We’re delighted to be named Creative Carbon Scotland’s Member of the Month thanks to our measurement, reporting and reduction of our carbon emissions!
Here in Scotland, we’re grateful to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. And because of this, we’re very aware of the responsibility of everyone in Scotland, and indeed around the world, to ensure that we protect our natural resources. We are also attentive to Creative Scotland’s leadership in identifying Environment as one of their connecting themes. That sends a clear signal for all of us to take greater responsibility for our carbon outputs.
Culture Republic has been working for some time on these issues. We have been members of the Green Arts Initiative since 2015. We take advantage of the Initiative’s monthly newsletters and attend its events in order to keep up to date with possible carbon saving initiatives and related developments/best practices in the sector.
At Culture Republic we are primarily office based. Managing our impact is relatively straightforward compared to other folk in the sector – although we do deliver a range of learning events over the course of the year, which means a certain amount of travel and catering. Living as we do in a post-industrial economy, we are making daily contributions to global warming and we take our role in climate change seriously. For this reason, we are taking steps to monitor and reduce our carbon footprint.
Claim Expenses and Tenant’s Tool
The leadership and tools provided by Creative Carbon Scotland have helped us in our efforts.
In autumn 2016, we moved from using tools from Julie’s Bicycle to using Creative Carbon Scotland’s Tenant’s Energy Toolbox to record electricity, heating and waste and ClaimExpenses.com to track our travel. We recently used this information to complete our Creative Scotland Environmental Return.
With the whole team using ClaimExpenses.com, the work involved in tracking and recording carbon emissions was reduced and it has become easier to see how small changes can make a difference. Since making the switch, we’ve been able to more accurately determine how much carbon we use, and where we’re using, in order to make necessary adjustments to reduce our carbon footprint.
Being members of the Green Arts Initiative and users of the Creative Carbon Scotland suite of tools allowed us to take part in the University of Strathclyde and Carbon Trust Energy and Carbon Audit Programme, which reviewed our carbon/energy footprint and provided us a useful, practical report that identified areas for improvements.
Here at Culture Republic we love data: the information that Tenant’s Tool and ClaimExpenses.com has given us is more detailed and nuanced than data we’ve used before, and we feel more confident working with it.
The two charts above, compare the breakdown of carbon usage in 2016/2017 with that of 2015/2016.
It’s worth mentioning, that because the raw volume of carbon output has changed, and the methods by which we measure it, they can’t all be compared like for like. However, it gives us a good idea of what has changed in a general sense over the last year.
Compared with 2015/2016, our total carbon output increased, from 15.8 tonnes, to 17.19 tonnes. Though this is not ideal, we weren’t that disappointed given there were a number of factors at play that would have otherwise made this an even larger increase in output. Culture Republic’s staff numbers have gone up, as has the number of events we’ve put on; two factors which would naturally precipitate a rise in carbon usage.
However, interestingly for us, the data showed that our rise in emissions is actually as a result of one long-haul flight, which clocked almost 10% of our annual carbon emissions all by itself. Without this outlier, the volume of carbon used had actually reduced since 2015/2016 – encouraging news for the team.
Breaking it down
Aside from our rogue flight, here’s some more general information that we’ve been able to garner about our energy use and carbon output:
- Our three main areas of carbon consumption are travel, energy and waste.
- As the charts above show, the total carbon usage for energy was divided fairly equally between gas and electricity. Armed with this knowledge, we can begin to consider proactive ways to reduce this in coming years.
- By using ClaimExpenses.com, we can see how the transport contributions are broken down.
- Transport emissions account for approximately 26% of our total carbon usage. Unfortunately, due to the nature of having two offices, and not always being able to rely on public transport, it is difficult for us to reduce these figures.
- The remaining figures come from waste, which we have successfully reduced from 0.47 tons in 2015/2016, to just over 0.1 tons in 2016/2017. We hope to further improve this figure in 2017/2018.
Taking things further
As well as using the tools on offer from Creative Carbon Scotland, we have adopted initiatives to help further increase our carbon efficiency in coming years. These are small active steps that all add up to larger impacts and include:
- The appointment of Culture Republic’s Green Champion*, who takes ownership of keeping an eye on our carbon outputs and helping us find the most carbon efficient solutions for our carbon impacts;
- Stationery/office printing – use of recycled paper for copying/printing; printing only when necessary and doubled sided, black & white as default;
- Event catering – working with caterers to ensure food/drink can be safely presented without excessive use of packaging;
- Suppliers – endeavouring to collate orders and minimise collection/delivery journeys;
- Office furniture – sourcing good quality second hand office furniture and ensuring any items no longer required are also passed on for further use or disposed of by recyclable means;
- Team knowledge sharing to raise awareness and help ensure adoption of recommended practices by all;
- Updated signage on our bins to remind people to reduce waste, and recycle where possible. We hope to improve on our fantastic 1:1 recycling to waste ratio, to a target of 2:1 by the end of 2017/2018 – 2 bags of recycling for every one bag of waste;
- Ensuring that electricity is turned off overnight and that heaters and radiators are switched off when windows are open. (We have learned, informally, that this a common problem in our building.) Given our usual weather, this may involve more closed windows than turned-off radiators.
Due to our position as tenants within a larger shared building, there are limitations to the steps we can take to reduce our energy usage. But rather than be discouraged by this, we are instead working together to be as diligent as possible in those areas over which we do have control, particularly in waste management.
With the support and information from Creative Carbon Scotland, we plan to continue doing our bit to protect Scotland, and the wider world, for many years to come. We look forward to having two years of comparable data in April 2018 and checking in on our progress.
*Culture Republic’s inaugural Green Champion was Elaine Gallagher, my predecessor. Significant thanks and recognition are due to her for getting these efforts implemented within our offices. As the new Green Champion I am building on this foundation and hoping to improve our figures over the coming years.
CREATIVE CARBON SCOTLAND
Creative Carbon Scotland work with artists, organisations and venues interested in how environmental sustainability connects with their work, provide training in carbon measurement, reporting and reduction. They also work on policy and strategy with ‘influencing organisations’ which shape the landscape through their policies, their funding, the premises or resources they provide and the regulations or guidance they shape.