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Quick to Implement improvements for conscious SMEs

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

At Lumen we’ve been thinking for a while about how to reduce our environmental impacts and how to operate in a more sustainable way. We believe that companies should be working togetheron this rather than competing. Collectively we need to take serious action on climate change. To that end, we’ve decided to share the details of our actions help others and hopefully we'll find some new ideas too (add your comments below).

What we have done:

1.      Measured and offset our carbon emissions – for the past two years we have assessed, offset, and reported our carbon emissions. Last year we emitted the equivalent of 83 tons of CO2. 85% of this was due to flights and vehicle travel, the vast majority of which was dictated by Client needs rather than discretionary internal travel. We have been offsetting our actual calculated emissions plus an additional 20% to meet the criteria to be considered carbon positive. We purchased offsets through the Hinewai Trust and Ekos.

2.      Solar PV – installed 10 kW of solar panels on the roof of our leased office building (payback in the order of 5-6 years). Thanks to Canterbury Property Investments and CPS Solar.

3.      Electric vehicle – purchased a Nissan Leaf EV as our office run-about which is currently doing about 11,000 km per year. Feedback from our team has been fantastic. We received great service and support from EV City.

4.      Electric scooter – provided an electric scooter for work and personal use. We purchased the Ninebot ES4 from PB Tech which gets regular use.

5.      Improved office bike storage – purchased a modified shipping container to increase bike storage to make it easier for our team to cycle to work and around the city. Thanks to Heartland Containers.

6.      Changed carparking entitlements – introduced changes to the way we provide carparks to certain staff at our head-office. This changed from a physical parking space to a financial allowance to the equivalent value to reward staff that cycled or walked. This also encourages others to change from high to low emissions transport means.

7.      Sustainable procurement policy – among many other changes, we introduced a procurement policy which ensures we consider good quality and good condition second-hand office equipment before new. We also ensure that all office equipment we no longer need gets offered through TradeMe without reserve before dumping. We also now use NZ made natural cleaning products from ecostore.

8.      Reduced non-essential air travel – for example, we reduced the number of face-to-face board meetings from five to one per annum. In addition to the reduced carbon footprint, we have noticed a positive side-effect that our meetings are now more efficient and effective. We also continue to encourage our clients to use video conferencing where practical. If there is one positive thing to come from the current COVID-19 pandemic, hopefully it will be that video conferencing works and we don't need to travel as much as we previous thought.

9.      Waste audit – we undertook a “waste audit” to better understand what was making it into our bins each week. This, for example, led us to modify the way we purchase coffee (with less packaging, moved away from pods). We also introduced the use of compostable bin liners. Where practicable we have removed bin liners completely (e.g. recycling bins). We use Friendlypak.

10.  Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – we have introduced the use of UAVs for asset inspections in difficult to access sites (still within line of sight) which marginally reduces travel needs.

11.  Sustainable branded merchandise – where we have given branded merchandise to our team and clients, we have focused on low volumes of high quality and useful products such as glass Keepcups and stainless-steel reusable water bottles from Promovision.

12.  Rechargeable batteries – we use only rechargeable AA and AAA batteries and run a collection for old batteries (work and personal) to ensure these get to the recycling stations.

13.  Sustainable Business Network – we joined the NZ Sustainable Business Network to get ideas for continually improving our sustainability performance.

What we would like to do when the time is right:

1.      Electric utes –Rivian Utes for our inspectors.

2.      More UAVs – use of UAV/drones beyond line of sight to significantly reduce travel requirements for inspections services.

3.      Emissions and offsets – include travel emissions for staff travel to/from our offices.

While we’re only a small company, we are genuinely trying to do our best. We are in the fortunate position of having a talented team of carbon and energy professionals led by Ben Thomson who have guided us along this journey. We think, that armed with this knowledge, many other small and medium sized businesses in New Zealand could easily follow similar actions.
However big or small, together we can help each other minimise our impacts. 

- Dan Tombleson, Managing Director, Lumen


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