Thanks to a “green” Stagecoach Park & Ride bus, some twenty people from business and other organisations in Winchester got a glimpse behind the scenes at green workplaces in the city last Thursday.

Open Green Workplace was organised by Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) to showcase some of the environmentally friendly working environments in the city. The tour included the new Holiday Inn at Morn Hill, the Elizabeth II Court offices of Hampshire County Council, the offices of architecture plb and the Emmaus Hampshire community at Bar End. The Park & Ride bus was also highlighted as a green workplace for the driver, whilst improving the environment for those using the buses and others due to a significant reduction in emissions from the buses compared with earlier models.

Siobhan Thomasson, manager at the Holiday Inn, was able to explain how the design, construction and use of the hotel are all intended to minimise the impact of the building, from the self-contained sewerage system to the sophisticated building management system that allows them to control the temperature and ventilation throughout the hotel from the reception area.

Representatives of Hampshire County Council gave delegates a tour of the 'Street', where the cafe, restaurant and both informal and formal working and meeting spaces are found. This is the communal area of the offices and in good weather, workers spill out onto the terrace areas to enjoy the fresh air. The building management system is used to control the unique heating and ventilation system to provide ideal temperatures in all areas of the building whatever the weather.

Rachel Shaw, a director of architecture plb in St Thomas street, highlighted some of the tensions between running a small business and ensuring that they are doing everything they can to be a sustainable organisation. This includes recycling everything from apple cores to CDs and enforcing a 'heating on, windows closed' policy. Being seen to be sustainable is very important in their sector and the organisation is working hard towards achieving their ISO 14001 certification for an efficient environmental management system.

Emmaus Hampshire at Bar End encompasses sustainability in all aspects of the life and work of the community. Set up to provide shelter and meaningful work for homeless people (mainly from the local area) Emmaus provides recycling facilities where householders can donate furniture, furnishings and every day goods which are then cleaned up and sold through their retail outlets. The work is all done by the residents in return for their accommodation and living expenses and a small personal allowance.

The purpose-built premises occupied by Emmaus have been certified as 'Excellent' in terms of its environmental impact and it includes: a green roof planted with sedum which absorbs water and minimises the amount of rainwater reaching the drains; solar thermal panels to provide heating and hot water; and as many materials as possible used in the construction were sourced locally.
Richard Boothman, the organiser of the event said: “Feedback from those attending the event was very good, with everyone learning something about the organisations within the city and picking up tips about what they can do in their own organisations to reduce their environmental impact. We would very much like to stage a similar event next year and if any other organisations are interested in participating, they should contact WinACC.”

"Open Green Workplace" also publicised the Winchester Declaration on Climate Change – a commitment by public, private and voluntary sector organisations in the district to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by 2012. For more information or to sign up to the Winchester Declaration on Climate Change, go to https://beegreen2012.wordpress.com/winchester-declaration-on-climate-change/ or contact Richard Boothman at richard.boothman@winacc.org.uk or on 07763 979661.

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