Staying Strong

Posted by Abbey Fortescue on 29/06/2020

Seven reasons why Ecosulis is your post-pandemic partner of choice.

 

An enduring commitment

With financial pressures and health and safety requirements potentially impacting operations across the board, COVID-19 has forced all companies to re-examine how they will maintain strong, productive partnerships with clients and suppliers. As such, businesses must not only be diligent in supply chain decision making, but bolster their ability to meet changing demand by focusing on key factors such as the quality of their products and services, balance sheet strength, competence of personnel, reputation and the agility to pivot with conviction to meet the new demands of a changing sphere of operation.
Ecosulis is in a strong position in this regard, having worked hard with employees, clients and supply chain partners to manage the short and long-term risks associated with COVID-19. As a pioneering, highly experienced biodiversity and habitat restoration consultancy and contractor, we remain as committed as ever to biodiversity enhancement, innovation, health and wellbeing, and provision of the highest quality work.
We have a strong balance sheet and the wide range of positive testimonials and feedback that we continue to receive from clients demonstrates ongoing commitment and showcases the strength and diversity of our relationships throughout the industry and supply chain.

 

Client support

The proactive engagement and support of our client partners will play a critical role in enabling the construction industry to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, particularly the anticipated volatility of tender prices over the next 12 to 18 months. Ecosulis can support our clients, designers and main contractors in the early stages of procurement by providing the technical advice and expertise gained over our 30 years of operation.

With the impact of the pandemic, the construction industry is currently witnessing significant reductions in output and delays to projects, with problems compounded by additional, unanticipated costs. Delivering more output and increasing productivity has now become critical for the construction sectors’ survival – and in turn our economy’s ability to recover. As social distancing compromises efficiency, increasing site overheads are being incurred over extended periods of time to ensure the safety and wellness of our workforces. With social distancing likely to be a long-term COVID-19 containment measure, Ecosulis will engage early with clients to accurately forecast project timescales and associated costs.

 

Other factors affecting pricing include the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, which could result in zinflated prices for certain products sourced from the EU. A reluctance to commit to significant capital expenditure will inevitably mean planning delays, less urgency to begin sizeable construction projects, and fluctuations in labour / plant hire rates.
By leveraging our technical expertise during design, planning and procurement (rather than during construction), clients will gain a far better understanding of the true costs of landscaping, habitat mitigation and creation works. Up to half of all construction costs are non-value added, which means organisational design and procurement models play a critical role in budgeting. Ecosulis can also help clients understand project finance options - such as creative finance, blended finance models, reverse auctions, innovative funding and grants - while our intelligent cost plans allow clients to effectively manage budgetary pressures.

 

Supply chain support

COVID-19 is causing market uncertainty, commercial tensions and fractured supply chains, which may delay the delivery of essential resources. With a highly reliable, well-developed supply chain, Ecosulis is well-placed to avoid disruption. We have strong relationships with our subcontractors, built over the last 30 years of ecological contracting and consultancy, with a track record of working with downstream supply chain partners to create high quality habitats. We already practice financial due diligence by credit checking clients and subcontractors, working exclusively with companies that are in a strong financial position. Our contracts are being updated to include force majeure clauses, as well as specific clauses relating to supply chain and site restrictions.
We will continue to build on these strengths, ensuring that our supply chains are robust by undertaking financial due diligence during the procurement stage and negotiating favourable payment terms with that benefit our suppliers, us and our clients. Early engagement with our downstream supply chain guarantees robust and transparent pricing models, which benefits clients too. We already practice financial due diligence by credit checking clients and subcontractors, working exclusively with companies that are in a strong financial position.
By working proactively, we will ensure that all of our projects remain on track, within budget and continue to deliver the highest standards of work.

 

Design innovation

Ecosulis has a long track record of supporting clients by focusing on the buildability of habitat designs. In our post-pandemic world, we will continue to add value to our clients by being involved in early stage design, and by monitoring and evaluating trends in Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and enhanced pre-manufactured value (PMV). We see numerous opportunities to incorporate innovative design principles into habitat design, benefitting clients by lowering installation costs, reducing site labour hours, and increasing the health and safety of site workers through reduced social contact. We can also add enhanced biodiversity to the list of benefits, by leveraging our background as an ecological consultancy and the nature recovery expertise of Dr. Paul Jepson (our Nature Recovery Lead) and our biodiversity team. As an example, we envision modular habitat features that can be manufactured off-site and delivered to the site pre-assembled for our habitat creation teams to install.
Ecosulis frequently collaborates with landscape designers in the early stages of projects, which helps with the determination of costs and work scheduling. For instance, we recentlyworked with a major utility company to co-design "Eco-Pylons" - modular bat habitat for use on high voltage electrical pylons. These can be applied to other features such as green bridges, wetlands and seeding habitats.

 

Technological innovation

Innovation is one of the core values of Ecosulis. Each and every Ecosulis employee is wellversed in problem-solving through innovation, benefitting clients through enhanced efficiency
and minimised costs.

For example, our use of drone technology at the Attenborough Lakes near Nottingham (see below) allowed us to carefully plan and design our reedbed translocation activities,
accelerating the establishment of new reedbeds. We also used the Biodiversity Quality Calculator - our proprietary, award-winning monitoring tool that goes above and beyond
ordinary DEFRA 2.0 and other industry standard tools - to quantify biodiversity gains and demonstrate the meeting of biodiversity targets.

 

Ecosulis will continue to innovate in the post-pandemic world, with our research and cuttingedge services in areas such as blockchain helping to facilitate a move towards online marketplaces. The roll-out of our virtual monitoring service in 2020 will make the monitoring of rugosity, key environmental health indicators, and key indicator species such as birds and bats easier, cheaper and safer.

 

Prioritising health, safety and wellbeing

Health has long been a core value of Ecosulis - we want to improve the health of both people and the environment. This desire encompasses everything from ensuring the highest on-site health and safety standards right through to the design of natural spaces that enhance health and wellbeing.

Our track record of zero incidents across all of our sites is a source of pride, with our robust health and safety processes receiving public recognition from a number of clients. While members of our office team have easily transitioned to home working, COVID-19 has made us rethink how we can keep our site staff safe - not just from the usual risks of manual labour, but from the virus too.

Our site managers monitor staff daily for COVID-19 using the latest PHE information and designated symptoms - this information is fed back to and logged by our remote office staff. Having quickly implemented stringent hygiene checks and social distancing precautions across our projects, we have continued to plant trees, translocate high quality grassland and provide maintenance measures, helping our clients keep to tight schedules and preventing costly delays.

We are implementing innovative new technology to monitor the health of our site staff, including wrist devices that are currently used to track Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). These can be modified to vibrate when staff come within two metres of each other, thereby ensuring social distancing. We are also exploring the use of remote thermometers that detect high temperatures (a symptom of COVID-19, prior to feeling unwell) when staff arrive on site and throughout the day, further removing the need for staff to be in close proximity to each and reinforcing our ability to monitor people's health.

 

Working well

Our clients have stepped up their focus on mental wellbeing in recent years, with industryleading projects such as HS2 making it one of their key priorities. Recognising the strain on the mental health of our own personnel in this difficult time, we believe that COVID-19 will make mental wellbeing even more of a priority for all those companies we do business with.

At Ecosulis we recognise that our staff are our most valuable asset. We also know that a happy and healthy workforce always gives its best, allowing us to maintain the highest standards across all our sites (such as at Tilehouse Lane - part of a 12-hectare meadow creation project - illustrated below) and exceed client expectations.

 

We have long encouraged and provided Mental Health First Aider training. Many individuals in our team are now qualified and able to provide invaluable support, both to each other and to our partners. The construction industry has poor mental health statistics compared to other industries with suicide reportedly killing more workers than falls on construction sites; knowing that anyone can suffer with poor mental health, we go out of our way to support those that we work with.

Through our long-term commitment to both health and mental wellbeing, Ecosulis has gained a reputation as a respectful and "human" contractor. This places us in a strong position within the construction industry as we all navigate a way forward in challenging conditions.

 

Winning formula

Whilst Ecosulis is not immune to the challenges thrown up by the pandemic, we believe that our strong financial position, great relationships and forward thinking and practical approach to business will prove to be a winning formula for our clients. We would love the opportunity to talk with you further regarding this. To see how we might help you, please contact:

Abbey Fortescue on 07824 018841, or send her an email at abbey.fortescue@ecosulis.co.uk