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Earth Day 2023: Sustainability Stories


“Earth Day is a reminder to dedicate our time, resources, and energy to solving climate change and other environmental issues.”

Happy Earth Day from Charcoalblue!

One of Charcoalblue’s key focuses in our corporate social responsibility is minimising our impact on the environment, both in the buildings we design and the studios we work from, whilst influencing others to do the same. The people of Charcoalblue put their green foot forwards in their working lives and continue to do so at home.

From Carbon Literacy training to sharing plant-based recipes with one another, our company is made up of creative people who make proactive choices in their home lives to create more sustainable environments to make a positive impact on future generations.

We’d like to take this opportunity to share the sustainability stories of the people that make up Charcoalblue, no matter how big or small, in celebration of Earth Day. Check out what we’ve been up to!

Gabriel Bennett, Senior Consultant at Charcoalblue

“In our home and lives, we have worked hard to purchase hybrid vehicles through the years, replaced all tungsten and CFL bulbs with LED, installed a “smart” thermostat that allows for scheduling and App-based remote control, and successfully advocated for our landlord to replace all single pane windows in our house.”

Chris Plevin, Consultant at Charcoalblue

As a DIY project, I decided to find and buy used equipment wherever possible and sort out how to cobble together a safe and efficient solar system for our home. We now have 8 panels on the top of our corrugated roof pergola (our house is 120 years old and we didn’t think putting the panels on the roof was wise!). They tie back into our main electrical panel through an inverter and though they don’t cover all of our electrical usage, they make a substantial dent in our dependency on the utility grid.

Among applications for this power is the operation of our mushroom farm. I got deeply interested in mycology a couple of years ago and have been growing (gourmet!) mushrooms in our basement since then. The setup is fairly complex and requires tight controls around humidity, temperature and oxygen/carbon dioxide ratios. There are a number of pumps, fans, sensors, and other electronic bits involved in managing this, all of which are now powered exclusively by energy from the sun. The mushrooms grow on shredded straw and discarded coffee grounds from local coffee shops, so it is now a virtually carbon-neutral and highly prolific source of delicious food!”

Gavin Green, Senior Partner at Charcoalblue

“The Green family rescued a bee colony, built our own hive and transferred the bees alongside creating a specific bee-friendly flower garden to encourage pollination.”

Christian Wallace, Senior Consultant & Environmental Coordinator

I have an allotment and produce a vast array of fruit and veg. i also use parts from an old seat to use as labels.

Gabe Weisberg, Project Manager at Charcoalblue Experience

“I live in Los Angeles, CA where water is at a premium and the state and county are doing everything they can to get residents to use less water. One of the things that LA County has done is to partner with a company called FLUME that makes residential water meters and the county has offered them to residents at a substantial discount, so I decided to purchase one and install it at my house.

The device simply straps to the water main at the street, and then you plug a hub into an outlet in your house. The whole thing syncs together once it is connected to the internet and starts working immediately. With this meter, I can monitor the water usage at the house down to a 1/10th of a gallon of water used per minute. In fact, if I flush a toilet I can watch the app on my phone log it in real-time.

In any regard, with the meter installed for the last few months I have changed out my toilets and shower heads to more efficient/newer versions and the biggest one was making alterations to my yard sprinkler systems. By removing some of the sprinkler heads, swapping for more efficient ones and the adjustments I am glad to say that my water usage has been cut by nearly 1/3! If you are a nerd like myself, check out the graphs that the FLUME puts out each month.”

Abigail Harris, Service Coordinator at Charcoalblue Experience

“Some sustainable things I really enjoy are eating mostly vegetarian (impossible meat is a game changer!), gardening, mostly for fun but I grow my own herbs and some veggies, and I really like thrifting and stooping (swiping furniture from the street that is landfill-bound). It is so cool to have pieces of furniture or clothing that have history and getting to be a part of that history by either continuing to use it or by repurposing it.

I would also love to highlight Final Strike Collaborative; they are a Nonprofit that takes materials bound for disposal from theaters and repurpose them. A mutual friend introduced me to the founder, Laicey Gibby-Brown, who is also a theater technician. She is so cool and is doing such awesome sustainability work so I wanted to give her a shout here.

Lastly, another fun Earth Day New York activity; the City is doing street closures in collaboration with Citi Bike where you can ride a bike free for 30 minutes.”

DJ Husted, Training & Development Assistant at Charcoalblue

"Here’s a picture of me bringing home some Christmas shopping on the subway. I have gone car-free since moving to NY and I haven't looked back!"

James Nowell, Associate Director at Charcoalblue

With rising energy costs, more education and commitment to sustainable goals and some fortunate savings mixed with a much more competitive quote we took the plunge and signed up for a home Solar Panel installation.

We opted for a 6kW system with 16 panels split 10/6 across our roof which gratefully gets good sun all day. We included a smart inverter (the nerdy bit that sends power to the right places) and a battery to store some power up in the day to use in the home when the sun goes down.

We have been amazed how much an overcast, short winter day could produce with some days able to be almost “off grid” with the exception of high-power items like showers and kettles temporarily needing higher wattage from the grid. Now we’re in spring and heading towards summer, we continue to be thrilled with the potential we’ve got to support our home and feed back into the grid. What is completely baffling is the disparity of unit charges between our Feed In Tariff (earning us 4.1p a unit) to what we buy an imported unit for (38p!). It means we are concentrating on using our power needs when the solar is kicking off, with appliances only on in the daytime and attempting to cook while still light.”

Cindy Murray, Business Unit Coordinator at Charcoalblue

“Our beds are standing by for spring planting. The visible growth in round bags are garlic and onions, planted last October, ready to harvest come July, along with a strawberry patch in the low square bed. The center bed also accommodates a place for composting food scraps which feeds the soil and plants.

The white stalk with a round-looking growth provides a flavorful internet-receiving dish that allows me the great opportunity to work remotely with Charcoalblue.”

We love to see our team being green and reducing their carbon footprints. For more Earth Day content, head over to our Instagram to explore our sustainability project spotlights and catch up with our Environmental Coordinator, Christian, in an Earth Day Q&A.

Supporting the industry internationally since 2004

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise: International Trade 2020 UK Theatre Tonic Theatre Communications Group Carbon Literate Orginisation - Silver
John Owens is a Charcoalblue Partner responsible for our North American practice.

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