In this series, we’ll be looking at each of the actions in our updated SustainAbilities Plan 2.0 and exploring why we felt it was important, what we’ve done so far, and what it might mean for the future…
90% of operations with robust environmental plans
When you look out the window at home or work, what do you see and how does it make you feel? Studies have proven the power of green spaces and plants to improve human health. Even relatively passive contact with nature—such as viewing it from a window—has been shown to lower blood pressure and anxiety levels.
We manage many kinds of green space on our own estate, and for our customers’; from office plants or car park shrubs, to grassed areas between offices or around construction sites. By doing this well, we benefit not only the mental health of those that work and live in the vicinity, be they our people, our customers’ workforce or neighbours in the local community, but we are also doing our bit to provide a home and food for wild animals and insects.
In our original SustainAbilities Plan our goal to protect the natural environment focused mainly on using certified sustainable products. In our 2016 SustainAbilities Progress report we reported that 80% of the timber we used during the year was certified sustainable timber, and that we had made good progress on buying other certified sustainable forest products (such as palm oil where markets are less mature). Our commitment to using responsibly sourced forest products remains, but we now needed to look towards new challenges. Our next plan is to ensure 90% of our operations will have robust environmental plans.
How will we do it?
The majority of our operations in the UK and overseas are covered by an environmental management system which has been certified to ISO 14001 standard. Over the next three years we want to continue to improve how we manage environmental impacts and incorporate leading practices into these plans. At the heart of this is our thought process: ‘What can we do better for the community, nature and the green spaces around us?’
Our new strategy is based on three guiding principles:
Do no harm
The first, and perhaps the most important is “Do no Harm.” Our people need to ensure fundamental environmental compliance is in place. This includes assessing the environmental elements they manage, implementing necessary change, reviewing change and progress, and ensuring that they are doing no harm to nature while working for our customers. This is the responsibility of every person we employ and the choices they make.
Our second principle is to ‘Maintain’ and protect natural habitats that are in our care – much of our work for our customers’ demand that we maintain natural elements. We have an opportunity to be brave in challenging the status quo, encouraging our customers to see the value of wilder, more natural landscaping as well as traditional manicured environments.
Maintaining environments may involve small changes to behaviour, or big changes to procedure. When you decide not to park on the grass under the trees or switch off your engine while you are waiting, or buy products with sustainable certification such as Fair Trade coffee or FSC timber, you are helping green spaces to stay healthy. For some, these decisions are spontaneous and automatic, but for others, we need to be a helping hand.
Our final principle is to “Improve” habitats, by working with nature and not against it. If we are to improve and enhance the green spaces we manage, we need people to see the value they bring. We need to demonstrate their benefit to the local community, their importance as flora and fauna, and highlight them as elements that add value to the workplace. We want people to enjoy the world around them, and inspire them to work for positive change, rather than merely co-existing with their environment. We can improve environments by building simple structures such as bug hotels or more systematic processes such as following native planting regimes.
We’ll be turning over every rock and flower to find our enthusiastic champions on every site; gardeners, naturalists, fishermen – those who have the passion and knowledge to help our teams do things better and give them the confidence to go out there and deliver our promise.