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Award-winning green roofs

Organic Roofs Environmental Impact Update (Spring 2014)

As spring begins to move toward summer it seems a good time to update you with some of the things we have been working on over the winter to improve our environmental impact as a small business.  In line with our last environmental impact policy of 2013 we have been concentrating on the areas of ethical financial arrangements, carbon balancing, transportation, goods procurement, energy use and waste as well as continually working towards the best possible communication of our environmental objectives with our suppliers and clients.

As spring begins to move toward summer it seems a good time to update you with some of the things we have been working on over the winter to improve our environmental impact as a small business.  In line with our last environmental impact policy of 2013 we have been concentrating on the areas of ethical financial arrangements, carbon balancing, transportation, goods procurement, energy use and waste as well as continually working towards the best possible communication of our environmental objectives with our suppliers and clients.

To summarise, we have:

  • Been certified carbon neutral by our carbon balancing partners at C-Level
  • Moved banking to Triodos Ethical Banking and insurance to Naturesave
  • Reduced mileage and continued to monitor for electric vehicle feasibility assessment
  • Begun work to create a hub that will enable our clients to cultivate a sharing network of idea, inspiration, seeds and suggestions
  • Encouraging suppliers to use lower-impact packaging and finding homes for waste
  • Supporting partner organisation promoting water awareness in the local community

Here at Organic Roofs we want to build resilience into communities, both through our diverse planting plans supporting biodiversity in our plant communities, but also by strengthening relationships between people in the human communities we are part of.  Therefore we are developing a new forum for clients with green roofs to share information and inspiration around green roofs in particular and related environmental issues more generally. We also hope it gives us a chance to stay in touch with our clients (and their roofs), and that it will provide an an opportunity for our lovely clients to find out how each others roofs are doing, discuss plants that work and don’t, and generally cultivate a friendly network of likeminded pioneers.

In the wider world, we are now registered as a carbon neutral enterprise through CLevel, a local carbon balancing organisation, and in collaboration with them are supporting the Khasi Hills Community in India with their reforestation projects.  We will of course continue to try wherever possible to reduce our actual carbon emissions but we are glad we have taken this important first step. And finally, we have now been accepted by Triodos Ethical Banking for current account banking and have switched to Naturesave as our insurance provider.

In the area of travel and transportation within the business we are currently exploring exchanging our diesel operated vehicle for two hybrid electric vans in order to address our fuel consumption and reduce carbon emissions.  Niall, Gareth, Joe, Stella and Rupert – our green roof installers – have been recording mileage as they move around London and the South (as far afield as Ilfracombe this year!) so we have a good baseline of information on which to base a decision whether to invest in electric vehicales. On top of this we have also made extra efforts to coordinate our installs and maintenance visits geographically in order to reduce fuel consumption.  Additionally Lee Evans, director, and Dora Clouttick, our new staff member, are now cycling both to and from work and between meetings where possible.  Looking fit, doing our bit and feeling good!

To address environmental challenges with our goods procurement, we have been in discussions with suppliers to encourage them to switch to biodegradable bags, where possible, and to look at using the existing non-biodegradable bags multiple times at minimum. In the interim we have organised collection of some of the non-biodegradable bags by our colleagues at the Brighton Wood Recycling Project who will be re-using them to sell firewood.  The remainder were donated to The Waste House, the Kevin McLeod/BBM Architecture/Brighton University project which has built an entire house of waste materials. We continue to use Good Energy as an energy supplier who source all their energy from certified renewable sources, predominantly wind.  We have dreams of our own windmill onsite, one day . . .

With modern green roof technology there are certain materials that we use at some stages of installation that are hard to recycle, particularly EPDM, our waterproofing material of choice.  To mitigate this impact on the environment we are donating bags of the offcuts of EPDM to The Waste House – it was used for sound insulation in the floors apparently –   We also give all empty bags from substrate supply, biodegradable and not to The Brighton Wood Store for re-use as well as any extra off-cuts.

This year we have supported the new Steyning Water Cafe in awareness raising around storm water run-off mitigation, a local charity exploring options for meeting recent flooding challenges in the UK.  There is only going to be more of it with our climate becoming more unpredictable, so getting green roofs -which hold 50% of the water that hits them and slows the runoff rate for the rest – on buildings wherever possible should a top priority.

Got a similar project? We'd love to help

Drop us a line at

enquiries@organicroofs.co.uk

or give us a call on

0203 828 7505