29 September 2020
Alan Ryder, CEO and founder of leading integrated environmental, engineering and technical services business RSK Group, talks about the recent acquisition of Ground Heat Installations, one of the UK’s largest providers of ground source heat pumps.
In recent years, new acquisitions have formed a strategic part of RSK’s growth. Since 2018, we have acquired 27 businesses, Ground Heat being the first of six (to date) in this financial year. However, it is not just growth for growth’s sake. Each business that we bring on board is carefully selected and must fit into our existing family of businesses. Ground source heat pumps offer a reliable, efficient and long-term heating solution that delivers many environmental benefits. As a business that is committed to helping its clients to address climate change and work towards sustainability, RSK recognises the important role that ground source heating can play in achieving net-zero emissions and eliminating fuel poverty. That is why I am delighted that Ground Heat, one of the UK’s leading providers of ground source heat pumps, has joined the RSK Group.
RSK places great emphasis on doing the right thing: for our people, for communities and for the environment. Sustainability and climate change play large roles in this. Early in our development, we adopted the nine guiding principles to which we still adhere today. These guiding principles have helped us to create a company that we can all be proud of. Based on these principles and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, our approach to business sustainability is built around five pillars and forms a holistic strategy addressing our economic, environmental and social impacts. Any business that supports our sustainability aims therefore gets a big tick from me. RSK and Ground Heat’s shared commitment to helping to address climate change will enable us to work very well together. It will also facilitate us providing end-to-end solutions to our clients at a time when ground source heat is becoming more and more prevalent.
The acquisition is also well timed, as the green home improvement grant will further promote Ground Heat’s services. The UK government recognises the importance of reducing carbon dioxide from homes in reaching its net zero by 2050 goal, as heating buildings accounts for almost a fifth of UK greenhouse gas emissions. The grant will see the government fund up to two-thirds of the cost of green home improvements, thus potentially offering large savings for homeowners and landlords. However, the scheme also aims to help in boosting the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. It is a win-win for homeowners, the businesses supplying these services and, most importantly, the environment. Crucially, those providing these services will need to be TrustMark accredited, which will ensure that the public will receive only the best technical expertise. Client confidence is essential for us and we pride ourselves on our accreditations and level of certification.
Although Covid-19 has taken over recent news, we must continue to focus on the impacts of climate change and ensure that organisations and communities are supported as we move towards a greener future. Of course, Covid-19 has had an impact on our business. However, we are adaptable and our acquisitive strategy remains largely the same, but with an added proviso of investing in market segments that are less likely to be negatively affected by Covid-19 than others. The challenges of climate change continue irrespective of Covid-19 and have even, perhaps, become more important, so Ground Heat also ticks that box.
One of the other things that we, as a business, pride ourselves on is providing solutions for our clients. Since inception, our growth has largely been determined by our clients: we go where they go, we provide the services they need. Delivering heat to both domestic and commercial properties is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and will undergo transformative change as we move to a low-carbon future.
Ground source heating is an important element of the solution, and therefore RSK wants to be a part of that solution. Of course, there are many complementary services that support the green heating of buildings and a variety of solutions that can be offered, depending on the client’s needs. RSK aims to offer the full breadth of solutions available, from inception to completion, all from a one-stop-shop to make the process as straightforward as possible for our clients.
By joining RSK, Ground Heat has gained access to those options and the acquisition offers the opportunity for internal collaboration with any of RSK’s 70-plus other businesses. Ground Heat already has a pre-existing, strong, established relationship with one of these businesses, domestic subsidence investigation specialist Geocore Site Investigations. Geocore began drilling boreholes for Ground Heat in 2006. Since then, Geocore and Ground Heat have grown together with the geothermal industry.
RSK’s contacts and multidisciplinary offering will enable Ground Heat to grow, especially into sectors not currently using this technology. In recent months we have seen a huge increase in the commercial sector’s desire to reduce carbon and move away from fossil fuels. As Europe’s largest environmental engineering company, delivering services into Europe, the Middle East and Africa, RSK is perfectly positioned to be a world-leading organisation combating climate change not only in the UK, but around the globe.
Although the UK is relatively new to the ground source industry, Ground Heat is now delivering projects into large multi-dwelling units such as high-rise buildings and Europe is now replicating the situation in the UK. Only now is the electrification of the smart grid coming into its own as the integration of heat pumps and battery storage is both reducing carbon and combating fuel poverty for clients. Although the main reason for a client opting for ground source is to save fuel, that fuel saving automatically results in a carbon saving. Again, a win-win situation. Commercial process heating plants can also now be provided by ground source. Until recently this was a big challenge, but owing to continuous development by Ground Heat, the team can now offer far higher working temperatures to suit most requirements.
In Ground Heat, we believe we have found an exceptional business with a highly skilled workforce who share our values. Together we can help our clients to address climate change and work towards sustainability, and we are excited for what the (low-carbon) future will hold.
Ground Heat is currently working on the Cheshill Court improvements project in Manchester, pictured above. The team is undertaking the full design and installation of ground source heat pumps for 80 residential apartments. We are also removing old direct electric heaters and fitting new radiators. This will reduce residents’ fuel costs by 70%, as well as resulting in significant carbon savings.
Dave Thompson, Managing Director, Ground Heat Installations