I have always loved nature and the environment but never had a job that centres around my passion until I started working at St Marks Shopping Centre where I have been working for over 7 years.  I work in an office managing day to day finances so when the opportunity arose for me to get involved in some small wildlife projects on site I jumped at the chance.   I really wanted to increase my knowledge in Environmental awareness and sustainability so when I saw online the IEMA course in 2017 and what it could lead to I was excited. Sustainability is such a growing issue and I approached  my employer who supported me and funded this course as it would be beneficial in the long term.  I completed the course online, in my own time in 6 months and it was flexible to fit in with work and afterwards, after I passed my exam, I was rewarded with the AIEMA status. In April last year, I was recognised for my qualification and I was given a new, enhanced job title and significant pay rise as well.

The knowledge I had gained from the course had been implemented into my new job title of Operations Co-ordinator as I was then given the tasks of anything to do with sustainability on our site.  Carbon reduction was one of my challenges and changing our lighting scheme to LEDs over the whole site led to a reduction of energy consumption by over 44%.  Other initiatives included dusk till dawn sensors across common areas, PIRs in the service yards and closing our upper deck car park early so lights were then set to a timer.  I wanted to also engage our tenants and I introduced a quarterly competition where the biggest Kilowatt per Sqm reduction compared to the same time the previous year would win High Street vouchers and there was a 16% reduction in tenants’ electricity as a result.  I regularly send an environmental newsletter to them, so they are always well informed.

As an outdoor scheme where we are not in control of tenant’s waste, so our recycling rate currently sat at 25%.  I wanted to increase this and with the help of our cleaning team some changes were made.  Segregating the waste further from general and recycling bins resulted in additional recycling as often cardboard and paper was put in the wrong bins.  A lot of general waste was generated in the form of coffee cups so in order to reduce this I wanted to implement coffee cup recycling.  I asked one of our suppliers if they could adapt their outdoor bins to accommodate coffee cups and they were able to do this.  I organised some signage that could perhaps educate our customers and as there were no coffee cup collection services in the area I arranged with one of our tenants who currently have their coffee cups collected.  As a result we have increased recycling from 25% to 42% and this is rising.  In February our recycling was 47% and 55% in March.

On the subject of recycling, chewing gum is a big issue for our site and takes some cleaning.  I saw a company who have produced bins that are bright pink and look like a giant gum ball.  What was even better was that they recycled the gum into products such as reusable cups, pens, pencils, rulers and even wellington boots so there is a product at the end.  I realise that there will be some educating of people changing their habits to make a success of this but quite confident that this can be implemented into a wider education of recycling so I am currently in the process of launching a recycling event and a local school will be designing signage for our bins.

In November, I was nominated and won Responsible Property Management Sustainability Champion 2018 which was a fantastic achievement and has gained me recognition within the organisation that I work for and I felt that gaining the further knowledge through training was one of the biggest contributors and helped me to progress my career further.

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing member, and are not necessarily representative of the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated.

About the Author

Laura is an Operations Coordinator for Jones Lang LaSalle Ltd, Estates company for the St Marks Shopping Centre Lincoln. Laura studied IEMAs Foundation Certificate in Environmental Management with RRC and is now an IEMA Associate member.