Environment, Social and Governance Policy
As part of our support for RM Funds Responsible Investment Policy, the company has undertaken a review of its sustainability policy and strategy. RM Funds encourage environmental responsibility and it forms part of their key guiding principles. We are proposing to extend Empowered Brands environmental responsibility into new areas of our operation. Although, we are somewhat at the beginning on our sustainability journey, it is definitely on our roadmap and will be owned at Board Level by our General Counsel.
Definition of Sustainability
“The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources thereby supporting long term ecological balance”
Policy and Strategy
Be intentional about sustainability
Sustainability is built into the principles and strategy of RM Infrastructure Income Plc. In setting objectives for the next trading period, Empowered Brands proposes to incorporate sustainability into its corporate strategy and to reflect this directly into its organisation business roles. This means putting a plan of action in place and assigning accountability for all aspects of the strategy. By holding people to account and by having the Board measure results, the company can map its journey to improved sustainability practice.
Partner with employees
The company proposes to invest time in training its employees on the importance of sustaining the environment. Employees, when empowered, are a very likely source of simple ideas that can make a difference to energy consumption and recycling in particular. For example, in Walmart an employee who suggested switching off unnecessary lighting in vending machines across the business produced an energy saving of $1m in one year. The introduction of a reward for ‘sustainability idea / output’ two to three times per year will help raise awareness and secure momentum. We have already received one idea suggesting that we plant a tree for every club opening achieved and we are investigating the feasibility of that idea.
The company has made a decision to downsize its accommodation requirements in order to reduce cost and to minimise energy consumption. The decision regarding the office move has the added benefit of partnering with a Landlord who holds the same sustainability aspirations as ourselves. The impact of this decision on overall water and electricity costs and consumption is very significant. The company will work with the new landlord to embed conservation products, methods and practice within the working environment including the points below which the new landlord has either addressed or is in the process of doing so:
We are currently on a program of replacing any aging equipment with energy efficient electric equipment such as the old gas fired HVAC system has been replaced with ceiling and wall mounted split units and heat recovery fresh air supplies.
We have had a voltage optimizer installed which steps the 240v current down to 220v thus saving energy
Over the past 4 years all essential lighting in both common areas and tenant areas have been switched over to LED lighting. The carpark which still uses the old mercury vapour bulbs are due to be changed later this year and will be replaced with LED flood lights that use less energy and also light the ground rather than lighting the space.
2 years ago we switched energy provider to Haven, part of the Drax group who use energy from 100% renewable sources.
As part of our recycling programme we offer all tenants the option to recycle, cardboard, Non Confidential paper, Plastic and glass bottles. We also use a local company to recycle the waste oil from the café to produce bio diesel.
Empowered Brands works with a very wide range of suppliers. The company is already pro-active in reducing costs of energy across the franchise network and in sourcing retailing that is ethical and progressive in its sustainability practice. We propose to complete a sustainability review across our supplier network in order to register our prioritisation on ethical supply and to consider supplier changes where necessary in order to achieve results.
The company has operated a very basic recycling programme through use of separate waste containers. This is not particularly visible and does not include working with a waste manager vendor to recycle fluorescent light bulbs, electronics or computers in a consistent and organised manner (although we do currently recycle paper products and printing toner cartridges). As the company moves to new premises in May it will develop a more coherent recycling strategy with better signing and visuals in recycling areas to encourage higher levels of recycling materials.
The company outsources facility cleaning to a professional cleaning company. As we learn more about the impact of chemicals on our environment the company recognises the need to use green cleaning products and non-chemical products for landscape management and surface cleaning. In selecting its outsourced cleaning services, the company will insist on the use of green cleaning products.
Energy Efficient Products
The company will adopt the practice of purchasing of computer, electronic and IT acquisition products that are EPEAT registered to ensure highest level of efficiency. The EPEAT ecolabel for tech products are designed to give confidence to purchasers wishing to secure sustainability goals in purchase.
Sustainability Work Policies
The business – because of the pandemic – had to become virtual very quickly. Managing remote working presents both challenge and opportunity. The company will work with employees to provide balance that factors in sustainability practice. Understanding the energy efficiency impact and the displacement of costs caused by home working is important. This may need reconfiguration of how home workers quantify their energy use and overall carbon footprint in order to incentivise best practice and to compensate individuals who may be absorbing the de facto costs of the business operation.
Furthermore, the office move has enabled some of the central team to walk and/or cycle to work, again reducing the overall carbon footprint.
The enhanced sustainability strategy for Empowered Brands pulls together 8 elements that collectively can create a discernible difference to more sustainability practice. Reduction in energy consumption and more effective recycling represent the highest return, but by focusing on all elements, the company can achieve larger results.