SRS, developed by Sustainability for Housing (SfH), covers 48 criteria across environmental, social and governance (ESG), including affordability, carbon emission and energy efficiency, safety, equality, resident voice, and diversity and inclusion.
This is the third edition of the ESG Series from Choice, which was initially launched in June last year, and the first that has now officially adopted the Sustainability Reporting Standards.
This latest publication highlights the association’s commitment to making a positive contribution to both environmental and social change – a key driver for the social housing sector in Northern Ireland.
One of the environmental initiatives explored in it is the commencement of ‘Green Space’ projects. Part of Choice’s new Sustainability & Energy Strategy, these allow it to continue to develop its relationship with local authorities and also enhance biodiversity in those communities it serves.
Lawrence Jackson, group director of corporate services at Choice Group, said: “Our environmental, social and governance reporting not only measures our performance against set industry led goals, but it is a clear pathway to how we can minimise our impact on the environment, deliver social value, and support thriving sustainable communities.
“Our commitments to ESG is measured against the Sustainability Reporting Standard. It sets out key criteria for reporting and allows for a common framework to be used right across the sector.
“This facilitates an industry consensus around measuring and evaluating the contributions made by housing associations, and raising awareness of the important work the sector does.”
The report also explores how Choice, through its social commitments and community investment, has partnered with Groundwork NI to deliver services and support across the province by delivering six ‘Pop-up and Grow’ workshops across the Choice Community Network.
A total of 13 areas are explored in this section, including how tenants’ feedback is collected and used to improve services; how Resident Satisfaction is measured; and the fact that no complaints made to the Housing Ombudsman Service in the period covered by the report have been upheld.
Encouraging other organisations to adopt the standard, and providing suitable feedback on the framework to facilitate improvements, are other commitments Choice has agreed to in signing up to be an adopter of SRS – something that will be indicated to the public via an ‘SRS Adopter’ logo.
Brendan Sarsfield, chair of Sustainability for Housing (SfH), said: “It is a pleasure to welcome Choice to our growing community of more than one hundred housing providers and thirty-six investors and lenders, which comes just as we have updated the reporting standard to reflect the needs of the sector and its funders, along with the fast-moving ESG regulatory and reporting landscape.
“The decision by Choice to adopt the standard demonstrates the power and value of a sustainability disclosure framework that has been created by social housing providers and their funders to help reflect the particular needs of the sector and reduce the burden of ESG-related reporting and disclosure.
“Housing associations come in lots of shapes and sizes, but they all share that inherent commitment to social purpose, delivering much-needed housing and services to people and communities. Their ESG credentials are built into their ethos and business model, which is why they are so attractive to funders making ESG-focused investments.”
Choice currently provides more than 12,000 homes across Northern Ireland’s 11 council areas, and ranges from supported and sheltered living accommodation, to general needs housing.
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