How major firm became a carbon-neutral firm

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The first Australian law firm to make it onto The Carbon Neutral Network list shares how they reduced their carbon footprint on Earth Day's 45th anniversary.

In partner Phillip Cornwell’s opinion, having a footprint strategy is just part of Allens’ commitment to the community and sustainability. 
“We have a big pro bono practice and a reconciliation action plan and one of the other key limbs of living responsibly in our community is to try to reduce our footprint,” he said. 

Cornwell said that along with the enthusiasm from staff, it was the expectation of clients that called the firm to action.

“Some of our major clients were early adopters of sustainable supply chain management and that has really forced us to ensure that not only are we doing the right thing but that we have the appropriate policies and reporting to back that up,” he said.

Allens, which has had a Footprint Committee for over 10 years, has worked on a range of footprint reducing strategies, including using recycled paper, installing sensor driven lighting and pioneering waterless urinals. 

Since reducing the firm’s paper usage by 60 per cent, Cornwell said that one of the biggest savers has been virtualising IT servers, which meant that servers no longer had to be kept in large air conditioned rooms.

The next step was to look at purchasing offsets. 

“Seventy-five percent of our electricity was green energy and that was quite expensive and we thought for either the same or even less money we could look at fully offsetting our emissions,” said Cornwell.

In order to purchase offsets, the firm was audited to identify its emission levels.

“You do need some in-house know how, we’re lucky being a law firm, we have always had specialists in the area of regulation of climate change and we’ve been able to tap into that expertise,” said Cornwell.  “We’ve just been lucky enough to have people who are enthusiastic, and management and leadership of the firm that have been very supportive of what we have been doing.”