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It's Gold for Lanyon Bowdler's Environmental Initiatives

In just 18 months we have been awarded the Gold Standard in E4Environment’s Green Achiever Scheme

How and why did we do it?  Well, in September 2008 I attended a networking event at Lilleshall, where I listened as Mandy Stoker explained what the scheme was all about.  Unlike some industry standards, Green Achiever appeared to be about taking practical, manageable steps in order to make a difference to such things as waste and energy consumption. 

As a firm, we already had in place a commitment to be as environmentally conscious as we could practicably be.  We were recycling confidential waste (being a law firm there can be quite a bit of that!), making use of double sided printing in order to cut down on paper, remote access enabled working from home and BlackBerry’s made it easy to send and receive emails away from the office. 

But it was becoming apparent that those working for the firm were keen for us to do more, and so sensing an opportunity to develop our environmental efforts – by sensible means, I immediately signed us up.

Our initial audit confirmed that we really were doing quite well.  But what was helpful was the report we were left with.  This report helped us identify what we could do next, and what we would need to do in order to reach the Silver Standard. 

Between September 2008 and April 2009 we implemented a few enhancements, such as setting up a central record of all waste contractors – and ensuring we retained transit notes.  We also formed an Environmental Committee – which meets twice a year, plus Eco Monitors were recruited for each of our offices.  We looked at ways to make it as easy as possible for people to recycle, so collection areas were set up in convenient locations and clearly marked bins placed in kitchens.  Communication is key and so an internal newsletter is circulated after each committee meeting.  An electronic folder containing information about our progress, copies of newsletters and any relevant interesting flyers, is accessible on the computer system.

In April 2009 we were audited for Silver and were delighted to achieve it!  But we realised the work wasn’t going to stop there.  One of the excellent things about Green Achiever is that it is ongoing – you have to be audited annually in order to remain on the Scheme.  Each year you have to demonstrate improvements – in other words you have to commit to progress.

On the highs of achieving Silver, I entered the firm into the Shropshire Business Awards for Best Green Business.  When I received the email advising we had been short-listed I was sitting by a pool in Greece!  The Judges came and met with us early in June, they asked lots of questions, clearly knowing what they were looking for and what commitment they wanted to see.  I felt we had been given the very best opportunity to explain our initiatives.  On Friday 3 July several of us attended the Awards Dinner – when our name was read out as winners of the Best Green Business Award I was speechless, delighted, but totally lost for words.  A fantastic achievement – but the steps we had put in place, were and are steps any business can do.

During the past 12 months we have continued to develop our environmental efforts.  Thermostats have been fitted to heating systems in order to manage them more effectively.  We have reduced the number of physical IT servers with the introduction of virtual ones.  Having collected information regarding our energy consumption over the past 12 months or so, we are now in a position to have benchmarks – the aim being to reduce the energy we use.

We have confirmed our commitment by joining BESST – The Business Environmental Support Scheme for Telford as well as the Legal Sector Alliance.  The firm has always been involved with the local communities and we continue to support local charities, and a wide variety of events from sporting to music and of course The Pride of Shropshire Awards.

But finally, none of this success would have happened without the efforts of everyone who works at Lanyon Bowdler, it is an initiative that has been driven totally by the staff – everyone should feel very proud!

If anyone would like to find out more about this scheme, or to speak with us about what we have done, call me on 01952 224046 or email amanda.jones@lblaw.co.uk.