At Engineers Without Borders UK we take the impact we have on people and our planet seriously. We have no Planet B and time is running out, to address this we are committed to running our organisation in the most globally responsible way possible. Engineers Without Borders UK recognises our responsibility to lead by example. As a team we continue to question our current practices and decisions. We are committed to continuing this constructive behaviour, holding each other accountable to instil greener habits in our day to day operation.
Below are the pledges we wish to make, inspired by the Global Climate Strike, followed by details of the Global Responsibility Policy we will act upon immediately.
Our Pledges for 2019
Following a review, we pledge to improve our global responsibility policy in the following ways:
- To switch our finance processes to digital to reduce paper waste within the next six months.
- To monitor and review our own carbon footprint as an organisation annually.
- To serve a vegan/ vegetarian menu at our catered events to reduce meat consumption and ensure tap water is provided, rather than bottled water with immediate effect.
- To monitor our data usage, organise our files better and cleanse any surplus or duplicate information at minimum on an annual basis.
- To limit flights to a minimum and look into all options to carbon-offset each trip with immediate effect.
- To encourage our community to continuously look to improve the footprint of their organisations.
Engineers Without Borders UK operates from an office at The Foundry, London. The building is a RIBA award winning, BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated centre in Vauxhall run by The Ethical Property Company, who run shared facilities in a sustainable way. This includes using ecological cleaning products throughout the facility, maintaining a rooftop garden on the building and using a comfort control system throughout the building instead of heaters and air conditioning units.
The Ethical Property company carry out regular maintenance checks on the building, which is developed and managed to a high environmental standard (BREEAM). All the windows are double-glazed, and the entire building is thermally tested every year to monitor energy losses.
We are proud to have an abundance of plants in our office, cleaning our air and benefitting our staff.
The Foundry uses renewable energy sources/providers where possible. The office lighting at is motion activated, ensuring that no lights are left on unnecessarily overnight or out of hours.
Across our organisation, staff use laptops instead of desktop machines, as they require less energy and we pledge to be more vigilant in switching off unnecessary monitors, laptops and electrical devices instead of leaving them on standby. Reducing energy consumption will also be aided by unplugging laptops that are charged at 100% and switching off machines instead of to sleep mode overnight. We will strive to use cabled alternatives to limit lithium battery usage, but where required we pledge to use rechargeable batteries.
We do not drink bottled water within our office environment; all drinking water is obtained from a tap or water fountain in reusable glasses or bottles to limit plastic waste. The Foundry has sinks to wash kitchen items and does not have any dishwashers within the kitchen areas to minimise water waste. On site, all staff are encouraged to keep showering to 4 minutes.
This year to reduce our paper waste, Engineers Without Borders UK have switched its HR and record keeping to the digital platform, Bright HR. We are in the process of doing the same for our finance and expenses processes to reduce the need for paper receipts, statements and expense forms. For items that still require printing, we will switch to low grade paper or reusing scrap paper for internal documents and fully recycled paper for external.
We have bins throughout the offices to recycle paper, cardboard, plastic and glass. There is also a composting bin for food waste. The organisations who are in residence use an internal notice board to donate unwanted furniture and equipment to other offices if they no longer need the items, ensuring no large items are thrown away unnecessarily.
Food and drink
Engineers Without Borders UK is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and food waste during catered events. Where possible, we commit to serving a fully vegan or vegetarian menu in order to limit mass meat consumption. In addition, we will make every effort to calculate the most accurate number of attendees to limit food waste.
In our office at The Foundry we use steel cutlery, ceramic mugs, plates and bowls which can be washed and reused daily instead of disposables. Going forward, Engineers Without Borders UK commits to only purchasing Fairtrade tea and coffee for staff refreshments. As a team we will also strive to make more of an effort to make cakes and biscuits for special occasions, instead of buying them to minimise non-recyclable packaging.
External lunches are already limited due to budget, but we pledge to find more innovative ways to mark these occasions, for instance installing a bring a dish style lunch. Several members of our team have individually pledged to bring lunch from home more often to reduce single-use packaging.
To reduce our data footprint, we have started to use Slack for internal messaging and information transfer, as this uses less data than internal email and reduces our carbon footprint as an organisation. Engineers Without Borders UK website was designed by Wholegrain digital who “follow a unique “efficient by design” process to craft sites that are performant,
accessible, optimised for search and friendly to the environment.” In August 2019, we also updated and streamlined our website to reduce the data we were using to house our information.
All of our organisational files and documents are stored within the cloud, contributing a smaller data and carbon footprint when compared to a larger server, however we wish to increase the efficiency of this. We pledge to monitor our data usage, organise our files better and cleanse any surplus or duplicate information.
It is requested that staff utilise an ethical search engine whilst at work- such as Ecosia or Blackle to provide to a meaningful cause and save energy whilst using the internet.
Services and Supplies
Should Engineers Without Borders UK deem it appropriate to send cards or gifts to individuals or organisations, we will obtain these items from ethical sources, or charitable organisations and strive to ensure that they are the most sustainable gifts and cards we can source.
We currently have an ethical investment within our organisational portfolio. Engineers Without Borders UK staff pension scheme is managed by B&CE which is a not- for-profit company and the Trustee of The Peoples Pension. They take social ethical and ethical investment very seriously and aim to be responsible investors of members’ assets and believe that investment decisions should reflect environmental, social and governance considerations. More information regarding The People’s Pension Policy on responsible investment can be found here.
In 2019, Engineers Without Borders UK purchased an Ecobanner to be used at public events. It is made of recycled cardboard and will be used instead of a plastic equivalent. We have also switched to recycled or bamboo card for our promotional materials such as postcards, annual review and business cards. To limit paper waste further, we have added QR codes to our business cards to enable digital transfer of contact details should that be appropriate. Due to the nature of our work we are aware we use flipcharts, post-its and paper for meetings and training sessions, but we are committed to being more mindful about how and when we use these. Where possible we are switching to dry-wipe boards as an alternative.
Our office is located within zone 2 of central London, making it easy for staff and visitors to use public transport to get to us. This is promoted by the organisation to keep CO2e emissions down, in addition to running a cycle to work scheme for employees to encourage them to cycle to the office. Our travel and finance policy details that for all UK based travel for business, public transport must be the preferential option.
Engineers Without Borders UK wishes to hold more virtual meetings and facilitate skills matching to eliminate the need for flights in order to achieve collaboration.
Our staff have measured and recorded their carbon footprint using the ‘WWF Footprint Calculator’ and as an organisation we want to continue to monitor and reduce our carbon footprint. We will update the information every quarter and discuss ways we can reduce our carbon footprints even further.
Our Big Dreams
This year Engineers Without Borders UK turned 15 years old. Over those 15 years we have evolved a great deal embedding positive habits in our day to day practice, but there are still areas to develop. We have some great aims for the future or our organisation, whilst always keeping global responsibility at the heart of our practice. Below are some longer-term targets for us to aim for to improve our global responsibility policy further:
- Change all catering suppliers to non-plastic.
- Influencing the wider industry and changing attitudes towards sustainability.
- Pay to offset all of our essential flights.
- Consider innovative ways to reduce energy usage with fellow tenants.
- Monitor our community impact (day-to-day actions) on people and industry.
- Involve our partners, movement and members to influence wider change.