Striving for Environmental Sustainability in Melbourne, Australia
In 2008, staff in the Melbourne, Australia Cengage office decided upon ‘Sustainability’ as one of our core company values.
In broad terms, this means we want to conduct ourselves in a way that meets our present needs whilst preserving the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Sustainability can have many strands, typically we hear about economic/financial, social or environmental sustainability.
Around a year ago, we established a diverse group of volunteers with a mandate to make our business more environmentally sustainable.
This group works with appropriate, knowledgeable people, both internal and external, to change our behaviour, workplace practices and occasionally our culture in pursuit of environmental sustainability.
Other important elements of their role include:
- receiving, assessing, prioritising and acting upon ideas,
- informing staff about changes and activities,
- gathering and sharing knowledge,
- encouraging action and awareness, and
- conveying results.
What we have achieved so far
Here are some of the major activities undertaken in Melbourne during 2009.
- An Intranet website was established where staff can review activities, submit suggestions or get ideas about what they can do to behave more sustainably both at home or work;
- We commissioned an environmental sustainability audit to:
- Measure our CO2 emissions using the WBCSD Greenhouse Gas Protocol for Project Accounting (approx 1025 tonnes),
- Rate our office tenancy using the NABERS Energy for Offices rating system (zero stars), and
- Identify actions that we can take to improve upon these;
- We made two simple changes to reduce our carbon emissions by around 133 tonnes/p.a.:
- We switched to 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper for all office printing (nearly 3% reduction in overall emissions),
- We now buy 20% Government-accredited GreenPower (equivalent to 10% overall emissions reduction).
- We introduced co-mingled (i.e., glass, plastic, metal) recycling to reduce waste going into landfill and to reduce harvesting of natural resources. This supplemented existing paper/cardboard recycling;
- Our Green IT policy ensures that:
- All retired equipment is reused, recycled or disposed of responsibly,
- New monitors are Energy Star rated LCD models,
- New desktops/laptop computers are Energy Star rated and EPEAT Gold/Silver Qualified, and
- The introduction of effective soft-proofing within our editorial/production teams has seen a significant reduction in printing.
Since 2009, we've also done the following:
- Conducted a successful mobilemuster, collecting 11 mobile phones (and accessories) for recycling (and by doing so, donated 11 chickens to people living in poverty via Oxfam Unwrapped),
- Sourced long-lasting, quality, reusable KeepCup take-away coffee cups, Envirosax bags and H2Onya drink bottles for staff,
- Established a recycling station where staff can deposit various items for recycling including:
- printer cartridges,
- mobile phiones (and accessories),
- CDs and DVDs,
- Established partners for recycling all the above items,
- Replaced old, inefficient printers with fewer, newer, more efficient, duplex printers and copiers/scanners,
- Started installing timer switches to control power to large electronic devices,
- Almost completed a major server virtualisation implementation that has already reduced our physical server numbers from nearly 30 to under 10 with more to go in the coming months.
What’s our plan?
With so many things we can do to improve our sustainability we’re currently ranking them in terms of how easy they are to achieve, their associated costs and how much they will reduce our impact on the environment. From there we’ll work out what to pursue next.
Areas we’re investigating or already working on include:
- lower energy lighting (motion sensors, halogen replacement, de-lamping),
- installing timer switches for switching off appliances overnight and on weekends,
- using e-catalogues rather than printed catalogues,
- understanding our printers’ sustainability credentials,
- offsetting our airfares and other travel emissions.
After that we’ll examine departmental work practices and work with our other offices, home-based workers, business partners and customers to see what we can do to help/encourage them to be more sustainable.
We have a long way to go but the (environmentally friendly) wheels of change are in motion.
We’re serious about making Cengage not only a sustainable company, a worthwhile goal in itself, but also a place where we as employees can effect change that benefits the environment ,our customers, colleagues and Cengage.