Can a company become a sustainability superstar in just one year? If you talk to the team at Finder, the answer is an emphatic yes.
Just one year ago, no one at comparison site Finder was responsible for driving the company’s sustainability agenda. A year later, Finder is the CitySwitch National New Signatory of the Year.
When Finder appointed Ben King to head up its sustainability and corporate social responsibility agenda in 2018, there were plenty of “quick wins, simple fixes and a lot of low-lying fruit,” he says.
“We’d been on the same energy plan for 10 years and were paying way too much money. We switched to the Energy Locals carbon neutral product and immediately saved around 20 per cent on our bills while reducing our carbon footprint,” Ben, Finder’s CSR & Public Affairs Manager, explains.
“We implemented recycling within our tenancy to match the bins at the bottom of the building and our recycling rates more than doubled virtually overnight” Ben explains.
Ben has helped establish several partnerships. One with OzHarvest now makes best use of leftover free lunches that Finder people are lucky to enjoy each workday. Another with social enterprise and coffee change-maker Kua was applauded as CitySwitch National Partnership Project of the Year.
“Like a lot of offices, we have a real coffee culture at Finder. Kua comes in every two weeks to bring us freshly roasted beans and collects our coffee grounds for composting in community gardens. It’s a small thing but we are very proud of this project,” Ben adds.
Finder also impressed the CitySwitch judges for using its scale to integrate sustainability into its new Finder Green sustainability hub and by introducing sustainability ratings on the Finder energy comparison tables.
“Finder’s team hasn’t just applied sustainability to their own operations, but also to their business delivery to engage customers,” says CitySwitch Program Manager, Kimberly Camrass.
The inspiring case studies at this year’s CitySwitch Awards just keep coming.
National Signatory of the Year (more than 2,000 sqm) went to Commonwealth Bank of Australia for setting ambitious onsite generation and renewables targets, with the bank sourcing 65 per cent of its national electricity needs from renewable energy from January 2019.
The Australian Federal Police was highly commended in the same category for opting for energy efficiency upgrades, rather than carbon offsets to lower its environmental impact and cut energy costs.
National Signatory of the Year (under 2000 sqm) went to Cundall. The judges applauded the consultancy firm’s “holistic approach” to carbon management – which includes behaviour change, energy efficiency projects, renewable generation and carbon offsetting as a last resort – as the “gold standard”.
Steensen Varming, which took home the NSW Signatory of the Year (under 2,000) was highly commended nationally for its impressive waste reduction efforts. By collaborating with the building manager and neighbouring tenants, Steensen Varming has amplified its efforts, mentoring and supporting other companies and encouraging employees to spread the message beyond the office.
ANZ was highly commended in the National New Signatory of the Year category for an array of solar and waste projects creating impact and engaging employees.
“In many large office buildings, tenancies can account for around fifty per cent of energy use – so the work of CitySwitch Signatories really matters,” Kimberly says.
CitySwitch now represents nearly 900 offices around Australia, or 15 per cent of Australia’s office space.
Collectively, CitySwitch Signatories have chalked up a massive 923,671 tonnes of carbon abatement over the last year while also working to eliminate single use plastics, embrace the circular economy, compete in the Better Buildings Cup pilot and find ‘beyond the bin’ solutions.
“CitySwitch has created a powerful network that uses collective influence to drive climate action,” Kimberley adds.
“CitySwitch is a groundswell of collective local action, partnership and leadership that involves more than one million people and three billion dollars of spending power.
“All of this year’s winners are delivering concrete action and a blueprint for a positive, regenerative future – and their example will act as inspiration as we redouble our efforts in 2020.”