Nuralite Waterproofing Limited carbonzero case study
Nuralite sought Toitū carbonzero certification as they felt a moral responsibility as a business to reduce their carbon impacts. But through the programme, they have developed plans to cut carbon that will also help cut costs.
Their environmental commitment is also helping to encourage others in the construction industry to take real action and join them on their sustainability journey #ToitūTogether.
Nuralite, a privately-owned building product supplier, decided in 2019 to become carbon neutral because it was the right thing to do.
Managing Director, John Simmons, says there was no commercial or regulatory pressure to reduce emissions and the decision was not driven by financial factors, despite his background as an accountant.
“As a team, we realised we must reduce our carbon footprint now, even if no one else in our sector is doing anything,” he says. “The decision was a moral one in a way. We questioned how could we continue to justify making profits while continuing to pollute the planet with CO2?”
The plan to become carbon neutral was communicated first to the team of around 20 people in order to get their support. The response was positive.
One employee, who has family in the Pacific Islands, wrote an email back to all staff: “There are no words to describe how happy I am to be part of the initiative Nuralite is going to undertake. Consider the plight of my fellow country people, who are facing the impact of climate change and sea level rising. It is a phenomenon my people are struggling with and witnessing it first-hand, but we still have those who are sceptical. Hopefully one day they will come to realise this is not a myth.”
The next step for Nuralite was to research carbon neutrality, what changes Nuralite would be required to adopt, and who could assist the company on the process.
“We were committed to be Net Carbon Zero so it was logical to engage Toitū Envirocare to help. We signed up to the Toitū carbonzero certification programme to ensure that we would address our carbon footprint in the most robust and scientific way. Toitū provided resources to identify our direct carbon footprint and we formed an internal team to find initiatives to drive down our carbon emissions,” says John.
Working with Toitū, Nuralite identified three initiatives that would have the greatest impact on carbon.
Switching to electric vehicles
In the past Nuralite would purchase vehicles with around 70,000kms on the clock for between $20,000 to $25,000 and sell them at around 200,000kms. The cost of ownership (including financing) was around $11,000 per annum for four years.
Now it has moved to a standard fleet of electric vehicles. Several Nissan Leafs were purchased, costing around $42,000 each for a two-year-old car with less than 15,000kms on the clock. The operating cost (including financing) is expected to be around $6,000 per annum for four years.
The difference in purchase price is expected to be recovered over four years and Nuralite will have a more valuable vehicle to sell.
“This will save us around 50 tonnes of carbon per annum and they drive really well too,” says John.
Expanding Christchurch storage
Nuralite is an importer and distributor of membrane roofing and insulation products. It has a leased warehouse in Penrose, Auckland, and had been using a modest third-party logistics (3PL) facility in Christchurch to service the South Island.
“When we looked at the road freight between Auckland and the South Island, it was apparent that we could reduce this by 15% if we invested in more storage in Christchurch.
Nuralite took a lease on a warehouse in Christchurch and now ships most South Island-destined product direct from its European suppliers to the warehouse in Christchurch.
“The savings in road freight has gone a long way to offset the warehouse rent and we will save around five tonnes of carbon per year. The investment in warehousing will be recouped by cost savings – and we have a better experience for our customers in the South Island.”
Increased local inventory
Nuralite has always held stock in New Zealand. But when it looked at its carbon footprint it found a high level of carbon could be attributed to airfreighting products from Europe that were urgently required by clients. It is important to supply customers, but the real cost was in carbon pollution.
“To solve this, we increased our local inventory further. The additional holding cost is modest and offset by airfreight savings. We found we could save around 70 tonnes of carbon per year, which was more than our entire fleet of petrol cars. And we can now provide more products immediately to our customers, rather than waiting on orders to arrive from Europe.”
Nuralite made changes to lower its carbon footprint. But there was a bigger goal in mind as well – encourage and inspire others in the architecture and construction industry to do the same.
The company has been transparent about its move to be carbon neutral (nuralite.co.nz/sustainability) and is showing others that the journey is a positive one. Nuralite is leading a change in the actions of product suppliers and is pushing for changes in how buildings are built through its webinars for architects and specifiers.
“Construction generally has a huge carbon footprint which needs addressing immediately. Being Toitū carbonzero certified provides us with the right to question others about what they are doing. We have the licence to push for changes in how our products are used and agitate for change within the construction industry,” says John.
Toitū carbonzero and Toitū carbonreduce certified organisations
Toitū Envirocare’s Toitū carbonzero and Toitū carbonreduce certifications are currently available in 17 countries and the certification marks are recognised in over 60 countries, making it ideal for companies working in global supply chains or exporting products. Both the Toitū carbonzero and Toitū carbonreduce certifications are accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) and were the world’s first carbon certification programmes to be accredited under ISO 14065. Enviro-Mark Solutions also offer the only carbon neutral product certification to PAS 2050 outside of the UK.