Altair, ATFS

Does it matter if your adviser is committed to becoming carbon neutral?

Short answer: Yes.

Michael Appleby

Written by Director Michael Appleby.  This article was first published by 24housing here.

Heating dial on a radiator

It matters that any type of organisation is committed to becoming carbon neutral. The evidence on climate change is clear, and the forward forecasts are frightening: If we don’t act now the damage is likely to be irreversible. And with leadership from the government being limited and unambitious, it is up to us all as individuals and organisations to take responsibility. All organisations should therefore be making the commitment.

That’s why we at Altair (alongside our sister companies ATFS and Oaks, which are part of the Aquila Services Group) have taken the pro-active step to make a commitment to be a climate-conscious organisation and achieve carbon neutrality.

We think every organisation can make a difference. As a consultancy firm with around 90 employees, our impact on the environment is less significant than an energy firm, airline, manufacturer or even a housing association. We don’t burn fossil fuels or build properties, but we do use the services of companies that do. It is important that we all play a role.

For example, according to the government we are all as individuals responsible for circa 10 tonnes of carbon emissions each year. Across our staff base of 90, that’s 900 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. Our most direct impacts are likely to be in the travel of our staff and energy used in offices. As we continue to grow (particularly our international work through Altair International and as our sister company Oaks working with clients such as UEFA) the impact will only become larger. If as an organisation we can work to reduce and offset the emissions of our staff at work and support them to do more in their personal lives, that impact can only be positive.

We’re just at the start of the journey, and to be honest we don’t (yet) fully understand the impact we have, but the forward plan is clear and includes activities such as:

  • gaining support from our staff by setting up an employee led ‘Green Group’ to drive the plan forward
  • Mapping and fully understanding our existing impact on the environment – including carbon emissions, waste, supply-chain impact, etc.
  • Developing an agreed set of initiatives to reduce our impact where we can and offset the remainder
  • Ensuring our own supply chain is sustainable
  • Providing visibility of the plan and ensuring appropriate responsibility and accountability for delivery

The benefits to us are clear. We are directly supporting action to tackle climate change, and this appeals to the values of our existing and future employees who also want to make a difference. We believe it is aligned to the values of the sectors in which we work.

But why should it matter to our clients?

After transport, the housing sector emits the most carbon in the UK. Sustainability, climate change, and carbon neutrality are starting to get a position on board agendas across the country, but progress is still slow. If as a country and a society we are going to have a positive impact on climate change, we need the big sectors to not only take note but to take action.

The housing sector also needs to consider areas such as developing new sustainable homes, retrofitting and improving existing stock, and dealing with government initiatives such as no new gas connections after 2025. To help address these challenges, the sector will need to take a proactive approach and work with advisers and partners in its supply chain who are also committed to achieving carbon neutrality. We can’t pretend that the plan will be cost or resource free. But we believe it is the right thing to do.

The overall purpose of the Aquila Services Group (parent of Altair) is making a better, more sustainable, and socially responsible world. So why wouldn’t we take direct action to make a difference?

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