No matter what type of premises your business occupies, there's no excuse for failing to take action on its environmental impact, argues Amy Sims of Global Action Plan.
From HSBC to Marks & Spencer it always seems to be the big businesses in shiny towers that you hear about "going green". But no matter what an organisation does, or how their premises are arranged, it is crucial that they all look within and figure out how to reduce their impact. Global Action Plan has audited and advised many types of businesses that aren't based in your standard cubicle-laden office space.
From a pub to a theatre, to a church with a crypt, our workplace staff have liaised with quite an interesting range of businesses where they are encouraged to find people who are eager to make a difference. However, there have certainly been extraordinary challenges along the way.
The Joiners Arms is a popular pub in East London, open seven days a week. The building incorporates a ground floor bar area, private kitchen, large cellar and private accommodation. The landlord was very keen to make his pub as environmentally friendly as possible, and even wanted us to look into the possibility of solar panels for the roof.
The pub's large cellar and cold store were the unusual aspects of this audit. These were a problem for the pub's environmental impact because obviously to serve the beer perfectly chilled, there had to be adequate and constant chilling of the barrels. Heating and cooling any area requires a lot of energy. The pub was advised to make sure that the room was fully air tight so that warm air could not enter the room and counteract the effects of the chiller, causing it to have to work even harder to maintain the correct temperature. This principle should also be applied to offices; if you have the air con on during warm summer months, make sure that windows are closed to prevent the warm air from outside from entering and heating up the room and working against the air con.
The pub was already carrying out some recycling, but as with most London businesses, space is at a premium making storage facilities limited. There are now a large number of recycling companies operating in London, many of them specialising in servicing different industries and smaller businesses. They offer a range of collection times and frequencies, so there should always be one out there that can work with your business to find a solution to your recycling challenges.
Situated in the West End, the Apollo Victoria is one of London's leading theatres. The theatre is housed in a 1930s, Grade 1 listed building. Recently, the management have been looking at ways to reduce the theatre's environmental impact. They were personally committed to reducing the impact, and were aware that as well as environmental savings there was also potential for some cost savings, particularly in regards to energy.
The running of a theatre involves a huge variety of equipment for lighting, production, refreshments etc., so a full energy audit by the Carbon Trust was recommended. A personnel challenge was found in that the production team for each show is not directly employed by the theatre, so as well as getting support from their own employees, management had to share the awareness with non-permanent staff. Any organisation that uses contractors or has a high turnover of staff has the added challenge of educating these individuals on environmental processes, and this can be done if introduced as soon as the person starts work on site, for example as part of their induction. Good clear information signs are also useful reminders.
St Mary Le Bow Church is one of London's most famous churches serving all who work in and visit the City of London. The Norman crypt holds a busy daytime cafe, The Place Below.
Due to a recent request by the Bishop of London urging the Church of England to examine its environmental impacts, the rector and staff at St Mary Le Bow have been motivated to look at the environmental impacts of the church.
The Church was already carrying out good energy saving and waste minimisation processes, although heating a nave with a high ceiling is a challenge in most churches and other large buildings such as town halls and warehouses. Methods to tackle this have included building a second, lower ceiling, double glazing, and good insulation and draft exclusion.
The café's location in the thick stone walls of the crypt meant it did not suffer from heating issues, but we were able to advise them around energy saving measures and recycling their waste.
Whether it's a house of worship, a historic entertainment venue, or somewhere to simply relax and enjoy a pint, every facility can benefit from having an environmental audit. The suits up in skyscrapers may get the "go green" headlines, but everyone can make a difference.
Amy Sims is Communications Manager at Global Action Plan.
Created in 1993, Global Action Plan is a practical environmental charity that has worked with thousands of people and organisations to help them make positive changes to reduce their environmental impact at home and at work
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