Home' HR Monthly : May 2017 Contents has run the Sustainability Advantage program –
providing practical advice to organisations – for
about a decade, during which members have
made savings of more than $100 million in
reduced use of energy, water and lower costs of
sending waste to landfill.
“Our sense is that we’ve reached a tipping
point,” says Alice Cahill, manager of
sustainability programs in the NSW Office of
Environment and Heritage. “ We’re starting to
see an increase in many organisations making
public and, in some cases, bold commitments.”
Unilever, for example, says its whole
organisation will become a net positive carbon
company by 2030.
Iain Smale, managing director of Pangolin
Associates in Sydney – Australia’s only certified
carbon neutral environmental consultancy –
says the number of organisations his firm is
assisting with certified carbon neutrality has
increased threefold in the past year, including
in the property sector and local govern ment.
“ We’re also working with three universities on
their carbon management,” he said.
Along with the Big Four firms and a few
other consultants, Pangolin provides energy
efficiency audits, greenhouse gas assessments,
carbon reporting and accreditation and a range
of other sustainability services. It also provides
carbon neutral certification under the National
Carbon Offset Standard, the only Government
recognised certification in Australia.
Energy audits and carbon assessments can
cost anything from a few thousand dollars to
tens of thousands depending on the size and
complexity of an organisation, says Smale. A
mixture of energy efficiency grants and reduced
utility bills can result in immediate cost savings.
Just changing the light bulbs can make a
difference, says Nick Keynes, sales manager
for E covantage, which upgrades LED lighting
and undertakes efficiency projects under state
government schemes in NSW, Victoria and SA.
“ We’ve achieved some impressive
reductions in energy usage, and therefore
CO2 and cost.” Installing LED lights
in one warehouse halved the power
bill and in a strata building they
cut average daily usage from
215 kWh to just 82 kWh.
Any efforts by
organisations to reduce
impact are part of a move
towards a low-carbon
future, says Christopher
of organisational studies at the University of
Sydney’s Business School and co-author of
Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations.
“It’s true that many businesses are adopting
initiatives to make their operations a little less
unsustainable,” says Wright.
“But let’s be clear: real effort to promote
sustainability of life on Earth – which is what
we’re really talking about here – requires strong
action by governments and will have to include
regulation that many business executives and
investors find too extreme.” •••
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MAURICE BLACKBURN LAWYERS
Legal firm Maurice Blackburn has 31 offices around
Australia and more than 1,100 employees. It has
been carbon neutral for eight years.
“Social justice is at the heart of what we do, so
going carbon neutral was a natural extension of our
culture,” says Steve Schuurmans, chief operating
The firm started by creating an environmental
management plan with the help of Pangolin
Associates in Sydney. That led to a comprehensive
suite of actions - almost all of which required
educating staff and seeking their compliance - in
order to reduce their collective carbon footprint.
These initiatives included conserving energy and
water, reducing waste, buying sustainably-sourced
furnishings and products for its offices, recycling
used computers and reducing paper consumption.
Double-sided printing is compulsory nationally and
all paper purchased is 100 per cent recycled copy
Consultants undertake an annual staff commute
survey and a bike users’ group encourages
employees to make an environmentally responsible
The law firm measures its sustainability impacts,
and tracks electricity and water consumption, the
amount of waste to landfill and travel and freight
costs more closely. As part of its efforts to engage
staff, the office that cuts its carbon emissions the
most, per full time employee, receives an award.
A bike group at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers encourages
staff to make an eco-responsible choice for the commute.
“Our sense is that
we have reached a
tipping point. We’re
starting to see an increase
in many organisations
making bold commitments.”
ALICE CAHILL, NSW OFFICE OF ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE
20/04/2017 5:19 PM
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