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Digital workplace using technology to minimise environmental impact

Digital workplace using technology to minimise environmental impact

Case StudiesData CentresEditor's ChoiceGreen TechnologyMobileNetworkingTop StoriesUnited Kingdom


The move from Panda House

Founded in 1961, WWF is the world’s largest independent conservation organisation.

From 1987 WWF-UK was based at Panda House in Godalming, Surrey, however as time passed the building’s technology and sustainability credentials no longer reflected WWF’s philosophies.

A lead donation from the Rufford Foundation for the development of a new space, and capital funds raised, meant that a project to develop an environmentally sustainable building became possible without diverting funds from conservation projects.

Could technological advances form part of this project and help WWF embrace its ideal of living within the constraints of the earth’s natural resources? And, could this technology provide a flexible, sustainable workplace, and allow WWF to be more effective in the field?

The Living Planet Centre is born

The project’s aim was to create a state-of-the-art building with minimal environmental impact, involving the intelligent use of design, materials, and technology. Designed by Hopkins Architects and constructed by Willmott Dixon Construction, the Living Planet Centre was to become the WWF-UK’s new headquarters, and an inspirational location to show policymakers, industry representatives, and the public how we can live in harmony with nature.

A brownfield site, formerly a car park in Woking, was identified as the location for the Centre as it avoided unnecessary damage to undeveloped land. Construction began in 2012 and the centre was officially opened on 1 November 2013 by one of its ambassadors, Sir David Attenborough, before opening to the public in late November.

From inception, the Living Planet Centre wanted to achieve a BREEAM Outstanding rating, the highest standard for a building’s environmental performance. BREEAM, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method, is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings.

Using funds wisely
As a charity, WWF must use its funds wisely. Careful costs analysis, the GBP 5 million lead gift from the Rufford Foundation, and a capital appeal meant that building a new headquarters was the best option when the Panda House lease ended.

The Living Planet Centre’s sustainable design will help WWF reduce its carbon emissions and long- term running costs. The enhanced experience provided by the Centre will attract new supporters and therefore increase contributions.

More people, better support
Panda House didn’t project the values and principles of the WWF, which is funded by its supporters. However, the enhanced experience of the Living Planet Centre and its associated technologies will attract more supporters, and enable the charity to publicise high-profile campaigns quickly and effectively.

Education is a key role of the WWF and the interactive Learning Zone will enrich learning for the public, students, officials, and visiting businesses – creating opportunities for additional funding.

WWF’s small IT team needed additional technical skills to design and implement the full solution. The organisation wanted to improve collaboration among employees, and communication with representatives in the field, as well as with policymakers, organisations, and other WWF offices.


Shared passion for sustainability

Dimension Data is passionate about sustainability. Our vision is of a future where ICT is used for not only economic, but also environmental and social benefit. The Living Planet Centre embraces this vision. Our strategic planning, consulting, and collaboration skills, supported by creative thinking have helped WWF achieve its goals for a new building. In addition, our long-standing partnership with Cisco allowed us to work collaboratively to create the complete solution for WWF.

Transform, integrate, operate

Dimension Data initiated a programme to transform, integrate, and operate systems across a range of solutions:

  • The majority of the IT network infrastructure was provided by Cisco and several aspects reused from the London 2012 Olympic Games, which forms part of Cisco’s long-term Olympic legacy.
  • Dimension Data’s expertise and services helped to design and implement the Centre’s infrastructure.
  • The deliberately small server room is cooled by a ground-source heat pump rather than by conventional refrigeration, saving energy.
  • The secure, resilient, virtualised data centre with optimised storage services allows real-time monitoring of applications. Dimension Data’s design and implementation of the data centre requires minimal management, freeing up WWF’s time and resources.
  • A unified collaboration system incorporating Cisco’s Jabber softphone, Bluetooth headsets, video functionality, and secure remote access has been introduced. This provides flexibility for employees without the unnecessary overhead of phones on every desk.
  • The robust wireless network means employees and visitors can communicate via social media, mobile, tablet, and laptop devices, and allows more flexible use of office space. With employees using mobile working rather than a fixed desk, fewer desks are required for more people. This equates to lower costs and reduced energy usage.
  • The new mobile technologies mean WWF employees can work efficiently at home. Additionally, videoconferencing allows better communications between WWF-UK sites, and enables it to assemble experts in different ways and in varying geographies.
  • Dimension Data’s professional services and training expertise ensured that WWF’s employees were able to fully utilise and appreciate the capabilities of the solution.
  • In the event of a technology failure, Dimension Data will provide operational support within agreed service levels – Dimension Data’s office is even close enough for its support staff to arrive by bicycle, reducing CO2 emissions further!

Dimension Data gifted its consultancy time for the project’s design. Additionally, Dimension Data provides guidance at WWF steering committees, which safeguards the Living Planet Centre’s technology showcase credentials.


New technologies, new future

Using the new technology has allowed WWF to:

  • move away from paper-based systems
  • use instant messaging rather than email for greater collaboration
  • reduce travel to meetings by using videoconferencing
  • manage outcomes rather than employee attendance
  • create flexible working locations to improve creativity and collaboration
  • reduce the number of desks, hardware, and office space
  • move away from desk-based working to mobile, improving collaboration and work-life balance
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