RICS - ISO 50001
"The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is a professional body that accredits 118,000 professionals and firms worldwide within the land, property and construction sectors. The organisation regulates and promotes the profession, maintaining the highest educational and professional standards, protecting clients and consumers via a strict code of ethics, and providing impartial advice and guidance. Among other things, RICS developed the SKA rating system, mentioned in the UK Government’s Low Carbon Action Plan, which provides landlords and tenants with an environmental assessment method, benchmark and standard for non-domestic fit-outs.
Challenges & actions
Given its position, it is imperative that RICS is seen to set the example for best practice and as such, the decision was made to obtain ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems Certification – becoming one of the first organisations to implement an energy system to this standard.
Paul Chidgey, Head of Facilities at RICS explained: “Being who we are and what we are – the world’s leading property professional - we set industry standards with what we do.
“There is now a huge emphasis on companies meeting their environmental and social responsibilities and obtaining ISO 50001 Energy Management Certification was therefore very important to us as it was a great opportunity for us to practice what we preach, and reflect internally what we do externally as an organisation.”
ISO 50001: 2011 Energy Management Systems Certification is the international standard for energy management, providing an effective framework for improving energy performance, efficiency and consumption, and integrating this into management practices. The standard can be applied to any size or type of business and, once in place, demonstrates a company’s commitment to reducing its impact on the environment and compliance with EU legislation.
The journey to certification
RICS commenced the certification process in 2013, initially focusing on obtaining the standard for its offices in London and Coventry. This was expanded the following year to include international offices in Brussels, Belgium; New Delhi, India; Frankfurt, Germany; Wanchai, China and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In 2015 all of RICS UK portfolio was included in the certification process along with offices in Sydney, Australia; San Paulo, Brazil; Washington; America; Beijing, China; Singapore, and Dubai. The certification process is split into two stages. The initial certification audit comprised two mandatory on-site evaluations to review RICS management system documentation, an evaluation of the locations and site-specific conditions, review of the status and understanding of the requirements of the standard, and an evaluation of whether internal audits and management reviews had been planned and performed.
The purpose of the stage 1 audit is to determine if the organisation is ready to go through to the next audit, which confirms that their management system fully conforms to the requirements of the ISO standard. During stage 2, RICS were evaluated on the level of implementation and effectiveness of the management system in accordance with the requirements of the standard. A sample audit of the processes and activities defined in the scope was then conducted.
“The process itself was fairly straightforward,” said Paul. “We were already doing a lot of things outlined in the standard in terms of identifying and recording energy use, and finding ways to reduce this and our CO2 footprint.
“All the raw data was there but before certification we had no recognised standard to work towards. ISO 50001 gave us that, and allowed us to put systems in place in order to manage our energy usage properly. “In the early days, with certification of our head office in London and our office in Coventry, I took it upon myself to go through the certification process with a small support team from within the facilities department.
“As more sites were added, things naturally transitioned with more teams and managers involved in the day-to-day operations. That was where the extra effort and time was all spent as we didn’t have any idea of how energy was being used in those offices.
“That was the huge challenge: going global with the energy management audits. We were reliant on colleagues in offices around the world to implement the processes and produce the type of energy data we took for granted in the UK. Each office had to carry out an energy audit to establish a base line and identify key energy uses, which we then brought in as part of our overall energy management system.
“We also initiated a comprehensive training programme with e-modules for staff around the world, including setting up staff user groups. This allowed the whole environmental approach to cascade down throughout the organisation and for the organisation’s energy management policy to be enhanced by our staff’s suggestions. It was pretty scary at the outset but once certification has been set up for a site then it rolls itself. That’s the beauty of ISO 50001 - it provides a structured system that you can then hand to other teams to implement.”
Lessons & results
RICS has worked with global certification body Exova BM TRADA since early 2015 to oversee the auditing of additional offices world-wide, and to maintain specific site certification - which is valid for three years - through yearly surveillance audits. Paul says he is delighted with the move to Exova BM TRADA and said: “It’s been a fresh approach and I’m very happy with the work done to date.
“Exova BM TRADA is very much focused on the client’s needs and their auditors are highly experienced and knowledgeable. They have understood our organisation and offered advice where needed. One example was with an office where we weren’t able to record energy usage data.
“Exova BM TRADA suggested we look at a different approach and were very helpful in terms of identifying different ways of measuring energy in our offices.
He added: “Now that we have ISO 50001 in place we are looking to work with Exova BM TRADA to gain long term ISO 14001 environmental management certification, which complements ISO 50001, and OHSAS 18001 health & safety management certification.”
Benefits of certification
For an industry body such as RICS, having ISO 50001 certification in place was essential to set the right example to its members.
But beyond the reputational driver, RICS has enjoyed the significant benefits of improved operational efficiency and reduce costs across its global portfolio. Paul said: “ISO 50001 has been hugely influential in enabling us to reduce our energy usage and expenditure.
“With a system in place it gave us the mechanism to record energy usage data across all our offices and for the first time work out, and then reduce, our global carbon footprint.”
The standard also helped RICS win a prestigious gold award in the 2014 Mayor of London’s Business Energy Challenge, for improvements to its London HQ on Parliament Square.Paul said: “Our Grade II-listed London headquarters had gone through a fairly extensive refurbishment programme and included within that were a lot of energy-efficiency measures such as motion detector lighting, insulation, a building management system (BMS), replacing old plant and equipment, and a new roof.
“We recorded our annual energy figures but there was no benchmark and no system to catch things. We had no idea how much we had been doing internally but once we had conducted the audit and had the standard in place we could bring in a new regime and carry out checks to identify payback in terms of the energy we used and our actions. Simple things such as switching lights off at night and unplugging equipment all made a difference, and along with the refurbishment, we have been able to cut our CO2 emissions at the London HQ by 31 per cent between 2010 and 2014.”
He added: “Winning the award came as a complete surprise. We were up against big companies including HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Marks & Spencer, BT and McDonalds as well as some of our professional practices such as EC Harris and Jones Lang Lasalle. “To be able to compete against those types of companies - and win - was brilliant.”
ISO 50001 compliance with ESOS
RICS promotes energy management to all its members and Paul says that companies should look to gain Energy Management Certification, not least because the standard allows companies to demonstrate compliance with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).
Non-compliance with ESOS could result in individual penalties of up to £50,000 as well as the company being publically ‘named and shamed’ by the Environment Agency.
Paul said: “The ESOS legislation has come in to force organisations down the energy-saving route and raise awareness of the environmental impact of energy use. “Companies, however, should be doing that anyway as effective energy management brings real savings as well as reductions in their carbon footprint.
“Whatever the size of the operation, there’s always something you can do to improve energy efficiency and ISO 50001 is the ideal route to achieve this - plus you are meeting your requirements under ESOS, so it’s a win-win situation''.