Around the globe there is an ever growing awareness of being environmentally aware. In spite of the worldwide economic crisis, ever more consumers are trying to make green choices when shopping for products and services, even when there is a price premium involved.
The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce identified the environment as a primary concern for Cayman a number of years ago. In 2007 the Chamber Council, under then-President Angelyn Hernandez, decided to make the environment one of its main advocacy platforms for the year.
“Chamber members were becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of attention being given to Cayman’s unique natural resources and they wanted to do something about it,” says Wil Pineau, CEO of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.
The result of this need was the creation of the Chamber Environmental Pledge.
The pledge itself is quite explicit when it comes to stating the advantages of adopting a more environmentally aware style of life.
“A healthy, pro-active environmentally aware society reaps benefits for all – clean air and water, healthy lifestyles, happy residents – these all add up to less medical and social costs on us and our nation’s budget. In turn we reap the benefits of increased tourism and we attract persons who care to live and work among us.”
The pledge itself comes in two different versions, one for companies and one for individuals.
“The Council developed the environmental pledge to urge businesses and residents to commit themselves publicly to take simple actions to reduce their carbon footprint, to introduce energy saving products, to recycle and to protect the environment,” says Mr. Pineau.
For individuals, the pledge includes suggestions as simple as using both sides of a sheet of writing paper before discarding it, taking clothes hangers back to the dry cleaner and using cloth shopping bags instead of plastic bags.
Other suggestions include not turning down air conditioning below 78 degrees, installing energy efficient light bulbs and taking part in recycling programmes. All these changes are easy to implement and many of them can save the individual money as well as benefiting the environment.
Businesses are urged to implement policies that will help protect the environment, from installing energy efficient light fixtures and appliances to offering customers environmentally friendly services and products.
The suggestions are intended to be easy to implement, assisting signers to find ways to reduce their impact on the environment without causing too much disruption in their lives. Sometimes all it takes is some awareness of one’s impact in order to start creating a solution to the problem.
“We continue to encourage all businesses and residents to sign the pledge and commit to taking as many actions that will help to protect and preserve our precious natural resources,” says Mr. Pineau.
Although the Chamber has received a very good response to the Environmental Pledge, the reaction can always be better.
“The reaction has been positive and supportive, but we would like to get even more businesses and individuals to sign the pledge. Protecting and preserving our resources must remain at the forefront of our everyday priorities,” says Mr. Pineau.
The pledge seeks to implement change from the bottom up, not from the top down as is the case when a government imposes laws to regulate the environmental impact of companies and individuals.
“Grassroots support leads to dramatic change for any society,” Mr. Pineau says.
Still not satisfied with the current success of the programme, there are plans to expand it in future.
“There are plans to promote the Environmental Pledge at future Chamber events and activities, including the Chamber’s Business Expo later this year and special activities in partnership with the Department of Environment,” according to Mr. Pineau.
As the youth of a country is often more receptive to new ideas and can be an agent for change, they will also be targeted as the plan continues to gain momentum.
“We plan to encourage more schools to sign the pledge and to encourage students to share the pledge with their families,” says Mr. Pineau.
Although the changes requested in the pledge might not seem like much, Mr. Pineau is confident that Cayman will benefit greatly in the long run.
“Every business or individual that signs the pledge agrees to take actions that will benefit the future of the Cayman Islands.”
Following are some of the businesses and the ways they have gone green.
Department of Environment
As an organisation deeply involved with the well-being of Cayman’s environment, the Department of Environment has taken an active role in guiding environmental awareness.
The Sustainable Development Unit at the department recently launched the first of a series of guides to assist businesses and organisations in the Cayman Islands with improving the environmental performance of their office operations whilst boosting their bottom line.
The “Reducing Your Office Footprint” series will consist of guides themed according to the different areas of action that employees, “Green Teams” and facility managers can focus on in reducing their environmental impact or footprint, such as energy, water, solid waste, procurement and purchasing and travel and transport.
The first part of the series covers the use of energy conservation, efficiency and renewable energy in reducing an office’s carbon footprint, and can be downloaded from the department’s website at www.doe.ky.
Energy conservation relates to ways to cut the amount of electricity wasted unnecessarily and energy efficiency to ways of achieving the same level of service more efficiently, with less energy. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, for example by upgrading to more efficient lighting and other energy efficient equipment. Steps taken in both areas will lead to significant cost savings in the office.
All suggestions for actions made in the guide are applicable to the Cayman Islands, and the department hopes this will be a useful resource for businesses, organisations and government departments trying to reduce the environmental impact of their operations here.
Many environmentally responsible products are readily available on island. Often the best guides when looking for environmentally sound products are eco-labels, which serve to ensure you purchase the best alternatives.
Energy Star, for example, is a labelling programme with standards for the most energy efficient and cost effective products on the market. Other well-known labels and certification programs include WaterSense for water efficient products and Green Seal and Greenguard for environmentally and health safe products.
The department is collaborating with the Chamber of Commerce to produce a Green Products and Services Directory of such products and services available on-island, and where they are sold.
A survey to collect the relevant information is being finalised and the Department of Environment and the Chamber of Commerce hope businesses in the Cayman Islands will take the time to complete and return the survey.
The department looks forward to using the directory as it is greening its operations by developing an environmental management system as part of the Cayman Environmental Project for the tourism sector.
An environmental policy for the department is now in place, and small changes have been implemented, such as stickers on light switches to remind co-workers to turn off lights, recycling aluminium cans and reusing copy paper and newsprint.
An investigation into alternative ways to fuel the department’s vehicles is also underway. Actions are also in the pipeline to make procurement practices more environmentally responsible, and reduce energy use further.
The department is keen to hear from other green teams or committees that may already be implementing green practices in the office, in order to form a network that can share ideas and experiences on this subject, and form collaborations in the future. Companies interested in getting involved in the green team network can contact Sophie Halford at [email protected]
Tropical Real Estate
One of the early adopters of the values espoused in the environmental pledge was Tropical Real Estate. The company has been involved in the Cayman real estate market for over 30 years and owners Kent and Angela Eldemire have turned it into a family affair, with son Curtis, daughter Monique, daughter-in-law Ericka and granddaughter Belinda all involved.
The company is strongly committed to going green.
“We realise the importance of protecting our environment for future generations and so we are taking up the challenge of going green and implementing standards and practices to become more environmentally friendly,” says Curtis Eldemire of Tropical Real Estate.
“We are learning more daily about protecting the environment and becoming more conscious of the challenges that face Mother Earth,” he adds.
The company has been committed to the Chamber of Commerce Environmental Pledge since its inception, and has implemented standards and practices towards the sustainable management of resources and stewardship of the natural environment.
The company has installed non-polluting and energy efficient technologies wherever possible and activated the sleep mode on all computers in the office. “We estimate that by installing this system, we are preventing approximately 2,100 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year,” Mr. Eldemire says.
He admits that there is still much to learn about the environment and how to protect it.
“We look at all the options available to us in order to implement our practices, and seek out environmentally friendly products for our daily use,” he says.
The owners of Tropical Real Estate and their family remain stalwart in their efforts to protect and promote going green.
“We invite each and every person to take up this challenge so that our future generations will benefit from our actions today, and we will be able to leave a clean and safe environment for them to live in.”
On 15 April, 2008, KPMG launched a global approach to addressing climate change through KPMG’s Global Green initiative.
The Global Green initiative sets out a climate change strategy, including an ambition to reduce KPMG’s Global carbon footprint by 25 per cent by 2010 from the 2007 baseline while helping employees to reduce their own carbon footprint.
KPMG in the Cayman Islands is doing its part to contribute to this global approach through the development of its own environmental policy, which addresses such issues as responsible consumption, recycling and energy conservation. KPMG’s environmental coordinators, who volunteer to assist in implementing environmental initiatives, have been working hard to implement the policy strategy. The following has been achieved.
• Installation of timers for office lights
• Amendment of IT buying policy to introduce lower energy using laptop computers and printers with double sided capabilities
• Automated shut down of computers in the evening
• Providing all KPMG staff members free of charge environmentally safe shopping bags to replace plastic bags distributed at supermarkets;
• Encouragement of staff to turn off lights or increase their office temperature when they leave for the day;
• Recycling of aluminium cans, newspapers and HP printer cartridges;
• Discussions with key vendors to understand their environmental policy and explain the importance of it to our firm; and
• Seek opportunities to incorporate our CSR values into our proposals to clients.
Another key environmental initiative, which covers three of KPMG’s core Corporate Social Responsibility pillars, is the company’s three year support of the Central Caribbean Marine Institutes Ocean Literacy Program.
Ocean Literacy can be described as an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. KPMG understood the need for our community to understand how the ocean and life in the ocean influences weather and climate and supports the shape and features of the earth while providing a home for a great diversity of life and ecosystems. Global warming and climate change are an example of how our behaviour is affecting the earth. Ocean temperature and weather is a key component of this. The goal of this program is to have every child in the Cayman Islands be ocean literate by the time they are twelve years old. The first step in achieving this goal was the development of the ocean literacy text book. This book was accepted by the Education Ministry of the Cayman Islands which endorsed the placement of the textbook into the Cayman Islands curriculum for all public primary schools.
If you have any questions about KPMG’s environmental initiatives contact Jennifer O’Leary at +1 345 949 4800 or by e-mail [email protected]
Department of Tourism
There has been a delay in Green Globe Certification for The Cayman Islands Environmental Project for the Tourism Sector properties due to changes in the Green Globe Standard.
Benchmarking has been replaced by Indexing, a new process which measures the properties operations against approximately 150 best practices. Indexing is the first in two stages for a property to be Green Globe Certified.
The Department of Tourism is in the process of working with the properties to meet the new standard and hope pilot properties will be indexed in July.
Once successfully Indexed, the properties will move forward to having their properties assessed by a Green Globe auditor against Green Globe Certification Criteria to achieve certification status, which should be completed by September 2009.
CEPTS is a public-private sector partnership for improved environmental performance in the Cayman Islands tourism sector.
This project was first placed on the table in 2002, but was placed on hold due to a number of reasons, but particularly due to Hurricane Ivan.
The project was resurrected in a joint effort between the Department of Tourism and Department of Environment.
Phase I of the programme will be initiated by a pilot project and is aimed at conducting environmental audits and establishing environmental management systems* for the tourist accommodation sector, as well the main public sector organizations involved in executing this phase, namely the Departments of Tourism and Environment. Phase I will also involve guiding interested piloted properties through Green Globe certification and exploring the possibilities of destination certification for Little Cayman.
Phase II will include the review of the existing development control and site design regulations with a view to incorporating environmental policies for the tourism sector, as well as a pilot EMS project for tourist attractions and developing a work plan for destination certification for Little Cayman.
Later Phases will include establishing EMS in other tourism-related sectors/businesses, such as restaurants, tour operators and watersports operators.
*EMS definition: Environmental Management involves comprehensively reviewing all elements of the organization’s operation to evaluate the resulting impacts on the environment. Environmental Management involves:
• Efficient use of resources such as water and energy
• Reduction of waste generation
• Minimization of environmental impacts
• Policies for monitoring operations and planning for improvement
Deloitte is committed to being environmentally responsible with the aim of having a 50 per cent reduction in its carbon footprint by incorporating economically sound environmental practices.
As one of the first signatories to sign the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce Environmental Pledge, Deloitte continues to strive to educate their staff and the public on the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling where at all possible.
The following initiatives have been incorporated within the offices:
• Recycle bins for glass, plastic and aluminium are placed in the lunch room at both Citrus Grove and One Capital Place locations for recycling.
• Double sided printing is always encouraged.
• Toner cartridges from various printers are recycled.
• Cleaning supplies are chemical free and are purchased from suppliers that provide environmentally friendly products.
• Annual sponsorship of Earth Day activities and clean up events in Cayman.
• Styrofoam based products are no longer in use. Cups provided are made from corn based materials and plates from a biodegradable bamboo based material.
• Energy saving lights and window blinds have been installed around offices and in boardrooms.
• Staffs were given corn based plastic mugs for personal use and reusable grocery bags to encourage reusing environmentally safe products.
• Business recycled commercial paper that contains 30 per cent post consumer recycled fibre is used in printers.
• Plastic cups and utensils have been removed from most kitchens to encourage reusing coffee mugs and metal utensils.
• Stickers have been placed on light switches to remind staff to turn off lights when not in use.
Mourant du Feu & Jeune
Neal Lomax highlights how people and the planet are two very important matters at law firm Mourant du Feu & Jeune.
Mourant is committed to the surroundings in which we live and work through various ‘green’ initiatives, social responsibility programmes and community projects.
Mourant set up a Green Group in 2006 with the aim of examining every area of our operations to become a greener business. It resulted in Mourant becoming the first offshore law firm to join the Legal Sector Alliance – an organisation of law firms acting on climate change.
Mourant recognises that it has a responsibility to raise awareness, encourage participation and train employees in environmental issues and the environmental effects of their activities.
Some of its major firm-wide initiatives include the implementation of electronic filing in 2007, reducing the amount of paper printing and storage, and has installed video-streaming (sophisticated webcams attached to PCs) to improve communication between Cayman and our offices in London, Jersey and Guernsey in order to cut down on travel.
In particular, Mourant has committed to:
- Using paper products from sustainable (managed) forests;
- Reducing the creation of waste by adopting improved operating practices;
- Recycling materials and waste where possible;
- Using water and energy efficiently;
- Phasing out CFCs and ozone-depleting substances;
- Using biodegradable chemicals where possible;
- Investing in new products and processes that have an improved performance regarding their impact on the environment
- Including an environmental dimension within our Corporate Social Responsibility Policy and
- Ongoing research into supporting projects to offset carbon emissions caused by business travel.
The Cayman office initiatives include staff regularly attending beach clean-ups and implementing a recycling programme where old newspapers are taken to the local animal shelter for use as a lining for kennels.
Mourant is also committed to ensuring the sustainability of its communities and recently made a donation of US$30,000 to the Cayman Islands National Recovery Fund. The money is being used to repair buildings and replace furniture, appliances and equipment in Cayman Brac following the devastation caused by Hurricane Paloma last November, with special emphasis placed on meeting the needs of children and the elderly.
In addition, it provides regular community support in the Cayman Islands through donations to Cayman Hospice Care, the Cayman Islands Humane Society, the Blue Iguana recovery project, Hedge Funds Care, the NCVO (National Council of Voluntary Organisations), The Cayman Islands Red Cross and local youth sports teams.
Cable & Wireless transformed into a new kind of communications company, a company built for the people of the Caribbean, a company called LIME.
That company is also changing its approach to business.
Its aim is to do more than provide fixed line phones at homes, sell mobile handsets or provide broadband. LIME promises to continue to do those things, but believes the Caribbean deserves better than that, so its aim is to make the Caribbean a better place; better for customers, better for colleagues and better for the communities it serves.
In its manifesto of promises to the Caribbean, LIME will stand at the centre of recovery efforts during times of national emergency as well as doing its job and keeping lines of communication open. Every one of its colleagues will pitch in to help emergency efforts.
LIME engineers will likely be restoring services, but other colleagues – from CEO to cleaner – will get involved in every aspect of disaster recovery from providing blankets, water and tarpaulins to cooking hot meals to aid those who have lost access to their homes.
LIME promises to reduce paper wastage by 15 per cent and double recycling volumes every year.
Going green is on the worldwide agenda and LIME wants to contribute to the well being of the planet.
A LIME Green campaign, which educates Caribbean people on global and local environmental issues is also promised. The company plans to take action to reduce its carbon footprint and provide incentives for customers to contribute:
• recycling old phones and telephone directories and helping customers to switch from paper to online billing
• by providing them with access to their accounts via Internet points in stores or via their Internet connection at home.
Caribbean suppliers are first choice for all products and services we use
LIME will operate a Caribbean first sourcing policy, ensuring continued employment for many and helping the economic development of the region.
LIME will make it a clear policy of business that as long as Caribbean suppliers can provide the same level of service and quality they’ll be the preferred supplier, ensuring that the many millions of dollars it spends with third parties each year is reinvested in the Caribbean wherever possible.