To create a better world where communities can thrive, WSP UK made the bold commitment to go carbon neutral by 2025. We regularly help our clients to achieve carbon neutrality, and as a business we are making WSP’s business operations Future Ready, taking responsibility for our emissions and practising what we preach. Our strategy to go carbon neutral focuses on two areas: business travel and office energy, and in 2018, a series of policies and initiatives were launched.
To promote less travel, the Travel Choices Hierarchy and Carbon Levy on domestic flights were launched, encouraging staff to choose Skype over unnecessary business travel. The levy raised would contribute to the WSP Foundation pot. To support the travel reduction programme across the UK, Strategic Business Unit champions were also introduced to help track carbon performance and promote greener travel behaviours within the business.
In support of these travel policies and pledges, a taskforce was created to undertake research and implement a UK-wide communications and engagement strategy. The primary objective was to raise awareness of the carbon neutral strategy so a number of complimentary initiatives were introduced:
- The Carbon Neutral Strategy was given an easily identifiable brand
- A Carbon Neutral hub was launched on the staff intranet, providing relevant and accurate information about the strategy, who is involved and where to find out more.
- A quarterly programme of Carbon Conversations, featuring the Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) Leadership team, experts in the environment and sustainability field, and members of the WSP UK Professional Growth Network. Key to these 30-minute conversations was the use of video and audience participation to showcase the potential of video conferencing.
- A Carbon Ideas Bank allowing staff to submit carbon reduction or sustainability ideas from across the business. These ideas are then assessed by the CSR Leadership team for implementation within the carbon neutral strategy.
- A pilot Low Carbon Day was launched in the WSP Cambridge office, encouraging face to face interaction on the target. The day included presentations from the CSR team, a Carbon quiz, low carbon snacks and a smoothie bike.
People have engaged well with the initiatives, and they have prompted much more discussion about the Carbon Neutral strategy around the business. We have seen over 200 ideas submitted to the Carbon Ideas Bank, some of which are have been included in the UK strategy. Positive feedback was also received for the pilot Low Carbon Day and the first Carbon Conversations, where more than 170 colleagues joined from across WSP, with one attendee stating it was ‘probably the best internal lunch and learn I’ve attended’.
There is still more to do but we have established a foundation for staff engagement and greater visibility around the target - which we are building on in 2019 to ensure we meet our ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2025.
By John Clark, Julia Chambers and Deepa Nair - WSP