On the surface it looks like sustainability has had its day. Regulations have been eroded, programmes to improve the energy efficiency of housing have stalled; the Code is gone and the one per cent rent cut put placed immense pressure on your budgets. But out of this there are positives and opportunities. The Government wants the sector to have more freedom – this will be in the building of new homes, but also in terms of setting the best standards for sustainability and quality in the sector; some of the most commercial organisations in the world have integrated sustainability into their business plans – and have seen great results (Unilever and many of the top performing S+P 500 companies); SHIFT landlords have seen sustainability have a positive financial impact on their businesses.
Many of you are SHIFT landlords and as a result have a collective, influential voice through us. We encourage you to use that voice and we will work just as hard to get it heard. That voice needs to adapt to reflect changing times. If sustainability is to remain at the forefront of your Board members’ minds then we need to start talking about things that impact on the running of the business in constrained times. The time of sustainability for sustainability’s sake appear to be over. With the increasing commercialisation of the sector sustainability must link to corporate and financial objectives; it must impact on the bottom line and it has got to help with the performance of your business and keep them distinctive in a competitive environment.
Over the next year you’ll see us talking about the new sustainability, the type of sustainability that isn’t nice to have, but a must have. This sustainability can help your teams and departments perform, but most importantly make a difference to your residents and customers whilst at the same time having a positive impact on the environment. We will talk about divesting businesses and pensions of fossil fuels, ethical investment, resilient and sustainable supply chains and climate adaptation. But we won’t just be talking about it – we’ll be bringing you the tools to understand it, to implement it and for it to have a positive impact on where you work and the environment and your residents.
You’ll see some small changes in what we offer, starting with SHIFT. We’ve listened to what people have to say and we recognise that it needs streamlining; its impact on the organisations needs to be greater and people need to be recognised for the environmental improvements that are made.
I’m looking forward to working with and for you all over the coming years to continue to make SHIFT a success and to ensure that sustainability stays at the top of the agenda.