Aster Group – Foundations for our Future

 

Best Green CSR Report

 

Foundations for our Future

“Aster Group was delighted to win the INTERNATIONAL GREEN AWARD™ for Best CSR Report. It goes to show that you don’t have to be a large commercial organisation to have your achievements recognised. Winning the award has had a great impact in motivating our employees. We have had lots of interest from other organisations too, which illustrates the level of publicity winning these awards can bring. The awards event itself was fantastic and we look forward to entering again this year.”

 

Andrea Marshall, Aster, Group Sustainability Manager


Background & Objective

Aster Group first environmental sustainability review enabling the organisation to measure and report its impact to stakeholders as part of their continual improvement. It also aims to:

  • Set best practice in measurement and reporting of environmental issues within the charitable/not-for profit sector – specifically social housing.
  • Illustrate to the charitable and not-for-profit sectors that it is not just large commercial organisations that need to/can be accountable for their impacts.
  • Capture the imagination of their stakeholders by producing a report with a very ‘organic’ feel both in content, design and materials used.

 

Implementation

Printed copies of the review have be posted to relevant stakeholders such as regulators and local authorities and copies have been made available in local libraries for ease of access by their residents. The review is also be available on their  website as a simple PDF, due to the need to limit their spending (being a not-for profit organisation). The group is aware that due to this being a first of its kind within their sector there is interest from the sector media and communications channels to promote the review.

 

The hard copy of the report has a very organic feel. The cover of the review has been printed on seeded paper, which can be torn from the report and planted after reading. THey hope that this endorses their message that this is their baseline year for growth and that as the seeds in the report cover germinate and grow – so will they actions towards environmental sustainability. The inside pages are printed on 100% recycled post consumer waste and environmentally friendly inks were used. To reduce the environmental impact further they have limited the number of printed copies to just 200, making the review available to a wider audience online and through libraries throughout the South West.

 

Audience

The work is aimed at their stakeholders, which are a very diverse group, ranging from their customers (social housing residents) through to their employees and board members, government regulators, MPs, local authorities and other housing associations. This made the style of the report was very important as Aster Group wanted to make it accessible and appealing to the residents living in their 17,000 homes, at the same time as providing the technical detail that regulators and government organisations might be interested in. This is the reason that the technical detail of their footprints is presented in a separate section at the end of the review.

 

Results

The  first environmental sustainability review has already had a significant impact on the organisation. The seeded cover and organic feel have made the document a popular read and Aster Group  have already been contacted by others in their sector about their approach.

 

The measurements they made have allowed them  to target hotspots for improvement and have given much needed direction to their action plans. Having measurements has also allowed them to set numeric reduction targets, giving employees something tangible to work towards. The Group has gained a great insight into its impacts through this project and armed with this knowledge can now focus on specific areas for improvement. They  will be reporting again next year in order to show their  progress. Aster plans to share its approach, methodology and experience of measurement and reporting with other housing associations, setting a best practice benchmark for the sector. This means that the entire sector can benefit from the work that has been carried out. Aster Group are currently liaising with the National Housing Federation in order to set up a sector group, which can act as the vehicle for this. With a third of UK emissions’ coming from housing it is vital their sector plays its part. Aster Group see the accountability work that they have completed through this first review, as an important part of this.

 

Budget

The budget is £7000, which includes design fees (c. £3000), printing (c. £2000) and the third party verification work (c. £2000). The measurement and writing were carried out inhouse by the sustainability manager.

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