Interview - Mike Thompson, chief executive Childbase

Childbase has built an eco-friendly day nursery at Cranfield University

Childbase has built an eco-friendly day nursery at Cranfield University

Tell us about the new nursery

The Cherry Trees Day Nursery, more than four times the size of the previous property, is designed to meet the long-term needs of Cranfield University staff and students, the community in general and provide the best possible facilities for our dedicated staff – who achieved Outstanding in two successive inspections in their former premises.

Childbase was the first day nursery group to enter a partnership with an NHS hospital in 1993, and Oxford and Cambridge Universities benefit from similar arrangements.

Will this purpose-built eco model be replicated across other settings?

Respecting and protecting the environment is an important part of the Childbase Partnership commitment to securing the best possible future for the children in our care. Achieving best environmental practice in all aspects of our operation has been a priority for many years, from the construction of nurseries to how they are powered and operated.

Greengables Day Nursery in Sandhurst was opened in 2011 with solar panels, underfloor heating and state-of-the-art insulation; eco-friendly additions like these feature in new-build nurseries and, where possible, in renovations and extensions to existing buildings.

We are committed to achieving ‘zero waste to landfill’ across all 44 day nurseries using energy from waste, recycling and anaerobic digestion processes to reduce our carbon footprint.

Food waste collections are not currently a legal requirement, except in Scotland on amounts over 5kg, but we anticipate this will be adopted nationwide in the near future.

In the period 1 January to 31 March, Miles House Day Nursery in Bath achieved the ‘holy grail’ of waste management with no contributions to landfill; 66.6 per cent anaerobic digestion; 32.6 per cent recycling; and 0.6 per cent EfW on all waste.

Childbase was also the first major client of Green Bottoms, a nappy collection and recycling service diverting over 1.8 million disposable nappies, or over 361 tonnes of waste, away from landfill and reducing harmful CO2 emissions by 226 tonnes. This 100 per cent recycling process is currently suspended while the facility owners re-locate to a new site, but the company is maintaining the collection service; using EfW processes with various providers and seeking out further recycling opportunities to avoid landfill.

Childbase saves over 600 tonnes of CO 2 emissions annually since signing up for ‘Green Energy’ over 14 years ago. A total of 100 acres of new Douglas fir trees would need to be planted to absorb this amount of CO2 in a year.

While the cost of environmentally friendly waste disposal schemes is in line with landfill tax costs, Childbase initially paid a premium for the new services thereby demonstrating its commitment to best environmental practice.

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