than 65,000 employees, the firm has launched a number of initiatives aimed “building a bridge between corporate understanding and new sustainability plans”.

“I think there are a lot of people throughout the industry and the public sector who are still resistant to looking at ways to do things differently,” Jacobs’ director of sustainability Alan Hendry said. “There is a perception that people have a natural comfort of what they do and the way they’ve done it for many years.

“We need to incentivise them by demonstrating sustainability challenges and ambitions in a way that appeals to them.”


Jacobs has looked to provide this incentive through two key platforms which aim to boost income for clients and increase carbon and energy savings in-house. The first – ‘Jacobs Value+’ – is a programme which tracks and invests in innovative ideas which can be applied to real life situations to increase return on investment. Through this platform, clients saved more than $5bn in 2014 alone.

The second platform – ‘Jacobs Sustainability+’ was launched in 2010 with the aim of utilising a data-capture tool to drive savings in carbon and energy consumption by driving innovation and staff incentives. By incentivising sustainability for clients, Jacobs saved 12.3MtCO2e in 2014, using a variety of waste procurement processes and modifying plant processing cycles.

But while the hard, data-driven aspect of its operations are providing tangible benefits, Hendry noted that companies can struggle to “make sustainability a priority” due to time constraints. To combat this, Hendry has orchestrated a monthly “global sustainability call” which aims to entice members of the engineering industry by advertising “sustainable heavyweights” to come and talk over new policies and initiatives and what impacts these could have on the industry.

“The main challenge is for many larger organisations is getting everyone together in the same room,” Hendry said. “It can sometimes be tough to make sustainability a priority because everyone’s so busy and often spread geographically. Ultimately these startegies are only as good as the people who engage with them and the amount and applicability of the communication that people receive on this could be improved.

“Look at the more vocal leaders on sustainable business strategy, like Unilever’s Paul Polmon who has tremendous drive and focus. To have that leadership is probably one of the most important things. They can provide justification of why the things they do are so important.”

Unilever have already been present at one of Jacobs’ global calls, as well as delegates from the UK Committee on Climate Change, the World Business Council and pioneering circular design company Mud Jeans. All 950 members of the call receive copies of the presentations, which are aimed at celebrating best practice within the industry, in an attempt to create a learning environment for companies looking to embed sustainability into their operations.

SME scope

While Jacobs is attempting to drive sustainability to its clients across 30 countries, automotive and ancillary manufacturer Dunlop Systems is a prime example of SMEs in the manufacturing sphere are beginning to modify business mantras in an effort to improve energy efficiency.

Employing little more than 80 people, Dunlop has recently re-located to an award-winning, state-of the-art facility at Prologis Park in Coventry, which has reduced water consumption for the company by 7,500 cubic metres despite a dramatic uptake in production.

While that re-location reduced water load by shrinking pipe size to 2.5 inches – down from eight inches at the old facility – Dunlop’s systems manager Mick Canham revealed that the funding process for the new building has also created a consumption-conscious staff environment.

“It was a unique project because both the factory and land was purchased by employees from the company,” Canham said. “A large proportion put their pensions into the site to generate the necessary funding to construct the building.

“There’s a vested interest in how the place is run to ensure that we operate in an effective point of view. It goes beyond a wellbeing concept to a financial one.”

Constructed with the aid of developers Prologis, Dunlop’s new facilities were designed achieve a minimum ‘Very Good’ BREEAM rating and use ISO 14001 implementation – an influential tool for companies – and carbon offsetting schemes to lower Dunlop’s key footprints.

With water use being an intensive component, the new facility – and the vested staff interest that the pension scheme added – now recycles around 90% of the water it uses and has recently received the Carbon Trust Standard for Water.

Despite the differences in size and operational capacity, both Jacobs and Dunlop have highlighted how addressing certain business needs can initiate a sustainable movement. However, with both companies realising that there is no “silver bullet to drive best practice” – especially in an energy-hungry industry – there is a need for committed plans in order to ensure that “everyone wins”.

Jacobs and Dunlop at edie Live

Both Alan Hendry and Mick Canham will be speaking at edie Live in May, discussing how getting boardroom buy-in and managing water consumption, alongside associates from KTN, Siemens and Northern Rail.

If you manage your company’s energy, sustainability, environmental or corporate responsibility, then two days at edie Live will give you a free pass to all the learning, peer-to-peer networking, innovative suppliers and inspiration you need to drive sustainability through your organisation.

View the full edie Live agenda and register to attend for free here.

Matt Mace

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