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Sustainability week: Navigating the journey to a greener workplace

The journey to 2045 is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And just like a marathon, sometimes you need to reenergise yourself to keep going, to make it to the next milestone. This applies to businesses as well as to individuals.

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  • Date: 7th May 2024
  • Author: Chris Carr
Sustainable, greener workspaces

Space Solutions has just finished its internal Sustainability Week 2024 (22nd-26th April), the dates chosen to tie in with Earth Day which fell on Monday 22nd April. The purpose of the week was to remind all employees why it’s important that we continue to change the way we operate, to continue to challenge ourselves to think differently, and to broadcast the progress we’re making as a business towards meeting the Scottish Government’s net zero targets.

Among other activities for the week, we hosted a series of lunch and learn sessions to educate on what we’re doing across the business regarding sustainability. For those who listened to the talk on our site operations, how many knew about the trick of saving water by putting a cable tie around a push tap, stopping the tap from being fully depressed thereby limiting water flow? While we don’t all spend time on sites, this ingenious little hack shows there are simple yet creative solutions to reducing waste in every aspect of our operations.

We have to be questioning everything we do in the built environment – c.42% of global greenhouse gas emissions comes from the built environment, so it’s incumbent upon those working in this sector to do what we can to reduce this number.

Clients and prospective clients increasingly want to know more about how sustainable we are as a business. Within the past five years the percentage given over in tenders to questions on sustainability has risen significantly, with one recent opportunity assigning 30% of the total technical quality score to this area. To show we’re a responsible business, we’re calculating our annual carbon footprint and will soon be reporting on this and on interim carbon reduction targets we have set ourselves.

One of the key themes during the week was to highlight the scale of our digital carbon footprint and suggest ways to reduce it. Messaging during the week reminded us to delete old emails, send links rather than attachments and to make simple changes even in our personal lives, such as not always streaming music on Spotify at the highest quality. It all adds up to a reduction. And this messaging will be repeated constantly. As a business we can’t polish our halos after one week and then forget about it until next year. Sustainability is a topic that needs to be, and thankfully is, part of everything we do.

In another talk, we heard about one of our current design and fit-out projects with a client who’s setting the bar for sustainable office design. Every decision is carefully considered, and sometimes challenged, by this client – for example, recommending a change in paint supplier to one that also has a buyback offer. We’ll share internally what we learn from this project with the aim being that this will become the benchmark for what we can offer every client. They won’t all ask for this attention to detail, but in order for Space Solutions to grow, we need to have a team who have the skills, the knowledge, and the passion to speak authoritatively about sustainability.

So, Sustainability Week 2024 is over for another year. But for the jobs we’re starting next, sustainable project delivery is only just beginning. From walking to site from the studio, to reusing the client’s existing furniture, to keeping all of the landlord fit-out, however we’re able we’re trying to do our bit for the planet. And we’ll continue to do so with each project we take forward.

Chris Carr Workplace Associate Space Solutions

Chris Carr, Associate Workplace Consultant

Chris arrived in workplace consultancy following stints as a scientist in the USA and a tour guide in Greece. He is passionate about the interaction between people and the workspaces they inhabit. Over the past six years, he has worked with numerous clients to help them envisage more effective and engaging spaces. He also leads the Environmental & Sustainability Group here at Space Solutions.