Smart strategies for going green
Property & Facilities Manager, AA Insurance
As a company, we’re focused on ensuring that we’re doing our part for the environment, especially with a team of over 700 staff. Moving our Auckland head office, including over 500 people, gave us the opportunity to look at what’s working, what isn’t and what we can focus on in the future.
As Kermit the Frog says, it’s not easy being green - or going green for that matter - but you have to start somewhere. We initially took small steps, talking to staff about plastic recycling and encouraging the use of reusable drink bottles. Our efforts towards providing a greener environment have since gone further, as we look for new ways of doing things.
It started with our move to AA Insurance House; we were conscious of the opportunity to improve environmental footprint. It was decided early on that we would be dedicated to managing our resources and the waste we produce. These are some of our learnings.
We made the most of the opportunities a new build presented, which basically looks after itself, like the energy efficient lighting, appliances, water heating, air heating and cooling systems.
Our people were keen to get involved, which helped spur us on. After holding focus groups with staff, we discovered that our cleaning products was an important issue to them, so we looked at alternatives and are now using eco-friendly cleaning products as are our cleaning companies.
Help take your staff on the journey; the journey of getting to and from work. Working in the city, everyone knows what traffic can be like. One of the pieces of feedback we received with our move was that people wanted to try alternative ways of getting into the office. To encourage cyclists, we incorporated plenty of storage for bikes, as well as showers for staff.
Sometimes it’s the little things than make a big difference. Our focus groups rightly pointed out all the coffee cups that went in the rubbish. We’re a coffee loving group of people and the disposable cups are more often than not used out of convenience. So, to encourage staff to be a little greener, we provided Keep Cups for all staff. Although, if disposable cups are still used, we’ve got organic waste bins that can be used for compostable cups.
Previously, we just had general waste and recycling bins in common areas, as well as a rubbish bin for each desk. Taking a good, hard look at the way we used rubbish bins has proven extremely beneficial. We removed all individual desk rubbish bins and replaced them with a small desk top cube with a biodegradable liner, to ensure staff separate their waste effectively. Moving into our new office meant it was the perfect time for new beginnings, so this change was communicated to staff as part of our move.
Part of this change meant installing rubbish stations to make the disposal of waste easier. We now have mixed recycling and organic food waste bins alongside our shrinking general landfill option, as well as paper and cardboard collections. The organic waste has been embraced quite well with everyone keen to find out what can be composted.
We also met with our rubbish and recycling supplier to gain an understanding of how their system works and what we can do to help them help the environment. One key learning came after a couple of months of using them. It turned out that staff weren’t entirely sure what could be put in which bin. As a result, we installed clear signage on what goes where, which has proven extremely helpful. You’d be surprised at what can be composted or recycled. Did you know that paper towels and chopsticks can be composted?
These are just some of the initiatives that help make our footprint a little smaller. We’re dedicated to continuous improvement and are always looking for ways to ensure we’re playing our part. Slow and steady change has worked well for us, but if we hadn’t moved into our five Green Star rated building, it could have been a lot harder to change people’s habits.
About AA Insurance
AA Insurance is an independently operated, New Zealand-based joint venture between the New Zealand Automobile Association (NZAA) and Vero Insurance New Zealand Limited (VINZL). Since 1994 we have demonstrated trusted expertise in home, contents and car insurance in New Zealand, and in 2018 introduced commercial small business insurance. We underwrite our own policies and sell direct to New Zealanders. Our 750+ staff look after 430,000 customers with nearly 850,000 policies.
We proudly partner with Eden Park, support youth charity Blue Light, and have been consistently recognised by: Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands (since 2011), Canstar Blue Most Satisfied Customers (2011-2018), and the Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index (since 2015) that recognises New Zealand’s most successful companies. Last year, AA Insurance was also named Consumer’s 2019 People’s Choice award winner for car, home and contents.
For more information please contact:
Nicole Steven, Botica Butler Raudon Partners, (09) 303 3862, 021 025 31886 or email firstname.lastname@example.org