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Net Zero Office

Heading Towards Net Zero

If you don’t know about your carbon footprint and going Net Zero, then what have you been doing over the last few years?   From David Attenborough to Boris Johnson, and of course Greta Thunberg scowling at Donald Trump, the world seems to have woken up to Green issues.

Not only is it a thing we all need to contribute to, to help do our bit for the World – it can help in your business.  How many companies do you see advertising their green credentials?  Why? Because it can make a positive marketing difference.

At JVCA we have been on a journey over the last couple of years.  It is definitely a journey and not a destination!  It’s a journey towards Net Zero, and let’s see how we are doing.

What have we done?

Well, our bit towards Net Zero is fairly straightforward – over time we have reduced our carbon footprint through in the following ways:

·         The very first step was to reduce our energy usage – with an investment in replacing the office lighting.  By moving to energy efficient lighting we made a big difference in reducing our energy needs. This investment took a couple of years to pay back, but this was the single biggest change to our energy usage.

·         At the same time we added insulation to the external walls, which made another big difference, especially to our winter energy usage, but also to the comfort of the team.

·         As an office we have always been mug users rather than use disposable cups that create waste…and we are always up for a mug of tea or coffee!

·         It took us a while to make it happen but we then stopped creating paper files and began only creating online files.  This took a couple of attempts and false starts with several different software choices, but now we only create digital files.

·         All paper coming into the building is scanned in and passed to the department or team member for action electronically.

·         Moving from a paper-based business to an – almost – paper-free business.  Yes we have printers, and yes, we print stuff out and post it out.  But where possible we use email, or one of our secure portals to send information out.  To give you an idea, in 2010 we purchased an average of 20 reams of paper per month. In 2020 this changed to less than 20 reams per year, a huge 90% reduction in our paper and printing, which not only reduces the resources we use, but also the CO2 emissions created by the deliveries.

·         When the time came to upgrade our office computers, instead of scrapping the old ones and buying new, we upgraded the existing ones: solid state drives, new operating software, a ram change or network card change here or there.  It was lovely to be able to re-use our equipment and it was financially good as well!   The one workstation that needed to be replaced was replaced with a laptop, as they are generally more energy efficient.

·         As an office, screen time is obviously a big part of our energy usage.  After a review several years ago, we changed to only buying energy efficient screens …and switching them off when not in use rather than leaving them on standby.

·         We have reusable cloth hand towels rather than paper towels for the bathroom – and during the pandemic we’ve had one towel per worker in the office to minimise any cross contamination.

·         We replaced our gas boiler for a new super-efficient one.  There was nothing wrong with the old boiler … but it was not at all efficient, so this is an investment that will pay pack in reduced fossil fuel usage and bills!

·         During 2020 we digitised our paper files – this was a bit of a project for our admin team and there are a few stray items that need to be sorted out – but we have emptied our filing room of paper, which also freed up space for other purposes, which is a nice bonus.  It also means less cost on filing cabinets, filing accessories and time spent filing or finding bits of paper!

·         We recycle wherever we can.  This is perhaps the easiest of all actions to take.  We now have separate bins in the office: pure waste, recyclable office waste and food waste.  Our non-recyclable waste is always the smallest quantity.

·         Allowing more working from home instead of insisting on commuting to the office means we are driving down our CO2 emissions.  Obviously the 2020/21 lockdowns have really accelerated the pace of this change!

·         One of the benefits of lockdown is that we are utilising zoom meetings instead of travelling as much …and the plan is to maintain a high percentage of online meetings where possible as we move forward.

·         We choose ethically ‘green’ suppliers where possible.  Our electrical energy supplier was chosen because of their commitment towards green generation methods.  Shopping local and shopping ethically are also easy ways for any business to make a difference.

What is next?

Reducing our impact on the planet is definitely a journey and we have to work at maintaining the impetus of that journey.  So far we have done the simple and cheap, and some of the investment-led and more expensive changes.   Options we are looking at are an electrical charging station to encourage the take up of reduced emission vehicles, and then to look at carbon mitigation schemes, like planting trees that will take carbon out of the atmosphere.

What are you doing in your workplace?  …and if you want to chat about what we did and how we did it, then just get in touch.

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