Canny accountants show saving the planet is wise investment

The green Hawick Office at Douglas Home & Co

DYNAMIC accountants in the Borders have used a period of expansion to show how investing in an energy efficient office is a wise investment– both financially and for the planet.

Tax specialist, Douglas Home & Co used the creation of a new base in Hawick as an opportunity to work closely with Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) and identify a number of carbon reducing measures.

Now proud bosses of the firm say the project not only underlines its commitment to enhancing its green credentials, but also gives it vital experience to pass on to its 3100-strong army of clients.

Sheryl Macaulay, one of six directors at the progressive firm which straddles both sides of the border, said: “This was the perfect project for us, because it was about doing the right thing, while also giving us a chance to crunch some numbers.”

“Zero Waste Scotland gave us some brilliant advice to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint. As accountants, we forensically reviewed the grants and interest-free loans available to help with that.”

“We were delighted that it all made such sound financial sense, meaning that we could literally do our part to tackle climate change, while also making a very wise business investment. This is now first-hand advice we will be sharing with our clients.”

 “As a firm whose bread and butter is advising clients on how to be more cost efficient, we certainly recommend that our clients engage with ZWS to identify how they can reduce their environmental footprint.”

The 70-strong firm opened its new office in Hawick’s Oliver Place with room for up to 24 staff, to help reduce commuting for team members who previously travelled to its Kelso headquarters. ZWS carried out an Energy Efficient Assessment at the new premises.

ZWS experts recommended installing a specialist air conditioning and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) system, as well as replacing traditional lighting with high efficiency LEDs. 

Together those steps deliver a 67% carbon reduction for the office, saving 4455kWh of energy and removing 5.4 tonnes of C02e emissions – the equivalent of 19,097 average car miles every year.

While the new measures required an investment of £41,000, the changes will yield annual cost savings of £3900, while Douglas Home & Co took advantage of its Scottish Government-backed SME Loan Scheme which are interest free and also offer cashback options.

Sheryl added: “It’s excellent that the government are helping businesses make such an important transition. Through the loan scheme cashback options, we are hoping the new measures will have paid for themselves within 8 years, helping ease our transition to net zero.”

The accountancy firm – which also has offices in Kelso, Edinburgh, Haddington, Selkirk, Melrose, Penrith and Alnwick – says the capital investment and move into much larger premises in Hawick underlines its commitment to the Borders business community. It will now be looking at possible improvement options at other offices.

Sheryl said: “The dramatic reduction in emissions and financial savings, from two fairly straight-forward measures are quite remarkable and we will be looking at how we can make similar changes to our real estate across the Borders.”

The new Hawick office also boasts facilities which will help improve staff well-being, with open plan work stations, a café area for more informal meetings and training sessions and better ventilation.

Established in 1983, Douglas Home & Co employs more than 70 staff in eight offices stretching from Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders to Cumbria and Northumberland.

The firm has extended its services from traditional chartered accountancy and tax advice to include business development, IT support, wills, trusts and estates. and advises clients working in a variety of sectors including agriculture, beauty and cosmetics, construction and property, hospitality, tourism and leisure, professional services and small businesses.

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