Saving the environment without costing the Earth

2010 saw the nationwide launch of the 10:10 campaign. Derived from an idea forged between Fanny Armstrong and The Age of Stupid, the 10:10 campaign was launched on 1st September 2009. The aim of the movement was to encourage individuals and companies to reduce their own emissions (based on gas, electricity and oil usage, as well as international flights) by 10% in one year - a more realistic target than those proposed by the faltering enthusiasms of the international community. 10:10 has now become an international campaign, involving over 116,000 individuals, businesses and organisations throughout 186 countries, of which Temple Translations Ltd became another member in February 2010.


So why did we bother? At Temple Translations we have started to develop our own CSR policies, of which our environmental impact has become one of the core projects. Particularly being based in the centre of London, our effect on the local environment has direct and tangible consequences for fellow Londoners. Increasing temperatures, pollution and population within the city highlight the need for city-based companies to tackle rising emissions and help improve the environment not only on a global scale, but also on their doorstep.


So how did we do? Measuring from February 2010 to February 2011, we managed to reduce our consumption of gas and electricity by 37%. Without meaning to blow our own trumpet, this was a significant reduction and showed just how successful you can be by taking simple steps. However, that doesn't mean that this was achieved without some thinking and effort behind the project.


Firstly, there were a few obstacles and challenges to overcome in order to get the project started. Trying to reach the target without spending, coupled with the existing technology in the building were some one of the biggest challenges. In all the key areas within the Translation House, that is the bathrooms, kitchen and some hallways, there are already motion sensors to automatically activate lights in order to avoid wasting energy. Furthermore, the building itself, is a listed building with little insulation and a simple central heating system, making a good level of energy efficiency harder to achieve. Finally, another problem to overcome was expansion within the company, not only in the London office, but the increased focus on the New York office (involving flights to NYC). So it soon became apparent that in order to make any energy savings, the tactics were going to have to involve informing and educating the staff, as well as bribery by food.


As such, a presentation was held to highlight to staff how each individual can help to reduce energy wastage. This comprised (not exclusively) helping people to change their energy saving settings on their PCs, highlighting the importance of turning off lights and electrical equipment such as the TV in the lounge, as well as persuading people to avoid taking the highly-inefficient lift and take the stairs instead. Equally, trying to persuade people to turn down the thermostats on their radiators in the winter and wear a jumper instead of complaining about being cold in a t-shirt, and avoid using the air conditioning units in the summer where possible, were other major points.


However, stopping at the presentation was not enough, as this was followed up by posters placed by switches and the lift to remind people to put into practice the energy saving tips they had learnt. As everyone knows, however, keeping the initial momentum going and encouraging people to stick to the procedures they have learnt, requires more than gentle reminders. In charge of the project was the aptly named Captain Planet, who had to keep people on track by monitoring the thermostats, AC units and PC settings throughout the building, and bribing with cheesecake - every few months the results of the most successful departments were released with the promised prospect of cheesecake as a reward.


In the end, through careful monitoring of the electricity and gas usage, and despite not being able to reduce the number of long-haul flights to NYC, Temple Translations beat the target of 10% more than three times over. However, this does not mean we will stop here. It is important to maintain and improve on this progress for the future of the company. 2011 will see the implementation of a CSR policy intended to improve the energy efficiency year on year (although subsequent savings will not be as big as those achieved in 2010), and the staff at Temple Translations are looking forward to the challenge.


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