Operating in a more sustainable way has become important in businesses across the country, including in the building industry. It has moved from a ‘nice to do’ to a ‘must do’ activity with 40% of specifiers factoring in environmental considerations when specifying products according to EBOSS' latest research. Taking steps — whether they be large or small — to make positive change to the New Zealand environment needn’t be difficult and making small incremental changes over time will help make sustainable decisions become second nature.
Businesses of any size can start their sustainability journey. Small businesses like Architectural Products & Technologies (APT) have made a deliberate decision to make sustainability part of their DNA. APT Tiaki is the company's commitment to operate sustainably and protect New Zealand's nature. This initiative encompasses small and large steps that benefit the environment in New Zealand and across the world.
Big steps: funding native trees
Over the last few years, a number of tree planting initiatives have been set up to help increase the number of native trees in New Zealand through funding from businesses and individuals.
APT is committed to planting — and protecting — one native tree in New Zealand for every Corian sheet, sink and basin, and every FENIX sheet, panel and sink sold. In addition to this, a native tree will be planted for every product delivery.
In this example, NFRT was chosen by APT due to their robust process: the trust buys entire tracts of land throughout New Zealand, fences them, removes pests and invasive species, and then begins planting and regeneration. Once the forests are ready, they are placed under the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust for ongoing protection. This ensures the land can never be harvested, cleared or developed.
Big steps: choosing quality products
A number of factors need to be considered before specifying a product. Premium quality products like FENIX and Corian carry the assurance that the product is durable and will stay looking good for years to come, and in the case of Corian, can be refabricated into new projects without affecting its look or performance. Durable, premium products do not need to be replaced as often, leading to fewer resources used, and are therefore better in terms of sustainability. Additionally, benefits like FENIX’s Carbon Neutral status or Corian’s silica-free status are all points to consider when considering the sustainability of a product.
Small steps: everyday actions on the journey to sustainability
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is a saying that resonates with many businesses. It may require a slight shift in mindset but once made, making decisions about how to do something in a more sustainable way will become easier — and even fun.
Businesses in the building industry can think creatively. Take off-cuts as an example of an opportunity to give a resource another use instead of it ending up in landfill. APT encourages off-cuts be used in a variety of ways. Corian off-cuts can be made into chopping boards or other small items for customers and trim waste from FENIX pressed panel production is used for creating samples for specifiers. End-of-life samples like deleted colours or damaged samples of Corian are sent to secondary schools for carving classes.
In an office, small and easy steps can be taken to lessen the impact on the environment like printing on 100% recycled paper for office printers and marketing collateral, moving to plastic-free packaging or reusing externally supplied plastic packaging and using a Bokashi bin for food scraps.
The building industry can make many steps, both big and small, to become more environmentally sustainable. Businesses like APT are committed and passionate about continuously improving: from its funding of planting and protecting native trees through NFRT, to the green credentials of its products and everyday actions in operating its business. Together we can — and will — make a difference.