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Our vision for a sustainable future is firmly rooted in doing the right thing; we are going to do the best we can in the time we have because carrying-on as we are isn’t an option. Our sustainability strategy is aspirational and ambitious because we want to be drivers for positive change in the region.

Sustainability isn’t just the Climate Emergency, though this is our most pressing issue, we also need to address the biodiversity crisis, we need to move towards a circular economy and we need to continue pushing for social and climate justice.

Through our Purpose and Values, which align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we have put Connect’s sustainability focus on people and collaboration, to earn trust and make a positive difference to people in engaging ways.  Our journey to a more sustainable future will mean adapting and building resilience to the changing climate, which means you’ll start to see some big changes in the coming years:

  • We’ll start to build more sustainable homes, and begin to make changes to the homes you already live in make them more energy efficient (which will also make heating them more affordable),
  • We’ll start to make the green spaces around your homes better for native wildlife, including bee friendly plants,
  • We are going to be making our offices more efficient and changing the way we work to support reduced travel,

For Connect, sustainability is about inclusivity; it is about and for everyone, so we need to empower people to ensure that no-one is left behind.

What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

The SDGs are also known as the Global Goals, they are a set of 17 goals which aim to put the whole planet on a path towards a fairer, more sustainable future.  The goals were adopted by all UN member states in 2015

They are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. These 17 goals were the result of a process involving 8 million people, which brought over 300 issues to light.

Everyone can get involved in helping to achieve the global goals, which is why we’ve chosen to align our sustainability strategy with the ones we can have the biggest impact on.

Find out more here or look for the app on your phone called Samsung Global Goals, it’s probably already downloaded.

What have we achieved so far?

Our new Sustainability Officer joined Connect just over a year ago and we have kick-started our sustainability journey, becoming leaders in the region and using our influence to drive change.

We developed our new Sustainability Strategy and Change Plan – which are easily understandable for everyone, and are aligned to the UN SDGs to ensure we are making the biggest difference we can across a rangle of goals. Our change plan shows how we are going about establishing and addressing our impacts, and we are in the process of developing a roadmap to net-zero.

Our successful engagement project supported colleagues in building their own pathway to more sustainable behaviours for the organisation and for themselves. Over 100 employees contributed, completing 349 tasks and 25 large projects. Seven awards were achieved which demonstrated their commitment and the impact that the programme had. These sustainable values continue to be embedded through operational and behavioural changes driven by colleagues.

This programme was delivered alongside adopting environmental sustainability as one of our core organisational values. We now have a 30 year plan which incorporates and aims to deliver environmental sustainability for our operations and within our communities.

We’re now looking at getting a Carbon Literacy Course which will allow us to work towards certifying all our colleagues and offer the course to partners and tenants too!

Demonstrating the progress we have made already, our Sustainability Officer, Emma Gilbank, was named in the Homes UK Top 10 Climate Power List, and our Director of Home, Martyn Broadest, was selected as the Climate Emergency lead for the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership, and as a commissioner for the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission.

Our roadmap to net-zero and sustainable communities

We committed to working towards net-zero as quickly as possible. We wanted to set aspirational targets ahead of the national and local goals, acknowledging the urgency of the climate emergency and that current targets may not be enough. With this in mind we developed a strategy which was as ambitious as possible; we wanted the best case scenario of what we thought we could achieve, in order to show our commitment. We have included a plan to work out our carbon footprint and roadmap which will be completed soon. Other headlines of our strategy are:

  • Carbon-neutral scope 1&2 by 2025, getting as close to net zero as we can manage and choosing installation of onsite renewables for our residents to offset any remaining emissions; this ensures that our communities benefit as much as possible.
  • All EPCs above a C by 2025.
  • No gas boiler installations beyond 2022.
  • Design and gain approval for sustainable new build and retrofit specifications this year.
  • Sustainable communities through tenant engagement.
  • Adaptations where necessary.
  • Improve our green spaces to address the biodiversity crisis, and reduce flood risk.
  • Support transition to sustainable travel and flexible working.

How residents can get involved?

We’re always keen to hear the views of our resident’s and we want to make sure that we support you on this journey to net-zero; it’s new and challenging for all of us but we can get there together and create a better world for future generations.

We are talking to residents who will be affected by specific project, whether this is when moving into an energy efficient house, or is having improvements made the the house you already live in. We want to make sure that you understand the best ways to live in the home and get the most from the energy efficiency measures.

We are also hoping to start a series of sustainability workshops which will be help each quarter on a different subject – these will be a great opportunity to learn what we are doing and give your opinion on sustainability subjects.

As we improve the green spaces we’ll be talking to you to see if you want to get involved – there might be opportunities to help with planting and maybe even to receive free gardening training.

We’ll keep you updated as we progress these plans.

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Connect Housing Association Limited is a charitable association registered in England and Wales under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 (Company No. IP17445R) and with the Regulator of Social Housing (No. L2285).

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