Visiting a client in my EV is certainly proof I’m doing my bit for the planet, but I sometimes wonder if they’d really mind if I drove a gas-guzzling V12 instead – so long as I do a good job.
Joking aside, I know our carbon footprint is almost as crucial as turnover and profitability, so I’m proud to report that Murton & Co have been awarded the Green Small Business Certification to prove that we’re on the right track. Similar to ISO 14001 certification – a recognised standard for setting up an environmental management system – it was prompted by a tender from a large borough council who wanted details about our supply chain and road map to carbon net zero. It got us thinking that it would be a useful metric to demonstrate our environmental credentials.
We anticipate that this will become the norm, and indeed one of our clients – Assura Plc – recently advised us that they will be requiring all their sub-contractors should have a similar road map to 2050. They have a comprehensive pathway to net zero whereby they can quantify improvements and their impact on communities and the users of their properties. It’s an integral part of the company strategy and has also inspired us. While we’ve contributed by conducting net zero carbon energy audits to improve energy efficiency across their portfolio, we’re also following them down that net zero road.
We’ve always known that Murton & Co make a positive impact through the advice we give clients and the subsequent carbon reductions they make, improving their tenants’ well-being. With the Green Small Business Certification, we’re now the proud owners of an environmental policy and action plan – and are leading by example. Taking a long, hard look at the business and our actions has prompted us to be more reflective. It means we’re adding more entries into our purchase ledger to record everything we do, but as an already low impact business it’s been hard to go even further. Assessing buildings around the country, the team certainly rack up lot of miles and while we recognise that we need to cut our environmental footprint, it’s usually not practical to take public transport as many properties we survey can be off the beaten track without a decent public transport network. Perhaps staying in local B&Bs rather than a large hotel chain would help when we’re working away from home – or maybe I could invest in a campervan?!
We like using tried and tested methods for conducting our surveys, but I do like the idea of the reMarkable tablets which could provide a more efficient process. However, there’s always the risk that your tech gets dropped, the screen cracks or the battery goes dead which could severely hamper the ability to carry out a survey. And although we have used recycled paper for printing, it wasn’t very good, so we’re back to the normal stuff – but that’s probably one of the things we need to change. Who we should bank with is also debatable, and we’re considering moving from one large high street firm, which isn’t the most ethical in terms of where they invest. Obviously as our business grows and we take on more people and more clients, our carbon footprint will inevitably increase.
Not only are we practising what we preach, we’d like to go even further and perhaps next year will also look at investing some of our profits into charitable organisations or supporting a good cause. (Hopefully we won’t be accused of greenwashing!) This certification certainly appeases local authorities and PLCs, and while a homeowner hasn’t asked us about our carbon footprint so far, I’m sure it will start to matter to those who want confidence in our ethical stance.
Regardless of Rishi Sunak’s push-back on energy efficiency targets, I’m feeling pretty positive about many homeowners’, landlords’ and companies’ will to explore alternative fuels and technology and invest in retrofit. A recent TED talk by environmental data scientist Hannah Ritchie put a spring in my step when she urged everyone to reframe sustainability as an opportunity rather than seeing it as a sacrifice. She points out that our carbon footprint is less than our grandparents’, while emissions in the UK have halved. Ritchie reckons we need to make low-carbon technologies better than the high-carbon alternatives – and even the default by making sure they are affordable. Octopus Energy’s Cosy 6 heat pump offer, Aira’s offer of leasing heat pumps and OVO’s new heat pump tariff along with more available funds from the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme and new Great British Insulation Scheme are definitely moving us in the right direction.
One interesting fact is how the price of batteries has fallen by 98% since 1990; the battery in a Tesla would have cost $1 million then but is just $12,000 today. It’s another reason to be proud of those technological advancements behind my EV. It’s just a shame there isn’t always a charge point to get me all the way home…