Sustainable companies create greener cities – One Planet Living in Birmingham

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On 22 June 2017, we joined forces with Cundall in Birmingham to introduce One Planet Living to local businesses as a useful sustainability framework – and asked them to think about the role of companies in creating happier, healthier cities.

We were delighted to visit Cundall’s Birmingham office last week for the first of our One Planet Living Roadshow events and explore how One Planet Living could help drive the city’s green ambitions.

The session was opened by Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member at Birmingham City Council for Clean Streets, Recycling and the Environment, who provided an overview of the pressing need for sustainability in the city – for both people and planet.

She noted that while many in the city recognise the need to protect the environment, ‘sustainability’ – with its climate talks and international agreements – can seem removed from people’s lives. They are, naturally, more concerned with local issues such as housing, health and public services. Lisa noted that One Planet Living offers a way to bring these concerns together and bring everyone on the city’s green journey, with its emphasis on healthy, happy lives for all.  

Our CEO and co-founder Sue Riddlestone then shared the stories behind One Planet Living – its origins, the organisations and companies that use it and the benefits they have discovered. From retailers like B&Q to communities including One Brighton, she explored how our partners have used the sustainability framework to effect change, measure impact and save money.

Following on nicely from this, Rob van Zyl, a Building Services Partner at Cundall, shared the company’s own sustainability journey, which includes its ongoing commitment to One Planet Living. Cundall, a multi-disciplinary engineering firm, became a One Planet Company in 2012, with its One Planet Action Plan.

Rob outlined how sustainability runs throughout Cundall’s four main areas of work and that this commitment has supported its growth; “sustainability has not been a burden to us – it’s driven us forward.”

With the groundwork laid, attendees were then invited to consider what could be done in Birmingham to transform it into a One Planet City under each of the ten One Planet Principles.

Land and nature featured heavily in people’s responses, with calls for green roofs, vertical gardens and more inner-city parks for people and wildlife. But improvements in travel and transport were also popular, including suggestions for improved cycle routes, a completed tram system, the UK’s first hybrid taxi fleet and encouraging people to walk and cycle to work.

The relationship between many of these ideas and a positive impact on health and happiness didn’t go unnoticed, reinforcing Lisa’s earlier point about the opportunity to relate sustainability decisions to people’s real-life experiences.

Pooran Desai, our co-founder, wrapped up the evening by sharing plans to develop our new digital platform, OnePlanet.Net, which will make it easy for anyone, anywhere to use the One Planet framework to plan and implement their sustainability efforts.

We look forward to building on our new connections in Birmingham and hearing from companies embracing sustainability and One Planet Living as a way to make their city a better place to live.

One Planet Living is our vision of a world where everyone, everywhere enjoys happy, healthy lives within the limits of the planet, leaving room for wildlife and wilderness.

With thanks to Cundall for hosting the event.

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