Andrew Mather

25 October 2011 – Engineering and design consultancy WSP Lincolne Scott has this week been rebranded to WSP, as the company embarks on a strategy to capitalise on emerging opportunities, especially in the energy efficiency and retrofit market in Australia.

The company, which started life as sustainability leaders Lincolne Scott became part of the global WSP group in 2007 and the latest move completes the absorption of the company into the global parent, which now has 9000 employees worldwide.

Asia Pacific managing director Andrew Mather said the timing for the rebrand was right.

“We’ve been gaining new ground across the Asia Pacific for a number of years and believe the market is ready to embrace a truly integrated, global service in WSP,” Mr Mather said.

“The beauty of this rebrand is that our clients get the best of both worlds. They have access to global expertise, yet with the same local relevance and delivery they are used to.”

The move to the WSP brand encompasses WSP Lincolne Scott and WSP Environment & Energy. A simultaneous rebrand has also occurred with Built Ecology becoming WSP Built Ecology.

Mr Mather said among the opportunities on offer in the current market was a new “wave” of work in the long neglected retrofit and energy efficiency market for older buildings.

The work was driven by the impending carbon price, rises in electricity prices, a tightening regulatory environment and the $5 billion or so that the Federal Government has earmarked for energy efficiency measures as part of its Clean Energy Futures package.

In Mr Mather’s view the outlook for this segment of the industry was “very positive”.

“Particularly with the advent of the carbon tax, I think corporates are going to be forced to reduce their energy consumption,” he told The Fifth Estate on Monday.

Until now the retrofit market has been largely ignored, Mr Mather said.

“There’s been a lot of focus on green buildings and green building  design but there hasn’t been much focus hitherto on the older stock of buildings and upgrading those.  We see the next wave is looking to bring the older portfolios up to spec.

“There is a big market of owners who have older stock and need to bring it up to at least three star NABERS, or better.”

WSP in Australia has already added capacity to deal with the opportunities. This included an environment and energy division, which is headed by Tim Parker.

The team is small so far ­ ­– just two full time people – but designed to grow.

“We’ve got two people in that division but we utilise some of the existing staff who have skills in that area. But we see that permanent staff growing to at least 10 in the next 12 months.”

Mr Mather said work in the retrofit market as a proportion of overall earnings could double for the company but it would be off a low base.

“We’ve done some retrofits before but probably not as much as new work.

“It was probably less than 5 per cent in the past and possibly it could got to 5-10 per cent in the next 12-24 months.”

Mr Mather said he could not see a rush for this market from competitors in the traditional consulting area, however, forward thinking energy efficiency companies are “certainly aggressive  in that space,” he said.

Another growth spurt for WSP came with the recent 50 per cent acquisition of TWP, (now TWSP) a mining consultancy that Mr Mather said has plans to improve the sustainability profile of that industry.

From WSP’s point of view there were five key pillars of the company’s new strategy, unveiled last year, Mr Mather said.

These included to look at diversified growth in certain target regions, especially in Australia, “We definitely see aggressive regional opportunities” Mr Mather says.

Another was “improved efficiency through BIM [building information modelling].”

A third, which could have spinoffs for clients, is to improve the company’s sustainability footprint by developing a carbon offset project globally in a project led by WSP’s UK sustainability director Paul Toyne.

“We will estimate how much carbon we generate and put together offset projects for as much as we generate around the world,” Mr Mather said.

“We’re hoping that the skills we build up will enable us to manage other offset programs, on behalf of clients.”

The other two pillars included internal issues and financial metrics.

Some of the projects WSP has worked on in Australia include Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station, Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art, Sydney’s Lead Lease headquarters, Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art, Melbourne’s Council House 2, NSW’s Cockle Creek Smelter redevelopment, Singapore’s Newtown Suites, Victoria’s bushfire clean-up and Hawaii’s Natural Energy Laboratory Authority.