We started our B Corp journey at Yard because the standard seemed to closely align with who we aspire to be, both as individuals and as an organisation. 

It gave structure and focus to our desire to have a positive impact. 

B Corp started us looking at our sustainability, and our carbon footprint in particular, but B Corp also asks for more. It measures you as a force for good as an employer, within your community and for the environment; it’s all part of being an organisation with purpose, and that purpose being delivering sustainable good. 

As we began our B Corp journey in April this year, it clearly highlighted both our strengths, and our opportunities to do better.   

As an employer, we rate well. We have always had a great Yardie culture, the care we have for our staff shows; sports and social events, health and wellbeing, Yardie of the month awards and more. We are investing in ourselves after all.   

However, when it came to the environment, though we have tried hard with the usual initiatives such as recycling and green office products, we lacked measurement and science-based targets and therefore the ability to see clearly where our greatest environmental impacts lay, and how to reduce them.  So, as we do with any obstacle Yard faces, we took stock and took action; we got educated.

Taking a good look at ourselves 

Most of us likely feel that we care about the environment and are doing the ‘best we can’; we recycle, we compost, we don’t run the tap while brushing our teeth, lots of little actions in our days that we take consciously to try to make a difference.   

But when it comes to sustainability as a business, so much more is required.   

We can’t become experts in environmental matters overnight, but we must each take responsibility for ourselves and our companies’ actions. So at Yard, our first step has been to get truly informed. 

A number of our staff are now attending the 6-week FutureLearn course on “How to Measure, Reduce, and Offset your Company’s Carbon Footprint”.  The course is practical in nature and ideal for anyone wanting to get started in this area.   

We are taking the learning from the course – and the regularly facilitated Carbon Negative Kickstart sessions run by BIMA – and implementing it as we progress down our path to sustainability.

No time like the present 

With education comes appreciation of the true urgency of the global environmental situation. We realise we cannot wait for our measurements to be perfect, for our actions to be verified, for others to go first, we need to take steps right now.  To start reducing our impact on the environment, we need to follow a model of fail fast and fail forward; to do, learn and improve with a laser focus on achieving Net Zero. 

As B Corp tells us, measuring your impact takes time, but this is time that the planet simply doesn’t have. So, we’ve committed to immediately offsetting our staff each month, giving us a climate positive workforce. Once we complete measuring our impact, we will offset our carbon emissions, making us fully carbon neutral for 2022.  We will create challenging carbon reduction strategies, aiming to halve our carbon footprint per head in three years to support our commitment to achieve Carbon Net Zero by a target of 2025. 

All immediate action on carbon reduction by necessity includes offsetting.  So, with the current debate on offsetting, what to do?  We could sit and do nothing while we argue that offsetting isn’t perfect. But our thought is that even as we accept it isn’t perfect, it is a real step towards better; we are at least taking action.  

Also, offsetting is being refined and improved all the time. The evolution of the carbon capture process is providing options and improving results. Once upon a time, a company planted trees, then along came mangroves and peat bogs. Now, you can invest in projects for non-biosphere carbon capture, geological sequestration and storage. 

The idea is that by investing your offsetting fund in these new technologies, whilst sequestering and storing your carbon output, you help speed them towards new breakthroughs in carbon capture. They are not the cheapest options, but similar to cheap disposable clothing, do we want to be taking the cheapest option, or the best option, when it comes to our environment?   

There are now accreditation standards to reassure that the carbon offset purchased is actually delivered, so Yard will use Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard or Woodland Carbon Code accredited projects. We recognise that offsetting is a means towards an end, it allows us to do something immediately, while we tackle the real task of reducing our absolute carbon emissions towards net zero.  There is only one way to eat a (very much metaphorical!) elephant after all.

A mutually beneficial arrangement 

In the meantime, working towards our B Corp accreditation reminds us to also focus on doing good close to home, in our communities, for our people and our customers.  The payback is already being seen.  Our Yardies approve; we’re living up to their aspirations and they’re proud to be part of Yard.  

Clients like it when we can show them the carbon footprint of their project in “days-effort” and they also like that we are continually reducing and offsetting this for them. It opens the door for Yard to partner with organisations who care about the same things, who are themselves sustainable and who are therefore intrinsically more resilient, which is a positive for the business. 

As we continue to grow, we see the recruitment power of holding true to a positive purpose, drawing like-minded people to Yard, whose focus is being part of something more. Being a Yardie is more than just a job, it’s a chance to work somewhere with a purpose. 

Ruth Kisby