Claremont Group Interiors sets a high standard in the office interiors industry as they find a balance between environmental impact, social well-being and stakeholder values.
In 2010-11, Claremont Group Interiors reduced the total carbon footprint per employee by over 11 percent. Since last year the company was able to reduce the emissions at their Warrington Office by 22%. This is all rather impressive for a company with over 80 employees and four office locations across the UK.
The Interior design and fit-out firm is recognised as an industry specialist for office interior solutions in the UK, and is one of the largest of its kind outside London.
In 2009, Claremont became Planet Positive Certified the first time. Achieving Planet Positive certification is an international recognition of the highest sustainability standards. In becoming certified, companies are signifying a commitment to being better for the planet by reducing their carbon emissions and improving the sustainability of the business.
Certification was achieved for the company, and will be maintained, by following a four-step process of measuring and committing to reduce carbon emissions, investing in a sustainability project and communicating efforts.
The total carbon footprint for business operations at the Warrington Head Office is 423.68 tCO2e, a 22 percent (118.08 tCO2e) reduction from the emissions last year. The office interior firm has agreed to reduce this total by five percent (21.18 tCO2e) by 2013.
Melanie Johnston, Marketing Manager at Claremont, said: “Engaging with Planet Positive has helped us to take and improve measures of our business activities that cause CO2 emissions. We are therefore aware of the amount of carbon emissions we’re producing and can set realistic goals to reduce it on a yearly basis. Planet Positive also provides regular up-dates on how we can engage our staff and how we can reduce our carbon emission to achieve the set objective.”
Claremont has also recently taken part in Planet Positive’s free, national campaign, 7-days to Sustainability, and won an acre of Amazon rainforest from campaign supporters Cool Earth, helping to keep 260 tonnes of carbon dioxide where it belongs.
The campaign provides free email support and advice to SMEs that sign up, covering ways to become more sustainable and save costs. Over the 7 days, SMEs learn how to improve their sustainability through energy efficiency, travel and procurement, and has seen huge support from industry leaders and companies such as Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Deloitte.
Claremont’s sustainability initiatives were encouraged even further by the campaign, and the company have a long list of ways they are improving their sustainability each day. Just some of the ways the company are doing this are:
• Keeping the office temperature at 21 degrees and use the air conditioning units as little as possible. All air conditioning units are set via a timer and optimisation settings.
• There are waterless urinals in all male toilets as well as other water saving devices in the cisterns of the standard toilets.
• All kitchens and toilets have sensor lighting and subsequently switch off when the room is not in use.
• Timers are on some appliances, such as water heaters and microwaves, and a hot water tank is used for tea and coffee, which is significantly more efficient than using kettles. There are also filtered cold and hot water taps, rather than using plastic bottles.
• Staff are encouraged to avoid unnecessary journeys and conduct phone or video conferencing wherever possible, and use public transport.
• Make it easy to cycle to work: Claremont provides a safe place for staff to lock up their bikes and have a shower facility at work.
• All waste and paper collected is recycled as much as possible and subsequently over 88% of all waste is recycled.
Melanie said: “Planet Positive’s most recent 7-Days to Sustainability campaign really helped us to spread the word about the importance of sustainability and how employees can help to support our goal of achieving a five percent reduction of CO2 emissions / year.
“The suggestions given confirmed a number of already existing initiatives in place, but also provided a lot of new ideas to consider for the future.”
The most important step any business can take when trying to improve on sustainability initiatives is staff awareness and engagement. Keeping staff informed of the ways to reduce a company’s carbon footprint and encouraging their support is fundamental if the business has set a reduction target. Claremont said that this has been fundamental to their success so far, and the hot water tank that staff use for tea and coffee has been one of the best measures they’ve taken, which all staff have responded well to.
Being a sustainable business brings a number of benefits with it, including employee engagement, brand enhancement, increased efficiency and cost savings. Almost every business that takes steps towards becoming more sustainable, find there are noticeable changes in the way the business operates.
Claremont achieved cost savings of 29.3% comparing their energy bill from April 2011 to 31st March 2012 with April 2010 to 31st March 2011.
Claremont comments: “Being Planet Positive certified is an important way for us to demonstrate our commitment to the environment and sustainability to all of us, our customers, prospect, suppliers and the wider community. The way we address environmental and sustainability issues is becoming more and more important for our clients and prospects, and we need to be able to prove that this is an important matter for us as a business that is being taken seriously. Being able to show this commitment to prospects supports us in winning new business.
“Individuals, especially those working in the Green Team, have a greater awareness of our carbon footprint and encourage other staff members to actively take part in the reduction of it. Actively monitoring our electricity and water usage, waste disposal as well as our business travel activities has now become a fundamental part of our operational strategy to reduce our carbon footprint.”
‘Green Teams’ are encouraged by Planet Positive when certifying new businesses as a good starting point. The teams of staff use the advice offered to coordinate ways to engage all staff with the reduction plan, and spread the word. The Green Team at Claremont are integral to the continuing work towards sustainability that the company has committed to.
These members of staff are so important to the sustainability plan, and it can be a challenge to continuously remind staff about the importance of the activities to the business. Melanie said: “In general the staff have shown a very supportive and positive attitude towards the work being done, but it can easily slip, if not regularly reminded about the importance of the steps being taken.”
It’s important that the employees at any organisation understands that the benefits will not just affect the business clients, or cost savings, but also the individuals themselves. Being a sustainable business has benefits for employee health and well being, engagement, and moral. The staff at Claremont were pleased to see that the work they’re doing is rewarding in both the short and long term.
Melanie says: “As we’ve been successful in engaging our staff, we’re going to be working towards reducing our electricity use and waste emissions as these were sources of emission we were unable to reduce last year. We will also be striving even further to keep our business travel activities as low as possible.”
Steve Malkin, Founder and CEO at Planet Positive, said: “Claremont Group Interiors have shown a fantastic amount of effort towards their ongoing commitment to sustainability. It is through the actions of each organisation and individual employees within the business that we can help have a positive impact on the environment and create a better way of living.”
Businesses are seeing the importance in becoming more sustainable, whether it’s for brand enhancement and social responsibility, or simply for the cost savings. Claremont is determined to keep their sustainability journey going for as long as possible as they start to see the business benefits their certification is having. They commented: “With growing consumer awareness surrounding the issue of global warming and climate change we recognise that we must all pull together to reduce carbon emissions. Now is the time to act to avoid irreversible climate change and to embrace solutions to help the environment. Businesses ought to set higher standards and find a balance between environmental impact, social well-being and stakeholder values.”
See Claremont Group Interior's Case Study here.