Edge Environment and Element Environment have announced they would work together in a “strategic partnership” to capture the fast evolving work in the major construction and infrastructure sector. These are both mid size businesses that can see the value of teaming up to meet big demands from big clients, while retaining the agility typical of smaller firms.
It’s the argument that you sense underpinned the formation of a new consultancy announced last week, led by Mark Lyster who left EY to form a new six-member group, profiled in our pages here.
In NSW market sources say business for independent consultants is growing.
Certainly in the infrastructure area that will underpin the Edge and Element collaboration, work is booming. What’s interesting from a sustainability perspective though is the growing interest in green ratings for these projects, particularly in NSW but spreading to other parts of the country, according to industry observations and the recent Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia conference and awards (to be soon covered here).
Edge and Element say they will draw on experience their senior staff have had at large consultancies to ” push the boundaries of traditional project delivery”.
Element managing director Nev Hattingh and Edge’s infrastructure and property sector lead Ken Lunty both say they want to provide clients with “something that was absent from the market”.
“Good environmental and sustainability management is a real differentiator in the marketplace.”
Hattingh says: “Our clients see us as an extension of their internal capacity and a true partner, rather than an external consultant.
Chief executive of Edge, Jonas Bengtsson pointed to the aligned values as a market advantage.
A broader overview of demand
In a recent conversation with The Fifth Estate, Ken Lunty spoke more broadly about evolving opportunities, pointing to sectors such as property, infrastructure, telecoms, government and food.
“Food will be very important in the next few years,” he said. (This gells with media coverage of rising prices for rural land and anecdotal reports of drones used to patrol farmland instead of paid supervisors – evidence of efficiency driven corporates displacing traditional farming practices.)
In property the various sectors are starting to turn their focus to the supply chain and a life cycle analysis approach, he said, with the rise of ISCA ratings a taste of the changing appetite for this in infrastructure and other large property projects.
His company will stick to delivering the kind of advisory that delivers ISCA ratings. “We don’t try to go to energy modelling and sustainable design; we don’t have architects,” he says. “We are a firm of engineers and scientists.”
The team is now at about 16 and he says that after Banarra was absorbed by KMPG and Net Balance by EY, this left a gap in the market for small to mid tier groups – exactly where Edge has identified a growing demand.
Other firms in that mid tier space are Energetics and the new firm led by Mark Lyster. KMH Environmental, a company with about 40 staff, was recently absorbed by pitt&sherry.
Lunty said that a bonus of smaller companies is the opportunity to spend most of his time working in sustainability instead of the “15-20 per cent of the time” in his previous role, and that, “mostly on my time, to create the opportunity.”
Another reason is the more flexible work practices.