SSW’s journey towards sustainability

SSW has been lucky enough to be awarded a special grant from the Rampion Community Benefit Fund and Sussex Community Foundation to enable us to improve our sustainability. We know that this journey is a long and continuous one, but we hope that 2024 will see us implementing significant changes that will give our sustainability credentials an ongoing boost. 

Why is sustainability important for charities? 

Sustainability is not just about the environment, it is also consideration as to how a charity can continue to provide services long term in a way that is operationally efficient, responsible and resilient. Reducing reliance on environmental resources leads to savings on overhead costs which ultimately better serves its beneficiaries longer term. 

In most cases – whether personally or as an organisation – we are all aware of general improvements we can make to minimise our impact on the environment and here at SSW we’ve made some small changes in recent years. However, having been awarded a dedicated grant, we have been able to undertake a comprehensive audit of our sustainability situation which has given us some short-, medium- and long-term goals. 

Where we began 

Over the last few years, we’ve significantly increased our digital operations while reducing paper-based processes. It has been important to balance this with the accessibility needs of our visually impaired service users. That’s why we’ve committed to improving digital inclusion and supporting our members with technology and online resources. 

In November 2023, the Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative – a local not-for-profit service – undertook a sustainable energy feasibility study of SSW, and the Centre. The aim of the audit was to investigate energy efficiency improvements, as well as the possibility of installing solar PV at the Centre, to lower carbon emissions as well as reduce annual energy bills. 

Fortunately, the audit highlighted various positive features, which is encouraging. For example, the Centre has a well-insulated loft, motion-sensor controlled lighting and underfloor heating in our conservatory. 

As you can imagine, the audit also picked up on lots of aspects for improvement. We hope, over time, to tick everything off the list but our initial priorities are: 

  • Improve the loft insulation 
  • Ensure that the underfloor heating in the conservatory is working properly 
  • Add a timer to our hot water pump for better efficiency 
  • Change the fans in the toilet so they are not running continuously, but as and when needed 
  • Continue our replacement of current lighting units with LEDs 
  • Undertake a borescope survey of older walls to confirm if they have a cavity and are wide enough to insulate. 
  • Install solar PV 
  • Replace or reseal the window in Sonia’s office 
  • Review (and replace as necessary) the radiator controls throughout the Centre 

In addition to the above targets, some of you may be aware that we have been given a grant by Worthing Borough Council and its Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Neighbourhood Fund to put towards our sustainable transport plan.  

In our case, it is helping towards our transition to electric powered vehicles, such as our minibus and pool car. Our vehicles are crucial to our members in situations when public transport isn’t an option, and we are pleased we can ensure their sustainability for years to come. 

Keep an eye on our blog, newsletter (you can sign up here) and socials for updates on our sustainability journey. Alternative feel free to have a chat with staff members who are all committed to making SSW as environmentally sustainable as possible.