John Bullock Lighting Design
John Bullock Lighting Design
Lighting Product DesignLighting Product Design
Heritage Lighting ProjectsHeritage Lighting Projects
Home Lighting ProjectsHome Lighting Projects
Exhibitions Lighting ProjectsExhibitions Lighting Projects
Leisure Lighting ProjectsLeisure Lighting Projects
Exterior Lighting ProjectsExterior Lighting Projects
Commercial Lighting ProjectsCommercial Lighting Projects

Making Sustainability Work


A friend asked me to explain what it is that we're up to with GS-L ... preferably in simple words. This is what I wrote:

There is general support for the idea of acting sustainably; the problem is to find a way of doing it. Environmental issues have � inevitably � swamped the Sustainability agenda and that has allowed the word to be devalued (albeit towards a Good End).

In business, the common belief is that sustainable behaviour costs money; it attacks profitability and competitiveness; that acting ethically will always lose out to cost differentials.

The real problem here is the lack of mechanism. If we know how to go about a thing, then many of the fears and uncertainties fall away as we begin to see how something may be achieved. To this end, Greenspec Light (GS-L) is taking away the vagueness and putting a strategy in place that moves a company further along the pathway towards a more sustainable future. And most importantly, at a pace that the company can maintain.

(It�s difficult, given the subject matter, to entirely avoid evangelical imagery. In his books and lectures Ray Anderson, CEO of carpet manufacturers Interface Inc., compared this shift in the way of doing business as �climbing Mount Sustainability� � and there may not be a summit!)

It would help, of course, if we had a real definition of what we mean by Sustainability.
�I want to act in a more Sustainable way� has to mean more than switching off lights in empty rooms and making sure waste paper is recycled. This is the easy stuff.

Any websearch around the term �acting sustainably� will arrive quickly at the concept of the Triple Bottom Line. To take a definition at random:
"Sustainability as a principle is characterised by the interplay of three dimensions: ecology, economy and social... The ecological dimension of sustainability is given preference in connection to the behaviour of consumers. Economic development and welfare are only possible in the long-term within a predetermined framework that identifies nature as the foundation of life. Conversely economic and social aspects also serve for the "do ability" of ecology: ecological production and consumerism can only be realised if they are attainable for the consumer... and when consumerism and production take place under acceptable social conditions."
Source: Deutscher Bundestag (Ed.), final report from the Enquete Commission "Globalisation of the World Economy", p. 381 Note 119

Acting in a Sustainable way means having regard not only to the environment, but also to the economic and societal frameworks within which the company functions.
That is the Triple Bottom Line.

So Greenspec Light looked again at the question and came up with:

to act sustainably = to act in a socially responsible way

There is a much more boring-sounding description of what �acting sustainably� means, and that is Corporate Social Responsibility. But CSR is a well-structured business concept, and doesn�t carry with it the emotional burden that �sustainability� is imbued with. That doesn�t make it a soft option, however.

The Greenspec Light CSR Accreditation Programme is based on the principles established in ISO:26000 �Guidance on Social Responsibility�, a voluntary guidance standard on social responsibility that can be used by companies to plan and implement actions to improve their sustainability � economically, socially, and environmentally.

The GS-L Programme has seven section headings:

Corporate Governance
The development of a �sustainable agenda� requires action at the very top of a company if its to be successful. It all begins in the boardroom.

The Environment
As we all know, the Environmental agenda is well known, but it is rarely embraced throughout the company operation. Its as much to do with directors� behaviour as it is to do with sales reps travel patterns and the kind of packaging that�s being used in the warehouse.

Product Responsibility
The lighting industry has settled (complacently) for producing a �low energy� product; and its done that very well. But there�s more work to be done here, from the kind of materials used in manufacture, it what happens at the end of life, to an accurate reporting on a product�s environmental credentials.

Human Rights
Business in Europe hardly thinks about human rights. Its wrapped into our legislation and there is a general sense that the protection of human rights is somehow �bred in the bone�.
That situation is challenged daily by our reliance on other parts of the world where human rights is less of a given and more often considered as something to be circumvented.

Labour Practices
Again, as with human rights, we feel that we�re part of a mature post-industrial society that does these things rather well.
The reality is that labour rights have suffered over the past thirty years, despite long-standing evidence to show that good relationships between boardroom and shop floor lead to better business.

If the internet age has done anything to shake the foundations of business practice, its been the impact wrought by �whistle-blowing� via social networks.
Unfair competition / corruption / political dealing / profiteering are all practices that are coming under the public scrutiny more than ever before.
And there�s nothing sustainable about trying to run a business from a prison cell.

Community Development
Companies have been involved in community activity for many years. It may be the via sponsorship or ownership of a sporting club or a management team working with local schools and colleges. It�s an appreciation that �giving something back� is a useful and positive thing for a company to do.

RIBA CPD in 2015

Here are the links to my event calendars



John Bullock Lighting Design
4 Miller Way

Website designed by Alacrify