Following on from our previous Sustainability Q&A Articles, Design Insider is thrilled to welcome Victoria Bottrill, Buyer at EE Smith. Design Insider sat down with Victoria to find out more about EE Smith’s commitment to addressing sustainability within their business and their partnership with National Forest.

Could you begin by telling me about EE Smith Contract’s work?
Setting the standard in interior fit out & joinery projects, EE Smith Contracts Ltd continues to provide an unparalleled client focused service across all prestigious interior sectors. We eagerly anticipate a period of steady growth in the years ahead whilst maintaining the tremendously high standards which have become our trademark. No job is too complex for EE Smith Contracts Ltd. We operate in a variety of sectors, from prestige hotels to commercial interiors and luxury residences. Our extensive manufacturing capability enables us to deliver unsurpassed levels of craftsmanship, and our exceptional level of service fosters strong and lasting business relationships with our clients.

When did you first begin to address sustainability within your business?
EE Smith was established in 1897 a time when sustainability and greenhouse gases were virtually unheard of. Going forward through almost 125 years, attitudes have changed, and the awareness of our natural resources have become ever increasingly important. Starting in the late 1960s, Brazil began cutting down and burning forest at an alarming rate, with timber being a major component of our works we soon became aware of the future possibility of our procurement responsibilities, by 1974 we were only buying timbers that were from managed forests and avoided all products included on the CITIES list and advising clients on alternative products. Around this time were investing heavily in production technology to help reduce waste and use of Gas, Electricity and Water and have continued to do so to date.

Sustainability is now a key focus across your business, why have you decided to do this now?
Sustainability is something we have always been mindful of, but over recent years it’s become a more prominent focus not only for EE Smith, but for businesses across the globe. As the company grows year on year, we want to ensure we’re doing everything possible to look after the environment around us. We recognise that without constant replanting of trees & minimal waste of all kinds we run risks of damaging the environment that we rely so much upon. There are so many small, but significant changes we have made & continue to make that are essential to securing not only the future of the business, but of the planet.

What achievements have you already made in addressing sustainability and what do you have planned?
We are committed to completing all our projects in ways that respects the environmental, social & economic components of sustainability. To do this, we careful procure all timber products through our FSC & PEFC Chain of Custody Accreditations. Using the latest technology, we use water-based surface/spray finishes, which greatly reduced VOC emissions. We have prudent pre-construction protocols in place, to ensure on site works are minimised & all waste products are recycled through our in-house bio-mass system. Using local suppliers where possible & being a FORS Silver certified company helps ensure our carbon footprint is reduced to the lowest possible levels. Looking to the future, we hope to introduce the Cycle to Work scheme, which will benefit our employees as well as the environment.

You have recently partnered with National Forest, could you tell us more about National Forest’s work?
Given our extensive use of timber over the years, we really wanted to give something back. We chose to Partner with The National Forest because of their exciting approach to a more sustainable Britain through such a bold environmental initiative. Covering over 200 Square miles across 3 counties, the commitment & support of local people has ensured this vast forest continues to grow. In as little as 3 decades, the National Forest Organisation have planted 8.9 Million trees, transforming black industrial land to luscious green fields. This has provided opportunities for outdoor learning, developing woodland economies & also supports healthy lifestyles.

Could you tell us about your partnership with National Forest?
EE Smith are now Corporate Social Responsibility Partners, which supports the National Forest Mycelium – The enterprise ecosystem of the forest. As we take small steps towards growing a positive future, we start by planting 20 of our own trees in the forest, which we plan to increase over time. Some of our biggest timber suppliers are also CSR Partners, making our supply chain even more socially & environmentally responsible, something that isn’t always easy to achieve in this industry. There are many additional benefits to becoming a partner, with invites to exclusive events & regular forest updates. We look forward to growing & nurturing our partnership over the years to come.

Has the current pandemic impacted on the progress you have been making?
We were hoping to get out & plant the trees ourselves, as a team, but the pandemic struck just after our partnership became official, so this sadly hasn’t been an option. As far as the general running of the business, we have been operating at a steady capacity, implementing one-way systems, social distancing & providing the best possible PPE. With the majority of office staff working from home & London Sites closed for a period of time, our overall carbon footprint as a business will have drastically dropped, whilst productivity has remained high. With having a little extra time on our hands it’s the perfect time to look at new & innovative ways we can be more sustainable here at EE Smith.

What is your next step?
During the pandemic, we’ve noticed an increase of employees who walk, run or cycle to work, due to the significant decrease of cars on the road & the lovely weather. This is encouraging others & has risen the point of the governments ‘Cycle to work’ scheme. We think is would be a great next step for us, as it benefits everyone involved, whilst increasing our levels of sustainability. Cycling as an alternative to driving has so many positives, one of the biggest being the added fitness, as it should provide our staff with better physical & mental health. Whilst this is our primary focus for the near future, we will be actively working towards as many sustainable business aspects as possible for our long-term plan.

Contact EE Smith through BCFA Product Finder.


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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