Winner: SDG12 in Action, JPA Workspaces
Sponsored by: Rexel UK
As a designer and supplier of workspaces across a range of sectors, including commercial offices, education, hospitality and healthcare, JPA Workspaces is able to have a real impact on the sustainability of multiple workplaces.
The firm’s business model is based around handling every part of the workspace lifecycle, from the design of furniture and layouts to decommissioning. There’s a strong element on recycling, repairing and reconfiguring furniture so it can be repurposed and rehomed in the local community when it is no longer required by the original owner.
The company estimates around 30 percent of carbon emissions that derive from the built environment come from furniture. Ensuring it is reused when premises are fitted out can have a significant impact on preventing further emissions from new furniture, as well as benefiting wider society and reducing the number of items that go to landfill. It believes supporting products into second and third lives can double the lifespan of existing embodied carbon.
Much of the strategy is made possible by the company’s local customer base – the family-owned firm is based in St Albans – and having its own in-house logistics operation, encompassing fleet, fitting teams and warehousing. Being close to customers also helps to keep vehicle-related emissions down. Customer willingness to consider recycled and repurposed furniture has also increased since the pandemic, and further as a result of the COP26 summit held in Glasgow.
The company’s focus up to now has largely revolved around waste but it intends to put more of an emphasis on Scope 3 supplier emissions in future, and work with industry partners to develop a stronger understanding of the carbon emissions associated with furniture manufacturing.
JPA Workspaces believes three major new pieces of business stemmed directly from its approach towards sustainability. These were:
- A £3.4 million contract to furnish two Dockland campus buildings at University College London, saving 90.89 tonnes of carbon emissions from 1,307 reused items.
- A £1.2 million project to furnish new production offices for Sky Studios with second-life furniture, which saved an estimated 300 tonnes of carbon emissions and saw 8,000 items re-used. Further carbon savings have stemmed from around 4,500 items being rehomed in the local community, delivering a community value of £450,000.
- A £150,000 programme to refurbish Building Research Establishment’s offices in Watford, which saved an estimated 7.98 tonnes of carbon emissions through reusing furniture, generating a £29,000 saving. This also included a new reception counter made from waste timber.
Best practice learning point
The main learning from JPA Workspace’s experience has been that every business, no matter the size, can contribute to carbon reduction at very little cost. However, messaging needs to be simple to encourage others to take action, and the evidence around progress must be available to all stakeholders, not just clients.
It’s clear there are many positive impacts that come from making progress in one area; those looking to reduce costs, for instance, can also see marketing and recruitment benefits as well as improving their environmental credentials. Sharing knowledge and experiences is essential if others are to engage.
“JPA’s approach is innovative and pertinent of the times, prioritising the reuse, re-purposing and refurbishment of furniture where possible, along with new furniture provision and manufacture, to provide solutions that are not only sustainable but reduce costs and add value.” – Ron Nkomba, associate, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios
“We have the ambition to be the most sustainable film and TV studio in the world, so when we met JPA Workspaces there was a real synergy in what we were trying to achieve.” – Caroline Cooper, COO, Sky Studios