First Chartered Surveyors in world to become B Corporation

The Wave, Bristol
©Global Shots – The Wave, Bristol

Pioneering sustainability in the built environment, one of the UK’s largest independent property and construction consultancies has become the world’s first Chartered Surveyors to certify as a B Corporation, with a score that places it in the top 10 of all B Corps in the UK.

Ward Williams Associates (WWA) has six UK offices, employing over 100 staff, and is growing. Diverse and iconic projects include The Wave in Bristol, The Box museum and gallery in Plymouth and the new Thames Hospice in Windsor.

WWA is using this moment and the COVID recovery to issue a challenge to all in the construction sector to step up and join them. The pitch to others is that together we can ensure that we truly build a world where social gain and environmental performance sit alongside the traditional financial bottom line. All three should be balanced and feed into each other.

The B Corp certification reinforces the existing and future commitments of this trailblazing business to uphold the highest standards of financial, environmental and social principles. This commitment to the triple bottom-line marks a significant move within the UK construction industry, and a journey that it encourages all in the sector to join.

Whilst any business in the world can strive to become a B Corp; only 3,000 businesses globally can acclaim to be certified, just nine per cent of which are based in the UK. Major international names such as Danone, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and Triodos Bank. Like WWA, each has demonstrated a genuine and continuous commitment to meaningful purpose.

The WWA philosophy aligns with latest UK national policy. A post-Covid ‘Green Recovery’ is now at the forefront of everyone’s mind along with a drive to ‘Build Back Better’. 

Discussing WWA’s ambition, Senior Partner Andy Snapes, explains:

“We are in this for the long term, creating a business for the future of our people, our clients and our communities. Collaboration is key, and our role is to challenge ourselves and encourage everyone we work with to improve their impact on the triple bottom-line.

Thames Hospice, Windsor
Thames Hospice, Windsor

“A common misconception is that sustainable development is more expensive, but this is simply not the case in the context of the future.  We are all finally waking up to the fact that we need an increasingly sustainable approach to tackle known environmental, economic and social issues. We are seizing this moment as an opportunity for both growth and behavioural change.  We have to admit to ourselves that being less bad is not good enough.

“With construction touching virtually every aspect of our lives, it arguably has the biggest cultural, ecological and commercial impact on the places where we live, work, learn, care, play and travel. This is a crucial moment for our sector, which has a great opportunity to be a transformational influence.”

Kate Sandle, Director of Programmes and Engagement at B Lab UK (the UK charity that awards B Corp certification) highlights the pioneering role WWA has taken within the built environment:

“We are really pleased that WWA chose to lead its sector and certify as a B Corp, joining thousands across the world. WWA’s commitment to doing business differently will be an inspiration to others and a welcome addition to the community of companies who are committed to using business as a force for good.”

Also acknowledging the achievement of WWA, Joanna Lindon, Associate Director at the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said:

“As the first Chartered Surveyors in the world to achieve the B Corp certification, WWA is demonstrating the highest standards of financial, environmental and social principles. This comes at a time when our Value the Planet campaign is shining a light on the critical role of the surveying profession in leading the way to build back better to transform society for the better in the recovery from Covid-19.”

The B Corp journey has allowed WWA to distil its values and purpose into three core pillars: people, place and planet. Each pillar is entirely interconnected and underpinned by balancing profit and purpose; for WWA and for all who work with WWA.

Ensuring the business is financially successful allows for continual improvement of these three pillars. WWA has an annual turnover of £8M with an 18% growth YOY, while current project work is valued in excess of £1.2bn.

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