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Tuesday 27th January 2009
The Green Challenge - A Year on the Arque!
Join us as we follow building contractors, Arque Building Synergy, who have donned their green thinking caps and set about business in a new and more environmentally friendly way – one brick at a time.
Arque Construction are building contractors led by forward thinking MD Bernard Keogh and based in Exeter, Devon. They work in the public and commercial sectors and with architects and surveyors in the domestic sector. 
Over the coming year, we’ll chart their progress as they implement advice from Tom Kennard of Global Action Plan and head towards ISO14001 Environmental Management Standard (EMS).
Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the need to reduce their carbon footprint and Jonathan Porritt, Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission describes Global Action Plan as, ‘the best organisation to engage people in environmental change’. It offers assistance to companies who want to reduce their carbon footprint, through to achieving an international standard.
I asked Bernard when his pivotal moment for change arrived. He explained, ‘Waste management in the construction industry is notorious. I’ve always been concerned by the high levels of rubbish that end up in landfill. I was reminded by the improvements that were being made when I worked with architects who said they only worked on sustainable projects; there was clearly a growing market for them. But I was moved into decisive action about three years ago whilst completing tenders for work where you had to pre-qualify by having green credentials in order to apply. Councils and local authorities are becoming increasingly stringent and I see this as a very positive move that will help clean up the industry.’
Tom explained, ‘The Green Accord’ is Exeter City Council’s sustainability award for the building sector. It works on a traffic light system with a rating of red, yellow and green and is self-governed in the first instance, followed by audits and training in the areas they need to develop. Rising numbers of companies are now looking at sustainability and the life cycle of every aspect of their organisation in order to remain competitive and win business. It can be a confusing process and there’s not a ‘one size fits all’, which is why we devise bespoke solutions and work with clients at a pace that suits them.’ Global Action Plan is one of the partners of The Green Accord.
Climate change is the biggest environmental challenge facing the world and the efficient strategies contained with an EMS help by giving people a better understanding of their own business in relation to the carbon emissions they produce. And by providing them with workable ways of reducing their footprint too. They do this via in-house climate change workshops, using detailed carbon footprinting of every aspect of the business, introducing carbon reduction plans and offering adaption analysis, which helps iron out any creases on an ongoing basis. 
March 2007 – Arque attend a presentation on Environment Management Systems by Exeter City Council and Envirowise.
September 2007 – They complete a desktop questionnaire on their levels of sustainability in business.
November 2007 – Arque are presented with a ‘Green Accordance Accreditation’ at the Guild Hall, Exeter, followed by an audit from Envirowise where they discuss ways to progress further towards an EMS.
June 2008 – Exeter City Council run a short training session, focused on helping the participants to ‘prioritise their impacts’ on the environment. Following this, Bernard realises it is time for Arque to ramp everything up a gear.
August 2008 – Tom Kennard steps in to offer ongoing consultation with Arque via a tailor made package and subsidises training to help them achieve their objectives. The first recognised standard is the BS8555, followed by the ISO14001 but at this point, Bernard decides he wants to raise the bar further still and aims for the coveted Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), the crème de la crème of green accreditation.
It’s early days for Arque but they are driven by a determination to improve their levels of sustainability that works alongside the needs of their local and global environments too; this is going to be a fascinating journey.
For further information:

Bernard Keogh - Managing Director Arque Ltd