Students in a chemistry laboratory. Schools have a role in curbing their greenhouse emissions.

Meeting the sustainability challenge: A guide for Multi-Academy Trusts

With the UK government now committed to cutting carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, there is growing pressure on Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) and other educational institutions to be more sustainable and play their part in tackling climate change.

The importance of sustainability to MATs

Climate change is a concern that increasingly dominates public opinion.

There is an increasing focus on wider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues affecting all of us.

For MATs, particularly those that don’t have dedicated financial and commercial infrastructure and resources, this presents significant challenges in relation to financial management and in tackling changing requirements beyond the core focus on educational provision.

This guide therefore looks at the changing sustainability context for MATs, at current and possible future reporting requirements and provides some practical guidance on what MATs can do to meet ESG goals.

Reporting Requirements

The move to climate-related reporting is relatively new and follows the introduction in 2018 of regulations to implement Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR).

The key aim of the reporting requirements is to ensure that organisations are collecting the necessary data to inform the adoption of future energy-efficiency measures. MATs of qualifying size are included in the scope of the regulations and are also expected to provide a narrative around their efforts to improve energy efficiency.

Driving Cost Efficiencies

What decision-makers at schools soon realise is that reducing carbon emissions is also a way to cut costs, freeing up much-needed funding for frontline education services or for further ‘green’ initiatives that produce more savings.

Switching to LED lighting for example is one of the simplest sustainability improvements and provides the fastest payback, with savings of anywhere between 60% to 90%.

Another important sustainability issues for MATs to consider is how they can offset the carbon footprint of the electronic equipment they use. For MATs looking to make their operations more sustainable, moving away from the traditional model where products are manufactured, bought, used and then disposed of, should be a priority.

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