Carbon Trust Standard Sustainability Leaders Interview: Grant Rumbles, Mouchel

Mouchel is a large international infrastructure and business services group, that has been operating for more than 125 years to deliver essential public services. Because of the environmental impact of infrastructure, sustainability is an important consideration that factors into Mouchel’s service offerings. This includes helping reduce congestion and pollution on the public highways, eliminating leaks from the UK’s water distribution network, or designing schools that require less energy to run

As a result of the company's efforts to reduce its own operational emissions, Mouchel was awarded Best in Absolute Carbon Reduction 2013-14 at the Carbon Trust Standard Bearers Awards 2014. Mouchel demonstrated a 38.5% absolute reduction in carbon emissions and a carbon management score in the top 15%. The business achieved reductions through a focus on staff behaviour change, including switch-off campaigns and replacing meetings with teleconferencing, as well as renewing its fleet with lower carbon vehicles.

Grant Rumbles joined the Mouchel Board as Chief Executive on 13 October 2011. He was formerly Chief Executive at Exova, an international testing, advisory and assurance services business where he worked from 2008 to 2011. Previously, he was with Serco plc for 25 years where he held a range of senior management positions, culminating in his last four years as the group Chief Operating Officer. He was also a Board member of Serco Group plc. Grant has extensive experience and knowledge of partnering and delivering outsourced services within the UK and internationally to both public and private sector clients.

How has Mouchel made its operations more sustainable?

Across our own operations the management of carbon emissions plays a central role within our overall sustainability strategy.

Our approach initially centred on targeting ‘direct’ carbon emissions, in particular, those associated with the running of our offices and the movement of our people by plane, train and automobile. Like most organisations we began by monitoring and targeting energy use in all of our UK-based offices and depots, however as many of them are on short-term leases, it was often not commercially viable to install low-carbon plant or retrofit building materials. Instead, we focused on promoting more efficient use of existing office space and ensuring that new office equipment was energy conscious and as a minimum met with the latest ‘green’ standards. More recently we have rationalised our office portfolio and undergone a significant refresh of our I.T. systems, all of which have enabled us to halve emissions from these locations since implementing our company sustainability policy in 2010.

Two thirds of our emissions however come from the operation of our commercial fleet and general business travel. Across these areas we have worked closely with our vehicle providers to continually reduce the average emissions of our fleet, introducing new electric-hybrid, biodiesel and Euro 6-compliant commercial vehicles where practicable, and using route optimisation technology to efficiently plan vehicle journeys. Recognising that driver behaviour plays a significant role in overall fuel efficiency, we also introduced fuel efficient driver training for key vehicle operators.  For company car users we promoted the use of audio, web and video conferencing systems wherever possible and encouraged employees to opt for more sustainable forms of travel by providing guidance on low carbon options through the company’s intranet travel portal. This combination of measures has helped us reduce emissions from all forms of business travel by more than 40% over the last three years.  

What have been the business benefits from these carbon-cutting measures?

Having a handle on carbon emissions is simply good business practice, as typically there is an associated cost benefit with every tonne of carbon saved. The introduction of our new ‘smart’ office printing system has reduced printing costs by almost £4000 per year – cutting paper wastage and energy consumption - whilst at the same time reducing annual carbon emissions by over 25 tonnes. However the broader sustainability benefits from the decarbonisation of our business often far outweigh the cost savings. Our decision to promote the use of our company teleconference and web-based meeting systems – as an alternative to business travel - has encouraged our people to take part in over 100,000 hours of electronic meetings over the last three years – saving over 300,000 litres of fuel – whilst at the same time reducing the risks to our peoples’ health, safety and work life balance by eliminating over 700,000 miles of business travel.

How did you engage with your employees to deliver the changes?

Mouchel is a ‘people’ business, and therefore encouraging our employees to behave sustainably was a key consideration within our carbon reduction plan. Getting everyone’s buy-in from the start was an important part of the process, so we surveyed staff views on a broad range of office and travel-related issues, and sought their opinions on the kind of measures that would work for them. We also ensured that – at an organisational level – a commitment to carbon reduction was front and centre within our overall safety, health and environmental objectives. Then, through online environmental awareness training, regular updates via our intranet portal, feature articles in our employee magazines and newsletters, and the introduction of office/depot Green Travel Plans we were able to raise the profile of carbon management across all areas of our operations.

We also recognised that many of our employees wanted to travel to and from work more sustainably, and whilst we don’t factor emissions from employee commuting within our overall carbon plan, we decided to support them in reducing their personal footprint by offering a range of green travel options through our employee benefits programme - including a Cycle2Work scheme and interest-free season ticket loans for public transport.

Which changes are you most proud of?

It’s difficult to single out one specific change, as each individual activity and project we have introduced has contributed towards the overall efficiencies we’ve made. Receiving the Carbon Trust Standard Bearers “Best Absolute Reduction” award last year was without doubt a highlight – not least because of the competition we were up against, but also because the reductions we achieved were during a period of significant growth and change for our business. At a time when UK businesses were navigating through financially challenging times, it was a fantastic opportunity for us to demonstrate the business case for sustainability and the hugely positive impact it can have on the bottom line.

Why did you chose to certify carbon reductions to the Carbon Trust Standard? 

Our decision to partner with the Carbon Trust was straightforward. We had worked with their consultants in previous years to tackle individual energy efficiency issues, therefore they understood how our business worked and the challenges we face. We realised that, whilst we were headed in the right direction generally, the carbon impacts of our business were to become of ever-greater importance and we wanted to be recognised as an industry leader in this area. This existing relationship, coupled with the Carbon Trust’s market leading position as a provider of carbon management advice made the collaboration a good fit.

Over the summer we will also be working with the Carbon Trust to undertake detailed energy efficiency audits of our key business activities in preparation for the introduction of the new Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) – Government’s new energy efficiency framework - and we’re confident that this will lead to further carbon reduction opportunities to explore.

How will Mouchel help deliver sustainable infrastructure for the low carbon economy?

The need to operate public assets more efficiently is driving our clients increasingly towards adopting low-carbon solutions in order to deliver essential public services, and we play a crucial role in advising them on these issues. We already use hybrid-electric vehicles in Croydon to help Transport for London maintain their road networks, we’ve designed energy efficient LED street lighting schemes to illuminate the streets of Liverpool, and we’re managing the installation of solar panels for hundreds of residents in Bournemouth. We’re already at the heart of delivering some of the UK’s key infrastructure assets, and whilst the journey towards achieving sustainability is by no means over, it is very much underway.