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From their base in Clevedon, North Somerset, PB Design develop and sell a range of battery chargers, switch trippers, UPS, batteries, and system services for all types of AC and DC standby applications. PB provide standard and custom-built products for a range of customers, in a variety of sectors, across the globe.

In 2007, Tim Broomfield bought PB Design, having initially worked for the company as a government-funded consultant and then an employee. He transformed the business into an employee-owned company. This structure allows everyone to share in the fruit of the business’s success and fosters cohesiveness. Tim says, “I’d always wanted to have everybody involved in the company, in the responsibilities and rewards.”

This change in ownership also marked the start of PB Design’s environmental journey. As an early advocate for environmental responsibility, he organised training courses to communicate a baseline knowledge and raise awareness across the business.

They also focused on, what he calls, ‘low-hanging fruit’, “we started to record our gas and electricity consumption and found out that the heaters or lights had been on when no one was around at the weekend. It was all very basic, but we made huge progress very quickly.”

Today, Scott Commons, QHSE Manager, oversees PB Design’s environmental impact with support from Tim, which demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to improve environmental performance.

As an Environment, Health and Safety member, the team at PB Design have access to expert consultants at Make UK. Scott says, “Make UK have been crucial in helping us to navigate the complexities regarding net zero, share knowledge, and learn from best practice.”

Working collaboratively, PB Design have implemented a range of carbon reduction initiatives including upgraded insulation, installation of solar panels and LED lighting, hybrid working and digital meetings, to reduce fuel consumption, and reuse of supplier’s packaging.

In recognition of their efforts, PB Designs were shortlisted for six categories in the Make UK Manufacturing Awards 2023, scooping wins in the Developing Future Talent category and Manufacturer of the Region (for the South).

PB understand that informing employees about environmental goals and educating them on how they can help is critical to success, so training is still a big part of their strategy. Investment in training demonstrates PB’s commitment to increasing performance and shows staff how important they are in making this happen.

As an IEMA (Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment) training partner, Make UK provide a range of high-quality training courses. In addition to company-wide programmes, training specially designed for supervisors and leaders, Make UK provide professional-level qualifications for experienced environmental practitioners, such as IEMA Certificate in Environmental Management (PIEMA) and IEMA Diploma in Sustainable Business Practice. PB have invested in several training courses.

Scott says, “Make UK consistently deliver training material that is well-structured and user-friendly, going above and beyond expectations. The tutors effectively communicate each point and urge us to use relevant examples for our organisation.”

In January 2023, PB Design established The Green Team, with the aim of promoting environmental awareness throughout the business and conveying the message that everyone has a crucial role to help combat global warming and reduce carbon footprint. The team attend regular meetings, which are open for anyone in the company to join. Scott says, “Because The Green Team is open to the whole workforce, we benefit from diverse perspectives and unique solutions to problems.”

Mark Stubbs, Environment, Health and Safety Consultant, at Make UK says, “Engaging with all levels of the workforce to explore attitudes and perceptions in more detail helps ensure that any cultural programme you’re introducing is not viewed as a top-down initiative. Since culture is dictated by people’s behaviour when they are unsupervised, this sense of ownership is essential.”

It is the team’s collective commitment to reducing environmental impact that has enabled them to complete scope 1 and 2.

With the installation of additional solar panels PB have doubled their annual generation of renewable electricity from some 60,000 to 120,000kWh. This generates £21,000 p.a. and combined with a new battery storage installation enables them to use more of their renewable electricity (rather than import it at 0.25p a kWh). Within their factory they have reduced their carbon emissions from imported electricity and gas by 40% from 25 tonnes in 2022 to 14 tonnes in 2023. PB have offset emissions from company vehicles and other scope 2 activities by purchasing 40 (tonnes of) Gold Standard Verified Carbon Units (VCU’s) in the Rimba Raya Bioversity Reserve in Indonesia and the Soubre Hyropower Project in Ivory.

All of this means that PB Design are now “net zero” at scope 2. Never a team to stand still, PB Design’s next step is to progress with the demanding task of achieving scope 3.

Martin Elliker, Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Make UK, explains, “Scope 3 includes all emissions that an organisation is indirectly responsible for, up and down its value chain. Businesses have much less control on how Scope 3 emissions are addressed.”

The involvement of suppliers in net zero targets is increasing, but some smaller companies lack the necessary resources. Often suppliers are looking at ways to improve, but they’re not as far ahead as PB would like. PB Design collaborate with suppliers on solutions to reduce emissions and consider environmental impact when sourcing new suppliers. Scott says, “I always enquire about carbon footprint and what they’re doing to reduce their carbon emissions. It is imperative that they’re aligned with our goals.”

For businesses just starting their journey towards net zero, Scott recommends conducting a carbon assessment. He said, “This will give insight into your current status and highlight areas for improvement.”

Following their carbon assessment, PB uncovered sources of hidden emissions and targeted these accordingly. This enabled the team to reduce CO2e from 131 to 45 tonnes per annum between 2019 and 2021.

Martin says, “Make UK can support organisations by providing a review of carbon emissions, as well as offering practical solutions to reduce environmental impact.”

Additionally, Scott suggests reviewing what grants are available to fund projects that will help improve environmental performance and drive towards net zero.

Tim and Scott are pleased with the progress the company has made but aren’t complacent. Scott says, “It’s getting harder to find improvements, but we’re not going to stop.”

The environmental approach at PB Design goes way beyond legal compliance, instead they’ve cultivated a robust environmental culture. Tim says: “There have been occasions where we’ve invested in an initiative and perhaps if you just looked at it from a financial aspect it might not have made sense, but being employee owned, we see business as a force for good.”

News / Make UK / Health Safety and Sustainability