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BAE Systems Naval Ships drives sustainability at strategic level to future proof its business growth

EEF has been working with senior leaders and managers at BAE Systems Naval Ships to educate and raise awareness of good environmental and sustainable practices. Within months a new drive for improvement started to spread from the top down. Significant step changes have been made by senior management to future-proof the business by increasing visibility at a senior level, actively challenging environmental plans and encouraging positive behaviours across the workforce.

“The interest and enthusiasm generated amongst the senior team through this course has created such momentum that we are becoming unstoppable. I believe sustainability will become the backbone of our business.”

Dominik Pinnington, Environmental Sustainability Advisor


In November, 2012, BAE Systems Naval Ships sent some of its senior executives to EEF to take part in the pilot of a new IEMA course designed for top-level managers – “Leading with environmental sustainability”.

Following the completion of the pilot, the business decided to send its executive team and first-line reports on the programme in 2013. The success of the programme has led other business units in BAE Systems to follow suit. .
BAE Systems Naval Ships has been working towards environmental sustainability using an internally devised model called the Environmental Sustainability Maturity Matrix for several years. The model provides a roadmap for the company to improve its environmental performance and covers operations, product design and the supply chain.

This process is helping to future-proof BAE Systems Naval Ships against climate change and resource scarcity as well as comply with ever more stringent regulations both in terms of their on-site operations but also their product design and innovation. They realised that if Naval Ships was to continue to progress against the ESMM model, it needed to gain support for, and embed, sustainability at the strategic level to strengthen existing initiatives.


The leadership course run by EEF is highly interactive. Based on the concept of facilitated discussion, it enables senior executives to explore sustainability at the level they require; to review drivers and barriers in their business; and determine whether their company’s strategy is fit for purpose. The discussion is informed by case studies and concludes with a commitment from each individual for change.

After the first session, BAE Systems Naval Ships asked EEF to extend the course to include an afternoon session where delegates could explore the strategic aspect in greater depth.

Elevating the strategic importance of good environmental practices, and their associated benefits, quickly reaped rewards after the courses were delivered with Naval Ships acting swiftly to put the knowledge gained from the course into action.

Output from the course workshops is being fed into revisions to the business strategy; which will further embed sustainability into the core of the business.

Dominik Pinnington, Environmental Sustainability Advisor at BAE Systems Naval Ships collated the commitments each course attendee made. “I will be monitoring progress and stretching those commitments to make sure this isn’t just another training course,” he explains. “Sustainability is a journey and we are very much on that journey.”

John Degnan, Production Director and General Manager for BAE Systems Naval Ships at its Glasgow site in Scotstoun and Govan, was one of the first to complete the course. “It was enlightening,” he says. “It gave us time away from the everyday hustle and bustle, to challenge what we’re doing environmentally and ask what we could do to carry it forward.” Following the course, John set up environmental sustainability forums at both Govan and Scotstoun.

All functions, such as site services, safety, health and environment, production, finance, supply chain and engineering were included in the distribution and invites for these forums.

The forums aim to drive local actions to progress environmental sustainability improvements. Environmental Sustainability Manager Sharon Young says, “It was clear from the initial forum meetings that there were common issues and themes being raised at Govan and Scotstoun. These included progress against targets, communications, training and key areas for actions, including waste, water and energy use,” she says. “Working collaboratively to address these key themes will be a focus as well as learning lessons that can be rolled out across the rest of the business.” Already there have been requests from the senior team for additional environmental sustainability updates at board level along with an appetite for a higher level of visibility of progress towards targets.

There have been other successes following the course. In engineering for example, a sustainability policy has been in place for several years for the new generation of ships, and current designs focus on sustainable materials, reduced resource consumption, and fewer emissions. EEF’s course has raised the understanding of sustainability initiatives and generated more support for the engineers in innovation, while raising the profile of research into adapting environmental technologies for naval ships.

EEF’s “Leading with sustainability” course is recognised as the first step to ensuring senior level buy-in to the sustainability strategy. Enhanced visibility of progress will be provided via a range of communications and meetings to ensure ownership is maintained at all levels across product development, operations and the supply chain. “The next step is to provide knowledge to middle management and team leaders and we’re assessing the most appropriate training to do this,” confirms Dominik. “The interest and enthusiasm generated amongst the senior team through this course has created such momentum that we are becoming unstoppable. I believe sustainability will become the backbone of our business.”


  • Improved visibility at board level of Environmental Sustainability plans
  • Recognition for the importance of sustainability, extending the course across BAE Systems Naval Ships
  • Increased knowledge of Environmental Management and Sustainability across the workforce
  • Stronger integration for environmental sustainability across the overall business strategy and local plans
  • Accountability and responsibility given to drive change and maintain compliance
  • To sustain momentum generated through these sessions, a proposal for accredited training to middle management has now been put forward.

About the company

At BAE Systems, we provide some of the world’s most advanced, technology-led defence, aerospace and security solutions and employ a skilled workforce of some 83,400 people in over 40 countries. Working with customers and local partners, we develop, engineer, manufacture and support products and systems to deliver military capability, protect national security and people and keep critical information and infrastructure secure.

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