How WorkforClimate Academy graduate Bernie helped Who Gives A Crap go solar

WorkforClimate Academy graduate Bernie Wiley is changing his business to change the world. One four-letter word (spelled out in solar panels) at a time.

Sarah Smith
July 9, 2024
3 min read

It’s hard to miss. There, written in all caps across the rooftop of Who Gives A Crap’s Melbourne warehouse, is a sentence punctuated by a four-letter expletive. And the Australian toilet paper juggernaut couldn’t be more proud. “It was a long time coming, but it's been well worth it,” says WorkforClimate graduate Bernie Wiley who, in his role as Who Gives A Crap’s Sustainability Director, helped kick start the process to install around 190 solar panels that spell out: ‘WE GIVE A CRAP!!’

'WE GIVE A CRAP!!' solar panels on Who Gives A Crap's warehouse rooftop

The impressive solar installation, which garnered world-wide headlines when it was unveiled last year, is one of the biggest projects Bernie has worked on since graduating from the WorkforClimate Academy. When he first undertook the course, Bernie was working in logistics at Who Gives A Crap. But armed with his new knowledge and a whole lot of determination, Bernie soon transitioned into a full-time role in sustainability and helped steward the project to switch the company to 100% renewable energy, starting with rooftop solar. 

RELATED: How WorkforClimate Academy graduate Bernie got his dream job

Making it fun to do good 

Bernie says there were two key goals with the solar project: to reduce Who Gives A Crap’s scope 3 emissions and help influence others to do good. “We landed upon this idea by combining those aims,” he explains. “We wanted to demonstrate how to inject fun and lightheartedness into a technical topic, while driving meaningful impact.”

While the idea was great, Bernie is the first to admit that it wasn’t easy. “The process was really long and complex, because we wanted to put solar panels on the roof of a building that we don't own.” This is a common barrier to businesses pursuing solar options, but Who Gives A Crap knew that if they could persist, the company could help others by providing a kind of blueprint for the industry. And that’s just what they did, putting together a 5-step guide for businesses wanting to switch their energy to renewables with solar panels.

Pushing for change

“The key challenge for us was that we have a third-party warehouse,” Bernie explains. “So we needed to work with our warehouse partner to get the go ahead from both their property manager and landlord to install the solar panels.”

Who Gives A Crap did this through persistence and also making a business case for why everyone benefits from installing solar. “We worked through a couple of different models, and ended up on a power purchasing agreement,” says Bernie. “The reason for using an onsite PPA is that we could get it over the line with the landlord. Why? Because there was no upfront cost to us, the third-party warehouse or the landlord.”

RELATED: Do you want a step-by-step guide about how your business can make the switch to renewable energy? Access our comprehensive Renewable Playbook here.

“Once we’d written the business case, it seemed like a no-brainer,” says Bernie. “The landlord was incentivised as solar adds value to the building and lower electricity bills are more attractive to future tenants, all while we as a business achieve our goals to reduce our scope 3 emissions. It really is a win-win situation.”

Holy crap! Sustainability goes viral

According to Who Gives A Crap, the results so far have been huge. Benefits have included electricity cost savings of around 24% in the first month and a predicted reduction of 112 tonnes of carbon emissions each year. The panels will also generate 8000+ kWh (kilowatt hours) per month, which is the equivalent of 14.6 households (the average Australian household uses 18 kWh a day).

And then there is the more intangible value of the good news story. When the solar panels were unveiled in mid-2023 the story was shared widely on LinkedIn and covered by media around the world. A win for the reputation of all the businesses involved and a guaranteed way to ensure that Who Gives A Crap could pass on this idea to as many people as possible. 

Who Gives A Crap is not stopping there. “We're not perfect, but we're always trying to be better,” says Bernie. “We use 11 warehouses around the world and our next step is to get solar on all of those if we can.” That mission is well underway with solar panels rolled out at the UK warehouse in May 2024 and a goal to have all warehouses globally powered by 100% renewables by the end of FY25.

The journey continues

Bernie hopes that his story and what he has already helped achieve at Who Give A Crap, helps inspire other climate-conscious folk to take the next step into the WorkforClimate Academy. “It started as a kind of self-initiated learning project,” he says. “I did it in my own time. And it was incredible: I was able to then take that to management and say, ‘I've done this. I've seen these areas of opportunity. Here’s how I can help.’” And look how far he (and the planet) have come now. 

Do you work for a for-profit business? Are you curious about – or already active in – using your job to address the climate crisis? Want to be like Bernie? Enrolments are now open for the next WorkforClimate Academy cohort, due to kick off at the end of August. Head here to register.

Share Icon
Copy link

Subscribe today

Register your details to receive our weekly newsletter containing advice and strategies to help your company take climate action.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.