How to Achieve Great Collaboration in a Growing Company

EVORA has been growing fast, with over 100% team growth in the last 18 months alone. While such growth is exciting, we also had to overcome some challenges in order to keep and nurture our positive office culture. In this series of blog posts, I will take you on a journey about the creation of an engaging workplace in a growing company. This first article focuses on communication and collaboration.


Here are my 3 top tips:

1.     Bring the Team Together More Frequently

There is so much going on in a growing company. Your sales team might have won three new projects, the technology team wants to release a new software update – not to mention an after-work drinks social to welcome new employees. How can you keep everyone in the loop? How can you make sure every single employee is aligned with the big vision of the company? It might seem obvious to founders and directors where the ship is headed, but the newest member on the ship might have no clue! That is why we introduced the weekly stand-up.

EVORA Global Monday meetingOnce a week, we all come together – from the newest recruit to the Managing Director. Staff in the main office gather around the breakfast bar, while remote workers dial in via Skype. And that in itself is already quite important: to come together as one team on a regular basis fosters the bond between co-workers and builds a sense of community. We then update each other about the latest news and events happening in our world. Everyone can speak up, will be heard, and can ask questions. We are all – from top management to entry level employees – on top of what is going on and promote transparency within the company and support the alignment of people with the company’s goals. As you don’t want the meeting to be too long, I recommend keeping the stand-up to an absolute maximum of 30 minutes. That way you make sure that people give a short and snappy update which is relevant for everyone. Pro tip: use an alarm to signal when time is up.

2.     Give Everyone a Voice and Promote Innovation (one of our Core Values!)

As Albert Einstein said: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” The same applies to a business. Not only should you be on top of what is going on in your industry, but you should also endeavour to drive your sector forward with new ideas and innovations. To create a culture of engaged employees, and to promote participation and innovation throughout parts of the business, we launched our so-called lunchtime briefing sessions.

EVORA Global lunchtime learningOne speaker per session prepares a presentation of around 15 minutes. It can be about anything business related such as a legislation change relevant to the industry, an idea for a new client service or how to create an internship position within your organisation. Based on our experience, a lively Q&A session will follow each presentation. With lunchtime briefing sessions, you not only promote knowledge exchange, but you also empower your staff to contribute and have their voice heard. The cherry on the cake:  employees also have the opportunity to practise their presentation skills. We reinforce the last point by handing out post-its and pens to all participants at the beginning and ask them to write down constructive feedback for the speaker. One last tip: record the sessions and upload them to your Intranet. In doing so, you will have an internal library full of knowledge and ideas from which not only current but also future employees will benefit.

3.     Share Knowledge and Boost Employees’ Development Through Reading

Picture this: during lunch you are engaged in a casual conversation with your colleagues and one of them refers to that fantastic book she read about how to run a target-oriented business, which really opened her eyes. You ask for the book title, maybe even manage to make a note of it and then…well, that was it, you forget about it. Sound familiar? It has happened to me so often! This led to the idea of creating a book sharing corner in the main office.

EVORA Global book cornerHere is how it works: if someone has a book at home that they recommend others to read as well – and it can be anything from the Agile software development methodology to a book about how to run a sustainability-focused organisation – they can bring it to the office. All books are gathered above our fireplace and anyone can borrow it simply by checking the book out in a list (you don’t want books to get lost, do you?). It is such an easy project, bringing many advantages: employees widen their horizons and learn new things, they develop their skills by discovering new ideas and approaches, it boosts their creativity, and reading has even been proven to reduce stress. Plus: you gain a bit of extra space at home by having one book less in the shelf! Our next step might be to implement a ‘Book Club’ – a voluntary programme where a group of employees read the same book and meets regularly to discuss its content and relevance to the company. This could foster collaboration between employees who might not interact with each other very often and provide employees an opportunity to learn and grow. I’ll keep you posted on how this goes here at EVORA.


Creating an engaging workplace is always a work in progress. What is applicable for other companies might not work for your team, so the best approach is learning by doing. Give it a try and see if it is well received by your employees. Feel free to get in touch with me if you face similar challenges – I am always open for exchanging experiences and ideas. In my next blog post, I will write about how to make your office a pleasant and productive environment. Stay tuned!

BEIS framework consultation: Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting

Last month, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) opened a consultation on their new proposed framework for energy and carbon reporting. This process has the potential to bring environmental data smoothly into the mainstream, but could also just create further tangles in the knot that is the current energy reporting landscape.

Between the CRC, ESOS, climate change agreements (CCAs), and mandatory greenhouse gas reporting (MGHG), there’s a lot of existing legislation that either encourages or coerces companies into monitoring, reporting, and acting upon energy and carbon data. It must be easy for companies to get lost in this complex legislative landscape so, with this in mind, the basic premise outlined in the BEIS framework consultation document of streamlining the reporting process makes a lot of sense.

The million-dollar question, however, is how exactly should this new framework be designed? In particular: who should report and what should be reported?


Firstly, who? There are different ways to scope the policy that fit into three broad categories: employee numbers, financial turnover, and energy consumption. Any one or a combination of these could be used to define what counts as a ‘large’ company and hence who will be required to report under the proposed scheme(s).

The consultation also asks whether Limited Liability Partnerships, which are not subject to the Companies Act (meaning they are not covered by the framework in its current form), should be made to report too. This would increase the burden of implementation, but would also greatly expand the coverage of the scheme and the volume of data being reported.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Ways to scope the policy fit into 3 broad categories: employee numbers, financial turnover, and energy consumption. ” quote=”There are different ways to scope the policy that fit into three broad categories: employee numbers, financial turnover, and energy consumption. “]

Secondly, what? There are also different things that companies could be made to report. Centrally, there is total energy use, which can be broken down into electricity, gas, transport, and potentially some other categories, and emissions, which can be broken down into scope I, II and III. There are also additional options such as intensity metrics, or listing opportunities identified in audits and whether they have been acted upon. This last one could be a channel to formally tie ESOS requirements into the framework.

This last one could be a channel to formally tie ESOS requirements into the framework.

Finally, another question that should be given more attention is: how? Specifically, how will these large companies manage the data collection process, and how will its quality and accuracy be assured. The presence of good data is integral for pursuing the far-reaching energy reduction goals of the UK Climate Change Act and the Paris Climate Agreement, but the consultation document only asks for recommendations of the guidance that might ease reporting burdens for companies towards the end, and offers even less on how the Government intends to ensure the quality of data.


At EVORA, we recognise the frustrations and resourcing it can take to collate, analyse and report energy data on a national and international scale. It is why we developed SIERA to seamlessly collate, verify and report data to enable decisions to be made on portfolio and building optimisation programmes. Our clients are seeing the positive impact of SIERA, which has helped one portfolio achieve a 3% like for like reduction in one year and individual buildings save up to 26% through operational improvements.

Our clients are seeing the positive impact of SIERA, which has helped one portfolio achieve a 3% like for like reduction in one year and individual buildings save up to 26% through operational improvements.

The consultation also asks for recommendations on possible complementary policies that might help drive further emissions reductions. Currently, there is no additional incentive proposed to help reduce consumption beyond the fact that the published report will be available to third parties and therefore be subject to investor and public scrutiny.

Personally, the outcome I would like to see is a framework that requires large quoted companies & LLPs to report global energy use, total emissions and intensity, whilst requiring large unquoted companies & LLPs to report UK energy use, total emissions and intensity, with all of the above required to undertake ESOS-style audits every four years and then report the opportunities identified and whether they have acted upon them each year. I would align the definition of ‘large’ with the UK Companies Act definition to minimise confusion, and give it a stand-alone bespoke report in the annual report portfolio to exemplify its importance. Such a design would streamline the CRC, ESOS, and MGHG schemes all into one package, greatly simplifying the reporting landscape.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Such a design would streamline the CRC, ESOS, and MGHG schemes into one package, simplifying the reporting landscape.” quote=”Such a design would streamline the CRC, ESOS, and MGHG schemes all into one package, greatly simplifying the reporting landscape.”]

But the important takeaway here isn’t my opinion, it is that this consultation has the potential to radically change the environmental reporting landscape. Therefore, businesses need to make sure they are aware of the proposals and what it could mean for them. We here at EVORA are in the process of producing a company response to the consultation, and if you wish to do the same then the full consultation document as well as information on how to respond is available on the BEIS website.


This blog has done its best to summarise a 40-page document in a few hundred words, but if you need any additional information or assistance regarding the consultation, or any of the other policies mentioned in this blog, feel free to get in touch and our team of experts will be happy to help.

Sustainable web and graphic design: An introduction

Sustainable web and graphic design – has it ever crossed your mind? I think it’s ok to admit that up until now, the sustainability of your marketing collateral isn’t something you’ve thought much about, if at all. But with climate change and sustainability climbing further up the agenda, now might be a good time to start.

I’ve been an in-house designer for a number of years now, but it wasn’t until I started working in the industry almost five years ago that I even gave sustainability a second thought.

Beyond asking your staff to go ‘paperless’, adding that footer to your emails, and having a recycling bin, is there much that you can do? The answer is yes!

In this blog post, I endeavour to introduce you to the idea of sustainable web and graphic design, and give some top tips to get you started.


Change your approach – form, function and usability

For many of us, the thought process behind a new piece of collateral is simple. A client or a colleague says, “We have a new service to talk about, let’s create a brochure” or “we need a poster about the Christmas Party” and we go straight to design ideas.

Taking a ‘back-to-front’ approach that starts with visualising our end goal allows us to find a creative way to solve the problem.

Let’s use the example of the poster. Think creatively and ask questions: What is our end goal? Is a poster necessarily the right solution? How and where is the poster used? Is there another option that might be more effective?

If your goal is to inform staff about the Christmas Party, could your poster actually be a banner that is on your Intranet home page? Or a short internal email campaign? If you want to ensure something tangible is getting in front of your staff, could a postcard work?

Thinking about the answers and working with your agency or in-house designer, it might be clear that an alternative solution might have a more positive impact.

Once you have your perfect solution, it’s time to follow some top tips for design and production.


Top Tips to get you started

Sustainable web and graphic design

Design: Optimise!

  • Be size-ist – go for substance over size! By optimising your design and downsizing, you reduce the demand for paper.
  • Use less ink coverage in your designs. The more ink on a page, the more difficult it will be to recycle.
  • Reduce the bleed when possible. Keeping the bleed white where you can reduce the amount of waste.
  • Think about how you work. Do you print out your design drafts? Can you reduce that number? Or stop doing it altogether?

[clickToTweet tweet=”Be size-ist – go for substance over size! By optimising your design, you reduce the demand for paper” quote=”Be size-ist – go for substance over size! By optimising your design and downsizing, you reduce the demand for paper”]

Print: Know what to ask for

There will always be situations where printing is the correct solution, which is why your print supplier is also an important consideration. What should you be asking for to ensure that your projects are being printed as sustainably as possible?

Paper:

  • FSC certified – find out more here
  • Recycled paper – at least 30% Post-consumer Waste (PCW) recycled fibre
  • Processed chlorine free (PCF)
  • Consider using a lighter weight paper
  • Use uncoated paper stock

Ink:

  • Vegetable/plant-based
  • Low VOC levels

Other considerations:

  • Use a local printer
  • Choose a printer with a formal environmental and energy reduction policy
  • Consider digital or waterless printing
  • Choose PDF over print proofs
  • Reuse and recycle – have a strategy and make sure your printer has one too

Digital: There’s still things you can do

While printing contributes to pollution through the usage of materials, digital design contributes to climate change through the usage of electricity but there are still some things you can do to reduce your impact.

  • Streamline website image size to reduce download times (and you’ll also make your site faster, giving your visitors a better experience and giving you a welcome SEO boost from Google’s algorithms!)
  • Offer print-friendly web pages – that really lovely scrolling page might drop over to three or four pages if someone decides to print it
  • Have a strategy to offset the carbon used by your electronics

What does sustainable design look like at EVORA?

Since I joined EVORA in June, we have already made a start on improving the sustainability of our design process and there are things that we’re really excited to be doing in the year ahead.

  • Switching print suppliers. The first (and most simple) thing I have done. EVORA’s preferred printer is Seacourt ‘planet positive printing’, a Net Positive print company.
  • Identifying our standard paper stock. The next step is a switch in our paper stock for all work going forward. We will work with our supplier to identify a paper stock which is as sustainable as possible while maintaining a corporate image in keeping with our brand guidelines.
  • Being more creative with our designs. A revamp of our marketing materials for 2018 provides the ideal opportunity to be more innovative with our collateral – watch this space!
  • Optimising digital. EVORA’s new website, which launched recently, offers us much more control of the design of the site. We have already worked on image optimisation to reduce our site load speed and in the new year we will be working on print friendly versions of our most visited pages.

EVORA supplier Seacourt logoSeacourt ‘planet positive printing’ is a green printing company. Seacourt is known for its radical approach to protecting the environment, is one of the very first printing firms to achieve EMAS certification in 1999, an accreditation renowned for its high standards and stringent demands. The company has been recognised as ‘one of the top three leading environmental printers in the world’ by a worldwide printing association, and has gone onto win THREE coveted Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development. In 2017, they were also awarded a European EMAS Award.

Does the UK’s net zero future need the EU ETS?

The 2008 Climate Change Act already commits the UK to an 80% reduction in emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2050. However, the unwritten long-term target hopefully is, or at least should be, to achieve complete carbon neutrality.


Since its inception in 2005, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) has been Europe’s flagship climate policy. It has two stated aims, namely:

  • To reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an economically efficient manner.
  • To promote investment in low-carbon technologies and energy efficiency improvements.

Approximately 15400 installations, accounting for around 45% of EU greenhouse gas emissions, are now covered by the Scheme, over 1000 of which are in the UK. However, with the Brexit negotiations looming, the UK’s place in the EU ETS is under threat.

As an EU member, the UK is currently subject to the Emissions Trading Directive, but this is unlikely to be the case by the end of the negotiation process as such a position is not compatible with the incumbent government’s Brexit rhetoric of removing European Court of Justice (ECJ) jurisprudence.

The only obvious option for the UK to remain involved in the EU ETS, whilst avoiding ECJ jurisprudence, would be to create a UK ETS and then negotiate a unilateral or bilateral linkage. Switzerland has been undergoing just such a process over the past decade, culminating in a technical-level agreement in January 2016 that is awaiting ratification.

Before beginning to debate how a UK-EU ETS relationship should be formed however, the question that we should be asking first is: is it worth it?


This seemingly simple question has a rather more complex answer. The UK economy is large enough to have an emissions trading scheme of its own, however being part of a larger trading scheme with more participants carries efficiency benefits, through increasing the volume of available low-cost abatement options and through increasing market liquidity and stability.

What is not clear is the extent to which the UK receives these benefits. Given that the EU ETS is now in its twelfth compliance cycle, there seems to be remarkably little research into the extent of the benefits the Scheme produces. With the March 2019 Brexit negotiation deadline fast approaching, the Government should give serious consideration to commissioning such a study for the UK.

The EU ETS is also far from perfect which, to be fair, is to be expected given that it was the first, and continues to be the largest, emissions trading scheme in the world. The large surplus of allowances, a lingering remnant of the 2008 financial crisis, and the persistently low and unstable allowance price are the stand out issues, and add up to mean the EU ETS is not functioning as well as it could.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The majority of the EU ETS’ regulatory design features could be replicated in an independent UK ETS” quote=”The majority of the EU ETS’ regulatory design features could simply be replicated in an independent UK ETS”]

If the UK Government wishes, the majority of the EU ETS’ regulatory design features could simply be replicated in an independent UK ETS. Therefore, the decision of whether to remain involved in the Scheme boils down to weighing the aforementioned economic efficiency benefits against the issues the EU ETS is facing and the challenges of negotiating an acceptable linkage deal for both parties.


The UK business community should seek to take greater ownership of this issue, firstly by pushing the Government to conduct the necessary research to make this decision properly, and secondly by each firm reflecting themselves on what the EU ETS does or does not do for them in the pursuit of carbon neutrality. As the global threat of climate change grows, stricter environmental regulations are inevitable, but high costs don’t have to be. Emissions trading schemes are a proven mechanism for producing low-cost emissions abatement, but to get the most out of them they must have the right design. Is the EU ETS right for the UK? This is something we need to work out.

This blog was originally published on Edie.net

GRESB 2018 Top Tips. Part 2 of 2

Looking to boost your GRESB 2018 score but not sure where to start? Never fear, as here at EVORA we have conducted extensive analysis of results and come up with some tips and tricks for picking up points.

Read Part 1 ‘What have we learnt from the GRESB 2017 results?here.

Visit our GRESB support service page.


GRESB 2018 Top Tips

1. Get an EMS

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is an organisation-level framework for the review, evaluation, and improvement of environmental performance. When aligned with the ISO 14001 standard, an EMS is immediately worth 2.5 points on the GRESB survey. Furthermore, an EMS helps you plan and direct environmental action to areas of the business where it will have the biggest effect, which will in turn generate further GRESB points. If you don’t have one already, our experts here at EVORA can help you develop an EMS uniquely tailored to the wants and needs of your organisation.

2. Data Data Data!

The methods for data collection and the extent of data coverage are huge elements of your final GRESB score, so getting a well-organised process in place is crucial for good performance. Table 1 summarises where data matters in the GRESB survey and how EVORA can help:

GRESB Analysis Fig 4

Table 1: The points available in GRESB 2017 for data capture and management

We are still waiting to hear if there will be any changes to the scoring for GRESB 2018, but we can guarantee that data capture and management will have a huge part to play again.

To find out more about our specialist data management software, visit the SIERA page or give the office a call on +44 (0)20 3266 7333 and we will be happy to tell you more.

3. Get Audited

Conducting technical building assessments is a great way to improve environmental performance, and another opportunity to rack up GRESB points. GRESB does not fully disclose the scoring system for the technical building assessment question, but by analysing client data we have developed a strong understanding of the scoring model used in the 2017 survey, based on the percentage coverage (by lettable area) where audits have been completed:

GRESB Analysis Fig 5

Table 2: Approximate scoring categories for GRESB Q16: Completion of Technical Building Assessments by floor area coverage

Whilst the overall question is scored out of 4.5, each category of assessment has its own limit to the points that can be achieved, and is then subdivided into four scoring categories based on portfolio coverage.

An important point to note is that we found no instances where a portfolio had some coverage but scored no points. This means an assessment of any type conducted anywhere, even on the smallest of assets, will immediately get you GRESB points.

[clickToTweet tweet=”This means assessment of any type, anywhere, even on the smallest assets, will get you GRESB points!” quote=”This means an assessment of any type conducted anywhere, even on the smallest of assets, will immediately get you GRESB points”]

Furthermore, such assessments actively seek to identify opportunities for efficiency improvements. These opportunities not only helps you to save on utility bills, but can improve your scores on GRESB Questions 17 and 18, which relate directly to the implementation of energy and water efficiency measures. Our team of experts is experienced in the completion of all kinds of audits, so get in touch to learn more about what we can do for you.

4. Get Certified

With a global average score of just 46, the Certification & Energy Ratings section is the GRESB aspect where there is most room for improvement. It is also something we know all about here at EVORA.

The scoring for Question 30 (regarding green building certificates) is a little complex, but essentially the portfolio coverage of New Construction and Operational certificates are benchmarked against that of other entities in your region within each GRESB property type, and you end up with a score for each property type of either 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10. All the scores are then weighted based on Gross Asset Value, and combined into a final question score out of 10. A full description of how the scoring was done can be found in the GRESB Reference Guide, or alternatively get in touch and we’ll be happy to explain it in full.

GRESB Analysis Fig 6

Figure 3: Points Scored vs New Construction certificate coverage for European offices in GRESB 2017

The key take-away is that there are real opportunities to pick up lots of points here. This is because the current low level of certification in real estate portfolios worldwide means that the benchmarking procedure used bottom-loads the scoring. As a result, even small amounts of certification coverage in your portfolio can score well, particularly if you have a combination of both New Construction and Operational certificates. Figure 3 focuses specifically on New Construction certificates amongst European offices, a particularly well certified property type, and shows that less than 50% certification coverage would have scored 8 out of 10 for this property type in GRESB 2017. Other property types benchmark even lower, so require even less coverage to rack up points.

[clickToTweet tweet=”BREEAM In Use, as one of most widely recognised certification schemes in the world, is ideal choice” quote=”BREEAM In Use, as one of the most widely recognised and respected certification schemes in the world, is an ideal choice”]

Of course, as certification becomes more popular worldwide this will drive up the benchmark percentages, but don’t let that dissuade you from an excellent opportunity to improve your GRESB score. BREEAM In Use, as one of the most widely recognised and respected certification schemes in the world, is an ideal choice, and is a service that we can provide. Get in touch to learn more.

Changes for the 2018 survey

Because of the constant shifting nature of sustainability and the real estate industry, GRESB reviews its survey each year and tends to make some changes to the scoring system. These are yet to be announced but, as a premier partner, EVORA is at the heart of the process, has a strong idea of how it will evolve, and is keeping tabs on GRESB releases on our clients’ behalf. Check out this blog by our Founder & Director Ed Gabbitas on GRESB’s ongoing review as an example.

We look forward to supporting you through GRESB 2018!

For enquiries regarding GRESB support or any other of our services, give our office a call on +44 (0)20 3266 7333, or email us at info@evoraglobal.com.

 


GRESB Premier PartnerAs a GRESB Real Estate Premier Partner, we are perfectly positioned to provide GRESB support. View our official Premier Partner profile.

We can work with you to complete the submission and understand your scoring, as well as develop a sustainability plan that will improve your future GRESB performance and align with your organisation’s key environmental objectives.