Going green for good – the small steps that make a big difference
Membership of this organisation has been a major factor in helping us significantly reduce our carbon footprint over that period from 1.5 tonnes of carbon per employee (tCO2ee) in 2012 to 1.07 (tCO2ee) in 2016. For the past two years we have had the 6th lowest CO2 emissions per employee out of the 60 or so like-minded firms who provide data to LSA on their carbon emissions.
For any firm beginning its sustainability journey, I would recommend that the LSA is the best place to start. It’s free to join and provides a lot of support and inspiration to firms who are new to this area. Why re-invent the wheel when there is so much help freely available?
Why should we think about our environmental impact?
I think the obvious response has to be “why wouldn’t we? ” Sustainability is about running your business more responsibly and while not the key aim, it can also help cut day-to-day costs that companies face. For example, energy saving measures can help minimise the impact of increasing provider costs, and moving towards paperless or paper-light working can decrease the amount of waste produced and save on courier and storage costs. Often small changes can have a surprisingly large, positive, impact.
In terms of winning new business, the Carbon Trust reported that 63% of consumers are more likely to buy a product or service from a business if they know actions are being taken to reduce its carbon footprint. Similarly, on the employee recruitment front, young people especially, expect businesses to act responsibly around sustainability issues.
Across the legal sector, firms are becoming increasingly conscious of carbon data and are more likely to be measuring and reporting their footprint than in the past. Firms are recycling more, thinking about the impact of their office systems and being more aware of waste and general consumption.
What are we doing as a firm?
During this year throughout the legal sector, electricity consumption per capita accounts for 60% of firm’s carbon footprint/total emissions. This figure is down from 70% in 2009. As a firm we have seen the benefits that come from being mindful about how much electricity we use. These include positive results from our regular “switch off” campaigns, aimed at increasing awareness around the environmental importance of not wasting energy, alongside other measures such as installing energy saving light bulbs.
Printing and paper consumption
The introduction of real time printing stats via a dashboard on our intranet, increased use of Duplex printing and our “green desk-side bin policy”, which encourages staff to think about how they dispose of their waste, , has also increased awareness and significantly improved behaviours around paper consumption and recycling.
Business travel remains a big issue for the legal sector as a whole and at Royds Withy King we have sought to address this through an upgraded video conferencing facility, the initial aim being to significantly reduce inter-office travel and our overall travel related carbon footprint. To measure its effectiveness we have also developed an online tool which automatically calculates “miles saved” for each video-conferencing session.
Our carbon footprint
While we and the legal sector have made substantial progress in reducing carbon, the key question going forwards is how do we sustain the momentum and make progress with some of the more difficult challenges? It is fair to say that having done the things that are easy, we will need even more support and encouragement to do the things that are difficult.
A significant step in the right direction has been the relocation of our London office to a building that has been redeveloped by the Carbon Trust to low carbon standards. The redevelopment incorporates sophisticated metering and monitoring to enable ongoing management of our emissions. By closely monitoring energy usage versus occupancy levels, it will lead to further meaningful reductions in our energy consumption and carbon emissions. To demonstrate our commitment to this, we have also signed up to the Low Carbon Workplace Charter and are currently working towards certification to the Low Carbon Workplace Standard.
Green Week 2017
Our annual Green Week kicks off on 18 September and is an opportunity for us to reflect on what has been achieved over the past five years, while at the same time having fun. Scheduled events include a green photography competition, green IT workshops; green commutes and organised lunchtime walks amongst other things. It’s also an opportunity to look to the future and consider how we can continue to improve . Acting collectively, through the effort of many, we can achieve more than we can on our own and we can change the way we work - smarter, greener and better for all.