We caught up with Lucy Potashnick, environmental manager for WWF-UK, to find out more about her role and how she is helping to cut her organisation's carbon footprint.
Tell me a bit about your role
My job is about making sure WWF-UK is doing all the things we tell everyone else they should be doing. I'm in charge of our environmental management system, and I'm always looking for ways to improve our performance - to minimise any negative impact on the environment produced by 300 people working in an office. It’s important work to us seeing as our mission as an organisation is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment.
How did you get into your line of work? Have you always had an interest in sustainability?
I’ve always loved nature and being outside. I have a biology degree and a masters in conservation and found my way to WWF seven years ago. I worked on a number of different conservation programmes from forests in east Africa to coral reefs in Belize before moving into my current role about three years ago.
What are some of the key projects you’re currently working on?
We’re building a new headquarters in Woking. Construction started in April 2012 and is due to be completed in summer 2013. We’re developing a brownfield site which gives us an excellent opportunity to implement low-carbon technologies – our aim is that the building will achieve a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating.
At the moment I’m looking into the number and location of meters around the building to make sure we’ll be able to measure and monitor all aspects of our energy use. We’ll use this information to generate live feeds to show staff and visitors how much energy we’re using or generating from the solar panels on the roof.
What do you love about your job?
I love being able to see results straight away. Simple things like putting new labels on bins and introducing a composting collection to replace the wormery have reduced the amount of waste we’re sending to landfill.
What are your biggest challenges at the moment?
The new building - it’s really increasing my workload but it’s a great project to be a part of. I’m starting to think about setting targets for when we move in, but how do you set improvement targets when a building should be as efficient as it possibly can be? I'd be grateful for any suggestions!
What has been your most significant achievement in your role so far?
Increasing staff engagement on our internal environmental management work. It's a difficult one to quantify but positive feedback from staff leads me to believe I’ve been doing the right things. This year I organised a coffee morning for FSC Friday to raise awareness of our paper and timber purchasing policy and the importance of sourcing sustainable forest products; one of our bike week activities was a bikers' breakfast for people who currently cycle to work and those that are considering it and want to talk to those already doing it.
Next year I’m hoping to organise a series of lunchtime talks for staff to find our more about low carbon technologies and how they might be able to apply them at home.
Do you have any tips for engaging employees on sustainability?
Use all the communication channels you can – email, internal newsletters and on occasion desk to desk (if your office isn’t too big). Use internal groups to spread messages for you too. And keep saying it – people need reminding.
How do you see your sector developing in the coming years?
Sustainability’s going to move into the boardroom if it isn’t already there.
What are your interests outside of work?
Spending time outdoors, on my new mountain bike (well new to me, it’s second hand).
What’s your favourite motto?
Make your days full of life not your life full of days.