A housing association has become the first in Northern Ireland to adopt the environmental, social and governance (ESG) standard.
Choice Housing, one of the largest housing associations in Northern Ireland, adopted the standard under the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing (SRS) model, which is overseen by the Sustainability for Housing (SfH) board.
Reporting on their ESG performance will reduce the housing association’s environmental impact and produce social value, Choice said.
With a portfolio of 12,000 homes across the region, Choice became the first in Northern Ireland to publish an ESG report in July last year.
Lawrence Jackson , director of corporate services at Choice, said: “Our ESG reporting not only measures our performance against set industry-led goals, but it is a clear pathway to how we can minimise our impact on the environment, deliver social value and support thriving sustainable communities.
The commitments we make through ESG are all measured against the SRS, which sets out key criteria for reporting that allows for a common framework to be used across the sector.
“This facilitates an industry consensus around measuring and evaluating the contribution of housing associations in Northern Ireland, whilst raising awareness of the important work the sector contributes to this area.”
The ESG standard helps stakeholders screen potential investments
Measuring against the three pillars of environmental, social, and governance, the ESG standard is a tool used by investors to make socially conscious investments.
ESG reports contain information relating to climate strategy, energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions, equal employment opportunities, community engagement, corporate governance, ethical business practices, among others.
Launched in 2020, the SRS aimed to provide this information through a common framework to make it easier for stakeholders to see.
Over 130 organisations from across the UK, now including Choice, have adopted the ESG standard.
Chair of Sustainability for Housing, Brendan Sarsfield, said: “It’s fantastic to welcome our first housing association from Northern Ireland to the SRS community.
“The decision by Choice Housing to adopt the standard demonstrates the power and value of a sustainability disclosure framework that has been created by social housing providers and their funders to reflect the particular needs of the sector and reduce the burden of ESG-related reporting and disclosure.”
Choice have developed an energy and sustainability strategy
Choice’s commitment to following the ESG standard is one example of their ongoing efforts to meet their climate deadlines.
The housing association’s energy and sustainability strategy 2022-25 outlines a number of goals:
- Reduced fuel poverty risk
- Increased awareness of sustainable behaviours
- Enhanced understanding within Choice of how to achieve net zero by 2050
- Enhanced biodiversity and associated eco-system services
- Visibility of the environmental impacts across our property lifecycles
- Develop a 1.5C greenhouse gas reduction pathway to 2030
While the strategy’s central theme is achieving net zero, Michael McDonnel, Group Chief Executive, writes: “Choice recognise that the climate crisis affects us all and we all have a role to play. It is critical that our plans place people in the driving seat for change. Whether it’s our employees or our tenants, this strategy aims to be inclusive of the contributions we can all make.
“This strategy gives careful consideration to the delivery of our energy services, whilst mapping other Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) topics and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”