Here at the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), we are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and continuing to review our business practices, by investing in our operations and championing sustainability.
From making small incremental changes over time and shifting to more renewable forms of energy that reduce our carbon footprint, we are not only supporting the environment around us, but at the same time improving our overall operational and fiscal efficiency.
David Howell, director of operations at the BIC said: “As a not-for profit organisation, any surplus that we do generate goes back into the infrastructure of the BIC and we are totally committed to making those initial investments that make sense from both an economic and environmental point of view. We’re looking at the long-term benefits for all our community.
One of the major benefits of the investments we have made is that they have contributed to the fact we haven’t increased, for some years, the service charge for our users on site. So, it’s a virtuous circle, as everything we do is based around reducing our environmental impact and at the same time being more efficient.”
Our green strategies
Business Central has achieved a Gold BREEAM Certificate to comply with high environmental standards in construction, this meant systems such as a BMS (Building Management System) to monitor all usage in relation to temperature and heating, reduced water flow systems, TMV valves fitted to all sanitary ware and oil interceptor pumps – just some of the measures used on site to decrease impact on the environment.
Photovolatic (PV) solar panels
We installed PV panels on the roof space across our buildings, including at Business Central, a number of years ago, helping to generate a more renewable form of energy. We also plan to site some on our new building in Darlington (Innovation Central) which is due for completion Summer of 2022.
LED lighting / Sensor Lighting
All our meeting room lighting has been changed to LEDs, which is one of the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly lighting technologies available. With a longer lifespan and less energy wastage, it helps reduce our carbon footprint. Our offices and other communal areas at Business Central also operate on sensors in order to reduce energy use.
We will continue the upgrade throughout all our buildings to LED’s.
Electric vehicle charging points
We will be installing electric vehicle charging points at Business Central and Innovation Central, enabling tenants who have made the change to electric, to charge their vehicle while on site.
As a Business and Innovation Centre, we were a forerunner in using electric vehicles some 20 years ago at our Sunderland site, back when they were very basic. Over the years we have upgraded them as technology has improved and today, we also have a modern vehicle that supports our on-site maintenance team there.
Paper recycling bins are provided by us to all clients at Business Central free and we have separate recycling bins based on product types in each shared kitchen area. On the ground floor we also provide battery recycling. Our waste contractor provides separate receptacles for general waste and recycling and we currently recycle over 50% of our site waste. We monitor this with monthly reports that they provide and review the usage at regular Environmental meetings with all site team leaders.
Secure cycle lockers/shelters
As part of our commitment to lower our carbon footprint, we have a secure cycle store on site for clients and visitors, we have lockers available that they can utilise and showers throughout the building at Business Central and this will be replicated at Innovation Central to allow for a more active commute. We provide all clients with Travel guides for the area, we have reduced car parking access and encourage all clients to utilise more sustainable travel through events and awareness.
We have been working to improve outdoor areas for tenants to enjoy, and we are looking to install a new garden seating area to add to our smaller fruit and flower gardens, which will also help pollinators and our rare butterfly the “Dingy skipper”. The pandemic has meant these outdoor facilities are much more important to our users.
David added: “The challenges to our planet are there to be seen as we read about it on a daily basis, so it’s important and necessary to have appropriate and pragmatic green strategies in place. The BIC is committed to playing a role by continuing to reduce the environmental impact of its operations and at the same time ensuring the site is a welcoming and pleasant place to work.”