There is a chance you have not heard of Green Element before now, but there are plenty of reasons why you need to know about them. With Will Richardson at the heart of the company, offering his expertise in environmental management consultancy to various organisations ranging from “Small SMEs up to large corporations – Marmi Ltd through to Grant Thornton UK LLP”, Green Element is a consultancy firm that prides itself in knowing the bigger picture of sustainability and environmental management.
Green Element not only see the bigger picture but are, one step at a time, actively doing something about the environment we live in. Will cares that we are all in this together and we all want the same thing, just some of us know what to do and some need guidance.
In 2018 the IPCC announced that global temperatures needed to be limited to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels to avoid the more extreme risks associated with 2 degrees. Green Element reiterated that:
“The report warned that we have 12 years to turn things around.”
Green Element have signed up and had their Science-Based Targets verified by the Science-Based Targets initiative including CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF. them to stand with another 326 global companies from around the world recognising that we need to do something now. Green Element is committed to a science-based target that focuses on reducing greenhouse emissions by 2023.
Will is fuelled by a passion for the environment and a belief in the power of ethical business, which is evident from his site’s explanation of what a B-corp organisation is. Highlighting it as an opportunity for businesses to work towards a dream that involves not only striving to “be the best in the world- but to be the best for the world.” Which perfectly summarises why the emergence in the growth of BCorp businesses has grown “28 times faster than the UK GDP in the past 12 months”. The increasing amount of companies shows no sign of slowing down either. There’s currently 2,500 certified B Corps in more than 50 countries around the globe, and Green Element is proud to be one of them.
What makes Green element different from those 2,500 businesses, you may ask?
Green Element is one of a few B-corp businesses in the UK that have been recognised as the global ‘Best for the Environment’ for the last two years. Although Green Element is a small company it has some big clients like Linklaters LLP, Grant Thornton UK LLP and Interpublic Group PLC, to name a few. When it works with an organisation, Green ELement helps to change from the inside out, ensuring real change and significant results.
Green Element takes pride in helping other businesses achieve their environmental goals. Using their environmental expertise they launched a world-first software programme called ‘compareyourfootprint.com’, allowing businesses to easily understand and benchmark their environmental footprint against others in their industry.
One of the main goals of Green Element is to support others and practice ethical, purpose-driven business. Will ensures this goal is met, in part, by signing up to the living wage foundation, which means that his employees all have the right to earn above the national statutory wage — providing them with what is reasonably needed to cover their living costs. All employees also work for a charity of their choice one day per month, and every five years can go on a four-month paid sabbatical. Will believes in the people he works with and feels that this all offers areas of self-improvement that he is unable to support.
It isn’t too much of a strain to notice that good nature is at the heart of everything done by Will and his company, but where did it all start?
From an early age, Richardson recalls collecting litter with his Gran on Wimbledon Common. Later he set out on a worldwide adventure, with the hope to develop a deeper understanding of how the world works.
“I went travelling after I had flunked school having saved up by working in pubs. I knew there was more to the world than I knew.”
He then went on to complete an undergraduate degree in Hospitality Management and a Masters in Environmental Management for Business in 2004. He has had more than just an array of past jobs, working as a courier, TEFL teacher, setting up a ‘Yerba Mate’ import business, setting up a restaurant in Chile and working for Justirini and Brooks the Wine Merchant to the Queen, to name a few of the jobs!
In 2004, having finished his MSc, he started working as a sole trader helping green up organisations; being one of the first consultants in this space; working for the likes of AMV BBDO, BBH and adam&eveDDB; all world-renowned advertising agencies. This all changed; however, in 2013, when he realised that his businesses growth was going to be limited as long as he remained solo. So that’s when he made the decision to take Emma on, his first colleague and compadre. Who still works with him to this day.
“We all hold the same values and will look after each other, at whatever point we are on in our career and life paths.”
However, with that said. There have been difficult times since the start of Green Element, in 2018 things didn’t look so bright. This year proved challenging as a couple of colleagues left the company, due to alternative job opportunities. Will has, however, learnt from these challenges. That time itself was filled with pressure within the company was in the process of launching CompareYourFootprint.com. Additionally, Green Element was doing everything they possibly could to reduce organisations impact on the environment. Since 2018 things have changed, and the organisations look to continue on its 50% year on year growth. This is partly down to CompareYourFootprint.com having launched and gaining significant interest.
“We are a Bcorp, and we have values far beyond that of money. We are in this world together.”
‘We are in this world together’ is an ethos that seemingly binds both business and the environment together for Green Element. They ensure they never lose sight of their goal, and this has contributed to their success.
Richardson has confirmed that his company is up for an award nomination. Though confidential as to which one, for now, the businesses visibility is increasing. Not only due to a potential award win, but also because Green element is one of few Bcorp’s to have their very own podcast show.
Will appears to be on a personal quest to help as many organisations as possible to reduce their environmental impact and is completing this in an unorthodox way. Recently, they have launched their ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’ that focuses on small businesses and ensures they reduce their impact. A service that enables organisations to change from the inside out for a £999 consulting fee over six months. He has also designed an online training package that takes organisations through the process of greening up. This is to be launched in September and has already had several people signing up to the first course.
Another way that Will is helping organisations become more green is by being a conduit for organisations to learn off one another. Will Launched a podcast in 2018; in each podcast episode Will interviews a business doing great things with regards to operating sustainably and ethically and also features some companies that want to change how they work and don’t know how. The podcast is released every week promoting sustainability within various fields of work. Examples of those attempting to create an impact are Ben Battell from Bahasa of the sea, (an ocean and ocean life preservation organisation) and Myles Hopper co-founder of Mindful Chef (a health orientated food company). All episodes are also available to stream across, apple podcasts, Spotify, and google podcasts.
Uploaded to the organisation’s YouTube channel, are videos dedicated to their appearance on the news. In one of the videos, they’re featured on BBC News at 6, an apparent high-profile outlet for exposure for Green Element. In the segment, one of the news anchors introduces the part and states “is going green just an economy drive?” Proving that statement wrong shortly after the introduction of the segment appears Richardson who in the video is seen testing out the new at the time: electric Honda civic hybrid. Stating “I did a cost-benefit analysis on the car and realised that I’d be saving £2,200 a year”. Now Honda state “creating hybrid and battery electric cars to achieve 100% of European sales electrified by 2025” underlines their “commitment to lowering emissions for a cleaner future”.
In addition to this feature, a report made by BBC News stated that following the 2006 budget day discussion. “Owners of gas-guzzling cars will pay a top rate of £210, owners of the least polluting cars won’t have to pay at all, that applies to very few cars”.
Although there is no proof, Green Element had any direct involvement in the top rate charge change, as the company was indeed at this point incredibly small. It would be difficult to assume they hadn’t made some impact on that change through some of their critical services including Environmental Management, Energy Management, Benchmarking, Carbon footprinting and corporate and Social Responsibility.
Will has grown the company, through referrals. Rather than investing in marketing Green Element has grown through clients sharing their great experiences with Green Element, drawing in new clients. Although this has led to gradual growth; it has enabled the team and Will to know what they are talking about and hold credibility in a hectic marketplace. You only need to watch their video case studies to see that their clients not only trust Will and the team, they also rely on them for their day to day business activities. Dan Browne from Blossom and Browne Sycamore – the laundry provider to the Queen – is seen saying that he does not trust consultants other than Will and his team because they have proved they know what they are promoting.
Will over the last 15 years has built up a perfect tool shed with many ways to help organisations green up their businesses. From niche consultancy, small business packages, online training and world first benchmarking carbon reporting; he is set to continue to be a business that has a definite purpose, really helping organisations become more efficient and green. You can join their thriving Facebook Group, for help with your company, gaining support from professionals and your peers going through the same pain and listen to their weekly podcast.
The organisation who established themselves only 15 years ago have already achieved tremendous success, but what’s next for Will and Green Element?
From getting in touch with Will, he told me that he would like to “grow the company, in a way that means we can all look after each other, with the same vision and mission to work together in a way that is both ethical and moral. We don’t take decisions lightly when we come across hard times; we want to build on the organisation and prove to the world that it is possible to grow an organisation ethically, with the hope of having our own offices around the globe. Helping as many businesses as possible and we want to do it sustainably, by that I mean I want to be able to pay my staff as much as I possibly can. With the addition of no high prices and a system that enables all organisations to be able to tap into resources. The start of that is the online training we’re doing, which includes training, templates and expert advice”
If you are interested in getting involved or for more information visit https://www.greenelement.co.uk/
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Will Richardson is a visionary in the environmental field with a passion for encouraging businesses to go green. He founded Green Element, a pioneering environmental management consultancy, in 2004 to help businesses better understand their environmental impact. His new innovative new tool ‘CompareYourFootprint.com’ allows businesses to compare their footprint to competitors.