Small steps lead to big results in Brno
What started as an initiative to bring colleagues under one roof has become a model office for environmental sustainability.
In 2019, RWS consolidated its three offices in Brno, Czech Republic into one state-of-the-art flagship office with one of the most advanced sustainability certifications in the world. Combining cutting-edge, environmentally-friendly construction, biodiversity and energy efficiency, the Brno office serves as an inspiration and model for our future growth.
With more than 600 colleagues in the city, RWS has deep roots in Brno. As we grew, new offices were added, which solved space issues but created many unforeseen challenges.
Collaboration, teamwork and productivity suffered across the three office locations. Being spread across multiple offices made face-to-face meetings inconvenient since colleagues had to travel between offices to meet.
The quality of each office was very different. One of the buildings was over 200 years old, which made heating and cooling unpredictable. In the winter, people sitting by the window would freeze, but those by the vents were too hot. Another building had outdated paint and furniture. The third building was more modern but was in a suburb that required a long and inconvenient commute.
None of the buildings had any sustainability or energy-efficient features and each office managed its own HVAC, cooling and electricity, which was expensive, inefficient and not easily controlled.
It was quickly becoming apparent that a better office situation was needed for the teams in Brno.
“The first key moment of change was when our four pillars of sustainability were created,” said David Hell, Vice President of Finance at RWS. “One pillar was focused on the environment and led by our internal teams, which contributed to a strong willingness to participate and make changes.”
A second key moment of change was when the Facilities team began joining internal focus groups. They heard what colleagues were asking for and began to implement their ideas, helping sustainability gain a lot of momentum across our 80+ offices.
Flagship office opened
In 2019 we opened our flagship office at Vlněna, a 120,000m2 world-class business park redeveloped from one of the oldest textile factories in Brno. Centrally located with easy access to many public transport options, this office meets the BREEAM standard. The BREEAM standard measures the sustainability of buildings and takes critical factors such as energy, health and wellbeing, transport, water, ecology and the selection of materials into account.
BREEAM: Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method
An important factor of the success of this office has been our close collaboration with our building management team, who have made sustainability a cornerstone of their business. While they paid a lot of attention to making the inside of the office sustainable, the building’s management team went further by focusing their efforts on the outside.
Biodiversity is demonstrated across the grounds, which supports a wide variety of plants, birds and bugs. Large, mature pine and fruit trees are planted in the courtyard and the smell of the flowers changes with the seasons. To encourage pollination, beehives have been installed on the building’s roof. Planning for a pond with carp is in progress for the next phase in the courtyard. The water from the pond can be reused for landscape and sprinkler systems.
The office courtyard has several bird feeders and even a bug hotel.
“We are in the centre of the city with office buildings all around us,” David said. “The landlord has invested a lot in the garden to create an oasis where people can come to relax and recharge with friends over lunch or a coffee. This is a huge benefit for our team’s wellbeing and mental health.”
The Brno office has given us additional capacity to deliver services, improved working conditions and demonstrated our commitment to the environment, our people and our communities. Substantial, measurable results have emerged in several areas.
The Brno office is using 100% renewable electricity as of January 2022.
Our energy consumption varies with the installation and usage of new equipment, such as our servers, which require significant energy and cooling technologies. But since moving into the new building, energy consumption is 10%-25% lower and monthly steam/heat consumption is 25%-75% lower than previous years.
Not only are our sustainability initiatives good for the environment, but they are also good for business. We are saving on energy and office costs and by publicly publishing our commitment to ESG, a level of accountability exists. We’re seeing many requests for proposal (RFPs) with specific questions on sustainability, demonstrating that other businesses want to work with partners who actively support ESG.
Our goal is to be 100% carbon neutral and zero waste by 2025.
While we are proud of our sustainability accomplishments there’s always more we can do. We are actively participating in global sustainability efforts such as Earth Day and Recycling Week. The Brno office is compliant with environmental ISO 14001 standards and we are now working with the building’s management to become 100% carbon neutral and zero waste by 2025.
The most important outcome is the feedback from colleagues who work in the building.
“When colleagues come to the office, they say that they are happy to work in such an amazing place,” David said. “It’s modern, there are large windows that let in a lot of natural light, there’s a lot of green space inside and outside and they appreciate that the company is behaving responsibly. They have said they feel lucky to work here.”
- 10-25% reduction in energy consumption
- Monthly steam/heat consumption 25%-75% lower
- Water waste reduced by identifying and fixing leaks
- Digital documents decreased reliance on paper and printing
- Unused electronic equipment sold to employees instead of disposing
- Kitchens stocked with fair trade fruit and coffee
- New hire welcome packages contain eco-friendly products
- Active participation in global initiatives like Earth Day and Recycling Week
- Compliant with ISO 14001 requirements
“Our building is a real moment of change and it’s important because this was an employee-led and driven initiative. We feel very lucky to be working here.”
- David Hell, Vice President of Finance at RWS