We believe that to deliver upon our ESG Strategy we need all our people to deliver. We undertook a materiality assessment in 2021 to identify our material topics to aid in the development of our ESG strategy. From this, we identified the following four key topics to focus on the strategy:
Become a sustainable business and achieve net zero
Through our Net Zero Strategy, we intend to become net zero in our operations, property portfolio and energy consumption by 2033. We will reduce our environmental impact of our buildings annually as part of a strategy through investment in energy and resource efficiencies and encourage our students to increase their sustainable behaviour. We have also set a wider target of being net zero in all our emissions (adding scope 3) by 2050 or before.
We worked with CBRE to produce our Net Zero Strategy which fully details our decarbonisation pathway that we are putting into practice. We have also disclosed our EPC position across the Group and steps being taken to improve this. For more details, visit our ESG reporting page.
Key priorities include continuing the roll out of smart panel heaters, delivering two further carbon neutral properties as part of our refurbishment programme and improving the score of EPC E rated properties. For our full list of key priorities for 2023, please visit our ESG report.
An initiative completed this year was the installation of Smart Panel Heaters. 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 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.