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Offices are becoming increasingly more environmentally friendly to fit in with new Government legislation coming in to force next year and to fulfil CSR objectives.

A lovely eco office
A lovely eco office

At Hello Eco Living we’re always looking for people who stand out head and shoulders above the rest and we believe we’ve found one of the businesses leading the stakes in the eco office revolution…

Lucas Hickman Smith Architects is situated in the historic market town of Wymondham in Norfolk. They have been in their current eco office since June 2006.

Before moving in, the restored building was given a lot of thought to enable eco friendly credentials. Many corporations want to be seen to be socially responsible but for directors Paul Lucas and Terry Hickman Smith, protecting the environment is a concern close to their hearts.

The offices were painted with organic paints with natural pigments to banish pollution and fumes which are given off standard paints. The carpet is woven from jute; hardwearing, easy on the eye and above all, in harmony with nature.

Recycling is a prominent theme; the office furniture is reclaimed and recycled, complementing the character of the building. All staff engage in the recycling process by reusing as much as possible. There is a wormery outside where employees contribute to the compost with their biodegradable waste.

Energy is used on a need-only basis. The large windows allow a lot of natural light to flood the open plan office but when the evenings draw in, the office is illuminated by compact fluorescents which are more planet friendly than standard lights.

Each year Lucas Hickman Smith chooses an eco charity to support. Managers and staff bring in home grown fruit and organic eggs laid by their own chickens so there is always something tasty and healthy to snack on.

The office is cleaned using Ecover cleaning products which do not emit fumes like most industrial products do.

The office located near to shops and other business and is on a public transport network, with the intention for clients to think eco.

The company abides by a strict Environmental policy which ensures that all the work they carry out is sustainable and socially responsible. Green architecture is their field of expertise making sure all of their designs are as environmentally friendly as possible.

The office is an eco haven and it has been created with the planet in mind and the wellbeing of the staff. Lucas Hickman Smith is a happy, creative place where their work ensures the very best for the future.

Leeds University is launching a year-long study into how it might reduce its £11m-a-year energy bill.

Students ready to reduce energy consumption
Students ready to reduce energy consumption

From October two student accommodation blocks will be pitted against each other to test the effect of monitoring electricity consumption. One block will be used as a control sample while each flat in the other block will be fitted with an OWL wireless electricity monitor.

For the first time, Leeds students – who currently pay their bills as part of a flat rental rate – will be able to see how habits like leaving electrical devices on standby rather than turning them off at the plug use unnecessary power, hit their pockets and impact on their carbon footprint.

OWL provides up to the second information on the exact amount of electricity you are using in pounds and pence and in kilo watts. The immediate impact on the carbon footprint by turning off a light or turning down the thermostat can be seen on the OWL monitor and the information can then be recorded instantly and cumulatively, helping to manage your energy saving strategy.

In domestic households, the OWLS have already proven a great success, reducing annual bills by just over a quarter and saving customers hundreds of pounds a year.

The outcome of the study will be monitored by undergraduate Emily Bradley, who recently won a Sustainable Development placement supported by OWL. She will work in the University’s Sustainable Development team to monitor electricity usage, assess the benefits of installing the meters and identify plans for future development.

The project will provide information to the NUSSL national programme on reducing carbon emissions from student residences. If successful it will be rolled out across Leeds University as a whole and will provide a blueprint for universities and institutions across the UK and internationally on how to reduce their carbon footprint.

Commenting on the initiative, Leeds University Deputy Vice-Chancellor John Fisher said;

The project is an exciting part of our Carbon Management Plan. If successful, we hope to be able to roll out the use of OWL electricity monitors to our entire student population, empowering them with the tools to monitor and ultimately reduce their electricity consumption.

I’ve been carrying a little tub of magic around with me for the past month. You can use this product for all sorts of things – chapped lips, dry hands – I get a really itchy nose now and again and a little dollop of Essential Care organic calendula balm sorts it right out.

As well as my little tub (that by the way is still really full and I use it a lot) I have been treating my face to organic rose moisturiser, from the same range. It’s not heavy like some organic products can be, and it smells divine.

I have taken to these products because they work, they look and smell good, and when you look behind the scenes there’s a really nice story.

Hello Eco Living caught up with Abi Weeds, Director of Essential Care (organics) ltd to find out a little background.

Q. Tell us a little about your brand

A. Essential Care is based on my mother Margaret’s 30 years of research into natural skincare and is a fusion of her training in aromatherapy and herbal medicine (plus many hours of painstaking research!). The catalyst for that was her own incredibly sensitive skin and most of our family suffering from eczema.

Q. How did you bring your product to market?

A. By 2003 I thought her formulations were so good and unique that they deserved a wider audience than just family and friends. We started literally on the kitchen table and while we’re still a small company, it’s so exciting to see Essential Care now benefitting and being enjoyed by our wonderful and hugely loyal customer base.

Q. Would you say you’re taking organics to the mainstream?

A. I’d like to think that we’re helping to push organic skincare into the mainstream by making products that have beautiful scents, ‘modern, not gunky’ textures and wide-ranging uses. Our Gentle Herb Shampoo was one example of that – my mother created it for a friend with psoriasis and it became the first shampoo ever certified to organic standards.

Q. What’s the best thing about being an organic company?

A. Being an organic company is incredibly rewarding in so many different ways; from having a barrel of the most exquisite organic rosewater turn up on your doorstep, to meeting great people and knowing you’re making a positive contribution to the sustainability of the planet.