ISL Engineering and Land Services: Exploring the Sustainability Advantage

The Opportunity

ISL Engineering and Land Services’ journey toward sustainability began from a sense of responsibility – as a company, as individuals and as professionals. In January 2007, sustainability found a place on ISL’s agenda as the company struck an internal Sustainability Committee and began work on operations-related activities and programs. The success of these initiatives and a desire to challenge the status quo impelled ISL to explore the strategic business advantage in developing in-house sustainability capacity and embedding sustainability into the culture and services of the company.

The Response

In 2009, ISL partnered with The Natural Step Canada to develop and implement a comprehensive approach to sustainability that would enable ISL to develop into a full-service consulting firm that leads the marketplace in sustainable solutions. As a testament to the progress the company has achieved to date, ISL was named one of “Canada’s Green 30” by Maclean’s and Canadian Business magazine in both 2010 and 2011. 

The Process

To begin, The Natural Step Canada conducted an internal and external scan to provide structured insight into where ISL had a strong foundation to move forward with its commitment to sustainability. This equipped ISL with information about its internal capacity and resilience for change and knowledge about its competitors and industry best practices, thus allowing it to fully realize its opportunity to become a sustainability leader.

Though a two-day workshop with senior company leaders, ISL then developed a high-level, long-term vision of what  it would look like in a sustainable future as well as strategic goals to align the company’s development with fundamental principles of sustainability.  Using these outputs, ISL then designed a 5 year roadmap which outlined next steps for their sustainability journey.

Next, a series of four workshops were held to further integrate sustainability into ISL’s culture and operations.  ISL formed a Sustainability Champions’ Network (SCN) of 25 internal leaders and provided them with comprehensive training. The SCN was then supported to conduct a baseline assessment of ISL’s service lines including an all-staff inventory of strategic sustainability skills. A final workshop was then held to create an action plan and identify pilot projects that would help ISL close the gap between its current reality and desired future. 

In late 2010, the SCN and other ISL staff including the COO, agreed on key performance indicators  (KPIs) in six categories – governance, people and team, facilities and operations, products and services, relationships and voice – to help the company track their performance against baseline measures in an effort to monitor progress toward ISL’s strategic goals. Grounded in The Natural Step Framework, this action played a critical part in transitioning ISL’s sustainability initiatives from stand‐alone projects to a company-wide strategy. 

Current work is underway in developing discipline-specific tools that apply a sustainability lens at the project level and ongoing work continues by the Champions and internal sustainability champions. 

The Feedback

Our journey toward sustainable practice grew from our collective values. We are committed to meeting our strategic sustainability goals and look forward to sharing our journey with clients, partners and suppliers.”

-Rodney Peacock, President and CEO, ISL Engineering & Land Services

Learn more about The Natural Step Canada’s Service Path for Sustainable Business and how we can help your business develop a bold sustainability vision, strategy, and action plan. Please contact us to discuss your unique needs or join.