Following the launch of our latest Bryt by Nature report, we spoke to our Sustainability Manager, Jos Mister, about her involvement with all things sustainability, including the progress we’ve made on our journey so far.
Her answers might help you think about how your own business can make progress along a similar path – if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
1. Reflecting on the recent launch of 2021’s Bryt by Nature report, are there any changes you have made in the last year that were particularly challenging to implement? Do you have any advice for people who might be trying to get similar changes across the line?
Our Bryt By Nature programme has got off to a great start, and we’ve already implemented a number of changes since the start of the year – but they haven’t all been easy!
One thing we’ve learned is that it’s so important to discuss any changes we’re thinking about making with everyone involved. You need support from your senior stakeholders, as they will be able to give you the time and resources you need to deliver your ambitions. But it’s also important to understand how your sustainability measures might impact other members of the wider team. For example, I spent a lot of time researching a new travel initiative that I thought would be brilliant for Bryt Energy, and gained the support of senior stakeholders to go ahead. But it wasn’t until I spoke to other departments that I realised it just wouldn’t be practical for us to implement at the moment for various technical reasons. In hindsight, I could have saved a lot of time if I’d had those conversations with the right people at the start.
I’ve also been discovering that sustainability is about so much more than your organisation’s carbon footprint. It’s also about providing social value and having a positive impact on the communities your business is operating in. So we recommend incorporating social value into your sustainability strategy too, such as by championing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Another challenge – which is also a huge opportunity, really – is that we’re never short on ideas for further sustainability initiatives! We invite our entire team to suggest new ideas, and we’re all passionate about sustainability at Bryt Energy, so we receive plenty. It’s brilliant to be constantly thinking of next steps, but make sure you put a plan in place to put all of your ideas into action – like our Bryt by Nature programme.
2. Your appointment as Sustainability Manager has itself been a key element of Bryt Energy’s sustainability journey. How important do you think it is for businesses to have people in similar dedicated roles?
If you’re putting a sustainability plan in place, it’s vital to ensure that someone is responsible for delivering it. Appointing a dedicated Sustainability Manager shows our customers that we’re committed to improving the organisation’s impact on the environment and the communities we operate in. It also demonstrates our sustainability commitment to our team, and gives them someone they can go to with any ideas or questions they have about sustainability.
It also means that I can really push the sustainability agenda forwards and put the knowledge and expertise I have into creating a practical plan, as sustainability is my sole focus in my role. But I’m not the only person that’s responsible for sustainability at Bryt Energy – we have a Head of Marketing and Sustainability position, too. Sustainability shouldn’t exist in a silo, so by integrating sustainability into other roles, we ensure that it’s embedded throughout the business.
We also have a sustainability student with us on a placement from a local university. This is something we’re all really excited about because it allows us to gain a fresh perspective on our sustainability strategy, whilst helping to hopefully inspire and nurture the next generation of sustainability experts.
Of course, not every business will have the resources to appoint a dedicated sustainability manager. But if you can embed sustainability into certain roles, you’re likely to find it easier to give them the time and resources to push changes forward, and truly champion sustainability in your organisation. So look for any roles that could take on sustainability tasks – perhaps your Health & Safety team could take on sustainability responsibilities, for example.
3. Has it been easy to get everyone at Bryt Energy on-board with sustainability? Have you got any tips for boosting staff engagement?
As a renewable electricity supplier, sustainability has always been a core part of Bryt Energy’s ethos, so we think it’s really important for all of our staff to be on board with our initiatives. That’s why we talk with all of our team members about our commitment to sustainability and the role they can play from their initial induction. We then continue to provide support and training to all of our staff to enable them to get involved with our initiatives, and we keep everyone updated with our progress in company-wide updates and meetings.
If you’re trying to encourage your employees to engage with your sustainability initiatives, you could consider establishing some employee sustainability champions across different departments. We use our Employee Champions to motivate others in their teams to get involved with our sustainability programme, and gather new ideas and feedback from across the business on the work we have done so far. They can be really helpful when it comes to understanding what everyone thinks about the measures we’re implementing and identifying what might be preventing them from engaging with our initiatives.
We would also recommend bringing sustainability into employee benefits and schemes to support their sustainability progress and engage them on your journey. We’ve recently introduced a new Climate Perks scheme that enables our employees to claim up to two paid ‘journey days’ per year if they choose to travel on holiday by train, coach or boat rather than flying. This means they can travel sustainably without using up their annual leave, and we’ve already had one team member take us up on it! We’ve also had lots of employees apply for our new electric vehicle (EV) salary sacrifice scheme. Think about how you can use benefits to make it easier for your employees to improve their own sustainability, as they’re much more likely to get involved if it’s simple for them to do so.
4. With so much of the Bryt Energy team working remotely at the moment, how are you measuring their work-from-home carbon emissions – and helping them make reductions?
It hasn’t been easy to gather all the data we needed to determine the carbon emissions our employees are creating while they’re working from home! We have been closely monitoring who is in the office and who is working remotely for health and safety reasons, but this data was also useful for identifying where our carbon emissions were coming from.
It was very interesting to see the results. Working from home reduced emissions in historically the biggest area of our carbon footprint – travel – because it significantly reduced the number of staff commuting to and from the office or travelling to business meetings. However, in the winter months, when everyone began to turn their central heating on, the emissions from heating were slightly higher than those we typically created from commuting.
In a Sustainability Manager’s ideal world, employees would work from home in the summer and then commute into the office in the winter, but that’s not going to happen! Instead, we’re encouraging our employees to switch to renewable tariffs at home where possible, by providing them with advice and incentives for doing so. An anonymous employee survey revealed that over 50% of our employees are already on a renewable tariff, so we’re heading in the right direction!
5. Now that we’ve achieved carbon neutral supplier status*, what do you think the next big milestone will be for Bryt Energy
Becoming carbon neutral* was a brilliant achievement and a key milestone in our sustainability journey – but we’re not stopping there. The next step for us is to aim towards net zero by 2025. This involves significantly reducing our carbon emissions across all our activities, then eliminating any emissions we can’t yet reduce via projects that remove or capture carbon emissions from the atmosphere, so that we are no longer a net contributor to climate change.
For any organisations that are looking for advice on their own sustainability journey, one of our key recommendations would be to start mapping out your Scope 3 emissions as soon as possible – these are indirect emissions in areas such as your supply chain and employees’ business travel and commuting. We are mapping out our Scope 3 emissions with a consultant, and I thought it would be a fairly simple process, but there is so much more to it than I realised! There are 15 categories under Scope 3, which means gathering a lot of data, but it’s vital to ensure that you have a clear view of your entire carbon footprint. Don’t panic if adding your Scope 3 data increases your carbon footprint – it’s better to be aware of where your emissions lie, as this will help you to identify where to focus your efforts going forward.
If your business is going to offset its emissions to reach a goal like carbon neutrality, we would also recommend ensuring that the project you choose aligns with your wider ethos and incorporates social value in some way. We chose the Bokhol Solar Project, for example, because it provides around 160,000 Senegalese people with access to renewable energy. This aligns with a number of our Sustainable Development Goals, as the Bokhol Solar Project is helping people to access clean energy at affordable prices, which enhances their wellbeing and also addresses climate change.
If you could give one piece of advice to a business just getting started on their sustainability journey, what would it be?
Just do it! It’s easy to feel daunted, but start somewhere. We’re all learning along the way.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our journey so far, check out our Bryt By Nature report – and if you’d like to find out how we can support you, get in touch on 0121 726 7575 or on firstname.lastname@example.org today.
*Carbon neutral is defined by Bryt Energy as Scope 1, 2 & 3 for the categories of gas, electricity, water, waste, business travel including hotel stays, employee commuting and working from home. The scope 1, 2 & 3 carbon emissions for 2020 were 43.8 tonnes and therefore 50 tonnes of carbon credits from Bokhol Solar project were retired on behalf of Bryt Energy by EcoAct in August 2021.
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