Flintshire construction firm in drive to help the environment

A FLINTSHIRE construction firm team have taken to two wheels in a drive to reduce their company’s carbon footprint.

The group from Hollingsworth Ellery Construction, led by Director Steve Ellery, have smashed their target of biking 500 miles by the end of the summer by leaving their cars at home and cycling to and from work at the Hollingworth Group head office in Sandycroft.

It is all part of the firm’s determination to improve their green credentials which they have sought to achieve by setting themselves different environmental targets every year.

Their commitment to better environmental practices means they have just been awarded their ISO14001 accreditation – an internationally recognised standard awarded to firms who turn their passion to help the environment into action via effective environmental management systems.

The good news comes after Hollingsworth Ellery had already gained level three of the Green Dragon Environmental Standard set up by Groundwork Wales, an environmental charity which helps communities across Wales create better neighbourhoods, build skills and job prospects and to live and work in a greener way.

The Green Dragon accreditation sets environmental standards awarded to organisations that are taking action to understand, monitor and control their impacts on the environment.

Having only started their cycle challenge five months ago, Steve and his team have now chalked up 500 miles, the equivalent of cycling from the firm’s Sandycroft base to Edinburgh and back.

Steve, who lives in Rossett, around 10 miles from the Hollingsworth group offices on Engineer Park, said: “We have been working on improving how we operate from an environmental point of view for three years with the various accreditations in mind and because we genuinely want to look at how we can do our bit to look after the planet.

“We have put lots of measures in place including better segregation of waste on site, we have changed our fleet of company cars to hybrid, reduced the number of lights in the office and switched them to environmentally friendly LED.

“But we had got to a point where we felt we needed some fresh ideas to make sure we do not rest on our laurels and continue to make impactful improvements.

“Earlier this year, we had a team brainstorm and came up with the idea of cycling to and from work and it has gone from there.

“When we know some of us are biking in and there are meetings which need to be attended that day, then we just make sure that one of us has a car on site which can be used if necessary.”

It is estimated that 500 miles of bike riding can save around 200 kg of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere. This is the equivalent of the average house’s energy use for almost six days, using a 42 inch LCD TV for 50 days continuously or a 13 watt energy saving lightbulb for 641 days continuously.

The team have found the cycle challenge has also had a positive impact on their overall physical and mental health too.

Peter Downey, a senior quantity surveyor for Hollingsworth Ellery, has been a keen cyclist for a decade and has recently returned from a cycling trip to France with his son, Steve, where they rode part of the Tour de France route.

He said: “We have a shower at work so you can come in, get dressed and ready and when you sit down at your desk, you feel energised for the working day ahead.

“The journey would take me 25 minutes or so in a car and it is really not a lot longer on a bike, only around 40 minutes, and the route I come is mainly off road so I don’t have any of the traffic issues associated with driving in.

“I really enjoy cycling. It’s a great hobby and a real interest of mine, not just from the actual riding itself, but from the technical side too. You can get outside, take off wherever you want and it gives you a great feeling.”

The focus on biking to work to help the environment has also prompted a focus on looking after themselves more and the team have also introduced a weekly weigh in on a Monday morning.

Steve said: “We all have a target weight to reach and obviously the biking to and from work is helping with the exercise side of things.

“Our cycle challenge has also inspired others in the Hollingsworth Group who have expressed an interest about starting to join in so I think it has got more of our colleagues thinking about how they can help the environment and enjoy some exercise at the same time.

“It’s been a really positive initiative in a lot of different ways and it is something we will look to continue, as best the weather will allow.”

A team of Hollingsworth Ellery members have also just taken part in a beach clean weekend at Talacre and Llandudno as part of the Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean and boss Steve said they would continue to think up different ways in which they could all be doing their bit for the environment.