We believe part of being a business for social purpose is minimising our impact on the environment. Over the past few years we’ve made good progress - we're good at building sustainable new homes and have done more than most to find ways to ‘retrofit’ our properties to reduce running costs and their impact on the environment. But we want to do more.
The evidence that human activities are causing the climate of our planet to change with potentially devastating consequences is overwhelming - in particular the fact that more than a quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions come from our homes. Of course, Affinity Sutton can’t solve the global problem of climate change but we can do our bit.
That’s why we launched our three pronged 20/20 project - putting down roots without costing the earth.
We want to reduce the impact our business operations have on the environment through reducing waste, water and energy usage and travel. Our target is to reduce our impact in this area by 20% by 2020. We’re tracking progress using our carbon footprint which will be published annually.
Our starting point was to work out our carbon footprint for the financial year 2012/13. This covers the electricity, gas, water and waste emissions at our offices, in our estate communal areas and at our supported housing schemes as well as our business travel. Our 2012/13 carbon footprint.
Using this carbon footprint, we set ourselves a 20% reduction target by 2020. A new carbon footprint will be published annually so we can measure progress and check we're on track to hit our target. Our starting carbon footprint showed we emitted 16,597 tonnes of CO2 which is 294 kg per Affinity Sutton home during 2012/13. That’s the same as a week’s worth of emissions from Uruguay in South America.
A year later we have already reduced our emmissions to 15,643 tonnes which is 275kg per household, thanks to a range of measures such as LED lights to reduce electricity use, replacing inefficient boilers to save on gas and video conferencing to help minimise our business travel. Our 2013/14 carbon footprint.
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We want to make our homes more sustainable – to reduce the carbon they produce and their potential running costs to our residents. Our target is to reduce our impact in this area by 20% by 2020 through our own Energy Efficiency Standard.
Our homes emit approximately 206,000 tonnes of carbon (tCO2) every year, due to the energy used for heating them, powering electrical appliances and lighting. That’s equivalent to the emissions of the archipelago Tonga in the Pacific Ocean. We are working to ensure all our homes meet our Energy Efficiency Standard by 2020. We estimate this will result in annual energy savings of £3.9m for our residents and save a total of 443,560 tCO2 - equivalent to 50,000 round the world trips. The standard looks at wall insulation, loft insulation to at least 150mm, double glazed windows, high performing boilers and advice and guidance through EnergyFit.
Our retrofit research project, FutureFit was instrumental in helping us develop our appraoch. You can find more information out about this here.
We want to reduce fuel poverty
We want to reduce fuel poverty by providing advice and guidance to residents on how to take control of their fuel bills through our EnergyFit project.
Compared to the national average a disproportionately high number of our residents are living in fuel poverty. And though the definition changes, we believe fuel poverty occurs when someone is struggling to pay their bills because their income is low, and their fuel costs are high.
Our EnergyFit campaign aims to help residents save money by reducing their energy use. Two years on we've generated some really positive results and our survey of 500 residents who recieved our EnergyFit toolkit revealed:
- Nearly 60% had changed their behaviours or habits around the home – an increase of 15% from the previous year
- A huge 90% found the information easy to understand
- And three quarters felt they were better informed about saving energy
Supporting new Energiesprong UK eco-initiative
An innovative zero-carbon housing refurbishment program, Energiesprong UK, has been established by a group of social housing providers, construction companies and building performance professionals, including Affinity Sutton.
Originating in the Netherlands, Energiesprong is a revolutionary approach to delivering attractive ‘whole-house’ refurbishments with the aim of achieving a net-zero energy performance when complete.
The Energiesprong programme has delivered over 800 refurbishments in the Netherlands already and following a study tour to see Energiesprong in practice, the group were so impressed that they set up Energiesprong UK to explore whether the Dutch approach could be applicable in a UK context.
We are one of the founding members of Energiesprong UK and host the group, providing secretariat services in the areas of finance, legal, IT, administration and communications.
As part of the Energiesprong housing refurbishment initiative we have - together with nine other partners from the UK, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - secured European funding through the Interreg NWE programme for the E=0 project (link) which has begun delivery against an agreement between housing associations and builders to refurbish a further 111,000 houses to net-zero energy levels, with scope for expansion to further housing types, private sector and new-build properties.
Energiesprong is now looking to scale its existing innovative housing programme into the UK and France and to stimulate a mass uptake of net-zero energy property refurbishments through its fully-integrated, market-driven, zero-carbon and funding approach.