Our ESG Strategy

Our ESG Strategy

ESG Strategy

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.

Excel in the provision of health and safety

We continue to build on our established good practice in Health and Safety where we operate. We also understand the need to create environments that make our students and employees feel safe.

The year ahead will see a focus on training and testing, with key deliverables, including carrying out health & safety inspections and audits on all our sites, conducting first aid and conflict management training for all staff, and fire marshal training for all staff. For our full list of key priorities for 2023, please visit our ESG report.

As detailed in the below case study below, extensive fire marshal training and fire asset training has been developed and rolled out across all our sites with a safety campaign delivered to our on-site teams and our students.

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.

Enhance mental health & wellbeing

The wellbeing and mental health of our students and employees is a top priority for us. Of our students responding to this year’s Global Student Living index survey, 71 per cent said our accommodation had a positive impact on their wellbeing, with 73 per cent saying they felt our accommodation teams cared about their wellbeing. We are proud to report that in 2022 we won the award for Best Student Wellbeing (UK & Ireland).

In 2023 we will aim to achieve an improvement our Net Promoter Score further, with a target of +30 (2022: +27), for all employees to have access to wellbeing support, and Mental Health First Aiders’ in place at each site. For our full list of key priorities for 2023, please visit our ESG report.

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 headers 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 all employees. 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.

Provide opportunities for all

We believe in creating a diverse and gender balanced workforce which reflects the customers and communities we serve.

We treat everyone equally irrespective of age, sex, sexual orientation, race, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, religious or other philosophical belief, disability, gender identity, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, or pregnancy or maternity. We continue to review our approach to diversity, equality and inclusion, including the use of targets. Our workforce and customers are from a diverse range of people so we need to ensure that our workplace remains inclusive and allows our people and our customers a place where they can thrive.

Key priorities include launching an apprenticeship scheme, improving the diversity within the senior leadership team, and improving the accessibility of our buildings for students with disabilities where required. For our full list of key priorities for 2023, please visit our ESG report.

We have launched a leadership development programme to support internal promotion opportunities, see below case study where females are well represented, accounting for 56 per cent of attendees. 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.


The growth of full-time student numbers in ESPs locations vs 5% nationally over 5 years


The excess number of applicants who were not accepted to a UK University in 2017-18, indicating the continued demand for the UK’s quality Universities


Rental costs up 18.4% between 2012 and 2016, significantly outperforming RPI


The increase in full-time student population in the last ten years