A year of sustained and sustainable progress – Serviced Apartment News

A year of sustained and sustainable progress – Serviced Apartment News


[Credit: Mansley Serviced Apartments]

David Wright, sustainability officer at Mansley Serviced Apartments, got in touch with SAN to provide an update on the company’s ESG progress.

It is fair to say that by now, the vast majority of operators know that they should be doing something regarding ESG and sustainability. It is however surprising that so many are still doing so little. Not because of a lack of care for the planet – often it is confusion that hinders progression. Confusion around how to measure Scope 1 and 2 emissions, especially Scope 3, or even what a scope even is. Maybe there is a struggle with engagement or perhaps a good initiative falls down due to the lack of governance. 

2023 has been a huge year for myself and Mansley when it comes to sustainability. When I got asked to take on the role of sustainability officer at the end of 2022, I never imagined I would tumble down the rabbit hole quite so far!

My first task was to undertake an accreditation assessment with Green Tourism. There is a lot of work that goes into doing the assessment and by the end of it, I had data on so many things that I hadn’t previously needed to know about. I realised that having completed that process, in which we achieved silver rating across all of our sites, it wasn’t going to take too much more digging to have enough information to create a carbon footprint report.

I had no idea how to turn my data into a carbon footprint report, but I was able to work with Green Tourism on this too and published our first ever carbon footprint report in May 2023. Soon afterwards I was approached by Greengage to go through their accreditation process, which we did and came out with an EcoSmart Plus rating. I took all the feedback from the assessments and the carbon reports and analysed it to pinpoint our data recording blackspots and operational weaknesses. I developed a way for us to start reporting on our blackspots and created a Green Action Plan which mapped out our intentions for the next 12 months to green some of our operations. There’s no point trying to change everything at once, it just can’t be done. Waste is at the top of my list and I am now working on ways this can be managed in a more environmentally sound way. 

To be able to do this you have to make data recording easy and manageable so that it can be maintained throughout the year. It is also a task in winning hearts and minds, but I am lucky that sustainability is a core focus of the leadership team at Mansley, and one that is filtering down through all levels of the business. When it comes to our next carbon footprint report, the process will be so much easier as I have been tracking the data right throughout the year; data that will also be more robust as we are now reporting on the missing components from our first one. This second report will become our benchmark and we will be working hard to decrease our emissions year on year as we go forward.

In addition to my role with Mansley, I also head up ASAP’s Green Team. At the ASAP annual conference in November 2023, it became evident that there is a real need and want from the ASAP membership to have clear directives on how to navigate the often-confusing world of ESG. The task of measuring Scope 3 emissions was a common challenge raised, as well as uncertainty around which measurement metrics to use. There’s a seemingly never-ending alphabet soup of acronyms, and operators have difficulty understanding the lingo.

We will be meeting this month in January to develop a programme for the ASAP membership with the goal to provide a road map and tools to support individual ESG journeys.

My advice to those who want to get started is that in the beginning, it is all about data, data, data. You have to collate data on just about every aspect of the business. Once the data has been collected, find ways to display it so that trends can be spotted easily. This will help to identify areas for action whilst allowing for ongoing consistent and accurate data recording. Accept that mistakes will be made and don’t try to change everything at once. This is a long-haul project that in all likelihood will never end. Highlight your worst performing areas, work on them and once you are satisfied that progress has been made, move on to the next one.

The focus on ESG and sustainability is only going to intensify year on year. There will be clear leaders as well as others that are slow to get on the curve. If the operators in our industry are open to sharing best practices and ideas without seeking to hold anything back for a competitive edge, then I believe we can move forward together. This is the ultimate goal – that everyone is consistently working on becoming a little bit better tomorrow than they were yesterday.

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