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How are UK not-for-profits making progress towards Net-Zero goals?

Discover how sustainability and carbon net zero goals are taking centre stage in the UK's not-for-profit sector. By integrating sustainable practices in facility operations, they cut costs, reduce environmental impact, and create healthier built environments.

Many of these organisations are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their sustainability, not just to fulfil their social and environmental objectives, but also to set an example for others and contribute to wider efforts to address the climate crisis.

The UK government has set a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and is encouraging businesses and organisations to adopt similar goals. This means that not for profit organisations that fail to address sustainability and carbon issues may risk losing funding, credibility, and public support.

Achieving these ambitious objectives requires a long-term perspective, a systemic approach, and a commitment to sustainability.

The current state of sustainability and carbon net zero goals in the not-for-profit sector in the UK is mixed. While many organisations have made progress in reducing their carbon footprint and increasing their sustainability, there are still significant challenges and barriers that need to be addressed.

Let’s have a look at a few of the most common ones encountered by Sustainability and Estates Professionals based in London:

  1. Lack of expertise: Not for profit organisations may lack the technical expertise, knowledge, or skills to tackle sustainability and carbon challenges effectively. This can be particularly true for smaller or less established organisations that do not have the resources to source qualified sustainability specialists.
  2. Limited resources: Many not for profit organisations have limited financial, human, and technical resources to invest in sustainability and carbon reduction initiatives. This can make it difficult to implement ambitious goals or to measure and monitor progress effectively.
  3. Balancing social and environmental goals: Non-profits often have to balance social and environmental goals, and it can be challenging to find ways to promote
  4. sustainability without compromising their mission.
  5. Difficulty measuring impact: Measuring the impact of sustainability initiatives can be challenging for non-profits, particularly those that focus on social issues rather than environmental ones.
  6. Collaborative partnerships: To address sustainability challenges effectively, non-profits need to work collaboratively with businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. This can be challenging due to competing interests and different priorities.
  7. Adapting to changing regulations.

Nevertheless, there are hundreds of not for profits in London that are worth mentioning for the progress they’ve been making and these are just a few of them:

Leo Academy Trust, the multi-academy trust where 30% of the energy used across 8 schools is generated through solar panels.

Other strategies to reduce its environmental impact implemented by Leo Academy Trust over the last year were aimed to reduce 10% of the Trusts greenhouse emissions/carbon footprint by using suppliers who can evidence sustainable practice and increase recycling rates by 20% across the Trust. Their goal is to reach their net-zero goal by 2030.

A piece of advice from their Trust Premises Manager, John Llewelly?

Focus on funding first, before setting out ambitious goals. Always look out for grants. The government offers a range of environmental grants, and you can significantly reduce your investment.

You can easily find these on the Governments Website here, or through funding Databases like GrantNav, Funds Online or Funding Central.

Our favourite Brutalist landmark located in the heart of London is no stranger from sustainability strategies either. Last year, while rethinking the values at The Barbican, the staff body voted sustainability as one of their top 3.

And while they’ve struggled to recruit qualified staff to align with their values, especially after Brexit, the fantastic team at The Barbican have managed to make to make significant improvements while delivering £50m in capital works over the last 5 years.

But we haven’t even seen half of what this team has set its mind to. So, what next?

All I can say is that the Barbican Renewal Programme has more in store than just a “face lift”. Keep an eye out for cutting edge technology and innovative solutions that will get The Barbican closer to it’s goal to reduce their carbon emissions from their own operations to net zero by 2027 and to their wider supply chain by 2040.

A piece of advice from the Director of Operations & Buildings?

Know your stakeholders! Get everyone informed and involved and make sure everyone does their bit.

As you can see, sustainability and carbon net zero goals have gained immense significance within the not-for-profit sector in the UK recently.

They are increasingly vital, as stakeholders and funders demand a strong commitment to sustainability and carbon neutrality. Despite challenges like expertise gaps and limited resources, many organizations have made remarkable progress in their Net-Zero journey. But as we navigate the path towards a greener future, the question remains:

How can we foster even greater collaboration, secure funding, and engage stakeholders to accelerate sustainable transformation within the sector?

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