Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sustainability Policy - v2.0

Well, it's not the most fun or glamorous job, but a key part of a proper environmental management system is to take a step back and review the general policy and aims. Why are we doing this? What exactly are we trying to do?

So version 2.0 of our Sustainability Policy has been proposed, debated and finally approved. You can download a copy of our new policy here. Below I've also listed some of the changes we've made and why we've made them.

1. Changing the title from 'Environmental Policy' to 'Sustainability Policy'. This is more accurate because our policy is based on the business being sustainable in an economic, social and, of course, ecological sense.

2. Including the shop. We've taken over the management of the climbing shop at The Castle (formerly Urban Rock) and we will be holding the shop to the same high standards that we have for the rest of the centre. There's a lot of research yet to be done in the way of reducing environmental impact in the climbing industry, but we've opened up this dialogue with our suppliers and we're excited to hear that many of them are already waking up and making changes to the way they do business, the materials they use and the waste the produce.

3. Revising our water policy. Our first policy stated that we wanted to be 'water neutral'. What does this mean? Well, we weren't sure either. Of course, we want to reduce water consumption, but we also don't want to have to use up more energy to keep harvested rainwater to a drinking standard. We commissioned a paper on this subject from our environmental consultant - Es Tresider- and he laid out some facts for us. We'd need to treat and ciruclate water every 24 hours for it to be adequate for drinking and washing. Weighing this up against the relative efficiency of the mains water system, we concluded that it would be more reasonable for us to reformulate our water aims. So, we're going to come off the mains water for the garden and use rainwater collected from the roofs and greywater from the centre. With the rest of the centre, our focus will remain to reduce our water consumption. To this end, we have put in waterless urinals and we will be building composting toilets in the next 2-5 years.

4. Developing a garden based on permaculture principles to grow food for the cafe. Those of you following our Sustainability Blog will probably be surprised to find out that the garden - undoubtedly one of our biggest projects- wasn't even mentioned in our original Environmental Policy! We couldn't leave it out, so it's there- loud and proud- in version 2. Although we are still limited by our lack of a proper kitchen, but our Cafe Manager, Thomas, has delighted with roasted potatoes, salads, gratins and all kinds of other treats fresh from the garden.

5. The final change is that the Statement of Intent is signed by all of our Core Management Team in addition to the Board of Directors- showing real commitment from the top to making this happen.

Hope you'll find this inspiring, interesting or even intriguing!

Best Regards,

Audrey Seguy
Managing Director

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