Sustainability is very important to us at FOUR and consumers in general. Businesses around the world are stepping up to be more sustainable, balancing their economic, environmental, and social responsibilities to protect the planet and populations in general. Consumers now expect businesses they buy from to have a clear commitment to sustainability and green practices.
Therefore, we asked Paul McCarthy, General Manager of Chantry Place, what they are doing to have more sustainable practices.
“For us at Chantry Place, sustainability centres around three core themes of the planet, people, and place. Paul McCarthy, our general manager, discusses the importance of sustainability…
We all need to play our part in tackling climate change where we can, and Chantry Place is working towards being carbon neutral by 2030 across our whole operation and any new developments. Having halved our own energy consumption since 2010, we will continue to drive energy efficiency across our operations and already only source electricity from sustainable sources. We were also one of the first shopping Centres in the UK to invest in a rooftop solar farm and have 772 solar panels that have to date generated enough green electricity to have boiled your kettle over 8 ½ million times – more than enough to power the six electric vehicle recharging bays we have in our car park.
It’s not easy and we’re not done yet, but that’s why we are supporting the initiative started by the Norfolk Chambers of Commerce (www.businessclimateleaders.co.uk) which aims to educate, enable, and support SME businesses to seek and apply appropriate, tested actions and activities that will put those businesses on the path to net-zero. We’ll be sharing our stories and learning from others to help us on our journey.
It’s not just about power though, waste is a big focus. First and foremost, we ensure that all our waste operations are compliant with the latest environmental standards and are independently audited. We’re starting to explore total carbon impact, rather than narrow measures such as ‘% recycled’ and engaging in new initiatives such as Upcycle Your Waste brought to the city through the Norwich Business Improvement District (Norwich BID Upcycle Your Waste).
We will continue to offer and promote our ’Coffee to Grow’ scheme, turning coffee grounds that were being treated as ‘waste’ into a free compost. We collect them, package them in the same coffee packets they came in and then make them available to our visitors free of charge, all thanks to coffee grounds donated by Bakers + Baristas, Café Nero, Costa, Krispy Kreme, McDonald’s, Pret and Starbucks. And, difficult to retrofit even in modern premises like ours, we’re exploring options to capture rainwater and use that to potentially flush our public toilets.
We’ll also be updating the Chantry Place travel action plan to understand current transport modes for both staff and visitors. We promote sustainable transport whilst ensuring that the option for our visitors who have to use their car to visit Norwich remains a positive one.
With 1,500 full and part-time members of staff, Chantry Place is one of the largest single-site employers in Norwich generating significant economic wealth across our community. What may still be a surprise to many though is that in 2016 Norwich was ranked 323rd out of 324 districts in the Social Mobility Index. This compared the chances that a child eligible for free school meals will do well at school and get a good job.
It also found that a further five of Norfolk’s districts are in the bottom 20%, meaning young people growing up in deprived areas of Norfolk have some of the worst prospects in England. Whilst lots of good work has been done since then, there is always the opportunity to do more.
Retail has always been an introduction to the world of work, after all how many of us started with a ‘Saturday job’ back in the day and retail is now recognised as an industry where, no matter your background, you can work yourself up from the shop floor to the boardroom. Our role at Chantry Place is to find ways that we can promote job opportunities across the entire community, especially to those who have been or have felt excluded.
An aspiration of mine would be to play a part in the creation of the UK’s first ‘Entrepreneurial Development Zone’, with Norwich becoming a place where entrepreneurs are encouraged by the stories of those who have gone before and nurtured by mentors passionate and experienced in starting and sustaining businesses. Facilitated through access to knowledge, finance and fit for purpose IT solutions, this generation would be encouraged to take ownership of their futures to generate wealth for themselves and their communities, increasing social mobility across Norwich and providing a template for others to follow.
Place (Charity & Community)
At Chantry Place, we are proud of our history of supporting the cultural and charitable sectors in our community, like sponsoring British Art Show 8 when it came to Norwich, providing space for the Norfolk & Norwich Festival and Edible East, and supporting in different ways our close neighbours The Garage and Norwich Theatre Royal. We’ve also worked closely with Break and GoGoDiscover, Norwich Science Week, Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital, Norwich Pride, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, Norwich Foodbank, and the team at Alive with their collection boxes for local people in crisis, as well as facilitating their (and others) herculean efforts in the resettlement of people from Afghanistan.
We’re very proud of what we’ve done and continue to look forward to doing more in the future.”
Its comforting knowing that places like Chantry Place are doing their best improve their business practices to be more sustainable, and to help build a sustainable future. With the insights that Paul has given us, it makes us wonder what else can we at FOUR do to build a more sustainable future.