Monarch outlines the impact that COVID-19 has had on the implementation of sustainability practices for businesses and housing associations in the UK, as well as how best HA’s might respond.
Eye of the storm
The economic and logistical impact of COVID-19, both globally and domestically, cannot be overstated. Coinciding with a collapsed oil market and resulting in an historic reduction of consumer demand, the pandemic has left business owners, landlords and tenants alike scratching their heads as to how to respond.
Many of us are simply in firefighting mode, trying to adjust to the myriad needs of life in lockdown that we had previously taken for granted. Unfortunately, for many organisations, this has led to regression in the context of sustainable business practices which are, sadly, now being treated as a pleasant option rather than a pressing need.
A report recently published by Edie has demonstrated that while carbon neutral remains a priority in many boardrooms, the day-to-day actions necessary to achieve it have been side-lined in the wake of pandemic.
The report, which interviewed 101 respondents from 13 major sectors, showed that among those questioned, more than half confirmed their respective organisations would either pause or cancel sustainability announcements during lockdown. Additionally, only 30% claimed their organisation wasn’t planning to pause or axe investment into sustainable development and energy solutions.
Procurement: Lead the pack
One of the most interesting statistics that emerged from the report was focused on the future priorities of each individual’s organisation. When asked to name their top priority with regards to green policy, a staggering 39% cited the roadmap to carbon neutral, this in spite of the prevailing sentiment to dial back on sustainable investment during COVID-19.
Simultaneously encouraging a culture of sustainability and decreasing the resources committed to creating and maintaining such a culture is reminiscent of two people in a boat rowing in opposite directions. While COVID-19 has presented untold devastation to the world economy, it has done so indiscriminately which means the ideas developed at this time will be what makes the difference between success and failure.
Since operations are likely to slow down during the pandemic, now may be a good time to start thinking about integrating new strategies into your portfolio that can hasten the road to carbon neutral and give you a head start later this year.
Energy procurement will feature heavily in the conversation since utility costs are one of the major outgoings of any organisation. Housing associations occupy a unique position in this conversation, tenant billing is highly transparent, which means that tenants will be aware not only of the procurement decisions made but the direct effects of those decisions on their lives.
The economic slowdown will be hurting tenant’s wallets as well as company coffers so in its wake, housing associations are well-advised to champion affordable utilities for the sake of both parties.
Additionally, it is prudent to remember that COVID-19 does not exist in a bubble, legislation such as SECR remains in effect-lockdown or not- and a spike in domestic energy use means landlords are under added pressure to comply to such policies by seeking green energy suppliers and perhaps re-evaluating their existing contracts.
Monarch aim to create a world where every unit of resource is used intelligently and sustainably to benefit customers, end users and future generations.