Sustainability means rethinking how we create value for everyone, today and in the future. At PwC, we're building a blueprint for better business that places sustainability centre stage. That's meant rethinking the way we design and run our offices.
We've created this video so that you can find out more about how the features of our stunning new building at 7 More London make it one of the most sustainable workplaces in Europe - for our clients, our people and our communities.
The world is changing, we're entering a period of enormous opportunity for innovation and enterprise for businesses in every sector and doing so at a time when we know we need to work out how nine billion people can live fulfilled lives. By twenty fifty, environmental pressures and pressures on natural resources are already affecting lives, societies and businesses around the world. It's a challenge that forces all of us to think differently about how we create real, lasting value today. This is the challenge of sustainability.
So what does sustainability mean for PwC? Well as a professional services firm it can use its skills to help its clients adapt and prosper in the new business landscape and as a smart, responsible business it needs to minimise its own environmental footprint and to enhance the positive impact on all stakeholders.
So what does that actually look like in practice? What happens when you balance the needs of a business - its employees, its clients, the community of which it's a part ᾢ with those of the environment? How do you use sustainability to help build a blueprint for better business? So that was the bold challenge that the firm set itself when moving to its new building at seven More London on the banks of the Thames.
I think what we set out to achieve, and what I would believe we've achieved, although our people will be the judge of that, is to create a really effective workplace which actually lifts the spirit when you come through the front door.
Our vision was really based in what I would describe as our values. We wanted a sustainable workplace, and by that I mean something that both had sustainable characteristics which clearly we've tried to incorporate into this building, but was also a long term fit for the building so that is was somewhere that people could enjoy, that would be flexible, that would be a good place to work. And we were using some of the themes of our business, some of our 'who we are': doing the right thing for our people, our communities and our planet. So those were very informative in shaping the brief for the building.
Sustainability for me is about that it works long term, so you make an enormous investment in a facility like this and I expect this to work for the firm over twenty to twenty five years. It's going to do that because we can organise ourselves differently inside the space and because we've actually designed the building so that it can respond to the changing environmental pressures that we'll have.
One of the biggest challenges here at seven ML was to design a corporate office building that was highly sustainable. But we've achieved that, and it was the first building in London to achieve BREEAM 'Outstanding'.
The key criteria that we needed to deal with was primarily the cost of the sustainable features.
All of the different solutions that were put forward were evaluated in terms of capital cost, whole life cost, and just sheer good value - did they provide a good sustainable solution and did they deliver on that?
When you're thinking about investing in sustainability, I mean the point I would make about us is that we're business people. We understand the value of sustainability and we genuinely and honestly looked at everything that we could possibly do that would actually make this building a more sustainable building.
So it's attention to detail which I think really gets you the sustainable result.
It was decided to do things sustainably really from the very beginning, it was part of PwC's brief and I think that reflects their progressive approach to corporate sustainability.
It was that sheer commitment and their desire to raise the bar of sustainable design in corporate offices that really took us to that exemplar level.
We as a business wanted to pioneer some real and practical ways of saving carbon.
We wanted to ensure in the project is that we would have substantially less carbon emissions from our construction than the current building regulations require.
We had to ensure that there were a number of solutions to our energy needs but we also had to ensure that each of those needs had good and robust business case.
The two solutions that we finally ended up implementing were the trigeneration and the solar heating, both of which provide us with a hugely reduced carbon footprint.
A trigenerator is a very efficient way of providing on-site power, heating and cooling.
Trigenerators can be fuelled using normal fossil fuels such as diesel fuel and gas oil however in our instance we're using recycled biofuel.
PwC approached us in two thousand and nine with the intention of fuelling their building on recycled biodiesel, that's biodiesel from waste cooking oil that we collect from central London.
The process works by us collecting the waste oil from central London's restaurants, we bring it back here, filter it, uh refine it into recycled biodiesel, which is then in turn sent out to PwC to heat their building at More London.
The benefits of using recycled biodiesel compared to fossil fuel are huge. Firstly, we're recycling a waste, which is the cooking oil. Secondly, there's a huge amount of savings with particulates, carbon, sulphur dioxide, that isn't emitted into the atmosphere.
We have locally collected oil, locally refined, locally used within our generators, therefore closing the loop, and ensuring that we really do have low carbon production of power, heating and lighting.
Solar thermal panels in More London are used to provide hot water for the washrooms. It's a very simple process of using the sun's rays to pre-heat the water, prior to our usage.
One of the other key features that we have in the building is an active chill beam system, which is a very efficient way of, of passing chilled water throughout the building and enabling us to cool the occupants in a very sustainable way.
Because we were designing and constructing a building from scratch we were able to incorporate these new technologies within the design and build.
I'm really passionate about real and practical sustainability so we will continue to strive to reduce our carbon footprint in More London as low as we possibly can and as soon as new technology's available, we will pioneer them, try them and if necessary we will implement them within the building.
We're talking about a building, but this is really about our firm and the people in our firm. And what's really important to me is that our people can work really effectively in this building.
It was a lot of consultation with our, with our own people, and shaping then this building to work for them really effectively and then also understanding what our relationship and evolving relationship, changing relationship is, in the way that we deliver client service.
It used to be the case when we were designing workplaces twenty or thirty years ago, our clients seldom, if ever, came to our building. Our people went out and visited the client so our buildings were very much factories in a way. That's not the way we tend to work today.
So we see that our clients want to spend more time with us and enjoy spending more time with us.
Forty per cent of the space in the building is actually about collaboration space, about people working together, so there's meeting rooms and seminars and specific spaces designed where we work collaboratively with our clients ᾢ that's not a typical office space.
We want to be, and are, a welcoming employer, so we built in what we believe are fantastic facilities for people. There's a wellbeing centre with a doctor and a dentist, there's a very nice and super space for quiet meditation and for prayer, and it's really trying to think about all the kinds of things that people might want to do during the course of the day and seeing if we can facilitate it.
I think in terms of, in the way the building and this environment encourages people toward more sustainable behaviour ᾢ that's about having lots more video and audio conferencing facilities, so clearly that's one of the ways you can encourage teams to work together without travelling to meet each other all the time.
We took all of the car parking out and decided not to bother with that, and replaced it all with cycle racks, and showers, and changing facilities in there, to encourage people to commute to work in a more environmentally friendly way.
I suppose what we've tried to do is we've tried to make being sustainable as easy as you conceivably can be.
When we first came to the Borough of Southwark in the seventies we thought it very important to get ingrained into the local community and look at what some of those issues were and it came apparent that the big issue was raising educational achievement of the young people in the Borough.
We're now moving on from education into employability and we're working with charities such as Tomorrow's People and the employability skills of young people.
PwC and Tomorrow's People go back a long time. Er, we've had a working relationship now for seventeen years.
They've worked with our clients mentoring them, helping them prepare them for job interviews, so that when they go for the interview they can get the job.
It's given Tomorrow's People a kind of standing in the charitable sector and it's made people take us seriously which, in this day and age, is absolutely critical.
The people in PwC are not here today and gone tomorrow, they've never let us down and that's what's unique.
PwC staff benefit so much from working with our community partners.
It gives our staff the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills in areas such as finance or marketing, but it also gives them the opportunity to learn from mentoring a young inner-city young person, it gives them the opportunity to be motivated, to think more creatively and to make more rounded business decisions.
Seven More London will be a real physical presence in the borough of Southwark and will really exemplify all the work that we do in our community programmes.
It was important with More London to get the big decisions right, things like energy supply and security, or sustainability in the construction, but we also wanted to think about the sustainability of the building in the round. So PwC appointed an ecologist to appraise the seven More London site and advise on how we could enhance it.
So this site now has thirteen hundred square metres of roof space dedicated to support threatened and protected species of birds and invertebrates. We created two types of roof. Here, on level seven, there's a brown roof, which provides foraging and breeding for birds, and attracts bees, butterflies, hover flies and other invertebrates.
On level ten we created a micro-habitat which is complementary to this one and encourages specific bird species such as the Black Redstart, the Linnet, and the House Sparrow.
By taking some extra time and care to design parts of the roof that we didn't need, we've been able to do our bit to support the natural world on which we all rely.
Sustainability gives us a real edge in the way that we approach our business and the way that we interact with our clients as well, it's absolutely fundamental to everything we do.
As a firm we're really proud of our new building at More London and it shows our commitment to sustainability.
But sustainability doesn't stop here for PwC. It's just one part of our journey. There's lots more we need to do as a business and as individuals, because sustainability is ultimately about the choices we make every day, it's about how and where we work, how we travel, how we conduct our daily business.
We've created an exceptional space for ourselves and our clients using cutting edge technology. More London is part of the overall blueprint for how we operate much more sustainably over the coming years.
Head of Corporate Sustainability, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7213 2435