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Green Practice: Ways to "walk" lightly

Every Issue

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2011 85(1/2) LIJ, p.80

A commitment to the environment doesn't necessarily mean your firm's bottom line taking a hit.

On World Environment Day 2010, Allens Arthur Robinson was awarded the WSP Lincolne Scott Sustainability Leadership Award by the United Nations Association of Australia.

According to the association, Allens was recognised “for its performance and approach to sustainability as well as its ability to influence both their suppliers and clients from an environmental, social and community perspective”.

Allens achieved this goal primarily through its Footprint Committee and the Climate Change Interest Group.

The committee works to reduce the organisation’s environmental footprint in energy, water, reuse and recycling, greenhouse emissions and procurement. Last year saw a 31 per cent reduction in carbon emissions since the firm began measuring in 200607.

The reductions to date have been achieved by making operational changes to the workplace and by engaging staff and suppliers.

Workplace changes

Virtualisation of servers

Replacement of a total of 41 servers in Perth and Brisbane with three high-speed and energy-efficient servers enabled a 79 per cent energy reduction in Perth and 83 per cent in Brisbane. This has resulted in reductions in electricity, air conditioning, maintenance and capital costs.

GreenPower

In May 2008, Allens moved to the use of 75 per cent GreenPower in all its Australian offices, thereby reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

Fairtrade

As part of the Fairtrade certification, kitchens in Allens’ Australian offices have started stocking only Fairtrade tea, coffee, drinking chocolate and sugar.

Reduce the use

All printers default to doublesided printing and electronic file management in encouraged. Since 2004, Allens has reduced its paper use by 55 per cent.

It also conducts a yearly stationery audit aimed at encouraging a permanent reduction in stationery use and fostering a firmwide culture of reuse and recycling. Rescued stationery is counted, sorted and reused where possible, allowing for the reduction of future purchases.

In addition to these operational changes, staff are engaged in sustainability practices.

Allens also offers all staff subsidised KeepCups, which can be reused for coffee and tea and are recyclable. To date, Allens has subsidised 400 KeepCups.

Leading suppliers

Aware that a global footprint is impacted by the goods and services it consumes, the firm rolled out a sustainable procurement policy. The policy ensures the environmental, ethical and social credentials of the supplier are taken into account when procuring a product or service.

Suppliers’ sustainable and ethical practices are monitored and a supplier questionnaire detailing this information must be completed.

Advising on climate change

Complementing Allens’ client work in climate change law is the internal Climate Change Interest Group, with more than 150 members drawn from all of the firm’s Australian and Asian offices.

A team of young lawyers from the group monitors and summarises developments in climate change law and policy, carbon markets and the clean tech sector in Australia and internationally. The group meets via video conference every six weeks to discuss developments, helping lawyers to understand emerging global trends and the links between law, policy, business and finance.



JANE FOLEY (client communications coordinator), FERGUS GREEN (lawyer) and CLAIRE NICHOLSON (law graduate) work for Allens Arthur Robinson.

Nominate your firm

  • The United Nations Association of Australia WSP Lincolne Scott Sustainability Leadership Award is open to large businesses, small to medium enterprises, government agencies and non-government organisations.
  • Applications must provide evidence of business performance outcomes around all dimensions of sustainability.
  • Applications must detail the management structures and processes that have influenced those sustainability outcomes.
  • Nominations close in May 2011 with winners announced on World Environment Day, 5 June 2011
  • For more information see www.unaavictoria.org.au.

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