Sustainability policy

Sustainability Policy  

1. Policy Statement 

A healthy society has creativity woven into its fabric and we believe in the transformative potential the arts and artists can have on an area. Across London, the presence of artists and creatives makes neighbourhoods more attractive places to live, work and play, and brings joy, beauty and heart into our communities.  

We recognise that a healthy society and economy is only possible if we have a healthy environment and this can only be achieved if we operate within the limits of our planet’s resources.  We are facing a global climate and ecological emergency as a result of breaching many of these limits, and around the world basic standards of living are not being met and there are profound inequalities within and between communities.   

CLT is committed to tackling the crisis facing London’s artists for the long term and taking action on the current environmental crisis.    

1.1 Our Impacts 

We have assessed our material impacts towards sustainability to be: 

  • ethical finance 
  • equality & diversity 
  • scope 3 carbon emissions in our buildings 

This policy should be considered in conjunction with our social impact statement, which sets out our goals for social impact. 

We have structured this policy around three main areas of our work: 

  • our own activities 
  • our buildings 
  • our partners that we choose to work with 

 For each of these areas we set out our environmental, social and economic aspirations and commitments. 

 1.2 Our Commitments 

We will comply with environmental legislation as a minimum and ensure our buildings are selected and managed in an environmentally responsible manner, working with studio providers who demonstrate a commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability.  

We will communicate and regularly review what sustainability means to us and the targets we are working towards. 

We will work collaboratively with our partners to generate environmental, social and economic benefits to the areas where we operate in a holistic, integrated way, not as an add on.  

We will ensure that sustainability and affordability is embedded in every decision we make with our stakeholders, including funders, investors, developers, local authorities and artists, and we will use our position to influence positively wherever the opportunity arises. 

This policy and the attached action plan will be reviewed annually and updated as appropriate.  

This version of the policy is dated: 24th March 2022 

2. Update on progress so far 

This is the second version of our sustainability policy. Since launching the last one and our related action plan, we have declared a climate emergency, reviewed our sources of emissions and introduced voluntary carbon reporting.  

We are currently activating our first properties and are learning a lot about what the most relevant environmental measurements might be for creative workspace and we plan to influence this conversation during 2022. We will be working with our tenants to capture sustainability data and establish suitable baselines. 

During the past year we also published our social impact statement, so we have now linked elements of this policy to that, which sets our desired social outcomes (which includes climate impact). 

3. Our Activities – overview and governance 

CLT is a social enterprise with charitable status and our team is directed by a Board of Trustees with arts, studio provision, property and finance expertise.  

Responsibility for sustainability starts with us and presents an opportunity to show strong corporate governance.  All our staff and trustees will undertake carbon literacy training. 

CLT will report on its environmental, social, and economic measures and evaluate impacts to create an evidence base that helps maximise benefits across all areas. 

At the heart of our work is our ability to generate social value and community wealth through the impact of creativity and culture. This impact is delivered not only through the number of artists’ livelihoods that can be supported by the provision of longterm affordable studios but also through the power of working creative spaces to increase connectivity, empathy and system change in the communities within which they operate. We have set out our desired social outcomes in our social impact statement. 

Through our strategy and mission, we want to create greater financial stability in the creative sector, providing inspirational and accessible spaces. We are aiming for systemic change by creating a new model for affordable workspace provision. And we want to ensure that our activities are sustainable, both from a climate impact perspective and in the wider sense of the word. 

Sustainability will be a shared responsibility amongst the Board with specific working groups set up as required.   

 3.1 Our Activities – Environmental Sustainability actions 

We do not have an office or vehicles and therefore we have no scope 1 or 2 greenhouse emissions. Our operations are entirely paperless. 

We will hold meetings virtually where practical, keeping business travel to a minimum. 

We aim to measure as much of our scope 3 admissions as possible – at present we measure business travel and goods purchased. When we start operating properties we will work with our tenants to measure the carbon footprint of our buildings in operation – see the next section “Our buildings” for more information about this. 

During this year we will establish an appropriate Scope 3 target. 

3.2 Our activities – social and economic 

As noted above, our charitable purpose is intrinsically linked with creating social value.  By securing a blend of funding, bringing together donors, investors and grant-givers, we will be able to charge affordable rents that won’t price tenants out of the neighbourhoods to which they contribute.   

Internally, CLT is committed to upholding the Mayor of London’s Good Work Standards, including being an accredited London Living Wage employer.  

We bank with an ethical banking provider and our staff pensions are invested in the most sustainable fund that was available to us. We will review our financial arrangements at least every three years to ensure that they are still in alignment with our goals. 

CLT is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to treating all its employees and job applicants equally, and we have a more detailed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy to support this commitment. 

We have achieved 40% BAME and 50% female representation on our Board and aim to continue to achieve this as a minimum.   

We have Artist Trustees and Ambassadors on the Board to ensure we are truly representative of the sector we are serving.    

4. Our Buildings 

Our goal is to provide 1,000 affordable studio spaces across London by 2025.  

Our buildings will be selected and managed in an environmentally responsible manner and everything we do will ensure long-term affordability for artists is maintained.   

4.1 Our  buildings – environmental policy 

Our biggest environmental impacts are the buildings that we purchase and how they are redeveloped and managed. The built environment contributes 39% of the UK’s total carbon footprint – 28% of this is in operation and 11% is embodied carbon in construction (World Green Building Council, 2019).  There is huge potential for the sector to reduce carbon by carefully selecting and improving the environmental performance of current building stock. 

However, it should also be noted that we do not necessarily control much of this process; for example, buildings may come to us late in the construction stage, and the actual operation of the building is led by our studio provider partners. 

4.1.1 Building Selection  

Each building will be considered on a case by case basis with the aspiration to achieve the best environmental outcomes for those buildings. 

For new builds, we will work with developers who are committed to recognised environmental standards. 

Our buildings will be car free zones, with no parking available onsite. Proximity to public transport links is a key requirement and walking and cycling will be encouraged. 

Accessible bike parking facilities will be made available (where we have control over this) and local bike-hire schemes will be promoted. 

4.1.2 Fit out and redevelopment 

We will aim to create low-carbon buildings that will reduce running costs for our tenants and in turn reduce their carbon footprint.  

For buildings that we redevelop or fit out, we will measure the improvements made in energy efficiency (and carbon footprint where known) following redevelopment as our first environmental measure of the building.   

The redevelopment of buildings will be managed in line with our environmental improvement criteria including prioritising energy efficiency, potential for renewable energy generation, water efficiency, harvesting grey water, flooding risk & adaptation potential, suitable waste-management capability, opportunities to make space for nature and the ability to improve indoor air quality. 

Where we have the choice we will use environmentally preferable building materials and specifications and contractors who adhere to environmentally positive methods with ISO 14001 accreditation who have signed up to net zero carbon targets. However it should be noted that in some cases our studio providers will oversee the works, using smaller and local contractors, and it may be onerous for small organisations to get this accreditation.  

During the next year we will establish which environmental standard(s) we consider to be most relevant for affordable workspace. 

 4.1.3 Operations 

We will apply the principles of green leases with our studio provider tenants – a commitment to sharing environmental data in both directions. 

Studio providers will have direct responsibility for their utility accounts and we will work with them to help reduce consumption and costs. 

Our leases will require studio providers to measure and report on the carbon footprint of their activities in the building in the first year of operation to establish a baseline. Where appropriate, we will then work with studio providers to establish suitable targets and understand where we can help.  

4.2 Our Buildings – Social and economic policy 

We will work with local communities to understand the needs and aspirations of the area and how our projects will fit in with existing local priorities. 

Our buildings will be distinctive, inspiring and creative places with assessment carried out on how to enhance these qualities during the redevelopment phase.  Any improvements will be made within our affordability parameters.  

We will design internal fit outs to encourage collaboration between building users, such as communal spaces where tenants can socialise and share resources, equipment and skills, as well as opportunities to connect and interact with the local community and economy. 

We will follow the guidance in Approved Document M of the Building Regulations to ensure our properties are accessible. 

Our buildings will be places where artists can feel secure and supported for perpetuity. We do not want to merely postpone the crisis that is happening in the creative studio sector in London, we want to solve it for the long term.  

Affordability is key: we will follow clear guidance on what level of rent is affordable such as the Mayor of London’s Artists’ Workspace Data Note and supplement this with our own research where required. 

Any work that we carry out on buildings will use local contractors wherever possible to create local employment opportunities. Similarly, where it is possible to provide apprenticeship opportunities we will do so. 

 5. Our Partners – overview 

We will work collaboratively with partners who share our commitment to environmental, social, and economic sustainability, to ensure that sustainability is at the heart of every decision we make together. 

5.1 Our Partners – Environmental policy 

5.1.1 Studio Providers 

We will select studio providers who have a track record of reducing their environmental impacts, who manage buildings in an environmentally responsible manner and have committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2025.   

We will work with studio providers to understand the carbon footprint of our buildings once they are in operation and to develop individual action plans to improve each property. 

We will encourage resourcefulness in all aspects, with material and equipment sharing set up to support the circular economy.  

5.1.2 Local Authorities 

We will work with Local Authorities who have declared a climate and ecological emergency to help them achieve their targets.   

5.1.3 Developers 

We prefer to work with developers who have either signed the Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2030, reduce embodied carbon emissions by 40% and 100% by 2050), or who have their own comparable net zero targets in place.  

Where a developer has not yet set a target we will encourage them to do so.  

5.2 Our Partners – Social and Economic policy 

5.2.1 Studio Providers 

We will use sector expertise to make sure our buildings are managed by excellent providers of affordable workspace. We will assess the economic sustainability of studio providers as part of our selection process.  

We have set targets for our artist studio providers to achieve tenant diversity of 40% BAME, 50% women and 15% from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds from the outset, in line with Arts Council England’s strategic priority for inclusivity and diversity. 

We will prioritise working with studio providers who include socially engaged artists who want to integrate and connect with their local community.  

We will speak to local communities to understand their needs, so we can monitor the impact of artist engagement. 

We expect our studio providers to develop an active programme of appropriate engagement activities with their local community, such as time banks and community workshops, which could include working with schools, co-working for local businesses, open studios, and providing equipment hire / workshops. 

We will demonstrate the social impact that this is having by developing social impact measures with the studio provider. 

5.2.2 Local Authorities 

CLT can help to find long-term alternative and secure creative uses for local authority surplus or hard to let building portfolios.   

We will work in accordance with Local Development Plans, Area Action Plans, Planning Policy, Local Strategies (such as Community Strategy, Economic Strategy, Arts & Cultural Strategy) and work with local government to achieve sustainable development objectives.  

We will also be mindful of national goals such as post-COVID recovery and the Levelling up agenda. 

5.2.3 Developers  

We will use our extensive knowledge of the sector to communicate the importance of culture for resilient communities and the social, economic and environmental benefits creative tenants can bring to developments.  

Through community engagement programmes our spaces will be places people can feel they are part of. 

We will work with developers who understand the value of the sector, and who plan for artists’ requirements at an early stage through mechanisms such as Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levies. 

Over time we will influence more developments at pre-planning stages to ensure that our activities can have the maximum social and economic impact.