Group Facilities Coordinator, Real Life Options Group
As part of our series talking to those responsible for energy reporting in their organisation, Jenette Parker, Group Facilities Coordinator at the Real Life Options Group, a social care company with sites across the UK, explains how energy reporting has formalised their approach to carbon reduction and opened up opportunities to save more money to invest back into the business.
Questions & Answers
What was the most challenging part of SECR compliance?
We don’t have a specialist energy or environmental division to handle energy reporting to comply with SECR. It was initially a challenge to get the right data in time to meet our first SECR deadline, but we’re now following a more structured process.
We use the data and recommendations to inform our future plans and report on reductions in future reports. Environment is now high up on the company’s agenda and we’re using the data to inform our strategy. You can’t work on your carbon footprint if you don’t know what it is: you need a starting point.
How are you using the data you compile for energy reporting?
We’ve got a complex portfolio: there’s a lot of different types of properties, arrangements and uses for them, which makes it very difficult to measure.
We’re conducting an audit across the properties in our estate to determine whether they’re fit for purpose and prioritise any work on them, and for the first time we’re including energy efficiency in that. We’re using the ESOS recommendations to help inform our plans: the insight plays a big part in how to reduce our carbon footprint and cut costs that we can then plough back into the business.
Have you made any cost savings as a result of energy reporting schemes?
We’re starting to put plans into action. LED lighting has been fitted at head office in the last 12 months as a result of ESOS recommendations and it’s already proving fruitful. Remote working over the last 12 months has also made a big impact on our carbon footprint.
As a not-for-profit organisation, we need to phase projects in gradually and consider how actions we take will benefit the individuals we work with - so saving money on energy will get ploughed back into the company for their benefit.
Have you had any feedback from stakeholders who have read your report?
Having a formal report to share in tenders is really important - we do a lot of work with local authorities and sustainability is high on their agenda: place a lot of importance on it in the tendering process. Our SECR report helps us to showcase what work we’ve done. We haven’t benchmarked ourselves against other social care companies but the fact we have a formalised approach undoubtedly benefits us.
Our CEO is already keen on reducing our carbon footprint, but energy reporting has helped to give energy and sustainability a higher profile with our directors: not just at the point of signing off the report, but the process is now more formalised and more visual. Throughout the company, people are starting to learn about it: they understand it’s not just about switching off lights but there’s a bigger picture to energy and sustainability.
Why did you choose to get external support with compliance?
We don’t have the resource or expertise to handle the reporting internally - the first time, we sought external support because we needed to turn something around very quickly to make sure we complied. Inspired Energy processed a lot of data very quickly and turned it into something meaningful. We’re now following a more structured process, gathering data regularly.
It can be difficult to find clear and precise information on all aspects of energy and reporting. The Inspired team provide me with the guidance I need to make sure we’re compliant and answer any question: I’m not an expert but it’s my responsibility to understand the legalities of the scheme and also explain it to others in the business.
What advice would you give to your peers on SECR compliance?
Start early: plan and gather data throughout the year. Unless you have a team of energy and environmental specialists, I’d recommend working with a consultancy to guide you through the legalities of the scheme and offer you support every step of the way.