AF's top tips for
environmental performance

At AF HQ we want to drive down our carbon footprint, usage of water and generation of waste. Here we share how we are doing and what you can learn from our experiences.



AF is thrilled to have achieved Planet Mark Certification for another year, with a 12% absolute reduction in our carbon emissions to 88.7 tCO2.

This follows our measurement of 2022 performance, which showed that we emitted 99.6 tCO2. The benchmarking involved submitting very detailed information about our buildings, equipment, transport and travel, waste, water, procurement and home working.

We were quite pleased with the benchmark because businesses of our size and type typically have emissions threefold of those achieved by AF, but we already had solar panels on the roof, and air source heat pumps.


What next?

Having received our benchmark, the Cultivating Sustainability (CS) team developed plans to reduce our environmental impact. The CS team draws colleagues from across the business to share experience, knowledge and tasks. We also planned and held ‘Energiser’ sessions with all our colleagues to share the benchmark information, and to get their ideas on how we could improve further.


Environmental successes

Some points we have noted:

  • Our AF General Inputs colleagues updated the contracts with our waste supplier to ensure all waste is either recycled or goes to energy from waste. This means nothing from AF HQ is going to landfill. AF achieved a huge reduction in waste-related emissions of 93.4%.
  • We have reduced our use of fuel and energy for our buildings by 17.6%. This was achieved by changing fluorescent lights for LED and upgrading the heating which has meant less electricity and LPG usage across the year.
  • Water usage in HQ is down by 26.5%. We have automatic boiling and cold water taps, so only water wanted is used by colleagues. We will keep an eye on kitchen and dish washing use in 2024.
  • We have reduced paper usage by 24.7%. This has been helped by more Members opting for ebilling and we hope to see this trend continue. One interesting fact from our report is that we use approx. 767 sheets of paper per day, so we will now have a drive via the CS team to encourage colleagues against non-essential printing.
  • Lastly our data accuracy has improved from last year. Last year being 12 out of 16 (75% accuracy) to 19 out of 20 this year (95% accuracy) This is due to a process improvement which ensures the data submitted is as accurate as possible.


Can you learn from our experience?

As with all things, benchmarking is critical, as is being as accurate as possible. Once you know the starting point, targeting areas where the biggest wins can be made is easier. Lighting, heating and waste are often easy wins. The AF General Inputs team can help you with these, and AF Renewables can advise on solar, battery and heat pump installation, including partnering Members with off balance sheet financing options.


And next to propel the downward trend?

The challenge for AF HQ is that we need to find at least 5% improvements year on year until we are net zero, so will need to become more aware, more innovative and more radical.

We are looking at an equipment replacement policy (IT, kitchen and buildings) that prioritises the most energy efficient items. We are also reviewing travel and transport, including the number of EV charging points, lift sharing and some individual high energy use areas.

If any Members want advice on how to approach benchmarking, the value of using a partner like Planet Mark, and how we can support your required reduction in carbon emissions, please contact our CS lead John Wadeson more information by email to or call 01603 881 833.

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