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Change Agents UK have achieved Green Accreditation!

We have some fantastic news – we have achieved Green Accreditation for our Investors in the Environment (iiE) Environmental Audit! This is a significant milestone for our small-but-mighty charity and not-for-profit. The accreditation reflects our commitment to sustainability and responsible business practices, and for that, we give ourselves a pat on the back.

 

No matter where you are on your sustainability journey, joining an environmental accreditation scheme can demonstrate your commitments to reducing your environmental impact. What is an iiE Environmental Audit, you ask? "Investors in the Environment (iiE) is a national environmental accreditation scheme designed to help organisations save time and money, reduce their impact on the environment and get recognition for their progress".


We want more organisations to achieve ‘Green’, so in this blog we will detail the steps we took to reach this goal, the challenges we faced and the triumphs we celebrated along the way!

 

The context of us - Change Agents UK

 

Before we start, it is important to set the scene. We are a small team of 7-10 employees. While many of us work remotely, we do have an office (aka., a renovated property-turned-office space) situated in the Grade II listed Oakham Station building, in Rutland. We have 4 small rooms used for office space, a communal area and 2 small bathrooms. We also host the Community Fridge in a room on the other side of the station.


Because of it's listed status, our building is not the most energy efficient, and we are limited with what we can do about that. However, we have, and continue to do our best with reducing our environmental impact where we can. Staff travel, currently, includes commuting to the office, and travel across the country for delivering educational workshops, conducting interviews, and attending meetings and conferences.


We have been completing environmental audits with iiE since our baseline of 2019. However, we have been completing audits for many years before this. In April 2023, we were awarded ‘Silver Accreditation’. Over the past year, we accelerated our environmental efforts, particularly our wider impact, and this June we achieved Green.


Some steps to get started with Green Accreditation:

 

Designating Green Champions  all employees have a part to play but designating single or multiple Green Champions gives employees a direct contact. You will also need someone who will pull the information and evidence together and facilitate the audit process.


Establishing a baseline year – You decide what year will be your baseline (e.g., financial, academic, calendar). This could be determined by the existing information that you have.


Gather accurate data such as meter readings, bills etc., for your energy, electricity, water, travel and waste for a full year to create your baseline.


Having a sustainability policy - this should be fully supported and signed by senior management. To demonstrate commitment, your policy should be reviewed on a recurring basis - we do this yearly, to ensure that we are keeping on track, up-to-date, and fully committed.


Creating a measurable action plan for all of your resources: gas, electricity, waste (recycling and general), water, travel and staff projects. iiE provide a great template for this to ensure you are setting SMART goals. You will need to detail the action, who is responsible, whether it is a single or ongoing action and when it will be completed or reviewed.

 

An example of a goal we set last year: to investigate upgrading the boiler and any other building efficiency improvements. To meet this goal, we submitted a successful funding bid through Future Green to conduct a Building Energy Audit. This identified improvements we could make on the energy efficiency of our building. As part of our action plan for this year, we will be actively exploring the recommendations, one of which included getting quotes for a new boiler and switching our energy providers.

 

Challenges


Sustainability and improving energy efficiency is not always straightforward, and we did face some challenges. A key challenge was finding information from previous audit submissions and identifying previous processes. Establishing a smooth process has been a big focus for us this year, to set up for years to come, for success. The key to this – organised filing systems. Not only does this keep your auditor happy, it helps you with streamlining the processes, saving you time and energy (quite literally!). 

 

Filing and evidence tips:

  • Taking regular meter readings (we do this monthly). Storing this in an accessible format and saving monthly bills for easy reference.

  • Labelling your appendix and accompanying documents explicitly. We had folders with Appendix A-J, each with their own category. Inside these folders, each file was referenced A.1, A.2, etc., This helped our auditor know exactly where to look for evidence, which we referred to in our Audit Sheet and Report.

  • Gather all evidence – we submitted every piece of relevant evidence we could. This included all staff travel surveys, signage around the building, staff training certificates, internal and external communications, blogs, energy consumption evidence, plus more. Anything that was relevant to demonstrate our efforts to reducing our environmental impact and/or creating wider awareness (such as through our projects).


A challenge that we came up against this year, is that the nature of our work requires us to provide services that involve travelling up and down the UK. Although we have reduced our commuting by 20% since our 2019 baseline year, our alternative transport mileage has actually increased by 129%. Now – hear us out. This is where normalised measurements come in.

 

Normalised measurements are used to standardise unique indicators with different units of measurement. It provides a more meaningful comparison based on different contexts. For example, we could solely measure our travel emissions by the total alternative transport mileage. However, this doesn't necessarily provide a meaningful comparison as yes we are providing more services. Instead, we change the metric based on the context that is meaningful to us - mileage per 100 hours of delivery or service provided.


No matter what, we are following all the steps to ensure that we only travel where necessary. We do this by following the travel hierarchy:

An upside down triangle split into 7 segments denoting increasingly more sustainable forms of transport

 

We believe that the work we do as a sustainability charity necessitates the travel we do. Despite offering virtual calls, workshops and programme delivery virtually as much as possible, some events require us to be there in person. Our excellent events have been reaching a larger audience than ever before and this increase in travel mileage, either by car or alternative transport, is necessary for us to continue to do this work.


A year of MANY triumphs!

 

An environmental audit is not just about the physical measures to reduce your organisation carbon footprint. A key part of our Green Accreditation factored in our wider, external influence and impact towards sustainability. This is our mission and what we are really proud of. Over the past year, we have grown and developed so much. Here are just some of the projects we have worked on this year:

 

Carbon Literacy Training

In April 2023, Change Agents UK became accredited Carbon Literacy Training providers with the Carbon Literacy Project. We now regularly educate individuals, teams of staff and whole businesses to gain knowledge in carbon and climate change. Internal staff are also trained, and we now offer this to all new members of staff. Since launching our first workshop on June 8th, 2023, CAUK has delivered 13 sessions of Carbon Literacy Training to the public and businesses, equating to 109 people becoming certified Carbon Literate. A notable delivery was being part of the largest ever Global Carbon Literacy Action Day ever in December 2023!

 

Climate Ambassador Project

CAUK have become a part of a consortium project team delivering the National Climate Ambassador programme. The Climate Ambassador network was developed in partnership between the University of Reading, EAUC and STEM Learning, to harness the expertise of professionals working in climate research and policy to work with teachers and school leaders to improve climate education. These Climate Ambassadors are explicitly referenced in the Department for Education (DfE) Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy.

 

Derbyshire Dales Community Energy Project 

CAUK facilitated meetings and workshops with local community groups to help motivate climate action in the area.

 

Sustainability Leadership Access Scheme

We introduced an access scheme to improve accessibility to sustainability education. This scheme offers free and heavily subsidised places to individuals who may not otherwise have access to funding to participate in our flagship Sustainability Leadership Skills Programme.

 

Launched Sustainability and Net Zero for HR

In October 2023, CAUK launched a course specifically designed for Human Resources (HR) professionals (and others who nurture organisational development) to understand the significant role they play in achieving organisational sustainability goals. You can find out more information here.

 

Skills Bootcamp in Sustainability and Environmental Management

In March 2024 and as an ongoing project, CAUK kickstarted a DfE funded Skills Bootcamp in Sustainability and Environmental Management, partnering with PECT, on behalf of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA). The Skills Bootcamp is designed to help individuals find rewarding jobs in the emerging green economy. It also assists those already in work to advance their careers in a market where sustainability and carbon literacy are essential for success.

 

And the list goes on! We are really excited for the year ahead and to continue to contribute to reducing our environmental impact and promoting a sustainable future.

 

If you are interested in our projects or have your own project idea you would like us to get involved with, please reach out to us! Partnerships and collaboration is the key to making the widest possible impact towards creating a sustainable future, and we cannot wait to work with you.

 

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