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Sustainability in Enterprise - CADXtra

Find out how NTU's Sustainability Community Lab helped Nottingham-based design consultancy, CADXtra, set carbon reduction targets.

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CADXtra is a multi-disciplined design consultancy specialising in providing the full design package for many of the world’s leading manufacturers including Reckitt, Alliance Healthcare, Fareva and Boots.

The Nottingham-based company blends design services, including 2D and 3D CAD drawings and BIM (Building Information Modelling), with AEC (Architecture, Engineering & Construction), project management and technical engineering expertise to help clients deliver major projects. From the construction of a brand new factory, to onsite design and engineering support for existing facilities.

When Jonathan Hedge took on a Director role at CADXtra a year ago, his immediate vision was to improve the company’s approach to sustainability. Through NTU’s Sustainability in Enterprise project, CADXtra has received funding through a graduate talent grant, and support from our early career development programme – the Sustainability Community Lab (SCL). The company has also worked closely with NTU’s qualified and experienced Sustainability Consultants to calculate their carbon impact and put an action plan in place to reduce emissions.

Our graduate talent grant pays 20% towards the salary of a new employee for 12 months, when that person has graduated within the last three years and has a target related to sustainability. CADXtra has used their grant to employ University of Nottingham graduate, Kieran Stewart, to take the lead on sustainability as part of his Junior Design and Project Engineer role.

Early career employees can also be supported by the SCL to become sustainability advocates and Kieran has recently completed the programme, involving six half-day workshops over eight weeks.

CADXtra - Jonathan Hedge

Jonathan Hedge, Projects Director and Technical Project Engineer at CADXtra

We spoke to Jonathan to find out how CADXtra has benefited from the support on offer.

“We work with some of the biggest names in manufacturing and play a crucial role in helping our clients meet their carbon reduction targets. The UK built environment is directly responsible for 25% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, including residential and commercial buildings. Manufacturing is also one of four sectors contributing the most emissions, along with consumer expenditure, energy, and transport, so sustainability is a top priority.

“I want to instil a strong culture of sustainability at CADXtra, to support our clients and make the business a place where people are proud to work. Our customers expect us to be environmentally responsible and we need to be accountable. Our existing clients understand our passion for sustainability, but as we expand and talk to new companies, we need to demonstrate and evidence what we’re doing.

“As a small business, we didn’t have the internal resources to do all the things I wanted to do in the time I wanted to do them, so I looked for opportunities to bring in a local graduate and grow our team, and found the Sustainability in Enterprise programme. Kieran has been with us for a few months now and part of his role is to take the lead on developing our environmental policy and sustainability initiatives.”

What we’re doing now

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“As part of the programme, NTU calculated our first ever carbon footprint and gave us 29 recommendations for reducing our carbon emissions. The report showed that a significant proportion of our emissions comes from transport and heating. Kieran is exploring how we can successfully roll out as many of the recommendations as possible, from using segregated food waste bins, to reducing our business travel, to setting up a system for gathering accurate sustainability data. We need to implement change in bitesize chunks to make sure the recommendations we’ve been given are implemented properly, without overwhelming us as a very small and busy team.”

CADXtra currently rent their premises and are based on a managed site at Boots’ headquarters in Beeston, which means they have limited control over building services including utilities like energy. One of NTU’s recommendations was to set up a working group with facilities management and other tenants, to create a forum for discussing sustainability.

Jonathan sees partnering with others as key to driving change:

“We’re setting up a sustainability awareness team with other companies at the Boots Beeston site, which will give us a much bigger voice when it comes to pushing for building upgrades to improve energy efficiency.

“Beyond that, we’re focused on using our design and engineering knowhow to help put sustainability at the heart of our clients’ multimillion pound construction projects. The more we instil a culture of sustainability at CADXtra, the more we can take that into our conversations with clients and explore sustainable approaches in collaboration. In that way, we can make a big impact, even as a small business.”

The impact

“The programme has taught us how to think about and apply sustainability specifically to our companies, rather than simply telling us what to do."

CADXtra - Kieran Stewart

Kieran Stewart, Junior Design and Project Engineer at CADXtra

Kieran explained how the SCL has supported his role at CADXtra. “The programme has taught us how to think about and apply sustainability specifically to our companies, rather than simply telling us what to do. It’s also showed me how small changes can add up and broadened my view of sustainability and how different approaches can be used.

“NTU’s recommendations have given CADXtra little goals to work towards and we’ve set ourselves a target of adopting the recommendations we’re taking forward within a year, and reviewing our progress at the end of 2023. Being in a rented office is one of our biggest challenges at the moment, but if we can overcome that, it could be a big opportunity too. By working together we could help the whole site to become more sustainable.

“Being aware of how I can change my own habits around sustainability has made it easier for me to ask my colleagues to join in and change theirs. As part of that, we’re holding monthly environmental meetings so I can share what I’ve learnt at the SCL, and I’ll keep educating myself and passing it on. That learning, together with our carbon footprint and recommendations, will also be written into our environmental policy.

“Now we’ve started on our sustainability journey, we want to keep driving ahead and I’m focused on finding approaches that bring people along. Every single person at CADXtra is on board with sustainability, which will be key to our success.”

Jonathan concludes: “The SiE programme has given us the capability to dedicate time to sustainability and invest in the future of our business. As a small company, it can be hard to maintain the impetus when there’s no one else supporting you. Through NTU’s support, you feel as if you have a partner, someone who is able to sit with you, guide you, and give you the tools, which makes everything seem so much easier. The work that NTU has put into the programme is enabling the work we’re doing now and I’d definitely recommend the output you get from it.

“We’re planning to set sustainability targets for ourselves but we also want to find the pledge that best fits our business, and put everything in place to meet the goals we set. We’re also having conversations around sustainability with our clients, and all of them are being very receptive. There’s a lot more we can do as sector and it’s in everyone’s interest to get involved.”

How to access the support available

Find out more about the broad range of support that NTU is providing to local businesses: