Greenhouse gas emissions involved in fieldwork are included in our overall calculation
We provide a healthy, positive work environment with a culture conducive to scientific productivity, innovative thinking and a rewarding career. At the same time, our workplace underpins our commitment to sustainability across all our activities and sets the highest standards, as expected of a good employer.
Our workplace culture
Landcare Research is a ‘knowledge organisation’. Effort is ongoing to develop a high–performance, customer–focused, innovative culture that characterises our scientific work. We regularly review our capabilities as part of workforce planning and actively encourage training and career–development opportunities, reward good performance, and recruit the best employees from New Zealand and overseas. Landcare Research’s core purpose is to undertake research and development to protect and enhance New Zealand land environments and enable their sustainable use with economic development. Hence ‘sustainability’ is an integral part of our operational culture.
In late 2008 we conducted a survey of our workplace culture: 61% of employees participated. This survey assessed a range of adaptive–culture factors associated with successful organisations: entrepreneurial, enabled workforce, proactive, experimental and stakeholder balance. We are pleased to report that staff rated Landcare Research positively against all factors. A benchmarking exercise against five other organisations of similar size showed we were above the norm across all areas.
Furthermore, the results indicated a high degree of employee engagement and alignment with our mission and purpose, and high levels of job satisfaction. Staff valued our flexible work practices, and the collegial support and inspiration obtained from their peers. Staff also had an opportunity to suggest where and how the organisation could improve – a number of these ideas have already been implemented, and further initiatives are planned for 2009/10. Focus groups will review the success of these responses.
Workplace planning, leadership development
An in–house Leadership Development Programme commenced in November 2008 with 14 employees. The year–long programme consists of a series of one– or two–day workshops presented by internal and external ‘mentors’. Feedback from participants has been very positive. A second cohort will commence in November 2009. We are confident that these employees, as emerging leaders, will contribute significantly to Landcare Research’s future.
Systems to improve productivity
This year, we continued our focus on developing ‘smarter e–systems’ that reduce science administration for research teams, improve H&S management, facilitate compliance monitoring and incorporate sustainability principles into operating processes. Online shared workspaces have improved staff collaboration and information–sharing across sites and teams. Remote access to our systems now allows staff to be more flexible in when and where they work, including travelling overseas, in the field or working from home.
Our systems development team delivered a number of new intranet–based ‘tools’, including improvements to (electronic) timesheets, and a new electronic leave booking system; online training for our laboratory staff; online notification of fieldwork intentions, and accident and incident reporting; online guides to induction/on–boarding processes for visitors and new staff; and a new system for reporting science outcomes and achievements for multiple stakeholders. The latter was a significant project and its success reflects the extensive consultation with science staff throughout the planning, design, development and execution stages.
Health & safety
Landcare Research maintains a safe workplace for staff, visitors and contractors, as reflected in the retention of our Tertiary Level status under ACC Workplace Safety Management Practices. The steady decrease in time lost through workrelated injuries has been particularly pleasing. This may reflect the success of two injury–prevention initiatives in recent years: our annual Field H&S Forum, which provides intensive training and opportunities for discussing field–safety–related issues; and our early reporting system for staff experiencing work related pain and discomfort, which enables symptoms to be resolved well before they develop into more serious injury.
During 2008/09 we continued supporting the Mainstream programme, which assists people with mental or physical disabilities by providing meaningful employment and an opportunity to gain experience and skills that will better equip them in an open job–market. We were able to employ seven participants in the programme, thanks to the commitment of staff who created job positions, then encouraged, supported and mentored the participants. Our HR Manager was presented with a special merit award at the Mainstream Awards ceremony in recognition and appreciation of his ongoing commitment to the programme.
Optimising the work environment
The primary goal of our property strategy is to provide a quality work environment for staff to ensure both their well–being and scientific productivity. At the same time, we aim to rationalise our property portfolio, optimise occupancy, and maximise effective use of resources and minimise waste.
This year, we completed major refurbishment projects to parts of our Lincoln and Auckland facilities. Both projects involved creating open–plan office environments, with improved space utilisation and high levels of natural lighting. The design and layout greatly assists with team–building and collaboration. In Auckland, additional office space was created for our groundfloor tenants (MAF Biosecurity) by filling in a large section of the central atrium. An open–plan layout was also adopted for this area. ‘Sustainable’ products and materials were used in all three projects, including Entropy RE Interface carpet tiles, low VOC adhesives, timber from sustainably managed forests, 100% recycled acoustic tiles, and environmentally friendly paints. Where possible, energy–efficient light fittings, windows and internal doors were reused. Sustainability requirements and low environmental impact were incorporated into tender specifications. We are delighted that 95% of the waste from the Auckland projects was recycled.
Waste to landfill
Landcare Research’s goal is ‘zero avoidable waste to landfill by 2012’. We reduced our avoidable waste to landfill by 25% compared with last year, exceeding our 10% reduction target. Compared with our baseline waste–audit figures of two years ago, we have reduced waste by a remarkable 81% per FTE!
This year, we commenced the carboNZeroCert™–approvedverification process for measuring greenhouse gas emissions. Following an audit conducted by Telarc SAI, we improved data collection for extra–large rental cars (e.g. mini–buses), short– and long–haul air travel, taxi travel, and hotel and motel accommodation nights. And, for the first time, we also included greenhouse gas emissions associated with compostable waste going to landfill.
Energy consumption per FTE was slightly up (2.7%) from last year; 77% of all electricity was renewable energy purchased from Meridian (60% in 2007/08 vs 61% in 2006/07). As Meridian is carboNZero certified, they offset 328 tonnes of imputed CO2 associated with the electricity we purchased.
We exceeded our greenhouse gas emissions target for the year. This was due to increased international travel and significantly to a refrigerant leak at our Auckland site (29% of total emissions were attributed to the leak). To cover this unexpected situation, we purchased additional carbon credits to retain our carbon–neutral position. In total, we acquired 2955 windfarm credits through the carboNZero programme (2842 for Landcare Research and 113 for Sirtrack ).
We maintained our various best–practice workplace certifications under ISO14001. This year’s audit report stated: ‘The system continues to be well managed and Landcare Research is leading the field in a large number of areas with respect to innovative systems such as rain harvesting, energy conservation and carbon zero calculations.’ The auditors noted strong evidence of effective and responsible environmental management and commitment from staff.
Compliance with legislation
There were no material instances of non–compliance during 2008/09.