A week in the life of an Environmental Sustainability Manager at Sanctuary

Alice Lovatt has worked at Sanctuary for three years. In her role, she plays a key part in driving and implementing Sanctuary’s sustainability practices. It works towards ambitious targets of halving operational carbon emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2050 at the latest.

MondayAlice Lovatt
At Sanctuary, we aim to create sustainable communities where people choose to live. A key part of my role is using insight and innovation to ensure our communities and operations are as environmentally sustainable as possible.

I’m up early this morning to head into the office. I enjoy going in on a Monday, as it helps me to have a fresh start to the week.

I think, if you can, you should aim to model the behaviours you’re trying to influence others to adopt, so I commute into work on a micro scooter and then on the train. My scooter is foldable and saves me so much time getting around everywhere. As a team, we’ve been working on a sustainable commuting engagement programme, which we’re excited to start delivering soon.

Today is spent planning for our upcoming ‘Sustainability Focus Fortnight’. This year will be the second time we’ve run the event, a two-week celebration and engagement campaign with colleagues about climate change.

I spend the morning organising litter picks across some of our local communities, while in the afternoon I speak with my team about learning opportunities for colleagues during the fortnight. We’ve offered three rounds of Carbon Literacy training to our staff and residents so far, with over 60 people taking part. We’re excited to build on this success and help more people grow their skills for sustainability.

I’m really looking forward to a workshop day with colleagues and our retrofit contractor, where we’re discussing our rolling, whole-home retrofit programme, which has delivered energy performance improvements to over 1,000 homes in the past 18 months.

We talk about progress, challenges, and new ideas, and have some great conversations about how we’re engaging and communicating with our residents, which is crucial to achieving our target of improving all our homes up to an EPC Band C rating by 2030.

Honest conversations are critical to ensuring that we prevent problems arising – and tackling them quickly when they do. The more confidence we have in the success of our retrofit programme, the more confidence we can give to our customers in their homes.

After the workshop, I jump on a call about providing energy-saving advice to customers. Against rising inflation and soaring energy costs, it’s critical that we signpost, advise, and inform as much as we can. Sanctuary has a strong record on supporting residents living in fuel poverty, but now more people than ever are at risk.
We talk about involving our Environmental Community of Interest (a resident engagement group for our customers to help shape our transition to net zero) to help us gather residents’ own suggestions on how they save energy, so we can share that best practice more widely.

I’m back in the office again today.

I start the morning with a Greener Futures Partnership meeting. The partnership is a unique collaboration of not-for-profit social housing providers that sees us working with Abri, Anchor, Home Group, and The Hyde Group to jointly progress our shared sustainability goals.

I catch up with a colleague at lunch, before heading out for some fresh air and a brisk walk.

In the afternoon, I’m refining analysis about how our 73,000 social housing properties can reach net zero. We’ve used modelling software to plan for hitting various targets, including reaching EPC Band C in England by 2030 and EPC Band B in Scotland by 2032 – aligned with respective government targets – as well as net zero across all our social housing by 2050.

Of course, there are a range of ways that we can achieve these targets, with varying levels of capital investment and retrofit required; it’s vital we have plans in place, but they must be flexible and accommodate market or regulatory changes.

Working from home today, I have a busy morning of meetings but find time to post on our internal ‘Sustainability Community’. This is a 250-strong channel where colleagues can share all things relating to sustainability.

At lunch, I meet some colleagues from across the sector in my hometown, Cheltenham. I dodge the rain and we discuss new research and potential opportunities for collaboration.

We offer a wide range of different housing and accommodation at Sanctuary, and part of my role is keeping in touch with all the different areas of our organisation to discuss projects and progress towards decarbonisation.

This afternoon I met with our student accommodation team, and I’m excited by their commitment to improving the sustainability of both customer behaviour and buildings.

I start the day with a quick catch-up with my team.

Afterwards, I complete our monthly carbon reports. These are crucial to monitoring progress towards decarbonisation, so we know exactly how we’re performing. I love this part of my job, as I can see how all our projects and initiatives are impacting our energy consumption.

Equally, reporting on environmental performance motivates us to work harder to reduce emissions if we aren’t performing against benchmarked data.
At the end of the day, it’s time for Friday night gym. There’s nothing like sweating out the week!