The Green House, our HQ

As a company, we’re committed to growing responsibly, taking steps to minimise our environmental impact. While our building may have doubled in size, it certainly hasn’t doubled its energy usage.

All our offices are now lit with LEDs. These clever little devices are bundled together into a lighting panel that looks and behaves exactly like any other office lighting, but the energy it uses is a fraction of even compact fluorescent tubes. As they switch on and off instantly, we can make full use of motion sensors to ensure we don’t light any empty areas that aren’t being used.

Our entire building is heated completely from ground source heat – this is heat extracted from a few inches below the soil surface. Instead of air conditioning, which pumps energy-intensive cold air into our server rooms, heat generated by our computer servers is extracted and fed back into the heating system. This keeps our servers cool and our energy use down. The result of our heating system and building design is zero fossil fuel usage for our primary heating source, and an energy footprint significantly lower than a small family house – which is pretty impressive for a building that houses over 300 people!

We’ve installed solar panels on our roof to generate electricity. As we have a large open roof area, we can (and often do) generate a sizeable amount of power. Even on a dull day we still produce enough electricity to power a house running all its standard appliances.

Collecting and conserving water is becoming increasingly important as our individual water footprint increases. We harvest rainwater to use for flushing our toilets – a very conservative estimate is that we have saved over 4 million litres of water from toilet flushing alone so far.

All food waste generated on the premises is composted in house in our ‘Rocket’ in-vessel composter – this creates wonderfully rich and nutritious compost from our kitchen and garden waste, which feeds our garden. Crops grown in our garden are used in our staff Bistro, and all garden cuttings and food waste returns to our composter ready for the next growing season. All the waste we produce becomes food for something else and none of our food waste ever leaves the premises.

The decking on our patio was chosen for minimal environmental impact as it is made from waste wood flour (a byproduct from the wood working industry) and recycled HDPE (also found in our Sheer Skin Tint™ SPF 15 tubes – and commonly used in milk containers). Any unused offcuts are bought back by the company that makes the decking and recycled into new products. It is also FSC certified, so the wood content is sustainably

We’re constantly looking at ways to minimise our environmental impact and will update you with any future progress. If you would like to help us on our greener journey or have any feedback, please do get in touch.



I’m sure it won’t have escaped your notice that the UK is experiencing a very mild autumn this year. In fact, the first half of October was at least 3 degrees above normal, and we’ve had the mildest November since records began over 300 years ago.

Here in the south we are used to milder weather; but even so, our woodland area at The Green House has apple blossom, daffodil shoots and primroses appearing at the end of November when we should be expecting frost and bare twigs. Most of our leaves haven’t dropped yet either. Although this is unusual, we should expect mild autumns every so often as part of the natural scheme of things – the last exceptional one was 2006, which was also a record-breaker.

Another thing you may have noticed is the lack of birds in the garden. Around this time last year, I had blue tits, coal tits and plenty of blackbirds feeding from the bird table, but this year…nothing. It’s actually pretty normal for birds to disappear from gardens for a while, as wild birds will tend to go out and about to forage and fatten up for the winter ahead. They probably have a little longer to do so this year. When the wild food dries up, they will return to gardens to enjoy whatever we have put out for them. Food shortages for birds can happen at any time, so keep an eye out for increasing visits to your bird table, which may mean they are starting to look for more human-supplied food.

What do birds need?
In times of hardship, birds need high-calorie, fatty food.

  • Unlike humans, they need plenty of saturated fat: lard, suet, but no margarine or polyunsaturated oils, and definitely no used cooking fat as this can stick to their beaks and feathers. I stick with beef suet, which is clean and easy to put out.
  • Whole nuts are for winter feeds only – at other times of the year use nut flakes. I use peanut, hazel and brazil nuts. (Chopped nuts you can buy from the supermarket in packets are ideal as they will be fresh and free from aflatoxin).
  • Grated mild cheddar cheese is another favourite, as are raw porridge oats, although never give cooked porridge as this can harden around their beaks.
  • You can also try cooked rice, flaked maize, cake crumbs, dried fruit and seeds, such as millet and sunflower (especially black sunflower seeds). Fresh water should always be available.
  • Lastly, clear any dirty, mouldy or old food from your table regularly, as this can cause illness in some birds.

Birds of all kinds are particularly susceptible to environmental changes, and cold or unseasonable weather can badly affect them. Robins in particular will suffer very quickly from weight loss when food is scarce, but many garden birds suffer from starvation during the winter months, so a bird table could literally be a life-saver.

Woodland watch
The mild autumn has meant there are more insects around than you would normally expect at this time of year. Birds that would normally be supplementing the decreasing numbers of insects in their diet with fruits and seeds, have found there are both to choose from. There has been a lot of commotion in our woodland recently, mainly, I suspect, because the wild food I mentioned earlier is in abundance.

Flocks of starlings, one of the UK’s most common birds, but sadly declining rapidly in some other European countries, have been noisily feeding on the bright red holly berries at the edge of the woodland. They sometimes make so much noise you would think they were being attacked! Blue tits have also been flitting about – they love hawthorn berries – and sometimes a jay, who is probably after our acorns. We’ve also been enjoying regular visits from thrushes, who seem to love the vast numbers of sloes we have on our blackthorn trees, along with a few solitary robins.

(Pictures by Alison Bettenson from fulfilment)

Progress not perfectionIn 2007 our Tread Lightly newsletter explained how we were beginning our journey towards a greener business. Now four years on our environmental expert Geoff Day talks about the progess we’ve been making.
Progress not perfection Progress not perfection Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection Progress not perfection Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection Using rainwater for the flush systems in our bathrooms at The Green House has saved around two million litres of water over the past three years.

Progress not perfection
Our bike-to-work scheme and staff shuttle bus

have saved around 2,000 road miles so far.
Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection Rather than sending our kitchen waste to landfill, we started doing our bit towards climate change by composting it.

Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection Progress not perfection
We reduced our impact on the environment by switching to FSC certified tissue paper, printed with bio alcohol inks, to wrap our products. This has minimised the carbon used in producing and transporting it.Progress not perfection Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection To support the local honey bee population we decided to try our hand at bee-keeping. We currently have a hive with approximately 40,000 bees at our island home.

Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection Progress not perfection
To actively work towards sustainability in the palm oil growing industry we’ve joined Greenpalm. Visit greenpalm.orgProgress not perfection Progress not perfection Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection We’ve just bought the woodland next to our office, so this month we’re starting the mammoth task of managing this as a wildlife habitat for the butterflies, birds, protected red squirrels, bats plus the hazel, ash and oak trees living there.

Progress not perfection
Progress not perfection
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