How can we create, promote and embed a low carbon culture in the workplace?
At our latest networking event hosted at Bevan Brittan we heard a morning of inspiring and insightful stories from West of England Carbon Challenge Champions on the subject of what is both practical and possible with regard to carbon reduction, energy efficiency and sustainability in the workplace. Case studies from seven WECC members conveyed both the success stories and current challenges with many examples centred on the need for staff engagement, successful monitoring of data and feeling empowered to ask more of your energy provider.
Simon Richards, Environment and Energy Manager for Avon Fire Service opened the morning discussing how collaboration within his sector and the region had been crucial to finding new solutions and getting better value from his energy supplier, especially with regard to voltage optimisation, where he made sure that savings were guaranteed through the establishment of rebates.
Chris Dunford, Sustainability Officer for At-Bristol emphasised the need to have an efficient monitoring system conveying how your data is your single most important tool to spot anomalies in energy use, quantify the success of your scheme and to act as an information hub promoting a low carbon culture within your team. In discussion Chris spoke about how a successful carbon reduction strategy must be always strive to embody a positive and proactive approach, enabling creative solutions which lead to best practice.
A topic positively correlated with carbon reduction was successful staff engagement. Coda Architects and The Environment Agency provided clear examples of initiatives which supported staff in providing proactive and bespoke low carbon remedies supporting the culture of “why don’t we try this to improve efficiency and sustainability” with the result that staff feel engaged and empowered when they see their solutions come to life. In addition to this bottom up approach of staff coming up with solutions was the agreement that top down support is paramount. Moreover when the solutions are both environmentally and economically advantageous Rob Stanley, Director of Property and Facilities at Bevan Brittan discussed how “quick and easy wins can be” creating internal revolving funds for sustainability projects thus providing a “no brainer” for the support of senior management and your finance director.
An issue mentioned by both delegates and speakers on Thursday which has been the focus of a previous WECC Event is the major challenge of sustainability and the sublease. How economically viable is it to invest in increasing the sustainability of a property which you don’t own? A number of members have overcome the barriers which may prevent action by working with their landlord to improve the office environment. Andrew Smith, Head of Estates & Sustainable Development at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) was encouraging in his presentation providing an illustrative example of this particular challenge and how they have worked with their landlord, the University of the West of England (UWE). Read more in our case study (http://www.westofenglandcarbonchallenge.org/2012/09/leased-cost/).
It was both inspiring and motivating to see the experience that exists in the region and how the movement to greater sustainability is consistently evolving and expanding. The number of carbon champions this year demonstrated the spiralling success of organisations engaging staff, optimising systems and introducing new technology. Tim La Touche, Systems Development Manager, from BuroHappold who have successfully installed a programme of Server Virtualisation and PIR sensors in their Bath Offices justly pointed out how the recent success stories are in many ways even more significant as have been against an economic backdrop where everyone has been “up against it”.
Having the foresight to embed sustainability into your organisation can enable greater competitive advantage, simultaneously bringing savings to the public sector and improving energy and resource efficiency. Throughout the presentations a feeling of “I wish I’d know about this earlier” was echoed by the different speakers. I wish I’d known earlier what I knew too late. It’s never too late to get on board and build momentum from these great stories of knocking energy, carbon and cash off your footprint.
Our next WECC Networking event, Energise you staff will take place at Buro Happold in Bath on the 7th November 2012, 4.30-6.30pm http://www.eventbrite.com/event/4408287306