WSP’s sustainability head calls for professional body to maintain quality and credibility

Sustainability consultants are in danger of becoming the “witch doctors” of the industry, a leading green engineer has warned.

Prashant Kapoor, head of sustainable planning and research at WSP, said the green industry needed a professional body like the RICS or RIBA to champion quality and consistency. Otherwise, he said, sustainability risked being viewed as an “alternative medicine”, not a mainstream practice.

He said: “There are many people who say they’re sustainability consultants. If the field is going to have credibility, there must be a professional code of conduct.

“Also, fees are all over the place. You can be charged from £200 to £2,000 for the same work.”

There are a lot of evangelical people out there who are not really helping.

Jon Spring, Turner & Townsend

Existing groups such as the UK Green Building Council “go some of the way” but do not have enough scope, he said.

Jon Spring, a director at consultant Turner & Townsend, welcomed the proposal but said the body would need a clear remit to distinguish it from similar organisations.

He said: “It’s a good idea because there are a lot of evangelical people out there who are not really helping. There are enough thinktanks and talking shops – we need action.”

But Adrian Fox, a director at Arup Energy, said creating such a body would be a “retrograde step”. He said: “Sustainability has to be a matter of course. If we separate it out, we will lose something.”