Aster is a not-for-profit housing association providing housing and related services in central southern and south-west England. Group companies own and manage nearly 17,000 homes, have a turnover of more than £80m and, between them, employ more than 900 people.
In 2008, the group employed its first sustainability manager and set 'reducing carbon footprint' as one of five key objectives across all aspects of its activities. This led Aster to target a 26% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, rising to 80% by 2050.
The group published its first sustainability report in 2009, described by the Green Business Awards judges as 'a great first report and a significant step forward for the housing association sector'. The judges praised the report for its clarity and simplicity. All key issues are covered in just 20 pages.
The overall reporting structure is designed in line with Global Reporting Initiative guidelines for sustainability reporting. Carbon emissions are reported in line with the international Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Furthermore, the report was independently verified. All these aspects set best-practice levels in the housing sector.
Drawing on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, Aster set out to report not only its direct (Scope 1) emissions but also its indirect (Scope 2) emissions and the emissions caused by residents living in its housing (Scope 3). It estimated its total carbon footprint at 66,654 tonnes of CO2, or 4.4 tonnes per property. Most of this (55,511 tonnes) was attributed to residents' use of energy.
The report documents the range of initiatives being taken by Aster to reduce its carbon footprint. After upgrading boilers and installing insulation and double glazing in many of its properties, the group's Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) value is right on the national average.
The group is building new homes to much higher standards and is looking at installing renewable energy technologies.
Marks & Spencer
Aster Environmental Sustainability Review 2009