We looked for carbon and found dollars

We looked for carbon and found dollars
Carbon neutrality helps to drive business efficiencies

Interface NZ, national sales and marketing director, Steve Aschbrock

The building industry has a significant impact on the environment. The extraction, production, embodied energy, use and disposal of building materials all have an environmental effect.

As New Zealand’s first carbon-neutral certified building supply company, InterfaceNZ (INZ) has created for itself a useful competitive edge. It is an independent, New Zealand-owned company providing floor covering systems, which represent a significant part of most New Zealand buildings.

Many of INZ’s products are imported from Interface Inc under an exclusive distribution arrangement. Interface Inc shares INZ’s philosophy and commitment to a sustainable future. Ray Anderson, chairman and founder of Interface Inc, says “business is the largest, most powerful and most persuasive institution on Earth. It’s incumbent on business to take the leadership on sustainability.”

Why certify?
INZ’s national sales and marketing director Steve Aschebrock says it was the best option for the organisation to get third-party certification of its carbon-neutral status. “We wanted to become certified to gain independent verification of the company’s commitment to becoming a truly sustainable enterprise,” he says. “Supporting the carboNZero programme allowed us to join a growing network of certified businesses and we also know that if you can cut carbon you will cut costs.” 

What was involved?
carboNZero certification can be applied as a best-practice standard across businesses operations. It ensures consistency of emissions measurement, credibility of reduction and offsetting activity, and independent verification of carbon neutral claims. INZ’s carboNZero certification covers all aspects of its New Zealand organisation, from freight, warehousing, distribution to offices and travel—including use of public transport and employees’ travel between home and office.

The advantages of certification exceeded early expectations. “We decided to certify because it’s the right thing to do,” says Robb Donzè, INZ’s managing director. “But what we found is we can also make a load of money out of it.”

In the process of looking for carbon savings, INZ found some real bottom-line dollar savings as a direct result of its carboNZero certification. Aschebrock says INZ’s costs have been decreasing, not increasing, “dispelling the myth that going green costs more. By significantly reducing our waste energy usage, road freight and petrol consumption, INZ has become more efficient and reduced its overall costs.” The efficiencies identified and reduction in costs have exceeded the investment to certify many times over and will continue to do so. 

Certification has helped to provide focus and inspire staff in the quest for specific, effective, local solutions. Donze says a company with a goal, such as carbon-neutrality, gives everyone a focus. “Staff members have their own momentum now”, he says. “I couldn’t stop them even if I wanted to.”

Certification has given INZ a point of difference in the market and the opportunity to take leadership. “No architect or corporate customer will say they choose our carpet tile because of our green positioning and we don’t ask them to; however, we know on the emotional level that we connect with our customers by doing good,” says Aschebrock. “It is all about transparency and trust and raising the bar.”

This advantage will grow as the demand for greener buildings grows. It’s likely that certification has raised INZ’s profile in the business community and assisted it in tendering. Through INZ’s flair and can-do attitude it was able to punch above its weight and gain the respect of customers, key suppliers and other companies.

Advice to others
Donzè says the carboNZero programme’s knowledge and systems are “invaluable in helping us reach this goal”. INZ’s directors are certain that carboNZero certification has been the right choice. Ashcebrock would encourage “all companies involved in construction with a logistics chain to carbon certify, as substantial savings are available—cut the carbon and you cut the cost.”

About carboNZero certification
carboNZero certification was developed in 2001 as a result of more than 15 years of expert scientific research at Landcare Research, one of New Zealand’s leading Crown Research Institutes. It is the first greenhouse gas certification scheme in the world to be aligned with ISO 14064-1 and internationally accredited to ISO 14065, through the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand. The programme is recognised in more than 50 countries and is now offered in Australia, Chile, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

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