Working Sustain-Abley

From 21-25 March, Abley held our first internal climate and sustainability awareness week. The purpose of the programme was to share knowledge, spark conversations and inspire positive change.


Firstly, there is no official sustainability week, so we decided to create our own. What we currently do at Abley in this space is good, but we can always do more. As a company we are committed to continue learning and finding innovative ways to help tackle the environmental crises. We all have a duty to do more.  Sustainability week was created to shine a light on that responsibility. Our internal climate and sustainability group organised a week of engaging events to share our knowledge. Here are a few of my favourite moments from the week.

The lunchtime debate

The week started with a lunchtime debate around how safe systems (road safety) and sustainability overlap. We discussed whether road safety strategies that seek to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries should also consider indirect deaths from vehicle emissions. Where do you draw the line for emission related deaths? Larger vehicles such as utes and SUVs often have a higher safety rating but are pumping out far more emissions due to their size, therefore are they really that safe? An interesting thought.

Another point of discussion was mode shift. Mode shift from cars to active modes is the desirable outcome from a sustainability point of view but, is having fewer motor vehicles on the road beneficial for safety too? Having fewer cars on the road means there is less risk of a severe accident occurring. Therefore, should we be encouraging mode shift as part of our safe systems approach? I think so.

Innovation quorum

This week also marked our first innovation quorum focused on offerings we can develop as a company in the sustainability space. We have developed tools such as CarbonWise and MitAgator for Ballance but what more could we develop in the climate resilience, adaptation, and emissions reporting, measuring and reducing space? Many ideas were brought to the table, but I won’t spill all our secrets here. An interesting point was made as to what we can do as industry professionals to influence policy which will in turn influence behaviour change.  

Lunch and learn

Lunch and learns are commonplace in Abley’s calendar. For climate and sustainability week, Benjamin Walch and I kicked things off with a sustainability terminology training. The aim of the training was to demystify the carbon jargon we see in the media and at work. Understanding the key terms and concepts is important for engaging in conversations and combating the climate crises. For example, what is the difference between carbon neutral and net-zero carbon? Well, carbon neutrality is the balancing of greenhouse gas emissions with an equivalent amount of independently verified carbon offsets. However, the term carbon neutral is open to many different interpretations. Carbon neutral claims should be taken with caution unless they are supported by recognised certification.  Net-carbon zero is achieved by actively reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by an activity or organisation and offsetting the residual remaining emissions.

Christchurch office sitting down for a lunch and learn on Teams

Evan Stranks presented on the rapid changes in policy that have followed the introduction of the Zero Carbon Act and the government’s climate change emergency declaration. He spoke of how the Emissions Reduction Plan that is due to be released in May should set challenging targets for the transportation sector around decreasing vehicle kilometres travelled and increasing uptake of electric vehicles. Meeting these targets will require all of us to adjust our travel behaviour, but this can only be enabled through rethinking the way we deliver infrastructure in consideration of the needs of all New Zealanders. As a company with the tagline “Transport + Location Intelligence”, Abley has an important role to play in inspiring this change and facilitating the transition for our clients.

Emma Harris presented on the importance of usability testing with industry professionals when creating a product. She explained the process they had gone through when developing the CarbonWise interface. Emma illustrated the importance of testing the tool in a neutral way to create a user-friendly product which provides the client what they want. Personally, I had never heard of usability testing before and I found it very interesting.

The daily quiz

I created a daily climate change trivia quiz to challenge everyone and educate in a fun way. Once the quiz was rolled out each morning the answers came flooding in – I must say I was impressed with the engagement. The quiz led to many interesting discussions with colleagues and some people’s competitive side came out, all in good nature. We ran a leader board to find the top team in the company, it was all very close throughout the week and our newest team, New Business Development and Marketing came out on top! The top teams and individuals were awarded local low waste prizes for their exceptional efforts.

Our daily climate change trivia quiz


Overall, this week was a great success with companywide engagement sparking very interesting discussions. The wide variety of events meant there was something for everyone. However, the conversation doesn’t end here, action must follow. To show our ongoing commitment, we also donated 10 trees to Trees for Canterbury to restore native bush and tackle the longer-term impacts of climate change.

We must all continue our efforts whether that be changes in lifestyle or what we do at work. We need to draw upon the knowledge and passion to drive positive change. Therefore, I encourage every one of you to start the discussion in your circles and create the change. The more people working together, the better.

abley on bikes
Abley team biking to lunch