New London Architecture

Home Working - Impact on air pollution and climate emissions

Monday 01 February 2021

Benjamin O’Connor

Director
New London Architecture

Gary Fuller

MRC Centre for Environment and Health
Imperial College London

Keith Bottomley

Vice Chairman of Policy and Chairman of the Port Health and Environment Committee
City of London Corporation

Kate Finnis

Membership Manager
Heart of the City

James Ross

Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Executive
Buzzacott

Claire Dumontier-Marriage

BID Manager
Cheapside Business Alliance

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In this webinar, a panel of representatives from across the Square Mile and other contributors explored the following questions.

  • How do they account for the increased emissions associated to working practices as a result of home-working even as their office emissions profile reduces? 
  • How do they meet CSR responsibilities by influencing the reduction of emissions from home-working

PROGRAMME

0:00 Welcome from Chair 
          Benjamin O’Connor, Director, New London Architecture & The City Centre 
 
1:07 Welcome from Cheapside Business Alliance
        Claire Dumontier-Marriage, BID Manager, Cheapside Business Alliance

Claire introduces the webinar by discussing the impact of home-working on individuals and the climate, stating that 'the impact on home-working and air pollution will stay long after lockdown. She point to a shift in global oil production, suggesting that emissions have just been moved on to somewhere else but recognises that overall electricity consumption has plunged by around 20%. 

Claire warns that emissions will inevitably increase again once workers start returning to the office. 

Sensible choices have to be made now for our emissions in the future. 
 
3:22 Welcome from the City of London
         Keith Bottomley, Vice Chairman of Policy and Chairman of the Port Health and Environment Committee, City of London Corporation

In October 2020, the City of London Corporation released a climate action strategy that set out how the net zero targets will be achieved through the building of climate resilience and championing sustainable growth.  Keith discusses the impact of commuters on the environment, stating that '90% of employees commute into the city via public transport' and recognises that in this topic we must consider the amount of energy being used to heat individuals homes vs an office block that accommodates '100s or 1000s'.  
 
7:55 The journey towards zero carbon: how businesses can play their role
         Sarah Mukherjee, CEO, IEMA

Sarah begins by categorising carbon emissions into three 'scopes', she believes that scope 3 is where organisations can make the most difference, and places working from home in this category. 
  • Scope 1: Fuel combustion
  • Scope 2: Purchased electricity 
  • Scope 3: Purchased goods and services 

30 people working separately, using separate heat, light and internet. None of this is free from a carbon point of view. 

Sarah considers what role companies will play in the provision of these amenities in the future, will companies start to incentivise employees for a greener approach? It is difficult to predict and requires a serious amount of coordination. 
 
22:55 Panel discussion
Speakers above, plus:
22:55 James Ross, CSR Executive, Buzzacott

James introduces the actions that organisations can be taking to support individuals while working from home, with a particular focus on their carbon emissions. He cites the 'intention-behaviour gap' as a huge challenge for organisations, suggesting that the importance of small but meaningful changes need to be implemented by individuals. James considers the issues of waste management systems at home when compared to central London offices, and says that despite these challenges, there are great opportunities to embrace the new way of working and support staff in becoming greener.

35:37 Dr Gary Fuller, MRC Centre for Environment and Health, Imperial College London 

Dr Gary Fuller begins by showing carbon emissions data from lockdown 1, there was a profound change for emissions but not in the same way for air pollution. We saw a large decrease in traffic pollutants at the start of the first lockdown, but the period of time coincided with farmer's crop fertilisation, thus making it a really difficult pollution episode, however, Gary suggests it was less difficult than previous years. 

He points to a big change in central London, reduced amount of commuters going into the office but says that the change was not as significant for suburban areas, particularly when schools and high-streets re-opened. This is because the largest single source of particle pollution in the UK is domestic burning of solid fuel, he suggests that our change in habits during lockdown offset the gains in travel pollution. 

48:27 Kate Finnis, Membership Manager, Heart of the City

Kate considers the future expectations for businesses, if people are to continue to work from home. How will organisations interact with and engage with employees when it comes to emissions? Will they put policies in place? Will they have regular communications? Will they be constantly reviewing equipment? Will organisations have a culture of sustainability? These are all important questions to consider when looking at working from emissions. 

We need to consider people's awareness when it comes to personal sustainability and engaging with people in different ways because not everyone is going to be brought in to their own sustainable efforts.
 
56:52 Q&A
 
1:09:38 End
NLA's YouTube Channel


Benjamin O’Connor

Director
New London Architecture

Gary Fuller

MRC Centre for Environment and Health
Imperial College London

Keith Bottomley

Vice Chairman of Policy and Chairman of the Port Health and Environment Committee
City of London Corporation

Kate Finnis

Membership Manager
Heart of the City

James Ross

Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Executive
Buzzacott

Claire Dumontier-Marriage

BID Manager
Cheapside Business Alliance


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