Our Environmental Commitments
So what are we doing?
SEWREC’s trustees take their responsibility to the environment very seriously: after all, the environment is where we live. They recognise that there can be no social justice while the people with the worst life chances, the least power and the smallest voices are also the people who suffer most from environmental damage, whether in Welsh neighbourhoods characterised by litter, vandalism and fear of crime, or parts of the world that suffer more and more from famine and floods.
As a result SEWREC’s trustees have set the charity the twin targets of reducing the charity’s environmental impact and becoming an exemplar for others.
SEWREC’s trustees adopted a public transport policy in 2012. This policy means that staff always use public transport or car sharing arrangements in preference to private car use and particularly single person car journeys.
They have backed this up by buying bus tokens for staff who need to travel regularly and for service users on low incomes (bus tokens only).
Sometimes travel can be avoided altogether by talking to partners by telephone or video link: for example, we often hold video conferences with our partners both in Wales and across the UK and Europe. To support this way of working, trustees have invested in digital telephone equipment and lines, a high-speed microwave connection for internet & data, and professional conferencing equipment.
SEWREC staff and volunteers do not print anything unless they have to, preferring to store data electronically where possible. When we need to use paper we always reuse and then recycle if we can (with appropriate safeguards to protect confidential printed material).
We recycle cans, glass, plastic, cardboard and toner cartridges and food waste is composted.
One of the biggest environmental challenges for a charity like SEWREC is the impact of its energy usage. St David’s House is supplied with electricity and gas by ‘Good Energy’. This means that:
- All of our electricity is generated entirely from renewable sources like Cornish sunshine, Scottish wind and Welsh rain
- 6% of the SEWREC’s gas comes from biomethane produced in the UK from organic matter like manure and sewage
- The emissions from the remainder of our gas is balanced by verified carbon-reduction schemes that support local communities in Malawi, Vietnam and Nepal
Low Carbon, but not No Carbon
All of this makes us a low carbon charity, but not a carbon neutral one, and so we are committed to looking at ways to improve our performance over the next few years by reducing energy consumption and contributing to carbon free electricity production. Trustees have committed SEWREC to:
- Reducing energy use by installing more efficient electrical equipment, notably more energy efficient lighting, with regular maintenance on all large items of electrical and gas equipment to ensure that they operate as safely and efficiently as possible:
- Our elevator is serviced 4 times annually: target met in December 2015
- Target (annual central heating service): June 2017
- Target (annual air conditioning systems): December 2017
- Target (lighting improvements): December 2017
2. Switching to a carbon neutral gas supply, i.e. gas produced from sustainable ‘bio’ sources: target met in May 2015
3. Testing the feasibility of solar panels at St David’s House: We completed a feasibility study in December 2015 and are in the process of identifying funding to finance this project, but this project has been delayed by the ending of the ‘Feed In Tariff’ programme.
In the UK we often forget that clean drinking water is a scarce resource, for while there is a considerable amount of water on the planet most of it is not drinking water. Even in Wales, where there is plenty of rainwater we choose to waste drinking water flushing our toilets. This has implications both for the sustainability of our water supply and for our energy use to clean and transport drinking water, only for it to be flushed away.
Working with Renew Wales, SEWREC is looking at our water use and will undertake feasibility studies to test the suitability of waterless urinals and rainwater harvesting / grey water recycling (from washbasins) to flush our WCs
- Target (install waterless urinals) March 2017
- Target (rainwater harvesting / grey water recycling feasibility study) October 2017
- Target (rainwater harvesting / grey water recycling, if appropriate) April 2018