Mason Infotech achieve 'Carbon Neutral' and look for more 'Positive' impact this year.
Right at the very start of lockdown last year, out on a local walk, I stood on a bridge over a totally empty dual carriageway. It reminded me of New Zealand, where I worked on a farm many years ago (Nightcaps, Southland). If we had one car a day pass the farm, it had been a busy day!
A few weeks later I received an invite to attend a short course at Nottingham Trent University entitled SAIL, 'Sustainability and Inclusive Leadership'. It's all about increasing sustainability post covid and aimed at local SME's. I put it off the first time, mainly because of the arrival of Bert, our new pup! So glad I took up the offer second time around. It has changed the way I view the world. Could a small SME really make a difference when it comes to climate change?
The course delivered the knowledge in bucket loads. UN's 17 sustainable goals, circular economies, poverty, global warming, the food we eat, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon literacy and more. The course bought home the urgency and complexity of the issue, and the need to rethink the economic models we are familiar with today.
When I announced my involvement in the course and my new found knowledge to colleagues, I had no problem selling the concepts. They were already more aware of the need to act than I had been! The Covid pandemic had started to make some choices for us. We were all working from home, site visits and on premise client meetings had been eliminated completely, removing all need to travel, which would certainly help us contribute toward sustainability.
Completion of the course sparked the desire to see if we could achieve carbon reduction in the business. Would it be possible for us to achieve 'Carbon Neutral' at some point in the future? We needed to determine some facts and figures to help us understand where we were and what to do.
A timely email from Nottingham University arrived in the inbox. The Energy Institute at the University were able to offer exactly the service we needed. The Energy Innovation and Collaboration team were able to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions for our business, both for our normal office and home office models. After a significant amount of information gathering, their informed estimate sees Mason Infotech reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from nearly 9,600 kg CO2e per annum to just over 1,500 kg CO2e per annum. A remarkable saving of over 8,000 kg CO2e per annum!
A sizeable proportion of the reduction has come from the total removal of the commute and the need to operate an office. Further savings have come from changes in our working practice. Initially forced upon us by Covid, but now entrenched in our new norm is the reduced need for face to face meetings and site visits.
Can Mason Infotech reach its goal of being 'Carbon Neutral' by the end of the year. Well, we will have to 'offset' but our calculations show we need to plant as few as 160 trees to achieve this. 'Carbon Neutral' seemed like a very significant milestone when we first looked. Now it feels more like the starting point of our journey. The line between our personal and professional values is interwoven, they need to align to make any of this work. As we plan for our new business year we will be incorporating all we know into our thinking. We will keep working on providing as much remote support as we can. We have made the work from home a permanent feature, our business does not, at this time need an office. We are using electric vehicles, the tram, trains, electric bikes (and scooters!) to get around! We are offering a disposal service to clients to ensure old appliances are properly recycled. We are confident there is more to consider as we grow.
As a small business, involved in the delivery of a service, we are fortunate that we are able to make these changes very quickly. Other businesses will have more to consider and change to reach a similar result. There are many other factors to be considered too. Working from home or even at a remote office presents major challenges for some individuals and families. If we adopt a hybrid model of home/office working as many seem to be advocating, there are major consequences for those involved in supporting the commute and office working community. City and Town centres will change.
We are looking forward to developing the business as we continue our sustainability journey. It feels like we have only just started. And finally, a massive thank you to all involved in the delivery of the SAIL course at Nottingham Trent University for educating us, and to the Energy and Innovation Team at the University of Nottingham for helping us to measure our efforts. Without your support, we would not be where we are today.