As a business, we pride ourselves on being a leader in workspace solutions, so it only seemed logical to aim for leadership in sustainability.
We are at an environmental turning point. There is no Planet B. How we do business today will have an impact on generations to come.
What does it meant to be Toitū net carbonzero certified?
Being a net carbonzero certified company means we are actively making changes to reduce our carbon footprint to the lowest amount. We can then offset the remaining carbon emissions with carbon credits as a last resort, as opposed to buying carbon credits without being aware of their impact or having any intention to change.
Being certified by Toitū signifies that our carbon footprint, emission reductions and offsets are all independently verified on an annual basis.
The journey to Toitū accreditation
Initially becoming a net carbonzero certified company seemed daunting and confusing. How could we successfully run a furniture business in these challenging times, while also considering the environmental impacts?
We first met with Toitū Envirocare in October 2020. We realised that to become net carbonzero certified would mean assessing the current business model and changing our strategy and perspective. We needed to determine how to convert our activities into a unit of measurement that could be interpreted by Toitū's software to measure carbon emissions.
As a small niche furniture company we questioned whether going net carbonzero was financially viable. We were in uncharted territory. Where and how would we begin? As a company, we would have to learn new terminology and change our thought processes.
But we decided to commit to the Toitū process. We created a new role and employed a new staff member, Caroline Screen, who was solely dedicated to overseeing this task. She worked closely with our Operations Manager, Pei Tian Leong to pull all of the data and complete the process required to get certified.
In the furniture industry, the manufacturing and moving of furniture make up a large percentage of carbon emissions. To begin with, figuring out accurate carbon emissions was complex and clumsy. The Toitū online reporting programme and spreadsheets were valuable tools. The team became information gatherers, delving into old invoices, freight, waste and power bills, as well as getting data from suppliers.
After much trial and error, along with guidance and support from the Toitū team, we were able to calculate our carbon emissions based on the weight of individual furniture items, their volume, and distance travelled. An eye-opening moment was finally seeing our carbon footprint. From that calculation, we were then able to establish and integrate solutions and goals to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. The current long-term goal is to reduce greenhouse emissions by 30% by 2030.
The knock-on personal effect
Shifting to green has been a group effort. As a team we are excited and proud of our accomplishment. Much of what we’ve learnt will be filtered into our personal lives, helping to reduce our own carbon footprints.
This is just the beginning
The Toitū net carbonzero certification is an ongoing and evolving process of authenticity and transparency. Each year we will measure our progress. We are required to continually measure, manage and reduce emissions to Toitū standards.
It’s a work in progress, constantly being reviewed, updated, modified and shared honestly with Toitū and our customers.
Sustainability is good for the SmartSpace brand and good for the planet!
Recent surveys have shown that New Zealanders want to work for and buy from honest organisations that care about the planet and its people.
SmartSpace is committed to creating a positive reputation of environmental transparency and accountability. We hope to inspire others and attract clients that want to be part of the solution - believing that their small changes can make a big difference and at the same time yield positive financial returns.
A momentum of collective change
We hope that our actions will have a knock-on effect and may encourage our clients, suppliers and other companies to follow suit.
We believe business and the environment can win. Integrating environmental practices into business strategy takes effort and commitment, but the long-term results are going to be very rewarding.