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Al Gore inspires entrepreneur to go green

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And co-founder and sales director Simone Mann says the office supplies and solutions firm isn’t done with carbon-cutting initiatives just yet. The plan is to reduce emissions by 80 per cent overall during a three-year period.

“We’re into the second year of our plan,” Mann says. “Our largest area was fuel usage because we deliver stationary all around the UK. The first thing we did was look at the routing of our vehicles and look at intelligent routing. As a result we got rid of two vehicle routes completely. We’ve also had a bio-diesel tank installed.”

Commercial Group, which last year posted turnover of £23.5m, now uses only energy efficient light bulbs and is in the process of switching energy providers to one that specialises in green energy. Employees can also take advantage of a ‘bike to work’ scheme that provides financial incentives for cycling to the office.

Mann launched the company with her brother and a university friend in 1989 but has only been thinking green since July 2006. That’s when she saw former US vice-president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore speak in London. “I was immediately humbled and stirred into action to do something about our impact on the environment. I felt that there was also a fantastic business opportunity by taking it into the heart of our business strategy,” she says.

Employees were shown Gore’s ground-breaking film An Inconvenient Truth and then were invited to join a company-wide carbon neutral steering group to drive the green agenda.

Mann says Commercial Group has won business directly because of its environmental work. “We’re selling a thoroughly generic product so this is a big differentiator for us,” she says. “We’re focusing on corporate clients that want to make sure they’re buying from a sustainable and responsible company.”

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