We have been working in our new office at Unit 5.3, Paintworks, Bristol for just over one year. During the month of October, we utilised our social media channels to highlight some of the key impacts of our sustainability initiatives. Although it’s easy to dismiss the impact of small businesses, we recognise the importance of monitoring, reporting and trying to reduce ours here at SustainIt.
One Year in Our New Office
Since moving to our new office a year ago, our biggest impact has been our increased energy usage due to a bigger office. We switched to 100% green electricity provided by Ecotricity and installed energy efficient electric heaters with smart timers, giving us complete control of how we heat our office space. Our future plan includes using IOT and smart technology to create a working environment where lighting and heating are automatically adjusted depending on the number of people in the room.
We’re conscious of how we travel to work and offer the Bike2Work scheme to all employees as well as a free annual bike service. Our new office offers plenty of space for us to securely store our bikes, and the bike rack is always full. I’m particularly proud of members of the team who live in the rural outskirts of the city and have reduced their car journeys using a mix of train, buses and cycling to get to work.
In our kitchen and bathroom, despite the addition of both a dishwasher and shower, we were pleased to see that our water usage has remained at on average 21 m3 per quarter with the exception of a water leak earlier in the year.
We use eco-friendly kitchen and bathroom products, buy some of our supplies in bulk and get our milk delivered in bottles, however we’ve identified other areas of the business where we can make an impact through considerate purchasing. One of our targets over the next few months is to review our suppliers and see what changes we can make. According to a study released in 2010 by WRAP, extraction of raw materials and manufacturing consume, by far, the most energy in the life of a milk container. Choices that can be reused or recycled are preferable. We have purchased milk in 255 glass bottles since being in our new unit which has saved us using the equivalent in plastic cartons. Refillable glass uses about half as much energy during its life cycle than either plastic or gable-top cartons.
We measure all of our waste and recorded a 25% decrease in food waste in the last 12 months, in part due to us giving our coffee grounds a second life at a local farm. We’ve taken the initiative to push for the introduction of a food waste bin for all businesses in Paintworks following a survey we conducted that found 100% of companies would use this service. Addressing our Scope 3 emissions is next on our list!
Our green-fingered team members have been slowly working on turning our office space into a plant haven and we’re investigating ways we can collect rainwater to keep our green friends watered.
Together small changes can make a significant difference and we hope we can inspire other businesses to continuously challenge and improve the way they work to create a better future for our planet and people.
By Sam Hadfield Systems Consultant at SustainIt Solutions