Recognizing that it is the creativity and passion of our people that drive our innovative work on behalf of clients, we challenge our staff members around the world to apply this creativity to local initiatives and measures that support our commitment to corporate responsibility. Some examples of these initiatives are outlined below.
Having worked with the Carbon Trust to develop a robust carbon management policy and processes, ENVIRON's London office was quick to take advantage of the UK's first online assessment service for small businesses. In September 2010 it became one of the first businesses in the country to complete the process and obtain the Carbon Trust Standard by measuring, managing and reducing carbon emissions and committing to ongoing reductions. The Carbon Trust Standard is recognized as the gold standard in carbon measurement, management and reduction certification.
Motivated by the successful example of its South West offices implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) that achieved international ISO 14001:2004 certification several years ago, ENVIRON's UK operations have rolled the EMS out across all UK offices. In March 2011 the ISO 14001 was extended to include ENVIRON's entire UK operation.
ENVIRON's Frankfurt, Germany, office launched GObyX to encourage alternatives to commuting to work by car—which collaterally promotes exercise and brings offices around the firm together in the spirit of a common aim and a little "healthy" competition. Participants log the distance they travel to work each day using "muscle power" alone, i.e., by walking, jogging or cycling. The journey may be from home to work (and back), or from home to the bus or train station. And it may include diversions to school or for child care. Each kilometer or mile earns points and there are bonus points at stake if the journey is made in the cold, the rain or the heat! Frankfurt has inspired participation from Munich, Germany; Leeds and Birmingham in the UK; Perth and Sydney in Australia; and Irvine, CA. Since its inception in 2008, the initiative has logged some 60,000 km undertaken by alternatives to the car, equivalent to about 10,000 kg of CO2.
Sydney Treads Lightly
A number of ENVIRON's offices around the world have considered options to reduce our environmental impact when relocating to new premises. When ENVIRON's Sydney office recently had an opportunity to search for a new home, the staff members ranked reducing their environmental footprint as a critical determining criterion. The first step was to measure the footprint of the existing office. The team managing the move gathered and analysed data on the energy consumption of the existing office space, energy consumption for the common or shared areas of the building, employee commuting patterns, and work-related travel. The results highlighted that by considering the direct energy use of our office space alone, we would only be able to influence a small part of our carbon footprint. If, however, we also considered the efficiency and location of the new building (which affects travel options), opportunities for footprint reductions increased.
After examining a number of office spaces at similar lease costs in both new and old buildings, we selected premises in a newly constructed building that was designed to achieve a best practice energy efficiency rating, as well as a high level of water efficiency and good systems for waste recycling. The central North Sydney location provided reasonable commuting distances for most staff.
The Sydney office has reduced its annual tenancy energy consumption by 20% in the new office compared to the old office, while increasing the number of staff and the floor space occupied by the office. Through monthly building environmental management meetings, ENVIRON Sydney is actively engaging with the building manager to discuss and support new initiatives.
Settings for Savings
With a major focus on air quality modelling projects, ENVIRON's Perth, Australia, office can at times be running more than a dozen networked computers for one project that must be available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. In the past, this has essentially meant leaving these computers powered up at all times, even between modelling runs. In early 2009, some changes were made to settings on the networked modelling computers that enabled 10 out of the 11 computers to be shut down automatically after an idle period, and then powered up remotely over the Local Area Network (LAN) when needed. Just one of the computers is left on to enable a "wake up" call to be sent to the other computers when needed. This initiative resulted in Perth's electricity usage being approximately 12% lower in 2009 compared to the previous year.
Help for Community Homes
During 2010, ENVIRON's northern California offices undertook pro bono community projects for two non-profit organizations focused on providing housing to local residents.
ENVIRON provided pro bono consulting services and conducted sampling and characterization activities for Habitat for Humanity East Bay at several sites in Oakland, California. Efforts included performing a Phase I ESA and providing recommendations for handling environmental issues during construction for a site proposed for future redevelopment, as well as reviewing potential California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) issues pursuant to Habitat's applications for redevelopment funding.
ENVIRON also provided pro bono assistance to Affordable Housing Associates, a California-based organization whose mission is to create and preserve affordable housing communities. ENVIRON's work included performing Phase I ESAs at sites planned for redevelopment with affordable housing units in downtown Oakland, California, as well as a desktop review of contamination concerns.
Adopting a Chicago Public School
Late in 2009, ENVIRON's Chicago operations partnered with Paderewski Elementary Learning Academy (Paderewski), a Chicago Public System (CPS) School serving primarily students from low-income families. ENVIRON kicked off the partnership through participation in Chicago's "Principal for a Day" event, during which ENVIRON representatives shadowed Paderewski's Principal, who highlighted the accomplishments and challenges of this CPS school. The event provided an opportunity to connect Chicago's private and public businesses to their community.
ENVIRON also performed a pro bono comprehensive energy audit of the school to prioritize known energy-related issues, identify any other issues not previously addressed, and recommend short- and long-term improvements. A report of findings was presented to the school.
Though the school's overall reading comprehension skills have improved in the last several years, the majority of the school's students still test below state and district standards. ENVIRON has established reading circles for the younger students and a book club for the more advanced students. ENVIRON employees visit the school and read with students, focusing on their reading comprehension. In addition, an internal book drive was organized during the holiday season to supply needed reading materials. Future sponsorship activities will include planting a native rain garden at the school and funding a subscription to a math and science program called EnergyNet. Both projects focus on applying the students' math and science skills to real-world scenarios.
ENVIRON has carried out pro bono work for the past eight years for a UK Hertfordshire-based hospice caring for patients with serious illness. The Chairman of Trustees from The Hospice of St Francis approached ENVIRON for help in identifying a suitable piece of land on which to construct a new hospice. We subsequently provided pro bono services related to brownfield development, as the site purchased was a former landfill with significant landfill gas and geotechnical issues.
The Hospice was completed in 2006 and opened to patients in 2007. Since that time, ENVIRON has continued to support The Hospice by undertaking regular checks of well water quality to meet the UK water quality requirements for private supplies. We also periodically undertake performance checks on the landfill gas protection measures installed beneath the buildings and provide ongoing ad-hoc advice on a variety of environmental matters.