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Social performance

Ecology's mortgages support and promote building practices that respect the environment and sustainable, low impact communities.

They are funded by the Society's savers - not by the wholesale money markets – and they aim to incentivise lower carbon lifestyles.

Key Social Performance Indicators (KSPIs)

KSPIs are a measure of how the business is perfoming on delivering its main social or environmental purpose. Read more

KSPI 1 - Mortgage lending

Ecology's lending decisions are based on the environmental and social impact of projects, including energy use, pollution, saving resources and supporting sustainable communities. Total lending in 2014 reached £91 million (£83 million in 2013).

KSPI 2 - Kinds of project lent to

In 2014, Ecology lent over £23m for sustainable properties and projects. 97% were to residential homeowners and 3% were to developments for community gain. The society experienced positive savings inflow in every month of the year.

Common environmental performance indicators (CEPIs)

CEPIs are environmental performance indicators that are common to all businesses, no matter what their main business activity is. Read more

The Ecology Building Society takes its environmental commitments very seriously and aims to reduce its environmental impact both from its lending and from its own operations. Ecology also works to influence public, industry and political attitudes towards sustainability through its communications, input to government consultations and support for sustainable building organisations.

Reducing environmental impact through lending

The Society offers discounts of up to 1.25% on mortgage interest rates for homes which achieve a recognised energy efficiency standard. The level of discount offered depends on the energy standard achieved, aligning the Society’s pricing with environmental impact. At the end of 2014 over 27% (2013, 26%) of the mortgage book benefited from savings due to energy efficiency.

Amount of interest rate discount 1.25% 1.0% 0.75% 0.5%
Number of discounts given in 2014 23 6 117 105

The properties on which the Society lends are highly energy efficient once completed with 68% of the societies rated properties having an average Environmental Performance Certificate of A or B, compared to the UK average of D.

CEPI 1 - Carbon emissions

The Society endeavours first of all to reduce its carbon emissions and to increase the amount of energy they generate themselves. Where this is not possible, the Society seeks to mitigate its impact through carbon offsetting.

Since 2012 the society has been working with Small World Consulting, a team based at Lancaster University to develop a new approach to measuring their emissions. This approach includes the emissions generated through the supply chain which accounts for 36% of the societies total footprint. In 2014 the society released their figures for 2012 using this new methodology. The greenhouse gas emissions for 2012 were 291 tonnes CO2e (equivalent carbon dioxide), or 256 tonnes CO2e excluding staff commuting, which equates to around 33 grams CO2e per £ of new lending.

The Society constructed its own low-energy offices in 2003 and keeps a close eye on its environmental supply chain by purchasing the most eco-friendly products available in areas such as energy, cleaning and office consumables.

Photovoltaic cells were installed onto the office in 2003 and then further extended in 2013 increasing the proportion of energy generated. The offices coheating and ventilation systems were also re-configured and upgraded in 2013 in order to further improve energy efficiency.

Energy ratings and environmental impact are considered when electrical equipment is purchased, with the aim of choosing the best available. The Society has also offset its historical carbon emissions created by its activity since 1981.

CEPI 2 - Travel to work

Staff and directors are encouraged, where feasible, to use non-vehicular or public transport on business journeys and journeys to and from work, with air travel being the least favoured option. Dedicated bicycle storage is available. The Society runs two hybrid Toyota Prius company cars.

The Society uses audio-visual technologies to hold some meetings virtually, whilst recognising that face-to-face meetings remain an essential element of effective decision-making.

CEPI 3 - Waste and recycling

Office equipment is sourced from green and local suppliers and recycled where possible. Office furniture is made from wood certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) as being from sustainable forestry resources.

In general, preference is given to equipment that is environmentally friendly, such as refillable printers and solar powered calculators. Unwanted IT equipment is donated for reuse as training equipment or for refurbishing or is provided to organisations who specialise in the recycling of computer equipment.

Food waste is composted on site for use on the grounds.

Common Social Performance Indicators (CSPIs)

CSPIs are social performance indicators that are common to all businesses, no matter what their main business activity is. Read more

CSPI 1 - Ethical procurement

The Society seeks to minimise its negative environmental impact through its procurement.  To reduce consumption and minimise waste the society's approach to procurement is informed by life-cycle analysis.  This approach considers how it is created, where it is created, how it is will be used and how it can be disposed or recycled. 

The Society's 2013 ethical procurement policy sets out their seven key procurement principles: ensure there is a need, minimise resource use, minimise carbon footprint, support the local economy, support ethical and environmental businesses, and transparency and engagement.

CSPI 2 - Community investment

The Society has a commitment to change that extends beyond just the impact of their mortgage lending.  They give time and money in support of mutual governance, an expanded democratic space, and the growth of sustainable, cohesive communities.

The Society maintains shareholdings in the Ethical Property Company, the Phone Co-op and where appropriate they place funds with other social economy fiancial institutions.

During the year the Society made charitable donations amounting to £7,978 (2012: £11,529). No contributions were made for political purposes.

In 2014 the Society gifted time to a number of organisations including the  International Association of Investors in the Social Economy (INAISE), Passivhaus Trust, the HALE Project (a health charity operating in West Yorkshire) and Home Start Craven (which supports families with children under 5).

Publications

The Ecology Building Society produces annual accounts, an annual review, a quarterly members' newsletter and public e-newsletter.

2014 main internal developements

  • The society achieved a ‘Green’ accreditation under the Investors in the Environment scheme – the highest level it is possible to obtain 
  • The society installed an electric vehicle charging point in their HQ car park, providing a facility that can be used by members, visitors and staff 
  • The society continued to work with their permaculture gardener, with development including providing better access to the fruiting areas, preparation of further parts of the garden to support planting more edibles, and the provision of two new beds at the front of the building for growing herbs and edible flowers while providing a wildlife-friendly habitat.

Main commitments for 2015

  • Overhaul the societys rainwater harvesting system, adding to its capabilities in order to improve water management and consumption.
  • Upgrade from a standard hybrid model to a plug-in version of the company car due for renewal in 2015, so that both our vehicles will be able to use our charging point.
  • Begin planning an extension to theirHQ building, which will be built to incorporate Passivhaus standards.

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