All posts by rachel_eaton

Gong Communications launches Morrow Sodali ESG capability in the UK

Gong Communications launches Morrow Sodali ESG capability in the UK via thought leadership programme and expert panel event

 

Investor and stakeholder expectations are changing rapidly, and while climate issues have taken centre stage in ESG plans and disclosures, an increasing focus is being placed on social impact reporting. Decisions taken by corporates are under increased scrutiny, with stakeholders keen to understand how businesses are ensuring they contribute to a just and green transition.

A global business with a 50 year track record of successfully advising board members and executives, Morrow Sodali provides bespoke counsel to reinforce and reassure boards on best practice when it comes to ESG.

To help launch the company’s UK ESG offering, Gong Communications worked with Morrow Sodali to design and host a panel event focused on the challenges and evolving requirements of social impact reporting. Held at The Walbrook Club in the heart of the city, a panel comprising representatives from the Financial Reporting Council, ShareAction, Rio Tino and The Church of England Pensions Board was moderated and hosted by BBC business journalist Adam Shaw. A packed room of decision makers from FTSE-listed companies kept the discussion going well after the panel itself.

In addition to the event, targeted thought leadership opportunities were secured for Morrow Sodali in Global Investor Magazine and Portfolio Institutional Magazine and a short video was produced to record both the event and the business’ understanding of this fast-evolving issue for publicly listed companies.

 

 

To learn more about our thought leadership and publishing support, and how we can support you with video production, contact us

82 million refugees calling for sanctuary – what can we do?

 

1 in every 95 people on Earth has fled their home. War, religious violence, political persecution and famine are forcing people from their homes to the temporary safety of neighbouring countries – 85 per cent of which are developing nations.

As part of a wider community of B Corps using business as a force for good, we wanted to use our PR expertise to help the very charities that are creating a safer, more inclusive world for forcibly displaced persons and refugees. And so, on 20 June 2021, Gong’s Refugee Press Office was born.

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

Twelve months since we launched our CSR press office, we’ve been busy supporting several refugee and humanitarian-related charities.

We’ve long been advocates for Refugee Support Europe, backing its mission of Aid with Dignity. With refugees and migration becoming increasingly politicised in the UK, the work of charities and NGOs in protecting the rights of refugees has never been more important. Volunteers are the backbone of these organisations, so we were delighted when Refugee Support asked us to help them with PR around their annual Dignify Festival. The event brought together established and upcoming music and comedy acts to raise funds to support the resettlement of Afghan refugees and provide them with essential food and hygiene items.

Held at The Bedford in Balham, Ronnie Scott’s regular Sarah Jane Morris and Hip Hop Blingo kept the crowd entertained on a drizzly November evening. In the run up to the event, we secured coverage in local titles to support ticket sales, securing coverage in London News Online, South London Press and Balham Newsie.

The event was a huge success, raising £65,000 to support the charity’s operations.

DIGNITY FOR VICTIMS FOR WAR

The war in Ukraine has seen more than 14 million people flee their homes in search for safety in neighbouring countries and across the world. Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe which sits to the southwest of Ukraine, has seen its population swell as a result. This is exactly where Refugee Support decided to set up its next Dignity Centre. To assist in their fundraising efforts, we placed op-eds on behalf of co-founder, Paul Hutchings in the Independent and Charity Times, where he highlighted the importance of buying locally to boost local economies where refugees reside, rather than shipping donations from the UK.

PR WITH PURPOSE ACROSS THE GLOBE

Gong has also been lending its expertise to the Refugee Consortium of Kenya, helping to increase engagement across its social platforms.  We have delivered research on digital volunteer networks for Indigo Volunteers, a platform which connects volunteers with humanitarian projects.

Elsewhere, we have been busy assisting Alive & Kicking, an African social enterprise that promotes health education through sport, with the announcement of the winners of its second annual Youth with Refugees Art Contest. It has created over 1,000 jobs and donated more than 120,000 footballs to young people to improve health, fitness and wellbeing.

Refugee-Support-Europe-with-Gong-Communications
Pictured: Refugee Support volunteers at the Dignity Centre.

THE YEAR AHEAD

Looking ahead to what our CSR programme will look like over the next 12 months has got us buzzing with ideas. Employees are asked to pitch charities that they are passionate about, before the whole company votes to decide a favourite. Whichever it is, we’ll make sure we do our bit as a dedicated B Corp, to show how business can also be a force for good.

If you run a refugee charity and need communications support from press office, events management, brand awareness to digital PR and website development, please get in touch at info@gongcommunications.com.

The UK – the go-to destination for climate tech

Dismissed as “woke capitalism” by some, the trend of making investment choices based on the positive impact they will have on society is here to stay. In the UK, much of this shift has focused on climate tech, so much so that the country is fast emerging as a global investment hub for climate tech start-ups.

A report by PwC shows that more venture capital funding is being ploughed into climate tech start-ups in the UK than any other country in Europe. Globally, the report found that climate tech is growing quickly as an asset class, with £71 billion invested over the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021. From January to June 2021, record investment levels over £48.8 billion reflected a 210 per cent increase compared to the twelve months prior.

UK LEADS THE CHARGE

The UK has been at the forefront of this boom. According to a report by London & Partners and Dealroom, London is one of the leading hubs for climate tech globally, with £2.68 billion invested since 2016. London-based venture capital (VC) firms have raised over half of all European dedicated climate tech funds in the last two years.

Earlier this year, Climate VC launched in London to support start-ups in the UK that focus on climate change and carbon emissions. It will invest in 120 early-stage climate start-ups in the next three years, with £10 million to be invested in the first year. Climate VC is looking to double its funds every quarter, which would result in over £35 million by 2025. The firm has already invested in Global OTEC, which converts ocean thermal energy into clean power for tropical island nations, and Treeconomy, a nature-based carbon removal company.

Elbow Beach Capital launched a £20 million venture vehicle in March to back start-ups focusing on decarbonisation, sustainable energy and social impact opportunities. It plans to invest between £500,000 and £1.5 million in pre-seed to Series A businesses in the UK and globally. So far, it has led the seed round for WASE, a wastewater treatment and bioenergy company, and invested in Glasgow-based electric 4×4 manufacturer, Munro Vehicles, which plans to decarbonise vehicle fleets in the mining, forestry and agriculture sectors.

The money is starting to flow in the right direction, but not fast enough, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report. IPCC authors warn that financial flows are three to six times lower than the levels needed by 2030 to limit global warming to below 1.5C or 2C.

WHERE SHOULD THE MONEY GO?

According to PwC, investors are prioritising low-carbon transport when they should be focusing on five other areas which could collectively deliver 80 per cent of emissions reduction by 2050: solar power, wind power, green hydrogen production, reducing food waste and scaling proteins with a lower greenhouse gas footprint than animal proteins.

The report found that by 2050, almost half of global CO2 emissions reductions will come from technologies that are currently only at the demonstration or prototype phase. That is why more patient capital from early-stage VC investors is needed to deliver future breakthroughs, according to the report’s authors. “Investors need to look beyond the low-hanging fruit to help scale technologies in harder-to-abate sectors,” they conclude.

A SLOW DOWN?

In the UK, VC funding into climate tech start-ups stood at £329.6 million in Q1 2022, down from £857.6 million the previous quarter. Globally, a Climate Tech Report by PitchBook, which examines VC trends, found that investment in climate tech took a hit in Q1 of 2022 and predicts that it could fall further in Q2. But the report concludes that ultimately climate tech investment will continue to accelerate, partly due to the war in Ukraine and resulting calls for energy independence and partly due to the climate change crisis.

As Peter Gajdoš, Climate Lead at VC firm Fifth Wall, told a TechCrunch climate technology event in California: “Climate doesn’t care about inflation. The oceans are warming up. The forests are burning. These problems are still there, and someone needs to solve them, which creates opportunities.”

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

Investment in hydrogen, solar, batteries, nuclear and wind will all accelerate, according to PitchBook’s research. The UK is already on the case. London-based HydrogenOne Capital, for example, provides investors with opportunities in clean hydrogen and energy storage. Earlier this year, it led a round of funding that secured £35 million for Bramble Energy. The investment will allow the company to roll out its portable power products globally and continue its ground-breaking work on hydrogen fuel cells.

Fusion energy is being touted as another solution to achieving a clean energy transition. Not to be confused with nuclear fission – the splitting of atoms to release energy (think nuclear power stations) – fusion is the opposite: the fusing together of hydrogen atoms at ultra-high temperatures to release energy (think the sun).

The technology is still in its infancy. Fusion start-up Tokamak Energy, based in Oxfordshire, is calling for more investment into this emerging sector.

Technology may not be the magic pill that cures all climate change problems, but it is becoming increasingly clear that limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C will not be possible without it. The innovative solutions climate tech start-ups are providing will continue to be an essential part of the mix.

Better business for all

On April 20, Gong Communications founder, Narda Shirley joined other signatories to the Better Business Act at the House of Commons to lobby MPs for a change in the law. If passed, the Better Business Act would amend section 172 of the Companies Act so that businesses are legally obliged to consider all stakeholders. As it stands, company directors are accountable to shareholders with profit maximisation as their primary fiduciary duty.

 

signatories

 

This change would mean companies are no longer able to pursue profit at the expense of workers, communities or the environment. It could help transform the way we do business and free decision-makers to act in favour of balancing in long-term interests, rather than chasing short-term financial gain.

Better Business Day kicked off with a panel discussion featuring CEOs from graze.com, Pukka Herbs and Ella’s Kitchen, moderated by Financial Times journalist Joy Lo Dico. Innocent Drinks CEO Douglas Lamont, co-chair of the Better Business Act Campaign, told the audience: “We must remove that hiding place for directors that all they have to do is maximise profit in today’s world. Companies must now balance the interests of people, profit and planet.”

Mary Portas, the campaign’s other co-Chair added her remarks and shared anecdotes about her early career as a young female company director at the luxury retailer, Harvey Nichols. She reflected on the role she and other company Directors played, believing it was their responsibility in the ‘80’s ‘greed is good’ culture to encourage consumer consumption of brands without thinking about the effect on the environment or the workers in global supply chains.

The campaign has already gained over 1,000 supporters, including The Body Shop, Oddbox and Virgin StartUp. It was initiated by B Lab UK, which serves the growing community of UK-based companies which are certified B Corporations.

Gong founder Narda Shirley says. “We know from the work we do with our clients that lots of businesses are already acting in a way that takes care of their employees, communities and the environment. But the law has not kept up with this change in business culture – that is what we’re trying to address with this act.”

One of the key actions of the campaign is to get signatories to write to their MP. There is a template letter on the Better Business Act web site that cites a survey of members of the Institutes of Directors as finding a majority think the current Companies Act focuses too much on shareholders and not enough on wider stakeholders.

It also references Research by the Better Business Act which shows that companies run in line with the principles of the Act can expect faster growth in turnover and headcount; greater levels of employee retention and diversity, and higher levels of innovation.

The same research found that 76 per cent of people in the UK want businesses to be legally responsible for their impact. They think that business has a responsibility to protect the environment and the majority favour brands that do good in the world.

At Gong, we urge businesses to add their voice in calling on the government to change section 172 of the Companies Act to make this official. Let’s ensure that all businesses are held to account and are legally required to make decisions that benefit workers, communities and the environment, while delivering profit.

To join the campaign, click here.

Gong Communications Impact Report 2021

As a B Corp, we are required to report on our impact.

We are pleased to share our 2021 Impact Report, both in terms of the work we do and the clients we are proud to work for and also to reflect on our own activity.

It might not be the punchiest of reads, but it reflects the core pillars of the B Corp movement, reporting on our efforts to contribute to society, how we play our part in the wider community, the environment and how we use resources, our suppliers and who we choose to work with, and our most precious commodity, our people, and how we operate as a business.  We hope you enjoy reading what we’ve been up to as much as we’ve enjoyed doing everything in this report.

Click on the image above to download Gong Communications’ B Corp Impact Report 2021.

If you’d like to get in touch and find out more about our work, email us at info@gongcommunications.com

Unlocking the wildlife economy

Africa is taking the lead when it comes to realising the potential the wildlife economy has to offer. Home to abundant wildlife and diverse habitats, it is perhaps not surprising that the journey to unlocking and diversifying the wildlife economy begins on this continent.  


 

Investing in natural infrastructure is a win-win. It means habitats can be restored, species saved and jobs created. It benefits people, nature and business alike, but governments and policy makers often fail to see nature as a key strategic asset. Instead, conserving wildlife is frequently viewed as a direct threat to economic development.   

Helping to turn this view around is the School of Wildlife Conservation (SOWC) at the African Leadership University in Rwanda. Its Director of Research Sue Snyman says the economic value of wildlife in Africa is still not recognised. To remedy this, SOWC has published a report on the State of the Wildlife Economy in Africa to show governments in concrete terms just how much the continent’s natural capital contributes to the economy.  

The report focuses on the ‘Big Five’ activities of the wildlife economy: ecotourism, carbon markets, forest products, hunting and fishing, and game ranching. Snyman hopes the research will encourage governments to invest more in nature.  

 

HOW DO YOU PUT A PRICE ON AFRICA’S WILDLIFE?

Traditionally, the wildlife economy has centred on ecotourism. In Africa alone, the wildlife safari industry is estimated to bring in between US$12.4 billion and US$42.9 billion in revenue. In 1981, our client African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) helped found one of the most famous ecotourism projects on the continent – the Mountain Gorilla Project in Rwanda. Thanks to its work, the mountain gorilla population has grown from only a few hundred at its lowest point to over 1,000 today – giving them the dubious honour of being the only great ape species whose population is increasing.  

The project has been such a success that it is now facing another problem: a lack of space. The gorillas are so numerous that they are frequently roaming outside the park boundary, putting them in direct conflict with people. The Rwandan Government is planning to expand the park by 37.4 square kilometres, increase tourists’ viewing opportunities and invest more than $70 million in social housing and infrastructure for Rwandans living around the park. This will provide jobs for more than 7,500 people in tourism, construction, agriculture and service sectors.  

 

WHO BENEFITS?

 This is the wildlife economy operating at its best. A system where everyone and everything benefits – wildlife, habitats and people alike. But the Covid-19 pandemic threw this, and many other ecotourism projects across the world, into chaos. When the tourism industry shut down, it became very clear that the wildlife economy needs to diversify if it is going to survive.   

One way to do this is to find other uses for species. Developing a sustainable wild meat sector through game farming (think ostrich, crocodile, antelope) can bring benefits to local communities, like food security, and even to the environment if it is done in the right way. So can game ranching – if management practices are up to scratch. The South African government is working with experts to explore the potential for a certification scheme within the ranching sector.  

Hunting remains a highly emotive topic. Some countries, like Kenya, have banned it altogether. Others, like Zimbabwe, focus on foreign hunters rather than locals, and countries such as the UK have plans to ban the import of hunting trophies from Africa. Francis Vorhies, Director of the African Wildlife Economy Institute (AWEI) at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, believes that 2022 needs to be the year we start a serious conversation about hunting. To this end, AWEI will be researching the role wild harvesting – including hunting – can play in conservation and economic development.  

It can be easy to forget that the wildlife economy is about more than just animals. Traditionally, definitions exclude plants but according to Gus le Breton, CEO of African Plant Hunter, that is wrong. Plants provide both the habitat and food for wild animals and are integral to the wildlife economy, he argues. In his vision, Africa is the new frontier for natural ingredient research. 

 

WHAT IS THE GLOBAL IMPACT?

The FairWild Foundation is trying to ensure that plant species, such as the baobab, rooibos, myrrh and frankincense, are harvested and traded responsibly. It has already certified 25 species from 14 countries. Newly appointed CEO Deborah Vorhies says she hopes the scheme will grow the market for wild-harvested plants and at the same time conserve landscapes and enhance local livelihoods.   

Plants and trees also form a central plank to another facet of the wildlife economy – carbon markets. Last year Gabon became the first African country to receive payment for reducing carbon emissions by protecting its rainforest, which covers 90 per cent of its territory and captures more carbon than the country emits. So far Gabon has received $17 million, the first tranche of $150 million from the UN-backed Central African Forest Initiative, by showing it has reduced deforestation.   

Private sector interest in natural climate solutions has also grown significantly. French multinational Danone, for example, has invested €3 million in a project to restore a mangrove forest in Senegal, which is expected to capture and store around 600,000 tons of CO2.  

Relationships between investors – be they from the private sector, governments or UN agencies – and those on the ground delivering conservation need to be nurtured if the wildlife economy is to blossom. In March, we helped AWF do just this at an event for more than 50 guests from the sustainability, finance and investment sectors and expert speakers from AWF Rwanda, Wilderness Safaris and FSD Africa, at the Royal Geographical Society in London.  

 

If you are a charity or startup business seeking investment and require PR support, please contact our expert communications team direct at info@gongcommunications.com and we’ll be in touch.

B Corp Month 2022 Part 3: A celebration of 10 international companies #BehindTheB 

PART 3: HOW CAN OTHERS B THE CHANGE?

In the finale of our 3-part series zooming in to focus on 10 inspiring international B Corps, we’re heading out East Asia to spotlight 3 more certified organisations. Gong’s B Corp Committee member and Senior Account Executive, Ryan Witton, acts as your guide to the final fab three.

If you missed Part 1: Where it all started, click here for the full blog.

To catch up on Part 2: B Corps all over the world, click here.

TREE PLANET

Tree Planet began life as a simple tree planting game on smartphones in South Korea and led to the planting of over 1 million trees in areas suffering from desertification like China and Mongolia. Now environmentally conscious individuals can plant trees by ‘adopting’ a pet tree that will sit in one of Tree Planet’s many themed forests. 

Tree Planet aims to plant 100 million trees worldwide by 2050, and more recently began its ‘Make Your Farm’ project to introduce environmentally friendly and sustainable coffee production methods to independent farmers. 

 

MYCOTECH

In West Java, Indonesia, Mycotech binds agricultural waste with mushroom mycelia to literally grow 100% natural building and textile materials. These eco-tech building materials offer effective heat insulation while its leather-like durable fabrics are animal-free and used in a variety of fashion apparel like shoes, wallets and bags. 

Mycotech has a strong circular economy model, re-using, recycling and composting its side streams and waste products, with very little entering landfill at the end of the process. The company-wide mantra is, “Change is a choice – and we choose to take the steps forward towards sustainability.” We’re with you Mycotech! 

 

ETHIQUE

And last but by no means least, we head down to NZ to meet a cosmetics brand based out of Christchurch, with a core guiding principle: healthy products, made with sustainable, naturally derived ingredients. Ethique eschews plastic bottles and harsh chemicals and instead produces super dense beauty product bars. These types of solid cosmetics have a long shelf life and can be used endlessly due to a high concentration of ingredients. Ethique advises consumers that their solid bars last up to 5 times as longer than their liquid alternatives with the added bonus being chemical and preservative free – great for all budgets, skin types and local water quality. 

 

That’s a wrap! We hope you’ve enjoyed following us on this virtual trek to meet just 10 of the amazing7 4,700+ B Corps across the globe. If your organisation is on a mission to make positive change for people and planet, access B Lab’s free eLearning toolkit at https://gongcommunications.com/gong-tapped-for-danone-and-b-lab-employee-engagement-brief/ 

B Lab is the non-profit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.

B Corp Month 2022 Part 2: A celebration of 10 international companies #BehindTheB 

PART 2: B CORPS ALL OVER THE WORLD 

Welcome back for part 2 of this 3-part blog celebrating the achievements and commitments of international B Corp organisations. With 4,700 of them already certifying as part of a movement that believes business can be a force for good, we’ve picked 10 companies dotted around the world to shine a light on their activity, creating change for people, community and planet.  

Here’s more from Gong’s B Corp Committee member and Senior Account Executive, Ryan Witton. 

If you missed Part 1: Where it all started, click here to read the full blog.

 

TAZE & KURU 

In the city of Ankara, Turkish brand Taze & Kuru (meaning fresh and dried) is using ancient methods of food preservation to reduce food waste and embrace cultural traditions. It has pioneered a unique renewable energy powered food-drying process. 

How does it work? Well, the facility produces healthy snacks free from preservatives and additives. And its carbon footprint? An impressive 0 tonnes of carbon emissions are released in the process. The company believes that health and happiness is driven by the food we eat saying, “changing our eating habits can create miracles.” 

  

INSPIRA FARMS

Heading to West Africa, we spotted our innovative friends at InspiraFarms who provide agribusinesses across Africa with off grid cold chain solutions to reduce food loss and waste. With operations near clients in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Ghana and a UK HQ, the company provides tools, technology and expertise to support innovative farming and crop management. We salute its triple impact, reducing food loss and energy costs while helping farmers and coperatives unlock access to higher-value markets. Check out this agri-tech on a mission using the latest IoT and cloud-based systems, solar kits, cold rooms and other cool, cooling technologies. 

 

TRUTRADE AFRICA

Working out of Uganda and Kenya, TruTrade provides smallholder farmers with routes to market and fair prices for their produce. The social enterprise uses the ‘supply power’ of millions of small-scale producers connecting them with sustainable value chains. TruTrade also offers a mobile trading and payment platform which opens up new possibilities for farmers. This gives global commodity buyers the ability to connect with their smallholder farm suppliers. The B Corp is proud of its community impact too, helping local people drive rural development for future generations.  

  

LUBANZI WINES

Next stop, Cape Town! We’re shining the spotlight on the founders of Lubanzi Wines – they had a vision to create a social enterprise that would make a difference to the lives of agricultural labourers, with a strong focus on safeguarding the human rights of all their employees at every stage of production  

As part of Lubanzi Wines’ community pledge, 50% of net profits are recycled back into the Pebbles Project, a non-profit that supports families who live and work on South Africa’s wine farms. The company is planet-focused too and has achieved an impressive carbon neutral operation with 100% of its carbon footprint being completely removed or offset. 

 

There are a few more B Corps to reveal in our 10-stop international B Corp spotlight blog. Visit our social media channels for more in the finale of our 3-part series celebrating international corporate social responsibility (CSR) with 10 B Corp certified organisations. Can you guess where we’ll be going to next?  

B Lab is the non-profit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. To learn more about how your organisation can change for good, take the free eLearning course with B Lab.

B Corp Month 2022 Part 1: A celebration of 10 international companies #BehindTheB 

With this year’s B Corp Month of March set to be the biggest on record, Gong’s B Corp Committee set off to learn more about the B Corp movement globally and how creating change from within our organisations can benefit people, communities and the planet. 

B Lab is a non-profit organisation on a mission to enable companies around the world to create a positive environmental and social impact. We think their mantra, “Make Business a Force for Good” embodies all the values of the B Corp movement helping to drive better standards and catalyse change – it’s already impacting more than 300,000 workers worldwide. 

Gong Communications, which celebrated its B Corp recertification this year, is a supporter of B Corp initiatives including the Better Business Act and related campaigns including greener pensions movement, Make My Money Matter, always striving to do more with other B Corps, both as clients and suppliers. 

In this new blog series, we hear from Gong B Corp Committee member and Senior Account Executive, Ryan Witton, who has been on the hunt for compelling B Corps based outside the UK to learn more about the diversity of impact around this growing global movement.  

 

PART 1: WHERE IT ALL STARTED

 

I’ve been engaged with B Corp for over a year now at Gong and in that time our B Corp Committee has learnt a lot about the different industries joining the movement. There’s a huge mix of products and services from various sectors, but one thing remains the same – a shared passion for social and environmental interdependence. 

At Gong, we feel it’s important to celebrate our fellow B Corps around the world using business as a force for good. There are currently over 4,700 certified B Corporations scattered across more than 70 countries, so whittling them down to just 10 was no easy feat! If you want to take a look at the wide range of certified B Corps out there, make sure to explore the online B Corp Directory. 

In the first blog of this 3-part series, we’re going to the Americas, both South and North – where it all started for B Lab. So in no particular order, let’s introduce our first B Corp. 

 

UNCOMMON GOODS

How much do you know about B Corp founding member, Uncommon Goods? The company founded an arts and crafts marketplace based in New York putting people and the environment at the heart of its business. Uncommon Goods offers consumers a place to discover creative designs by independent artists and craftspeople. Its catalogue is printed on recycled paper, delivered in environmentally friendlier packaging, and artists are also encouraged to use recycled or sustainable materials. Items available for sale are completely free of fur, feather, leather or pearl, and it donates $1 for each purchase to non-profits through its Better to Give programme 

  

ECO POOP

Sitting just north of the equator, Colombian company Eco Poop collects organic waste from pets and passes it through a bio-transformative process, creating excellent pesticide-free fertilisers for soils and plants. The enterprise installs kits in residential communities and provides all the tools (bespoke shovels and paper bags) that animal lovers need to create a culture of responsible pet ownership. 

Kudos to Eco Poop whose ingenious business model makes communal outdoor spaces healthier and free of pathogens for all. It’s also reducing CO2 emissions and helping to tackle climate change. 

 

ECOFACTORY

Next we’re heading further south to sunny Buenos Aires to give a shoutout to Ecofactory which makes reusable, recyclable shopping bags. Each month it produces more than 5 million plant-based bags with biodegradable textiles made from crops home-grown in Argentina. As well as pledging carbon neutrality by 2030, Ecofactory believes in Fair Trade and has a commitment to fairness across its entire commercial chain. In 2021, it won a B Corp award in the ‘Best for the World’ category. 

 

B Lab is the non-profit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. To learn more about the movement take the B Corp 101 – 4 super accessible and free eLearning modules that you can complete on any device, designed by Gong in response to an idea generously gifted to the community by Danone working in partnership with B Lab.

Come back for more in part 2 of our B Corp series where we shine a light on 10 B Corps who are using businesses as a force for good. 

The retrofit revolution

The UK’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050 means we will all have to change some aspects of our lives for good. Whether it is giving up petrol and diesel cars, switching to renewable energy or making changes to our homes and offices, everyone will need to do their bit.

ELIMINATING EMISSIONS BY 2050

The government’s long-awaited net zero strategy sets out how the UK plans to halve emissions in little over a decade and eliminate them by 2050. Introducing the strategy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims “the United Kingdom is not afraid to lead the charge towards global net zero because history has never been made by those who sit at the back of the class hoping not to be called on.”

Leading this charge will involve decarbonising our power sector by 2035, phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and decarbonising the way we heat and power our homes.

The UK has around 30 million buildings, including some of the oldest building stock in Europe, with 20 per cent of homes built before 1919. They are responsible for 17 per cent of our national emissions. Retrofitting them with better insulation, low-carbon heat and clean power sources is an essential part of the country’s journey to net zero.

Newly constructed buildings are far more energy efficient, but 80 per cent of the UK’s 2050 building stock already exists, hence the need for some large-scale retrofitting. A national retrofit programme has the potential to reduce household energy bills by up to £430 a year and create 500,000 green jobs.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared a “retrofit revolution” in the capital to upgrade ageing homes so that social housing landlords can cut carbon emissions and improve the cold, damp housing stock currently on offer.

He hopes the move will also help tackle growing fuel poverty. In London 11.4 per cent of households are fuel poor, in joint place with the West Midlands. Only the North West is worse, with 12.1 per cent of households affected by fuel poverty, according to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

HOW CAN THE UK REACH ITS RETROFITTING GOALS?

So what does retrofitting actually involve? Modifications to existing buildings to make them more energy efficient can range from small additions to big building projects. From switching to energy-saving lightbulbs to cavity wall insulation, from installing smart meters to putting solar panels on the roof, the possibilities are endless.

One of the government’s central policies is to phase out natural gas boilers in homes and buildings by 2035 at the latest. It plans to support 600,000 heat pump installations a year by 2028, driving down the cost so that they are on a par with traditional gas boilers.

But who is going to carry out all this work? A report by the Green Finance Institute and Bankers for Net Zero, Tooling Up the Green Homes Industry, estimated that to reach net zero by 2050, an estimated 29 million existing homes will need to be retrofitted. That means a million homes a year, every year until 2050, will have to be modified.

That is an enormous task. The report revealed that the majority of companies which carry out this type of work are small and medium-sized businesses. The UK retrofit industry is relatively fragmented compared with some European countries and it is hard to find retrofit managers who can create end-to-end propositions for clients.

One organisation hoping to change this is not-for-profit cooperative RetrofitWorks. Its members include contractors, tradespeople and community groups. The cooperative offers homeowners a Retrofit Coordinator who assesses their house, produces a plan to make it more energy efficient, then works with contractors from the cooperative to oversee the process.

But it is not just housing stock that needs some TLC. Non-domestic building stock currently represents 23 per cent of UK built environment emissions, most of which is caused by fossil fuel heating systems. Heat pumps form a big part of the solution here. The UK Green Building Council’s Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap advises that 70 per cent of all non-domestic buildings should have heat pump systems by 2045 to reach net zero goals.

THERE’S HOPE FOR THE UK’S BUILDING STOCK

The good news is that retrofit solutions already exist. Organisations such as LETI, a network for built environment professionals in London, have published a Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide. Then there is the EnerPHit standard, which certifies retrofits to the high level required by the Passive House Standard. The Association for Environment Conscious Building also has a Retrofit Standard.

We already have the knowhow, the tools and the certification systems to retrofit the UK’s building stock. What we lack is a clear national retrofit strategy from the government that sets out long-term funding and political commitment to do this. The construction industry and consumers need to know that retrofitting is not just the latest trend, soon to be forgotten: it is the key to unlocking our ability to reach net zero by 2050.

 

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