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Our Journey to Net Zero by Paul Griffin

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Forty years ago, when Unitrust was first established, the environment was not a factor we considered when planning our business growth or assessing our success. Happily, like many other businesses, our attitude and thinking has changed dramatically over the years as our society has become more and more conscious of climate change. We now appreciate the importance and need for everyone to play a part in the protection of our environment whether at work or at home and we are better educated about the impact of our actions. So much so that today the environment dictates how we operate and influences decision making within our business.

Everyone from board level to frontline is involved in making our business work both sustainably and environmentally. We firmly believe that growth and sustainability go hand in hand, which means if we don’t work sustainably then we can’t grow sustainably. But perhaps even more important is the recognition that collectively we have a moral responsibility for all our future generations to protect our planet.

We are fully committed to becoming a Net Zero business by 2030. We may achieve this target earlier but for now this feels realistic and achievable. It is important to us that everyone who joins our team is fully onboard from day one with our environmental objectives and committed to helping us achieve them. We help people understand our way of thinking by providing environmental awareness training but mostly it is reinforced through our ongoing actions that demonstrate our conscious effort to reduce our carbon footprint at our workplace and at our client’s premises.

What has been most encouraging for me has been the keenness of our people to embrace becoming more environmentally conscious and to get involved with shaping new ideas. As well as our businesses committing to investing £20k each year into sustainability initiatives, we introduced a sustainability award to recognise good practice by employees who have gone above and beyond to help us with our commitment.

We have some wonderful examples where collectively our team have taken the initiative to come up with new ideas that have benefited our clients as well as the environment. We also encourage everyone to take part in our staff volunteering away days where they can help clean up beaches or conduct litter picks within their community. These days are really popular, and it is heartening to see so many people keen to participate.

Measuring progress is essential to us achieving Net Zero. While we have planted trees annually for over 20 years to offset our petrol usage, we have now employed independent experts to help us with our measurement and offset. Our carbon reduction and offset programme is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals blueprint and we have set clear science based targets in place for our business.

In 2022, we saved 2.6 tonnes of Co2, we recycled 1475 kg of waste plus an additional 125kg of food waste. We have refurbished our office premises to introduce motion sensitive activated heating/air conditioning and lighting as well as improving our insulation. We are in the process of converting our entire fleet of vehicles to hybrid vehicles, we offer cycle to work schemes and our management team use public transport wherever possible to reduce our footprint.

There is always more we can do to improve our environmental impact however, for now I am proud of the achievements and commitments of our team and hope to see many other businesses also commit to becoming Net Zero. The rewards will benefit us all.

Paul Griffin is the Chair of Unitrust

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