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For ClientEarth, who uses the power of the law to bring about systemic change to better protect the planet, it was essential that sustainability sat at the heart of its new office design. Through careful planning and assessment of every product, ClientEarth now have an office space that lowers its environmental impact whilst improving the health and wellbeing of its people. We sat down with Karolina Kaczmarek from ClientEarth to find out more about their new space in London’s Drayton Park and discuss what businesses can do to reduce their impact on the environment:
For ClientEarth, the cadence of work has changed since the pandemic struck and so operationally, we had the opportunity to create an office space to reflect this new flexible way of working. The days of occupying every desk are not in our foreseeable future. This means that our new office is filled with flexible, creative and collaborative meeting spaces, allowing staff to innovate. We have also made sure there is space for quiet, independent working and have provided pods and sound-proof rooms for those that need them.
As an environmental law charity, the focus was to ensure that our office reflected our ethos – protecting life on Earth. This meant bringing that vision into the design and configuration of the space. We did this by embodying the same approaches we use to fight climate change across the space. We are tackling pollution by using low VOC paints and A+ rated environmentally efficient flooring such as Modulyss. Biodiversity is protected for by using reclaimed wood for cladding and refurbished furniture. We have also reduced energy consumption and CO2 emissions by having motion-activated LED lighting and energy-efficient mechanical equipment. We ultimately wanted to build an office without leaving a negative impact on the planet. The choices that we made helped us achieved Gold SKA rating for the fit-out.
What small changes can businesses make to make their spaces or the way they operate more sustainable?
One small change is simply to listen to staff as these are the people who will be working, engaging and benefiting from the office the most. As an organisation, we have learnt an abundance from engaging with our Staff Voice group as we were designing the new space because they were able to share some brilliant ideas about how we could improve our overall sustainability and reduce our environmental footprint. For example, through this internal corroboration, we selected paints which were made up of minimal harmful chemicals and chose recycled furniture. It is amazing what results you can achieve when you bring together a diverse group of people.
During the design process, the level of due diligence that should be carried out on products and services for offices spaces became clear. We found that certain labels such as “recycled” or “renewable” are often used for products that are not actually sustainable and so we would recommend that other small businesses research reputable environmental accreditations when choosing service providers to ensure that they meet the same commitment to help protect the environment.
Businesses need to move quickly from just speaking about, or aspiring to be, more sustainable and instead focus on taking tangible and direct actions on reducing energy and waste. Management and staff need to hold themselves to account to ensure that their organisation completely moves away from, or reduces, practices that have a negative impact on the environment. If they don’t, then ClientEarth will certainly be doing all they can to bring the force of the law to hold businesses to account!
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