Working as the Information and Resources Co-ordinator for the British Council Trinidad and Tobago, I took on the hefty task of knocking 10% off our emissions in one year. With some big changes, a couple of hiccups, and the co-operation of all those involved, we ended up with something to shout about: a 21% cut in carbon. Maybe it wasn't as hard as I first thought ...
This was the first time we’d ever tried to track our emissions, and with so much to monitor; electricity, miles on the road and air travel, there was a lot to consider! I found that as I was new to the game, working things out can be time consuming and a little difficult. We share a building with the British High Commission (BHC), so shared services like electricity are tricky to monitor.
With that in mind, we decided to make the biggest cuts where we could measure the reductions with ease; making travel the obvious choice. With flying accounting for the largest share of our emissions, it seemed to be a fitting starting point. By taking advantage of technology, we held teleconference meetings with partners and clients instead of flying.
Our savings were enormous; short haul flights were reduced by 70%, and long haul down by 56% compared to last year!
We reduced road travel too, setting up a car pooling system for travel to meetings and events. With measures like lift sharing, staff engagement is what really helps to make these reductions possible, so I’m grateful for that. These savings are not only for the environment, but a huge bonus for us financially as well. I was acting under a corporate mandate to cut costs, so it was satisfying to kill two birds with one stone.
Meet the neighbours
On the ground, solutions weren't quite as easy to find. Sharing a building led to problems recording our usage, and we ran into financial complications collaborating on projects with our neighbours.
Not being able to measure your usage accurately is a setback, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be overcome.
Now we’ve got a chance to act as a positive influence on the BHC and cut their emissions as well as our own! Managing an overall reduction of 21% is a massive achievement and has inspired us to keep reducing in the future. We’ve built bridges that will help us, and others, live sustainably, as well as making some huge savings that will keep our bosses sweet! We'll be building on our pilot project from our action year and increasing the amount of motion sensor lighting in our workplace. What’s more, we’ll be meeting with the other tenants twice monthly to pool our thoughts on other carbon-cutting strategies and green initiatives.
Photo: Neiljs, Creative Commons