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Keeping our clients and wider audiences informed about emerging sustainability practices and the growing evidence base is a priority for the genee team. Keep up to speed in our news section.

We also deliver a range of genee and partner events from lunch and learn sessions to workshops. Events topics include developing an Environmental Management System, Enabling Behaviour Change, Resource Management and Calculating you Carbon Footprint, take a look at our events section for more information.

Got a question about GENEE, Investors in the Environment, climate change, sustainability, data, off-setting, biodiversity, Environmental Management Systems, natural capital and more, then you will find the answer you are looking for here.

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GENEE and sector updates.  Read our FAQs for a quick update on climate change, environmental sustainability, carbon footprints, SECR Reporting and biodiversity.

  • Tell me more about genee?
    We are an environmental consultancy based in Gateshead, working to green the economy of North East England. Our services assist client to embed environmental sustainability into businesses and organisations through policy creation, Environmental Management Systems and Plans, Carbon Footprinting and training. Sustainability is the business of every business and this is reflected in the variety of our clients which include councils, hospital trusts, SME’s and voluntary sector organisations.
  • What is Investors in the Environment?
    Investors in the Environment (iiE) is a national environmental accreditation scheme. It is designed to help organisations save time and money, reduce their impact on the environment, and get promoted for their green credentials. We provide all the help, support, and networking you need to make your organisation greener and ensure you get recognition for your eco initiatives. Members’ achievements are highlighted at events and promoted through e-newsletters and as online articles and case studies. Upon successful implementation of the iiE criteria, members are awarded with the recognised stamp of certification. The iiE scheme is unique because organisations must achieve a minimum 5% improvement in resource efficiency over an agreed baseline figure, to secure green accreditation. Other criteria include having a recycling system in place, adopting a travel plan, calculating your organisational carbon footprint and setting targets for carbon reduction. By ultimately putting together a credible Environmental Management System (EMS), the scheme allows organisations to: Save money and increase profits Raise their corporate profile Increase competitiveness and market share Involve staff in securing operational efficiencies
  • How much does it cost to become an Investors in the Environment member?
    Fees change depending on your sector and size of business. We also provide consulting services to support implementation. Please do contact us for more information. iiE member benefits: A working towards logo Welcome Pack that details how to develop an Environmental Management System with links templates. Regular check-in meetings to review progress and address any issues or queries Access to workshops and events Audit and audit report Certificate and iiE logo – Bronze, Silver or Green Newsletter Join our awards event
  • How long does the Investors in the Environment process take?
    That depends where you are on your green journey. If you have been implementing sustainable practices and have the data needed to show progression against targets have delivered resource and emission reductions it can take 1 month. If this is the start of your green journey then it will take 12 months as we need at least 12 months data.
  • Is Investors in the Environment an annual membership and what do I get for it?
    Investors in the Environment is an annual membership. Once you become an iiE member we will guide you through the process of developing your EMS and maintain regular contact throughout the process. You will receive a Welcome Pack which is a really useful document containing hints and tips and templates and a Welcome Call to agree your schedule and time to audit or review. You will also have access to our resources including green promotional event material courses, training and events. Welcome Call and Pack – You will receive your working towards iiE logo Agree check in calls to maintain project pace and review documents Develop EMS with guidance from us Workshops, events and journey promotion Audit/ review and annual report Achieve accreditation and iiE logo
  • Is there any help or support for me to work towards and iiE accreditation and calculate a carbon footprint?
    Currently there is no central government funding to specifically support carbon and environmental sustainability plans. However, work is already happening to address this locally with council projects planning to develop projects and allocate funding to support these activities. The genee team are also working with a number of partners to identify funders that would support local and regional projects to kickstart business on their green journey.
  • What is environmental sustainability and is it important to business?
    Environmental sustainability is about making responsible decisions that will reduce your business' negative impact on the environment. It is more than reducing the amount of waste you produce or using less energy and is concerned with developing processes that will lead to businesses becoming completely sustainable in the future.
  • Can genee help my business, organisation or charity to be greener?
    Absolutely, we can help you to develop your environmental sustainability plans, reduce your carbon emissions, engage staff, focus your efforts where they’ll have the most impact and validate your work too.
  • What is an Environmental Management System/Plan and why do I need one?
    An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a structured framework for managing an organisation's significant environmental impacts. Having an EMS will allow you to record and analyse sustainability work to date, develop policies and plans to achieve your targets and have a record of your sustainability journey that is accessible and all in one place. It provides evidence of your commitment to environmental sustainability and can be used in tendering and progress shared in communications.
  • What are climate change tipping points and why are they important?
    Prof Tim Lenton of the University of Exeter describes a climate tipping point as “A tipping point in any complex system, is where a small change makes a big difference and changes the state or the fate of a system.” Crossing a tipping point is irreversible because you can’t go back by undoing the small change. The small change has triggered a system shift, which can be immediate, or delayed years into the future. The 9 climate change tipping points are: Arctic sea ice – reduction in area Greenland ice sheet – ice loss accelerating Boreal forests – fires and pests changing Permafrost - thawing Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation – slow down Amazon rainforest – frequent droughts Warm-water corals – large scale die-offs West Antarctic Ice Sheet – ice loss accelerating
  • Do I need to have my Carbon Footprint or Environmental Management System validated by a third party?
    It is not currently a legal requirement but it likely could be soon. Think of a third-party review or audit being like your accountant reviewing your financial reporting and plans. It is often beneficial for someone to review your carbon footprint methodology and data and Environmental Management System documentation for accuracy, guidance and an external perspective on your approach. Certifications such as Investors on the Environment can be helpful as evidence of implementing environmental sustainability effectively.
  • How can sustainability help my business with procurement?
    Increasingly reducing the environmental impact of a business or organisation is being included as a strategic commitment. Environmental Sustainability is an approach that can enable this strategic commitment to be realised. Implementing Environmental Sustainability will help to ensure that the key principles are adopted into procurement practices and tenders include the most relevant questions to ensure reduced environmental impact is achieved through the supply chain. Procurement can play an integral role in promoting sustainable production and consumption patterns. Procurement is in the unique position to help influence the practices of other businesses and organisations you work with encouraging them to develop and adopt policies and practices that: Support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges Are cleaner and safer Make efficient use of resources Ensure adequate management of chemicals Incorporate environmental costs Reduce pollution and risks for humans and the environment. Sustainable procurement (SP) is about taking social and environmental factors into consideration alongside financial factors in making procurement decisions. It involves looking beyond the traditional economic parameters and making decisions based on the whole life cost, the associated risks, measures of success and implications for society and the environment. Making decisions in this way requires setting procurement into the broader strategic context including value for money, performance management, corporate and community priorities.
  • Tell me about climate change in a few sentences.
    Climate change refers to a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet's weather patterns and average temperatures. It is the long-term shift in average weather patterns across the world. Since the mid-1800s, humans have contributed to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air. This causes global temperatures to rise, resulting in long-term changes to the climate. The world is going to be at least 2 degrees warmer, currently the trajectory is taking us towards degrees. A world this warm is not compatible with the existence we know today. This is why immediate and significant international, national, local and individual action to reduce emissions is needed. The scientific evidence is clear and irrefutable — human activity is causing our planet to warm at an alarming rate.
  • Why worry about climate change today?
    The Earth is warming abnormally quickly. Over the past century it has warmed roughly 10 times faster than the average increase in temperature after each ice age. Despite there being similarly rapid and large changes in temperature in the distant past, current global warming is dangerous because humans have not experienced changes of this scale and speed before so it will be challenging for us to adapt.
  • What is a carbon footprint and why do I need to calculate one?
    A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions. Carbon footprints are usually measured in equivalent tons of CO2, during the period of a year, and they can be associated with an individual, an organization, a product or an event, among others. You need to calculate a carbon footprint so you know what your baseline is and then implement the actions to reduce it and the impacts of climate change. Increasing public, private and voluntary sector organisations are required to report on their carbon emissions to comply with legislation, to participate in tenders and to demonstrate progress to Zero Carbon or Net Zero.
  • Have we passed any tipping points?
    The potential tipping points come in three forms: runaway loss of ice sheets that accelerate sea level rise; forest and other natural carbon stores such as permafrost releasing those stores into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2), accelerating warming and the disabling of the ocean circulation system. Many scientists agree we have crossed some tipping points such as permafrost and coral reef die-offs and are very close to the others tipping over.
  • What is Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting and does it apply to me?
    Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) is the UK Government's name for the replacement legislation to a number of existing and some soon to expire programmes covering energy and carbon reporting and taxation. SECR came into force on 1 April 2019. The introduction of SECR means an estimated 11,900 companies incorporated in the UK to disclose their energy and carbon emissions. Large UK incorporated companies are required to comply with SECR if they have two of the three qualifying conditions; at least 250 employees, an annual turnover greater than £36m and an annual balance sheet total over £18m. What is SECR? Streamlined Energy & Carbon Reporting (SECR) is a new industry legislation that was introduced in April 2019, replacing the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) scheme. The scheme changes the requirements for energy and carbon emissions reporting, putting more responsibility on organisations to choose how they measure and report their emissions. Who needs to comply? Over 11,900 UK organisations need to comply with SECR regulations, many of which are large unquoted companies that haven’t previously reported on energy and carbon. Large UK incorporated companies are required to comply with SECR if they have two of the three qualifying conditions; at least 250 employees, an annual turnover greater than £36m and an annual balance sheet total over £18m. For academy trusts, disclosures will be required for the first time in their 2019/20 accounts. In future years, the prior year equivalent figures are also required to be disclosed for comparison, but this does not apply on a mandatory basis in the first year. Companies are exempt if they are: Not registered in the UK UK subsidiaries that qualify for SECR but are already covered by a parent’s group report (unless the parent company is not registered in the UK) Public sector organisations, charities and private sector organisations that don’t file reports to Companies House Companies that use less than 40,000 kWh of energy in the reporting year
  • How to comply?
    SECR requires businesses to include their energy use (including electricity, gas and transport) emissions and an intensity metric in their annual Directors’ report for financial years beginning on or after 1 April 2019. The government won’t specify the exact procedures that should be used for energy and carbon reporting, nor will they specify which intensity metrics to use. They will however create guidance on good practice. All SECR participants must provide a narrative commentary on energy efficiency action taken in the financial year. Quoted companies must continue to report on scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct greenhouse gas emissions from owned or controlled sources and indirect emissions generated by purchased energy). Additionally, they’ll be required to report on global energy use, where appropriate. Unquoted companies will now also be required to report scope 1 and 2 emissions. Reporting of scope 3 emissions (all indirect emissions not included in scope 2) will remain voluntary for both quoted and unquoted companies.
  • What are f-gases?
    Fluorinated gases (F-Gases) are a family of man-made gases used in a range of industrial applications. Because they don’t damage the atmospheric ozone layer, they are often used as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances. However, F-gases are powerful greenhouse gases, with a global warming potential (GWP) of up to 23,000 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2). As such, there has been tighter control on refrigeration gas production, equipment, service and maintenance - most notably the EU’s legislative action: The F-Gas Regulation. The F-Gas Regulation The F-Gas Regulation (EC) 842/2006 was adopted on 17th May 2006 and later revised and replaced by (EU) 517/2014 in April 2014. The core aims of these revised regulations include: Better containment of F-gases in their applications Recovery of F-gases from products and equipment reaching their end of life Training and certification of technical personnel and companies working with F-gases Reporting of production, import and export data within the EU Labelling of certain products and equipment containing those gases The overall aim of F-Gas is to reduce and contain emissions by using responsible refrigeration. Your legal obligations Under F-Gas, it is now a criminal offence to release f-gases into the atmosphere. Most of the key obligations are the responsibility of the operator, who is defined as “the natural or legal person exercising actual power over the technical functioning of the equipment and systems.” Operators of equipment containing F-Gases must: Prevent leakage Ensure that leak checks are carried out Repair any leaks as soon as possible Arrange proper refrigerant recovery Maintain record of any refrigerant losses, additions and servicing for each and every machine. 3 steps for effective F-gas management Leak testing Record keeping Labelling
  • What does Net Zero and Carbon Neutral mean?
    Net Zero is when the amount of carbon dioxide we add is no more than the amount taken away. These goals guide us to significantly reduce our absolute emissions and find ways to sequester any residual carbon emissions so there’s no net increase in CO2. Achieving Net Zero by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement, is the UK’s legal target. A “net-zero” target refers to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by a selected date, but differs from zero carbon, which requires no carbon to be emitted as the key criteria. Other carbon terms Zero caron - Causing or resulting in no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon negative - The reduction of an entity’s carbon footprint to less than neutral, so that the entity has a net effect of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere rather than adding it.
  • What is Carbon Offsetting?
    Alongside actions to reduce your emissions, offsetting what remains is an emerging practice. Carbon offsetting is an internationally recognised way to take responsibility for unavoidable carbon emissions. Offsetting one tonne of carbon means there will be one less tonne of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than there would otherwise have been. There’s skepticism around carbon offsetting, specifically the quality and accuracy of projects and figures. When done well they can support habitats, local communities and fund work that makes a noticeable impact. Organisations in the UK and around the world are the world are helping to reduce emissions by restoring habitats through planting trees and mangrove swamps, restoring peatlands and supporting rewilding projects.
  • Can you help me offset carbon emissions?
    We can facilitate offsetting emissions via our partner Forest Carbon . A local business providing woodland creation schemes assured by the Woodland Carbon Code. Please read our comments below to understand the role offsets should play in a decarbonsiation journey. The genee team acknowledge offsetting has its place however it is essential for businesses to make decarbonisation (stop producing greenhouse gas emissions) of their operations the priority. Offsetting should only be considered as options to support a decarbonisation journey and not seen as an emissions solution in its own right. Good offsetting schemes can create good quality habitats and be a good Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) action, but care should be taken to be informed about the habitat quality and biodiversity gains to be achieved.
  • What is a circular economy?
    The Ellen MacArthur Foundation describes a circular economy as; ‘Looking beyond the current take-make-waste extractive industrial model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits. It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles: Design out waste and pollution Keep products and materials in use Regenerate natural systems In a circular economy, economic activity builds and rebuilds overall system health. The concept recognises the importance of the economy needing to work effectively at all scales – for large and small businesses, for organisations and individuals, globally and locally. Transitioning to a circular economy does not only amount to adjustments aimed at reducing the negative impacts of the linear economy. Rather, it represents a systemic shift that builds long-term resilience, generates business and economic opportunities, and provides environmental and societal benefits.’
  • Does my business need a Waste Management Plan?
    An effective waste management plan will assess and inform how waste is produced and assist in identifying areas of potential savings and change. By reducing the amount of raw materials you use and increasing re-use of certain items and encourages staff to consider the workplace generated waste.
  • What is meant by ecological crisis?
    Ecological crisis refers to environmental degradation that is so severe it results in the loss or collapse of ecosystems, habitats and species. Humans have degrade our environment to such an extent that we are now in an ecological crisis. This combined with the climate crisis means the ecosystems that make our planet habitable are under huge strain with many close to tipping points. As are result of human activity and resource extraction we are now in the Anthropocene – a geological epoch where humans are a dominant force of change on the planet.
  • What is biodiversity, a biodiversity action plan, biodiversity net gain and how is it applied?
    Biodiversity is the variety of life on our planet. It is the number and abundance of different plant and animal species and where biodiversity is at is greatest the environment is at its healthiest. Biodiverse environments provide many services to humans and is the reason why biodiversity is so important to present and future generations. Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) helps an organisation identify what it can do to improve biodiversity within its care. At the heart of the BAP is the recognition that an organisation can have both a positive and negative impact and an ambition to tip the balance in nature’s favour. It should not be a standalone document but should be integrated into other corporate strategies. A good BAP will set overall objectives, with aims and measurable targets. It will be widely communicated and a living document that is monitored and assessed as part of an ongoing process. A BAP is also a good way to help an organisation begin to develop its understanding and approach to natural capital. Why have a BAP? Public bodies such as universities and government departments in the UK are legally required to conserve biodiversity. This does not mean they are obliged to have a BAP but having one will help them ensure they meet their obligations. Businesses do not need to specifically consider biodiversity. However, the benefits of doing so are significant and can benefit many operational aspects such as reputation, access to markets, future proofing, protection assets and making them resilient. The aim of Biodiversity Net Gain is to minimise losses of biodiversity and help to restore ecological networks Specfically, Biodiversity Net Gain refers to an intervention which results in the net improvement to biodiversity for a defined area of land. An intervention is defined as a human-induced impact which results in a change to the type or condition of a habitat. Developing land or changing the way it is managed, are both examples of interventions. Natural England have developed The Biodiversity Metric 3.0 provides a way of measuring and accounting for biodiversity losses and gains resulting from development or land management change.
  • What is the Green House Gas Protocol?
    The Green House Gas (GHG) Protocol establishes comprehensive global standardized frameworks to measure and manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from private and public sector operations, value chains and mitigation actions. It is an international recognised best practice standard. Carbon emissions are divided into 3 scopes: Scope 1 – Direct GHG emissions Scope 2 - Energy indirect emissions Scope 3 – Other indirect emissions More detail can be found in the next question.

What are the different emission scopes of the Green House Gas Protocol?

Scope 1 - direct GHG emissions

Includes emissions from activities owned or controlled by the academy trust that release omissions into the atmosphere. Examples include emissions from combustion in owned or controlled boilers, vehicles.

Report as a minimum:

• emissions from combustion of gas and fuel for transport purposes.

Scope 2 – energy indirect emissions

Includes emissions from own consumption of purchased electricity, heat, steam and cooling. These are a consequence of the academy trust's activities but are from sources not owned/controlled.

Report as a minimum:

• emissions from purchased electricity.

Scope 3 – other indirect emissions

Emissions that are as a consequence of the academy trust's actions but the source is not owned or controlled, and which are not classed as scope 2 emissions. For example business travel in private cars.

Report as a minimum:

• emissions from business travel in rental or employee-owned vehicles where the academy trust is responsible for purchasing the fuel.


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