I’ve been working at Companies House for just over a year now. And when I was given the opportunity to work with the environment in our Estates team, I jumped at the chance.
The environment is important to us
All of Companies House’s strategic goals have one thing in common: they consider the environment.
Whether it’s delivering a great customer experience through our brilliant services, or making sure the data on our register inspires trust and confidence, we consider the environment in everything we do.
“But how do you do this?”, I hear you ask.
We use an Environment Management System (EMS) which allows us to monitor all of our activities so that we can make sure we’re compliant with all environmental legislation. This EMS has held the ISO 14001 standard for 17 years, an internationally recognised environment management standard.
We’ve made great strides towards meeting our Greening Government Commitments (GGC) and we’re well on our way to achieving the targets set for 2020 to 2025.
Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Companies House was seeing a downward trend with its carbon footprint:
- 1,850 CO2 tonnes, 2017 to 2018
- 1,667 CO2 tonnes, 2018 to 2019
- 1,369 CO2 tonnes, 2019 to 2020
What we’ve done so far
This brilliant progress is testament to the culture of sustainability at Companies House and the hard work put in by the Environment Management Team and the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Some great initiatives have been executed across Companies House contributing to these positive results:
If you’ve ever been to our headquarters on Crown Way in Cardiff, you’ll know that it’s a pretty large building. And with large buildings come a lot of lights! Gradually, the old lights have been replaced with more energy efficient LED bulbs along with sensors to ensure that they do not stay on longer than required.
These changes have had a positive impact on our consumption and forgetting to turn the lights off on your way out the door has become a thing of the past. Just look at the results we’ve had so far.
Our electricity associated carbon dioxide emissions were:
- 1,445 CO2 tonnes, 2017 to 2018
- 1,309 CO2 tonnes, 2018 to 2019
- 1,065 CO2 tonnes, 2019 to 2020
We love our hot beverages at Companies House. Before the pandemic, we regularly used to see staff in the office kitchens grabbing their morning coffee or a cuppa, so you can imagine how many kettles it took to keep our workforce going.
Now we have ZIP Taps that provide ice-cold or boiling water near instantaneously. These taps not only use less energy, but also reduce the amount of water we use. No more guessing how much water to put in the kettle!
As with most large old buildings, it takes a lot of energy to keep our Crown Way office warm. To lower our reliance on gas, we’ve installed a biomass boiler to power the heating system by burning wood pellets, which is more efficient than conventional gas boilers. We also make sure to purchase our pellets from reputable sustainable sources.
Our gas associated carbon dioxide emissions were:
- 97.52 CO2 tonnes, 2017 to 2018
- 95.64 CO2 tonnes, 2018 to 2019
- 89.09 CO2 tonnes, 2019 to 2020
Part of our culture of sustainability includes our attitude towards business travel. Pre-COVID saw a number of our staff move between offices, meet with external partner organisations and so on. During this time, we introduced a new travel portal which asked more questions about whether travel was an absolute necessity and the means of travel needed.
This platform, along with our ever-improving IT solutions (like Microsoft Teams, Skype) and data sharing platforms (OneDrive and SharePoint) meant our need to travel for business declined. Pre-COVID, it had decreased by 30%.
Our business travel associated carbon dioxide emissions were:
- 82.62 CO2 tonnes, 2017 to 2018
- 57.32 CO2 tonnes, 2018 to 2019
- 55.44 CO2 tonnes, 2019 to 2020
With over 1,000 people working at our Crown Way office (before the pandemic, of course), a lot of waste is generated. We have a bin for everything! The Environmental Working Group has encouraged a culture of reducing waste and recycling to great effect.
The amount of waste we generate is dropping and in the financial year 2019 to 2020, Companies House only sent 1.62 tonnes of waste to landfill. The rest is either recycled or incinerated with energy reclamation.
Our total waste was:
- 242.91 tonnes, 2017 to 2018
- 242.22 tonnes, 2018 to 2019
- 215.82 tonnes, 2019 to 2020
Removal of one-use plastic
There has been a great push to remove one-time use plastic from Government Estates. Companies House has made great progress towards achieving this goal. We've replaced all plastic cutlery and cups with more sustainable alternatives.
Carbon Capture Programme
Through our work with the APS group and the Carbon Capture programme, from January to December 2020, we've helped to create 1,463 metres squared of new native woodland in the UK, removing 58,520kg of carbon dioxide from the air.
On our way to net zero
If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it's our ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment.
New ways of working have been quickly introduced to great effect, and while the immediate effect on Companies House’s carbon footprint is uncertain, it has provided an opportunity to take stock of our least-efficient aspects.
This will inform our future environmental strategy, allowing us to meet our Greening Government Commitments and continue our path to net zero.
Read more about our strategy to minimise the negative impacts on our environment.