Live as You Learn
White’s commitment to reduce environmental and climate impact is embedded in our projects, but it is also important that these ambitions are reflected in our own operations.
Reviewing our 2012-2016 Business plan, we can state that we have been successful in reaching our environmental goals. Our overall target has been to reduce the carbon emissions from our own activities, such as travel, energy, purchases and waste. We have gradually reduced our CO2 emissions since 2014 (when we started our calculations for carbon emissions). In two years, we have reduced our emissions by 62 percent per full-time employee. This result has come about through making conscious decisions and prioritising environmentally sound alternatives. For example, we only purchase green electricity, we prioritise electrical rental cars and taxis, and we have a policy to only serve vegetarian food at internal events and lunches (in 2016, 92 percent were vegetarian).
However, the most important measure for reducing our carbon emissions has been the reduction of national and international business flights. Our travel policy is clear. In 2016, this resulted in White receiving train company SJ's environmental award. In 2016 80 percent of the journeys within Sweden and between Sweden, Norway and Denmark were made by train. It is difficult to avoid flights for longer distances, but sometimes a combination of flight and train can be a solution. Using video and teleconferencing more extensively has also reduced travelling, but in addition has saved personal time for employees.
The major reason for the decrease in our carbon emissions is that our study tours have been focused on the Nordic countries for the last two years, instead of places further away. We think it is important to explore other countries, but we will strive to find the knowledge and insight we need in different ways each year to keep our environmental impact low over time.
We always offset our carbon emissions for travel. Through this offsetting, we contributed with 133,100 kronor to the Kariba Forest Protection project in Zimbabwe in 2016.
As a company, we also want to encourage and promote sustainable behaviours among our employees. Across our offices, we arrange activities such as free bike workshops, bike challenge competitions, clothes swapping events and sports competitions. Some offices offer electrical bikes; others provide travel cards for public transport. We also use our offices as test labs for environmentally friendly initiatives such as placing bee hives on the office roof, urban farming or testing out green walls.
We also follow up our projects to measure impact. We are ambitious, but we are not always in control of project outcomes. In 2012, we set a goal that by 2016 all our major projects would be planned and designed according to an environmental certification system. The trend has been positive, but appears to have plateaued in 2016. 36 percent of our major projects are designed according to an environmental certification (47 percent in 2015). We have not been able to verify whether this is an industry-wide trend or if it is a coincidence for White this year. It appears, however, that our target may have been set a little too high and that the building sector itself is not aiming towards 100 percent certified buildings.
For 2017-2019 we are aiming for climate neutrality both in our business and in our projects.
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