08 May 2018

Going green – our journey and challenges so far

“There is no question that climate change is happening; the only arguable point is what part humans are playing in it.” David Attenborough


Lighting Improvements at Wimbledon

The damage caused to our planet has been well documented over the years, most recently highlighted in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II. This programme caused public outcry and is even changing our government’s policies on plastic waste.

Now organisations of all sizes are beginning to realise that they can play a significant role in protecting the environment. We and many of our customers are just some of the businesses doing their part to look after the natural world. 

The challenge of old buildings

Many of the buildings we own are old and not fit for their original purpose, so much of what we do is about breathing life into these mature properties, where the alternative can result in a huge environmental cost. We’re putting a massive amount of effort into addressing this challenge. During the last year alone we’ve completed 91 projects, investing almost £3 million on improvements that have a direct, positive impact on our carbon footprint.

These projects include:

  • the introduction of LED lighting & passive sensors at 34 of our business centres, with 20 more locations to be addressed during 2018, reducing electric consumption by 55%
  • major improvements to the external building fabric. 14 of our business centres have benefitted from roof and window replacements, which has improved insulation, in turn significantly reducing energy usage.
  • replacement of inefficient boilers & heating systems at 12 sites, delivering a positive result for the environment as well as our customers.

So what benefit have these projects delivered? Firstly they’ve improved the work environment for our customers, but they’ve also helped us to reduce our gas and electricity consumption considerably. In the last three months, we’ve reduced this by 17.7% and 2.3% respectively. In the case of electricity, this means a saving of 470,000 kilowatt-hours compared to the same 3-month period last year. 

Reusing and recycling

Improving our green credentials doesn’t just come from spending money. Our maintenance teams are experts at ‘make do and mend’, constantly recycling furniture, wall art and door locks, all items that would otherwise be thrown away. 

We are also continually seeking ways to manage waste by introducing more cardboard and food recycling while making sure that our residual waste is incinerated to produce energy instead of going to landfill. We provide facilities at a number of centres enabling customers to cycle to work (with more planned) and from spring customers at Basingstoke will have free use of BizBikes during the day as an alternative to using the car, or just to support their keep fit regime. We have an electric car charging point at Wakefield and we’re currently reviewing options at other sites.

Eco-friendly businesses

Alongside all that we do to be eco-friendly, we house a number of eco-warriors within our workspace across the country.

  • Swindon has two businesses that turn unwanted and broken furniture into stylish items for modern homes.
  • A customer at Chorley gives surplus cardboard tubes to his neighbour who uses them to protect the necks of the guitars he makes.
  • We have companies specialising in loft and cavity wall insulation at Nottingham and Tyseley.
  • A customer in Rochdale rescues unwanted items from pubs, that would normally go to landfill, and sells them online.
  • A customer in Gateshead recycles old phones, computers and other electrical equipment, and generates awareness of the impact of recycling on our environment.

These are just a few examples of environmentally friendly activities taking place at our business centres around the country and we have more and more customers looking to make a positive impact. 

We’re under no illusion, we still have a way to go and we will be setting ourselves some ambitious targets to further reduce our carbon footprint over the next few years. This year every centre will have an Energy Performance Certificate with a rating of E or above to make sure we comply with challenging new regulations and many of our 2018 projects will highlight our green credentials. 

Just remember everyone can contribute and even the smallest actions can make a huge difference.