This year, we have taken a huge step in improving how we care for our environment. We started off 2023 by forming an environmental group consisting of team members from across the organisation who meet quarterly. The group is very proactive in ensuring that we are doing our best for the environment, resulting in numerous actions and projects that have led us to reduce our carbon footprint.
Last year, we set several environmental targets for the period of 2022-2025. We are proud to announce that we have achieved 6 out of the 8 targets, which were:
A Full audit: We have conducted a comprehensive audit of all properties that we own and rent, as well as team members’ commuting habits, to identify our carbon footprint.
Use green energy suppliers: We have shifted 90% of our utilities to suppliers who provide green energy. Our main provider, SSE, generates 100% of its renewable electricity from its own UK hydro plants and wind farms.
Ensure that contractors have their own environmental strategy: We choose external providers who are also committed to helping the UK reach net zero. For instance, we rely on a provider who collects our unusable donations and recycles them into other products.
Provide information to residents to improve energy usage: We have encouraged support workers to promote energy-saving habits among residents, such as turning off lights when not in use and adjusting heating settings. We are also developing an incentive scheme for those who help us achieve our environmental targets.
Consider environmental issues when buying property: Since setting this target, we have purchased our head office and move-on hostel (St Martins House), taking into account environmental factors. For instance, the building already had solar panels installed, was centrally located to reduce team members’ transport usage, and had separate thermostatic controls to enable heating or cooling different parts of the building separately.
Cycle and walk between sites where possible: We have observed a significant increase in the number of team members who choose to walk between sites instead of driving.
Although we have already made considerable improvements to our carbon footprint in just one year, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure we continue progressing towards our goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. To achieve our goal, we need to work on the following:
Reduce single-use consumables: We need to heighten awareness within St Martins to educate as much as possible about the detrimental effects of single-use items and encourage a shift towards more sustainable alternatives. For example, we are starting to introduce multiple CRM systems which will significantly reduce the amount of paper usage.
Heating: Recognising the significant impact of heating on our environmental footprint, we need to emphasise the importance of heating practices across all of our services and think of a way we can improve these practices.
Moreover, there are several other things that we have done to be more environmentally friendly. We utilised the skills and upskilled our maintenance team so that they could repair items instead of replacing them. This helped us to reduce our waste and minimise our carbon footprint. We also welcomed 2 hives and 5,000 bees to our Dibden Road project, which helped in promoting bee populations and maintaining the ecosystem. We implemented electronic medication recording and passive infrared sensors on ovens and lights across most of our services to reduce our energy consumption and promote sustainability.
By implementing these measures, we are confident that we can make a significant contribution towards reducing our carbon footprint and ensuring that our organisation is environmentally friendly. We are committed to ensuring that we continue to make progress towards our goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.