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  • 18 February 2014 4:40 PM | Anonymous member

    Switch off and engage your employees!

    Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    by Emily Wilson, General Manager, Australian Legal Sector Alliance 

    In a recent survey of legal staff by the Australian Legal Sector Alliance (AusLSA), 90% of respondents thought that organisations should work towards the long-term welfare of the natural environment even if there are economic costs. Yet, surprisingly, approximately 50% of respondents also thought their firm did nothing at all or only a little on environmental issues.

    So how can law firms address the concerns of their staff as well as focus on running effective and efficient businesses?

    Switch off & Save!

    Office buildings use 55% of their electricity out of hours  - half of your electricity bill comes from powering an empty building. So, the easiest program you can run and one you can start today is a ‘Switch-off Campaign’. 

    At its simplest this involves switching off the lights and equipment at the end of the work day. 

    A firm with ~100PCs could save up to $10,000 by just turning them off when not in use.
    Encourage your colleagues to do the same with poster or sticker reminders  or try searching for “free switch off posters”.Switch off sticker  

    Most office equipment has power-save or timer settings for sleep, hibernate or shutdown.  But the trick is to find settings that don’t slow down busy people and save energy.  Computer monitors are a good starting point; they use up to 80% of the energy of a PC unit and can quickly and easily be switched off and restarted with the button or power-saving settings (please note that screensavers don’t save energy!).

    You could also think about:
    • Printers and faxes – turn off, sleep modes or timers
    • Drinks fridges – turn off overnight or get a timer
    • Equipment (like chargers) usually use power even if nothing is plugged into them – turn them all off at once with a power board. 
    A more sophisticated energy efficiency program might include motion sensor lighting, timing systems or auto-shutdown software.  Although there is a cost involved initially, the return-on-investment (ROI) is attractive.  Case-studies at law firms like Norton Rose Fulbright and Gilbert + Tobin on these sorts of energy saving initiatives reveal ROI from 3 – 18 months. 

    Why don’t you start with making sure your firm is going to switch-off for Earth Hour on Saturday 29 March 2014?

    Engage your staff

    There is so much that can be done at little or no cost, all that is required is a few ideas and some time to implement them. It helps if you can focus on one thing at a time and do it well.  This allows you to:
    • Plan your initiative,
    • Measure your baseline,
    • Involve your people 
    • Measure your impact, and
    • Celebrate your success!
    To help you plan your business efficiency programs, AusLSA has established the GreenThemes program – each quarter we distribute ideas and inspiration on a new sustainability theme like paper and energy.

    And remember, you don’t have to do it on your own. Law firms are filled with people with passion and enthusiasm for making their firm (and the world) a better place. 

    Establish a committee and provide them with support and time to think about and act on sustainability in your firm and you can:
    • Reduce costs,
    • Reduce environmental impact,
    • Improve staff engagement, and
    • Be seen as a progressive employer.
    There is no downside to environmental sustainability. 

    Published February 2014 in the ALPMA Blog


    A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

  • 07 February 2014 1:46 PM | Anonymous member

    GreenThemes: Energy Ideas
    In the FY2013 AusLSA Report 17 of 26 firms reported electricity reductions since the previous year. It's not too late to make an impact to your electricity use this year; even small changes can have big impacts. 

    The GreenThemes Q1 program is looking at Energy and here are suggestions for things you could do to improve your firm's energy efficiency. Think about:
    • refreshing or posting signs to remind people to Switch off
    • posting a video (like the Earth Hour one below) to your intranet
    • watching a webinar about lighting to see if your lighting could be more efficient
    • asking your operational staff about server virtualisation
    • making sure your firm has organised to participate in Earth Hour
    VECCI and Carbon Compass are currently running a series on lighting from basics, through technologies to grants. You can catch up by watching the recordings or join the final seminar next week. 
    Switch-off campaigns
       Switching off is the easiest way to save electricity (and money!). The trick is establishing new habits. Remind your colleagues to flick the switch with these signs available to download from Carbon Compass. 

    PC monitors
    Monitors use the majority (up to 80%) of your computer's power and turning off the monitor is so quick and easy that there are really no excuses. Attach some of these labels to your colleague's monitors.

    Drinks Fridge
    Does your firm (or home) have fridges just for drinks? How about using a 24-hour timer to turn the fridge off overnight when you don't need icy cold beverages

    Christmas Day
    Greensense monitored energy usage in buildings on Christmas day and found that many offices used as much energy as per a usual work day despite everyone being at home eating seafood and opening gifts. Do you reschedule your office lights, equipment and building automation for public holidays?
    Earth Hour - use your power: 29 March 2014
    The new campaign for Earth Hour 2014 will be released tomorrow. Subscribe for updates, sign up to the campaign, download tools and participate with 7000 cities and 154 countries across the world.

    The Earth Hour videos are always immensely inspiring and a great quick video to share or show to your colleagues. This one shows Earth Hour Sydney in 2012. As you will see there are still offices with lights switched on! Make sure your office isn't one this year. 

    Earth Hour calendar reminder

    Power save mode
    Most office equipment have power save modes - computers, monitors, faxes, printers,etc... Good power saving settings can save hundreds of KWh of electricity per year without any frustrations for staff.  

    Have a think about how each device is used and investigate what saving settings are possible. You could set: 
    • computer monitors to sleep after 5min and hibernate after 20min
    • printers to go to sleep at 8pm and wakeup at 7am. 
    Measuring energy usage
    Measuring your energy use is vital is you want to know if your efforts are successful. A plugin energy monitor will let you know immediately how much electricity single appliances draw when in use or turned off. 
    Calculate the savings when turning off your computer and monitor each day and extrapolate for your entire fleet. Example of a plugin Energy Monitor.
    Server Virtualisation
    IT servers use a lot of energy and produce a lot of heat (requiring A/C). Virtualising servers can drastically reduce the electricity required. Most firms have already virtualised their servers (and now thinking about cloud-based services). If your firm hasn't yet, you can learn how to do it from other AusLSA Members - see the Virtualisation Case-studies. 

  • 21 January 2014 2:34 PM | Anonymous member


    Happy New Year
    Welcome to 2014. Hopefully you have had a reinvigorating break and are ready to return to work with passion and purpose. 

    At AusLSA we are ready to tackle some new issues in 2014. Here is what we are preparing for...  

    Sustainability Champions Networks
    Sustainability Champions Networks provide an opportunity to discuss the opportunities and challenges of becoming a more sustainable law firm.  Register for an event near you. 
    • Sydney: Wednesday 5 February - Register
    • Melbourne: Wednesday 12 February - Register
    • Brisbane: Tuesday 25 February - Register
    • Perth: Wednesday 26 February - Register
    • Adelaide:  Wednesday 5 March - Register
    Please forward to any of your interested colleagues. 
    Cloud Computing
    Technology is providing lawyers with greater flexibility and mobility and it seems law firms are increasing their use of digital platforms, particularly for collaboration.

    At this webinar Marco Marcello, Lavan Legal's IT Manager, will discuss how the firm moved to cloud computing (SAS) including how they addressed the risks and embraced the opportunities.

    Thursday 6 March: 
    Travel Offsetting
    Travel by law firm staff is responsible for approximately 30% of a law firm's environmental impact and is proving the most difficult to minimise. But we can do something about the impact of travel, through offsetting.

    This webinar will consider a couple of travel offsetting options, with:
    • Justin Pilgrim,Climate Friendly speaking about FlightPortal, a flight offsetting program, and the positive impacts offsetting can have, and
    • Alex Stathakis, CitySwitch Brisbane, speaking about Virgin & Qantas flight offset options and whether they are actually worth it.
    Thursday 3 AprilRegister
    AusLSA updates


    Energy: Lighting
    GreenThemes is starting 2014 focusing on energy. What is your law firm doing about energy use?

    For many businesses, lighting will account for up to 50% of your electricity spend. Yet lighting technology used in commercial offices is often out dated or poorly laid out.

    CitySwitch Green Office are hosting a number of lighting related meetings that will help you improve lighting and save energy

    LED Seminar Series
    (with the Lighting Council of Australia)
    • Brisbane - 17 Feb
    • Sydney - 19 Feb
    • Melbourne - 21 Feb
    Webinar Series: Lighting Technologies for Business
    (with VECCI and Carbon Compass)

    Social Sustainability

    The triple-bottom line of corporate responsibility includes economic, environmental and social considerations. After 3 years, we think AusLSA has provided valuable assistance to law firms with their environmental sustainability.

    Now we are developing proposals to expand our focus to social sustainability.
    AusLSA Members will be consulted in the coming weeks for input on how we can best add value. Stay tuned!
    Courts project

     '...but the courts wont allow it!' is sometime used by legal staff to justify resistance to changing practices (like double-sided printing).

    AusLSA, in partnership with Law in Order, is finalising a summary of current court rules to provide some clarity and an effective rejoinder to staff complaints. 

    AusLSA and Law in Order are consulting with various Australian courts on this project. 
  • 03 December 2013 12:27 PM | Anonymous member
    Wallmans recently won the CitySwitch awards for SA and New Signatory of the Year. 
  • 27 November 2013 10:28 AM | Anonymous member
     Surplus food feeding the hungry at OzHarvest
    Ronni Kahn, CEO OzHarvest

    Aligned to the AusLSA GreenTheme for quarter 4 - Waste - OzHarvest provided the guest speakers for the launch of the 4th AusLSA report in November 2013. Ronni and Gopi Krishnan spoke in Sydney and Melbourne respectively and provided some inspiring stories of the impacts from donating leftovers. 

    A few components of the program that make it super easy

    • Changes to civil liability legislation to reduce the liability for food that is donated,
    • Even modest amounts of food are welcome (eg, 10 leftover sandwiches)
    • Call as early as you can to arrange collection, but even if it is late it is worthwhile calling to enquire. 

     Some key facts

    • In Australia one million children go to school without breakfast or bed without dinner every day
    • Two million people rely on food relief in Australia at some point every year
    • $1 donated to OzHarvest will provide 2 meals
    • $8billion of food is wasted in Australia each year
    AusLSA Members supporting and using OzHarvest
    • Clayton Utz
    • Henry Davis York
    • Sparke Helmore
    OzHarvest is also a good option for
    • Corporate gifts (including a lovely leftovers cookbook)
    • Volunteer day experiences
    • Cooking sessions
    • Corporate giving
    About OzHarvest
    OzHarvest is a charity that collects surplus catered food and organises redistribution to the hungry, homeless and disadvantaged in 
    • Sydney, 
    • Brisbane, 
    • Melbourne, 
    • Adelaide and 
    • Newcastle. 
    • Food Rescue WA provides a similar service in Perth. 
    OzHarvest began when Ronni Kahn, our founding director, decided that she was not prepared to be part of the waste cycle that is a natural outcome of the hospitality industry. Being a part of this industry for over 20 years she had seen a lot of food wasted. So she spent time researching options for dealing with the excess food. There was no organisation in Sydney that could collect the food on a regular and professional basis so Ronni decided to set up a food rescue charity herself.

    Backed by The Macquarie Group Foundation which provided funds and Goodman International which provided a van and office space, OzHarvest was established and collected its first meal in November 2004.

    Ronni was able to persuade a group of socially minded business people to sit on the board of OzHarvest. This voluntary board brings not only sound business disciplines to the management of OzHarvest but also compassion and generosity.
  • 26 November 2013 6:04 PM | Anonymous member
    Are people just bloody idiots? Or Should we try something new to change behaviour?
    by Will Turbet
    07 Nov 2013 
    republished from
    This is a guest post by Mark Boulet, manager of the multi-award winning Green Steps program at the Monash Sustainability Institute (MSI). His team is passionate about providing people with practical, hands-on sustainability skills to create change in organisations and the wider community. Mark was recently listed as one of the Top 100 most influential and inspiring people by The Age’s Melbourne Magazine and is a 2011 Australian Davos Connection Leadership Awardee.


    Businessman dunce_newsletter2Have you ever caught yourself secretly wondering if, when it comes to environmental sustainability, the people we work with are just idiots?

    We live in a well-educated society in which information, promotion and awareness of sustainability issues are at an all-time high. And yet lights are not switched off, appliances are left on at the end of the day, even banana peels still appear in the recycling bins.

    Perhaps the problem is that we assume that awareness and information about an issue will automatically lead to environmentally desirable behaviours? I’m sure that you can think of more than one time where your (or someone else’s) knowledge and awareness has not led to the desired behaviour. Most of us accept the science of climate change, yet how many catch the train to work?

    So while information can be important in engaging people and is obviously an important management tool, it may not always be enough to change human behaviour. So what else does?

    • Other people do (click here for Candid Camera example).
    • Your attitudes do.
    • Your emotions do (click here to learn how emotions influence what we buy)
    • Your capacity to carry out the behaviour does.
    • The environment does (click here for the famous fly-on-the-urinal example)
    • Your habits do (click here to listen to world-leading habits researcher Bas Verplanken)

    If we want to encourage a specific behaviour change, then we need to find out more about what might influence that behaviour in the first place. This involves two things:

    1. Clearly defining the behaviour first. Who is target audience? What is the action? What is the target of the behaviour? What is the time and context?  The clearer we are about the desired behaviour, the easier this is to communicate to people and to actually measure any change.
    2. Then we need to go and talk to the target audience about the behaviour. What are the advantages and disadvantages to them performing the behaviour? Who might approve or disapprove? What enables or hinders them in performing the behaviour?

      Talking with (or simply observing) the audience about the desired behaviour seems so simple, yet it is critical in determining what behaviour change tools and strategies we actually use.  It gives us a better chance of understanding what the main influencers of a particular behaviour are and then designing these into our behaviour change program.

      A word of caution! This approach increases the odds of encouraging the behaviours we would like to see, but sadly it is no guaranteed silver bullet. And this is because while we may not actually be idiots, our behaviours, and what influences them, are fluid and ever-changing!

      Thanks, as always, to my colleagues at BehaviourWorks Australia for continuously challenging and up-dating my thinking about behaviour change.

      Re-published, with permission, from Greensense: 

    1. 26 November 2013 5:08 PM | Anonymous member

       Is there any point to KeepCups?
      The Good Food Website published an article by Matt Holden on whether KeepCups were a good idea.

      Here are some facts and figures from that article:
      • Australians have bought 3.5 million KeepCups, diverting 3.5 billion disposable cups from landfill
      • 2.7 million disposable cups are used and wasted every day in Australia. Or  nearly 1 billion a year and 500 billion manufactured world-wide
      • Whether a paper cup can be recycled depends on the proportion of plastic to paper. Research by one of Planet Ark's associates found only 50 per cent of takeaway cups used in shopping centre cafes were suitable for even low-grade recycling.
      • Even cups cups lined with 'biodegradable' plant-derived PLA plastic take decades to breakdown not days.
      • In 1994. Martin Hocking of the University of Victoria in Canada calculated a ceramic cup embodied 14 megajoules of energy, compared with 6.3 for reusable plastic, 5.5 for glass, 0.55 for paper and 0.2 for foam. This means a glass takes 15 uses to break even with paper on the energy budget, and a ceramic cup 39, including the dishwasher energy. But a glass has to be used 393 times to break even with a foam cup, and a ceramic cup more than 1000. 

      Some ideas:
      • If you use a resuable cup once every work day (5 days a week, 48 weeks a year) that is 240 uses.
      • Many cafes offer discounts for reusable cups
      • Ceramic, Keepcups et al are better insulated and keep coffee hotter for faaaaaar longer
      • Encouraging the use of reusable cups helps create change, makes people think.
      • You can also use them for takeaway soup

      From on 26 November 2013

    2. 21 March 2013 10:04 AM | Anonymous member
      Help AusLSA deliver the content you need to be more sustainable

      Working Groups
      AusLSA relies on participation of volunteers to help develop and collate resources that facilitate the sustainability journey for all Members. After all our vision is 'working collaboratively'.

      The following working groups are looking for volunteers and assistance Each group has about 6 members and requires a minimal commitment of approximately 2 - 5 hrs/month.

      We hope that all AusLSA Members will consider how they can participate. 

      The Benchmarking Working Group is responsible for developing the AusLSA Reporting Framework and assisting in the preparation of the AusLSA Environmental Report each year. 

      We have had an excellent team for the past 3 years, but we are looking for fresh ideas and energy.  In the next year we will be developing a assessment process to enhance the rigour of Members' Reports. 


      Procurement strategies are an excellent way for businesses to become more sustainable. Join this new working group to help develop tools to engage with your supply chain such as model procurement policies and draft supplier questionnaires that will help you reduce the impacts (and risks) inherent in buying stuff. 

      Getting people together is a great way of sharing knowledge and expertise. Help AusLSA develop a program of events with content and guest speakers that capture your imagination (and hopefully that of your peers!). 

      Green IT - 
      Power Management Discussion Paper

      One generous AusLSA soul has been busy preparing a discussion paper on best practice power management for IT.

      We would appreciate a few extra generous souls to assist in finalising the paper. 

        Staff Engagement

      The Staff Engagement Working Group is a committee of enthusiastic and dedicated people who collate and produce ideas that promote better engagement on sustainability issues. 

      We always welcome new members with new ideas and new engagement challenges to conquer. 

      We are looking for volunteers with interests in:
      ·  Procurement
      ·  Reporting & Benchmarking
      ·  Events & Networking
      ·  Green IT

      AusLSA aims to deliver content and tools that really promote sustainable practices. Help us lead the development of resources that will help your sustainability program.

      Follow Us!
      ·  Facebook
      ·  Twitter
      ·  LinkedIn

    3. 18 March 2013 10:37 AM | Anonymous member
      AusLSA launches a new website
      I am very pleased to announce the launch of the new AusLSA website. 

      The website has been designed to promote member interaction, easier access to member resources and 
      streamlined event, member and communication management. 

      Further information about the functionality of the website is detailed below. 


      Member Resources
      The website provides easier access and greater interactivity for members, such as:
      • Easy sharing of case studies with the capacity for others to comment and contribute,
      • A facility to post sustainability questions (and answers) on discussion forums,
      • Sharing working documents between working group members
      • Easy access to the AusLSA library of ideas

      How to login:
      Generate a password here:

      Using your email address:


      Events & Registrations
      A calendar of events details all upcoming AusLSA events, as well as other relevant law and sustainability events. An automated process simplifies registration and provides immediate confirmation, reminders and a appointment for your personal calendar. 


      Membership Administrator

      Each AusLSA Member firm has a designated Membership Administrator. This person will receive membership invoices and is able to grant their colleagues access to the AusLSA website. Emily can advise you of your firm's Membership Administrator, change their identity or perform administrator functions on their behalf. 
        Profile Management

      As a member or a contact of AusLSA you can manage your own profile including privacy settings, subscriptions and contact details. 

      Whilst the development of the new website has been approached with significant attention to detail, the risk of a bug remains. Please let Emily know if you uncover any problems so they can be resolved swiftly.  

      Follow AusLSA!

      ·  Facebook
      ·  Twitter
      ·  LinkedIn
      ·  YouTube

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    4. 10 March 2010 3:14 PM | Anonymous member

      This post originally appeared on

      GreenBiz advances the opportunities at the intersection of business, technology and sustainability. Through its websites, events, peer-to-peer network and research, GreenBiz promotes the potential to drive transformation and accelerate progress — within companies, industries and in the very nature of business.

      Climate change vs. global warming: How to talk sustainability risk

      Language goes a long way to convey the urgency (or lack thereof) associated with climate issues.

      There is growing concern in sustainability circles that efforts to reverse or mitigate the effects of Earth’s changing climate are not gaining momentum fast enough to match mounting risk factors.

      That’s despite over half the general US population saying that they worry "a great deal" to "a fair amount" about our climate, according to a Gallup poll.

      One reason for the disconnect increasingly supported by research: the language we use to describe the problem, which has climate hawks speculating that perhaps the issue could use a name change to something that elicits greater emotion, —and thereby more effectively spurs action.

      Today, "global warming" and "climate change" are used differently and mean different things to different people. In particular, global warming appears to communicate a greater threat and generate a stronger sense of urgency than the seemingly less threatening term climate change.

      While global warming is a bit of a misnomer, a Yale project on Climate Change Communication found that global warming generates stronger feelings of negative effects and stronger perceptions of personal and familial threat, especially among Republicans. Yet, according to Gallup, only 36 percent of Republicans worry about the issue, compared to 49 percent of Independents and 83 percent of Democrats.

      Meanwhile, Yale found that climate change actually reduced issue engagement by Democrats, Independents, liberals and moderates, as well as a variety of subgroups within American society, including men, women, minorities, different generations and across political and partisan lines. For Gallup, the numbers were relatively the same for both terms.

      Upping the urgency

      When analyzing Google searches for global warming and climate change, the latter has been far less commonly used over the past decade.

      The initial preference for global warming could be attributed to the politicization of the term, as well as Al Gore’s release of An Inconvenient Truth.

      More recently, climate change has been gaining currency far more rapidly than global warming, nearly closing the gap in 2014. When looking at more recent year-over-year trends, global warming as a search term has leveled off at roughly 450,000 average monthly searches. Meanwhile, climate change has seen a 48 percent increase in average monthly searches.

      But why has the use the term global warming fallen out of favor? Are there reasons beyond scientific accuracy?

      In a secret memo to George W. Bush prior to the 2002 mid-term elections, Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster and strategist addressed the marketing aspect of this issue when he wrote:

      “It’s time for us to start talking about climate change instead of global warming... climate change is less frightening than global warming. As one focus group participant noted, climate change 'sounds like you’re going from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale.' While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge."

      While the term climate change is significantly more accurate for describing the situation than the term global warming, it's still not as specific as it could be. John Holdren, the White House Science Adviser, recommended that the topic be called 'global climate disruption.' He feels, and many agree, that this new term will better raise awareness of the true issues at hand.

      The term global climate disruption does, indeed, describe the changes occurring on Earth more accurately and concisely. Across the globe, climates are changing. Temperatures in key areas are rising, precipitation patterns are changing and air circulation patterns are shifting. The change is not restricted to temperature, and it's a true disruption — not just a change.

      Meanwhile, the phrase climate instability has started appearing in media reports about UN climate topics and World Bank forums. Security and economic instability have long been topics that have the ability to garner attention from those with the means to effect change, especially in business. Some believe using words tied to security and instability may get those with power and influence to stop sitting on the sidelines and take action.

      Psychiatrist Dr. H. Steven Moffic surmises we should take a page from television news reports and play off Maslow's hierarchy of psychological needs in which safety needs are second only to biological needs, such as food and sleep.

      “Psychologically speaking, I've long thought that global warming and climate change were terms that were too benign to elicit more concern on the part of the public," he has written. "As time has gone on, and climatologists seem to connect the recent increased intensity of destructive weather events like wildfires, hurricanes, etc. to longer-term climate change, it seemed to me, at least as a psychiatrist, that climate instability might be more evocative."

      Whether we continue calling it 'climate change' or another term, those of us fighting to save the planet from irreversible change have a responsibility to continue to refine our terminology to keep it both accurate and engaging.

      Combating changes to the climate cannot happen until we’ve captured the hearts and minds of a wide variety of populations and demographics.

      At Sustain:Green, we’re doing our part by giving consumers an easy way to reduce their carbon footprint through a MasterCard rewards program of carbon offsets and fund rainforest preservation. Our hope is that by using the card, more people take to heart what’s happening to our planet and feel empowered to take action beyond what credit card they choose to use.

      If, as a global society, we choose to not take responsibility on climate change, catastrophic weather events may force our hand, giving us devastation we cannot ignore, but are too late to reverse. Thankfully, we may still have time to turn back the clock and perhaps we should start with a new term.

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