Norfolk businesses mission to be more environmentally responsible

In our pervious blog we talked about tips on how to be more environmentally conscious in the working environment. Our members; Netmatters, Anglia Business Cleaning/Iron Maidens, UEA and Aviva, give an insight into how they are considering the long-term environmental impact.

These insights are a chance to help you and your business consider small changes for the future, to help save money and the planet.

“To give you a bit of background, we are a full-service agency based in Wymondham, Norfolk. What began during the recession period in 2008, the business has now gone from strength to strength. We have around 70+ staff on our books and we offer services in web development/design, IT support, digital marketing and telecoms. A lot of our clients are local, but we also service some national clients too.”

“As a business, we are also extremely committed to doing our bit to contribute to helping the environment. Because of this, we are a fully paperless office. We keep everything in a digital database as opposed to printing out endless copies of documents. We also ensure our waste is separated properly to maximise our recycling efforts. That doesn’t just apply to rubbish though as we also send out old IT hardware for re-use wherever possible. Along with this, our PC monitors that we use internally are selected due to the model's low power consumption.”

“Our current goal is working to further reduce our power consumption, and to increase the amount of electricity we generate from our solar panels. We currently produce the equivalent of 12% of our power from solar panels and aim to increase this in 2019.”

Anglia Business Cleaning/Iron Maidens
“Last year we invested in a fully electric van for use in and around the city. This is used for collections & deliveries of ironing/laundry, and also for getting staff/materials to & from various cleaning contracts locally. We saw this as an investment for the future and helps to keep the running cost down too.

“Other than requiring a charging point installed at our office, it has taken a bit of time getting staff used to driving the vehicle, as although it handles exactly as any other van – it takes a while to get used to it being completely silent! The bonus for this is that where we have early morning or late night starts/finishes it does not disturb the neighbours.”

Enterprise centre, University of East Anglia
“Our building, opened in 2015, is specifically designed with solar panels and light sensors to make sure we are using our energy as efficiently as possible. The water in our toilets is recycled rain water with two flush settings and we encourage people to use the correct setting to save water.”

“We also have a variety of recycled and reused furniture throughout our building, one example of this is our Reception Desk in our Foyer that was originally in the Sainsburys Art Centre.”

“Within all sections of the building we have a range of disposal bins all to try and help reduce waste and promote recycling. These include recycling boxes for batteries, general rubbish, mixed recyclables, paper cups and fluid bins which include a section for pouring in any residual liquid, and two compost bins, one located in each of our tenant areas.”

“We also encourage all of our staff and tenants to do a range of simple changes to help reduce waste and save energy. These include:

-The use of reusable water bottles

-The use of the stairs if possible, rather than the lift

-For all non-essential IT and electrical equipment to be switched off over festive or closure periods.

-To reuse wastepaper as casual notebooks or reuse envelops for all of our internal mail

-To recycle rather than bin old books in our book swap library

-To donate any excess or used stationary to our stationary amnesties, these are then laid out in the foyer and available for anyone to take and make use out of.”

Green Detective Lee Preston, who works as the Carbon and Utilities Manager at Aviva gives us an insight into how Aviva is making changes to cut down on energy.

“When you go on holiday, you wouldn’t leave your heating up high and all the lights burning. So why would we do it in the office? Everyone uses energy. My job is to find ways for Aviva to use less.”

“I started out in industry. It’s easy to picture factories burning through electricity as they build stuff, but I was initially surprised to find that offices can be just as bad. Commercial buildings use a phenomenal amount of power but that means plenty of scope to make a difference.”

“First, I find the facts. I’m a sucker for data. I pore over energy bills and meter readings from all over to work out what we’re using where. Then I go into buildings to find what we can change.”

“I love being out and about. I’m forever sneaking around the plant rooms. The engineers worry when they see me as they know I’m going to ask them to do something differently. But I couldn’t do my job without them. They know the buildings best and together we tease out the changes we can make.”

“It sounds simple but you start with the easy things- switching off what we don’t need, just like you would at home. Turning the lights off at night instantly saved £5,000 a month in one building alone. By showing how much we can cut our emissions at the same time as pointing to concrete savings for the business, we built a compelling case for bigger changes too.”

“The projects I’ve worked on would have been beyond my wildest dreams five years ago. The great thing is we can argue for ambitious projects. Where other companies might demand return on investment within a year, some of our ideas have far longer time horizons too- our new solar car port in Norwich will pay for itself in seven years. It’s obviously the right thing to do, but not all businesses are set up to think for the longer term like that.”

“Change takes a bit of effort, but the numerous benefits are clear. For example, we’re swapping all the old fluorescent lighting in our UK offices for LEDs. That change alone has already saved over three thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. We adapted lots of existing kit to prevent unnecessary waste. The dimmable LEDs mean the working environment is actually more pleasant for my colleagues and Aviva is cutting costs too. There’s literally no downside.”

“I’m really proud of the difference we’ve made. I’ve already hit our target to cut Aviva Group emissions by 50% two years early, so we’ve set another to reduce them by 70% by 2030.”

“I’m excited about taking the lessons we have proved to work in the UK to the rest of our markets. I can’t wait to do more around the Group. Saving money and helping to save the planet at the same time. What’s not to like?”

Our member Rebecca Osborne illustrated this blog and added her creatively with the great illustrations. Big thanks Rebecca.

If you or your business are doing great things to support the environment at work and with your business let us know.

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