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Brightsource

"We use FileMaker to run our project management system and also used it to develop our carbon footprint auditing tool. We like FileMaker because it's a fast development environment." Peter Frings, Managing Director, Brightsource

Brightsource cuts carbon with FileMaker

Marketing agency delivers 36% reduction in carbon emissions for client using FileMaker

Overview

  • Environmentally conscious marketing agency needed a way of tracking the carbon impact on print jobs for its high-profile clients

Industry

  • Creative professionals

Solution

  • FileMaker database helps to track ‘cradle to grave’ carbon footprint of a range of paper-based marketing campaigns

Benefits

  • Significant carbon reductions achieved for major clients via the creation of a unique carbon management proposition for its customers

Brightsource is a £43m marketing services and technology company, which has particular experience in working with the not-for-profit, financial services, travel and retail sectors. Employing 80 staff across four offices located in London, Cheltenham, Edinburgh and Beijing, the company has strong core competency in data-driven marketing communications and is a subsidiary of Cello, a global insight and strategic marketing group listed on London’s AIM. Recent recognition for Brightsource's work includes ‘Best Supplier 2011’ at The Institute of Fundraising National Awards, and ‘Best in Print Production’ for the last three years at the Recommended Agency Register Awards. External accreditations include ISO 14001 in Environmental Management.

Thanks to Brightsource’s sustainability consultancy, UNICEF achieved a hugely impressive reduction in carbon emissions – 36 % over two years
Thanks to Brightsource’s sustainability consultancy, UNICEF achieved a hugely impressive reduction in carbon emissions – 36 % over two years

The challenge:

As a marketing services company, Brightsource is involved in producing a high quantity of printed material for its clients, be it brochures, booklets or direct mail.

But while paper-based marketing can be highly effective for clients, there is also a growing awareness of how paper use can contribute to climate change. This link was especially problematic for one of Brightsource's leading clients UNICEF UK, which regards climate change as one of the biggest causes of child poverty. At the same time, the children's charity generates most of its funding and donations through direct mail - production of which at one time comprised 60% of its total organisational carbon footprint.

According to Brightsource's managing director Peter Frings, to fully understand the carbon footprint of any product, including paper-based marketing collateral, what is required is a detailed analysis of the amount of green house gas emissions that are produced at each stage of its life cycle.

He says: “You have to look at the brochure or piece of direct mail from cradle to grave, taking into account the carbon cost of making and shipping the paper, as well as the cost of the agency managing the communications. Other factors include the carbon cost of the printing, the distribution and, finally, its disposal impact.”


We already had a project management system running on FileMaker, so we integrated it with Footmark to feed in relevant job specific data.

—Peter Frings, Managing Director, Brightsource
Brightsource is involved in producing a high quantity of printed material for its clients
Brightsource is involved in producing a high quantity of printed material for its clients

The FileMaker solution:

Using FileMaker, a unique system called 'Footmark' was developed, employing these criteria to measure the carbon impact of any marketing production. It is the only carbon footprint audit system for marketing services that conforms to the international PAS 2050 standard.

Peter continues: “We already had a project management system running on FileMaker, so we integrated it with Footmark to feed in relevant job specific data. Footmark itself holds a fully-referenced library of data from different paper manufacturers, which is regularly updated by pulling in live information.”

“There are literally hundreds of different types of paper produced in different ways,” continues Peter. “In the UK, many paper mills still use coal-based power but then less carbon is used in shipping it compared to Scandinavia where a higher proportion of energy is generated through renewable sources.”

Using reports and analysis from ‘Footmark’, Brightsource’s sustainability team was able to understand the carbon ‘hotspots’ in UNICEF’s fund-raising campaigns. This insight enabled them to make recommendations for carbon reduction, including using alternative raw materials, changes to production methods and suppliers, more economical formats and, crucially, a paper policy for the organisation that specified the use of ‘low carbon’ recycled papers.

“With this information to hand, UNICEF is now able to make informed decisions about how efficient its fund-raising operations are both in terms of a financial return and carbon impact,” adds Peter.

Thanks to Brightsource’s sustainability consultancy, UNICEF achieved a hugely impressive reduction in carbon emissions – 36 % over two years – without any increase in production costs, which were lowered due to improved paper purchasing practices. The venture also had a positive impact on staff and trustees, who saw the charity practising what it preached, and delivering on organisational commitments.

This success has spurred Brightsource to not only offer the 'Footmark' consultancy service to other clients but also to expand the system so that it is able to measure the carbon footprint of digital-based marketing services as well. But this task, Peter admits, may be not be straightforward. He says: “The ability to assess the carbon impact of digital services is something no-one has really been able to achieve as yet. Understanding the impact of e-mail use or cloud computing is a complicated area.

“The power usage of the huge server farms run by some of the major players is classified information, so it's difficult. But we're working on it.” And when Brightsource does finally crack the problem, Peter says the data will be fed straight into the FileMaker system.

“We like FileMaker because it's a fast development environment. The speed with which you can build a system and control the interface is very attractive for us,” he adds.

Using FileMaker, a unique system called 'Footmark' was developed
Using FileMaker, a unique system called 'Footmark' was developed

Notable benefits:

  • Fast development – Brightsource use FileMaker because it is user-friendly and it allows them to build systems easily and quickly
  • Carbon reduction – The FileMaker-based 'Footmark' system allowed Brightsource client UNICEF UK to make significant carbon reductions of 36% in two years to their carbon footprint
  • Additional consultancy – The 'Footmark' system means Brightsource can offer additional consultancy services at a time when interest in sustainable business practices is growing

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