Financially these can be challenging times. Office buildings in particular can be a big outgoing, and when various public sector buildings sit close to each other this can seem like a missed opportunity on several levels. It therefore makes good sense to share resources and in particular office space wherever we can. Sharing offices also helps SNH reduce the climate change impacts from our own operations (by cutting CO2 emissions from energy use), so helping achieve our “Low Carbon Vision”.
Across the public sector there has been a desire to see an increase in shared facilities (colocations) and at Scottish Natural Heritage we’ve risen well to this challenge. In 2014 alone we have successfully identified and delivered three excellent opportunities at Clydebank, Torlundy and Battleby to share facilities, save money and cut our carbon footprint.
Of course we had these benefits in our sights for some time and earlier colocations at Hamilton, Dingwall, Dumfries, Golspie, Ayr, Edinburgh (Silvan House), Elgin and of course Inverness were precursors to a busy 2014.
Our Great Glen House office (illustrated above) is home not only to Scottish Natural Heritage’s headquarters but also houses Crofting Commission, Paths for All, Bord Na Gaidhlig and Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Services. A little further north at Golspie we share our office space with Highland and Islands Enterprise and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) as well as Agriculture, Food & Rural Communities.
But to 2014 and beyond. In February we welcomed Scottish Enterprise into Caspian House – our Clydebank office. Reductions in staff numbers had seen SNH no longer needing both floors in what is a good sized office and Scottish Enterprise moved into the top floor. We already had some Forestry Commission and John Muir staff that had been with us since 2010 and they remained with us on the ground floor.
As Hilary Britton in our Clydebank office noted, the colocation was a winner from the off. “With Forestry Commission and John Muir Trust sharing open floor space with us there is much better understanding of what work they are involved in. It is really useful being able to go direct to them for advice and details, and much better working relations have been formed simply by the fact that we are so much closer.”
It was Scottish Natural Heritage’s turn to move in March when our colleagues in the Fort William office headed off to Torlundy (pictured below) to share a brand new office with Forestry Commission Scotland.
Even before we had officially moved in Forestry Commission staff were making us welcome when we visited Torlundy to see how the building was shaping up. And since we moved in this has continued, we have also noticed that our working with FCS staff has improved. It is now quite common for either our staff to pop into the FCS workspace to raise a quick query over an issue or vice versa, saving time and energy. And it’s fair to say that our general working relations really have been strengthened by regular contact over the coffee table.
The trend continued in autumn with Forestry Commission staff in Perth moving to SNH’s Battleby office to make it an exciting 2014 ‘hat-trick’. And already we have plans for 2015, with a move of our 32 members of staff in Stirling to the SEPA office at Strathallan House.
In terms of climate change, these collocations are saving us about 154 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, which is 9% of all SNH’s emissions – so well worth doing.
SNH has an active and successful carbon management programme to reduce the carbon costs of our operations. We have reduced our emissions by 41% from 2900 tonnes of CO2/year in 2000-01 to 1708 tonnes of CO2/year in 2013-14; and we continue to look for carbon savings and opportunities in terms of delivering our services for the people and nature of Scotland and meeting our Low Carbon Vision.
It’s good to share on many levels. Shared services make economic sense, shared workspace can lead to shared ideas and opportunities, and in the current climate a carbon footprint reduction is good news for our environment.