BT is serious about climate change. The company has set itself an ambitious target to slash its carbon footprint by 80 per cent by 2020. But those leading BT’s sustainable approach know they can’t do it without the help of staff. That’s why they have encouraged the creation of Carbon Clubs across the company. These groups of like-minded people come together to pursue ideas for carbon reduction at home, at work, or in the local community.
The Carbon Clubs have proved such a hit other organisations are now sitting up and taking notice. In early 2010, the City of Edinburgh Council became the first UK local authority to embrace the BT Carbon Club scheme. With around 20,000 employees the City of Edinburgh Council is one of the largest local authorities in Scotland.
Councillor Jenny Dawe, leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, confirms: “We’re committed to reducing our carbon footprint to zero by 2050. That means putting good environmental practice at the core of everything we do.”
The idea for Carbon Clubs first came from a group of BT colleagues who wanted a way to work together and share ideas to help tackle climate change. BT supported the initiative and a formal programme was launched in the summer of 2007. Since then more than 130 clubs have been set up and around 14,000 pledges have been made.
The key thing is that employees don’t have to be experts. Anyone can help make a difference. With no rules or restrictions the clubs are self-managed and typically involve up to eight people. BT has created guidance material to help clubs get established and start to deliver real results. Some clubs are virtual with colleagues meeting through BT flexible working facilities such as conferencing services or a special discussion forum. Others meet face-to-face.
To help establish the programme in Edinburgh, BT provided training and help with employee communications. BT also designed and hosts a website to enable carbon club members to access a wealth of information and energy saving tips, build their own micro-sites, and pledge actions that will reduce impact on the environment. Each club was free to focus on any area of interest.
One area of activity was at the council’s headquarters at Waverley Court. Highlights include the Homebase 2 Carbon Club, which focused on paperless meetings, and the City Development Carbon Club, which championed reduced taxi use.
One of the most significant Waverley Court achievements was made by the rEDUce Carbon Club (The Economic Development Unit) that looked at print costs and volumes.
The Council and BT also erected an environmental pledge “tree” in the foyer of Waverley Court. Over a two-week period employees were encouraged to attach their own pledges and carbon reduction ideas to it.
The Council is now reviewing the findings from the Waverley Court pilot and the suggestions on the pledge tree before agreeing next steps.
Said Jenny Dawe: “Working with BT in rolling out Carbon Clubs in Edinburgh offers our people the chance to make a real difference.”