Our ESG strategy in action
One of the main environmental impacts of our business comes from energy use by our student tenants.
In a number of our properties we run electric panel heaters that are manually controlled with high temperature set-points. This has caused the continuous heating of unoccupied spaces that can lead to inefficient energy use and increased costs.
In 2018, we signed up to the Student Energy Project, in coordination with Amber Energy, which encourages students to reduce energy use. One of the initiatives focussed on turning down heating and switching off lights, when not required. A student ambassador was identified in each building, who was responsible for educating fellow students.
In 2022, we took this a step further by installing SmarterDM panel heaters at two buildings at our Victoria Point, Manchester site. Smart panel heaters have helped us achieve energy savings of 30 per cent in occupied areas, resulting in an annual cost saving of around £13,500 and reduced environmental impact, whilst allowing our students to retain control of their apartments with minimal disruption.
Fire safety campaign
We carried out a two-week Fire Safety Campaign across our properties this year to engage and educate our employees and students.
Whilst we do all we can to physically reduce the risk of fire, it is important that we also try to influence student behaviour by promoting safety messages and guidance.
The first week focussed on fire marshal training which was provided to every single member of the team in September. During the second week, each site conducted a fire alarm evacuation and set up hotspots in reception areas to drive awareness on how to safely manage the evacuation of students.
In Liverpool, the local fire authority attended our site to talk to our team. They also spoke to students about the risks of fires.
Following the campaign, feedback from the team has shown how they feel more confident dealing with fire education and drills.
We are looking into how we measure fire safety incidents during the next year to see how we can further analyse fire alarm activations, drills and incidents.
As part of our commitment to enhancing both the mental and physical health of our employees, we have created a separate wellbeing hub on our benefits platform, Reward Gateway.
Under the headings of Move, Money, Mind and Munch, resources are provided around health, personal finance, mindset and nutrition giving a holistic approach to all round wellbeing. The redesign of the platform also means that resources available to employees are utilised in sites to share with students, further contributing to a positive customer experience.
Particular attention was paid to the mind element of the platform that included audio resources aimed at helping people improve productivity while working and improving sleep.
The relaunch in April, supported by a detailed communications plan resulted in a 250 per cent increase in visits to the site in that month alone. Since April, we have seen over 1,300 visits to the site from 50 per cent of
It has also received positive feedback from employees across the business with posts on our internal communications platform, Workplace.
The success of the programme saw us shortlisted in the top five for best relaunch with recognition given through the accolade of the rarely given ‘Highly Commended’ by an independent panel of HR and industry professionals at the Reward Gateway awards in November 2022.
As part of our programme to provide opportunities for all stakeholders, we
have initially focussed on the internal development of our employees.
We partnered with Impellus and invited 25 of our employees, who were identified as having high potential to be future leaders within organisation, to undergo The Institute of Learning and Management certification.
Those invited completed the six-month Leadership Skills Development course in December 2022, with each completing three specialist modules.
During the programme, each participant could choose two additional modules that included communication skills, change and innovation, time efficiency, coaching skills, and managing and appraising performance. The modules required online learning followed by a written 3,000 word assignment to demonstrate an applied understanding.
The group were selected following their formal reviews. The aim was to develop their skills to become more rounded leaders and help service the business’ future needs.