Surefoot - our projects
On this page you will gain insight into the two series of Carbon Conversations which Surefoot conducted with the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body. Workplace Carbon Conversations focus on the changes individuals can make and opportunities to reduce carbon emissions across an organisation, with the final session creating an action plan for the group’s sponsor.
It's Good to Talk! Carbon Conversations
Carbon Conversations has contributed to a wider cultural change,
“What we really learned and built on was the benefit of holding meetings where people can discuss things and voice opinions, not just receive information. We learned a lot about trying to understand why people behave in certain ways,” says David Fairhurst, environment performance manager at the Scottish parliament. Ambitious targets alone don’t create change, “We recognise that staff behaviour and employee engagement are key to meeting those goals,” states Fairhurst.
The sessions at the parliament ran during working hours. All the participants were volunteers, which Fairhurst believes is essential,
“I sat down and wrote a list of people I thought might be interested, including those in our environment management working group. I also asked office heads who they would recommend. The first group was a pilot. We aimed for a mix of participants to see how different people responded to it.”
Participants reported feeling more involved, inspired and empowered, as well as more informed. As a result, several became more involved with Real Action on Climate Emissions (RACE) programme and ideas the group generated led to changes in recycling at the parliament building.
“We’ve completely changed our recycling facilities in offices,” Fairhurst says. “We’ve removed individual bins and replaced them with recycling hubs to encourage people to separate their waste. Our recycling rates are now very high – around 80% – and we’ve cut our landfill waste by almost 70% over the past four to five years.”
Jenny Goldsmith, member of the European and external relations committee and a volunteer coordinator for the parliament’s RACE programme concludes,
“Carbon Conversations has opened up dialogue that has helped the parliament learn. It’s been part of our environmental evolution.”
Read more about the case study: It's Good to Talk! Carbon Conversations
Values-based change methods
Pamela Candea, Managing Director and Founder of Surefoot, wrote a thesis on this work for her MSc: ‘The impact of a values-based change method on the environmental performance of an organisation.’
Her research examined the impact of a values-based change method on the environmental performance of an organisation, through the delivery and evaluation of a pilot for one group of employees. The Carbon Conversations set of workshops, designed for community work, was used in the pilot as it creates a safe and supported environment where people can access and express emotions.
The ten participants from the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body provided information to calculate individual carbon footprints, completed an environmental attitudinal survey, and participated in six two-hour Carbon Conversation sessions. They took part in individual semi-structured interviews, completed an evaluation form and repeated the attitudinal survey two to four months after the sessions completed. Two senior managers were also interviewed.
The data demonstrates that emotions and values are evoked during participation and that behaviour both at home and in the workplace was affected: over 150 home and work pro-environmental actions are reported completed or planned, and over 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents emissions were saved from the completed home actions alone.
Analysis confirmed that Carbon Conversations’ behaviour change methods (as supported in the literature reviewed) engendered demonstrable and significant change, with indications this change will be being long-lasting. The findings and analysis confirm that values-based change methods are powerful and transformative and can impact the environmental performance of an organisation.
“I see my little boy - 18 months. He is at an eco-nursery and we bring him up to hopefully love what’s around him and look after it. That’s just optimism in a little bundle.”
- Participant at Carbon Conversations
Graduate School of the Environment Centre for Alternative Technology and University of East London MSc Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies 2011