In the “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group highlights the sustainable contribution made by a wide range of people in the company – and the motivation that inspires them. Today: Narelle Ives.
Sustainability has many facets at the BMW Group because we are using this term to harmonise business, the environment and society. If we are to successfully put these high standards into practice, we need our employees’ commitment. Everyone can play their part in making the BMW Group sustainable.
So, who are all these colleagues who make sustainability part of their everyday work? What drives them to roll up their sleeves throughout the company? In its “WEffect” sustainability series, the BMW Group introduces employees who play their daily part in the broad and responsible further development of our company.
In this edition of our series, Narelle Ives, a facility management employee at BMW Group in Oxford, describes how one particular project spurred on her commitment to sustainable plant optimisation.
Narelle Ives, there has been a lot of focus on sustainability in your particular field for some time now. Your team brings many ideas around the environmentally friendly, energy-saving design of the plant into fruition. How did that come about?
Narelle Ives: A few years ago, we had a sort of side project in our department, a task we all worked on in every spare minute we had. As far as I was concerned, it was about the work and about transforming it. We have quite a few old buildings here, there is a lot that needs improving. When I started looking into it more, I discovered all the potential there is for sustainability: green roofs, photovoltaic panels and even different ways of natural cooling – because it can get pretty warm here in the summer. And lot has come out of this project. I wanted to explore making asphalt from recycled tyres, as these are a by-product. Now, we are using tyre tarmac more and more around the site. This project then became a real passion and I worked with colleagues to develop a long list of ideas, all of which were somehow environmental and which we want to implement. To begin with, there were only three of us. Now we are growing with more and more people coming from different areas of the factory. We meet every 14 days, we grow together and plan our strategy together.
These are very exciting ideas. What is your goal then? What do you want to achieve?
Ives: There are many other ideas that I would like to implement. For example, our suppliers could make the packaging they use from coconut shells. The plastic covers of the vehicles or protective films could be made from potato starch – like our bin liners. The furniture in the factory itself could also be made of recycled material. And we are considering whether to install a ventilation system or a heating system that cools at the same time. Such a system creates service water that we can use to flush the toilets or to water the plants. I would love it if some of my ideas came about. Not so I can walk around patting myself on the back, but for the simple satisfaction of seeing that it works. For me, it’s all about doing something differently. And showing the next generation that we are doing something to protect our environment.
Wow, that's a lot of relatively small things and one big goal. Where do you see the stumbling blocks or obstacles?
Ives: Well, we have not come very far yet in terms of packaging. It’s a question of cost and willingness, also on the part of suppliers. And it must also be practicable. There could well be obstacles. Financing could also be difficult – but I think the long-term benefit should outweigh any financial issues.
It sounds like you do a lot out of your inner drive. How does this preoccupation with sustainability affect what you do, both inside and outside your professional world?
Ives: I notice that I am quick to want to become active when good new ideas come up. I also ask more and more often: how can we do this differently, more sustainably than before? And life has changed at home too. They are small steps, but they all mount up.
You have been dealing with sustainability issues for quite a while. Was there an “aha” moment when you thought: yes, that's it, I want to be part of that. I believe in that?
Ives: My definite “aha” experience was this side project. When I started researching, I saw these very sustainable buildings that have all won awards. I remember asking myself at the time: why can’t we do the same? It would be great to have buildings that are so environmentally friendly.
Which ideas are you particularly proud of? And what would you like support with?
Ives: Many things are still in their infancy. The special thing for me so far is actually that I have managed to bring the different groups together and that we work so well together. If I could choose just one project to get backing for, I would make sure that our suppliers use only recyclable, sustainable packaging. I really want to take that forward.
In a single sentence: what keeps you motivated every day?
Ives: It’s that satisfaction, the feeling that I’m really trying to make a difference in my job. Even if the things I do are still so small. But as I said: before you know it, the small steps become a big movement.
So, when is it good enough?
Ives: Well, there will always be new ideas. Once we set them rolling, no one will stop them.
In the upcoming portraits from our “WEffect” sustainability series, committed colleagues will also describe their motivation and explain the contribution they are making to sustainability within the BMW Group.