Over the last few years we’ve become increasingly aware of the importance of taking action to reduce our environmental impact. The housing sector faces a significant challenge in retrofitting homes to meet with climate change targets. In order to understand the scale of the challenge, we needed to know our starting position and where we need to get to.
We had been working alongside other housing providers in Greater Manchester and also with a consultancy to measure our baseline position. This enabled us to meet regulatory requirements regarding carbon emissions.
In addition to this, we wanted to develop our measurement so that we could share information with colleagues, board members and stakeholders on our progress towards the Zero Carbon Manchester 2038 commitment that we had signed up to. We needed to identify a range of indicators that we could measure and report on, on a frequent basis, to demonstrate our commitment. This would demonstrate how the actions that we chose to take affected our environmental impact.
The following plan is the approach that I took to choosing the indicators that would be meaningful for us:
1. First step was to look at what we already reported on. This included; reporting to our regulator; Key Performance Indicators for various teams across the organisation; reporting and benchmarking exercises that we participated in with other housing providers.
2. I had heard of a model used by some other housing providers so did some research on what that included to see what we could use.
3. A colleague told me about a climate change toolkit that had been developed for the housing sector so I looked for ideas there.
4. I collated all of these possible indicators together and grouped them by theme e.g. energy, waste, transport, biodiversity. I then discussed with colleagues which of the indicators would be meaningful for us and which would be feasible for us to collect the required information.
5. From this we created a set of indicators that we will use to monitor and track our environmental performance.
As a housing provider, the impact of our homes equates for the vast majority of the carbon emissions that we are responsible for, so the majority of our resources are directed towards this.
Despite this, we want to improve our understanding of the impact of our offices and business operations and how we can drive meaningful change there. We’ve identified the metrics most relevant to our organisation and will be reporting against them each year from April 2021. The themes that we’ll be focusing on are:
· Transport (commuter miles and mode of transport, fleet vehicles, business miles)
· Energy (consumption by building)
· Waste and recycling (tonnage and disposal method)
· Water (consumption by building)
· Communications and engagement (activity with colleagues and residents)
I think the first couple of years are going to be difficult to compare performance year on year. We are continually learning new things, improving our understanding and discovering things we could have done better in previous years. I guess the more we talk to others the better we’ll all get!
Colette Humphrey, Social Impact Manager, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group