In 2009, when we embarked on our mission to reduce our environmental impact, the first thing we did was take stock and try to measure what our impact actually was. We used 2008 as our 'base year' from which we will measure our progress. Putting together the data for the report was a mammoth task involving digging up old invoices, researching methodologies, choosing conversion factors and trying to remember what the heck we'd done the previous year. That first report highlighted the key areas of impact and we developed our Sustainability Policy and Goals. Every year since then we've been reviewing our findings and striving to improve.
In June 2013 the government introduced a regulation that requires all quoted companies to report on their GHG emissions. We don't fit in this category, but we voluntarily produce and publish our Annual Environmental Report to inform our own decisions and to encourage our industry to follow.
Our carbon footprint for 2012 is 104.98 tonnes CO2e, a 10% rise from 2011 but a 39% reduction from when we started reporting in 2008. The rise is mainly due to the increase in our electricity and gas consumption, probably due to our need for extra heat during the particularly cold winter.
We are increasing our use of garden produce in the Café and continue to improve our percentage of organic food and products in both the Café and the Shop. The garden supplied 428.33 kilos of produce for the Café. The garden also began production of herbal products to sell within the Castle, including herbal tea gift bags, balms and bath infusions.
We were able to reduce our packaging from the Café by increasing the amount of food produced on site. A key achievement has been reducing the amount of waste to landfill from 53% of our total waste in 2008 to 10% in 2012.
Our travel (business and staff trips) increased by 10% in 2012, but because most travel (75%) is done on public transport (mostly train) and car travel fell slightly from previous years, our footprint in this category only increased by 1%.
The installation of rainwater storage tanks has reduced our use of mains water by 14% since last year.
The Castle granted three eco-grants to staff members. The projects included a sea kayaking expedition in Indonesia and two placements on organic farms.
We received our planning permission for the final stage of development at The Castle. In all aspects of the planning we have considered the most sustainable materials and tried to incorporate features to improve the energy efficiency of the building. Enabling works in the Engine House began in November 2012.
We won two Sustainable City Awards and were highly commended in two further categories. We also came second in a Capital Growth Grow for Gold competition.
I won't lie- it has been a disappointment that our carbon footprint has not shrunk since last year. But, this has highlighted the importance of improving the energy efficiency of the building in our developments. On reflection, what I’m most proud of is that four years after our initial and groundbreaking Sustainability Policy considering the sustainable impact of our decisions, though less exciting than it initially was, has become second nature to us and is part of all of our decision-making.
I would like to thank my colleagues, the staff and our customers who continue to support us in our drive to be carbon neutral by 2015.