In recent years, there has been a notable increase in the significance of sustainability for both the business community and society more widely. As a major energy services company, we are particularly sensitive to the environmental climate in which we operate and the impact we have, both through our customers and in building our own sustainable energy infrastructure.

We are passionate about using our capabilities and resources to make a positive impact and the development of our people is a critical component of this. For us, being sustainable also means being safe, secure and reliable. Our commitment to health and safety underpins all our business practices, ensuring that our employees and customers are protected. Below, we share more details on these key focus areas: the environment, our people and health and safety, highlighting our developments throughout 2019 and future priorities as the UK’s energy system continues its transformation.

2019 highlights – summary of net positive figures
  • Business (smart meter and project) Handprint 26,987 Tonnes Carbon Mitigated
    • 22,484 Tonnes Carbon mitigated Smart Meters
    • 4,502 Tonnes Carbon mitigated Energy Efficiency Projects

Our handprint is the carbon mitigated through our delivery of services, we currently use data from smart meter energy-saving research and savings data from energy-saving projects delivered to calculate our total handprint. Our current handprint is the equivalent of 33,410 UK households powered by clean electricity.

  •  Business (Site & Fleet) Footprint 3,120 Tonnes Carbon 2019
    • 2,880 Tonnes Carbon Fleet
    • 240 Tonnes Carbon Estate

Our footprint is the carbon produced by our operational activities; our current scope looks at the energy consumed by our fleet vehicle and across our sites. 

  • Handprint vs Footprint:
    • 2018 handprint was 8 times larger than footprint
    • 2019 handprint was 9 times larger than footprint 
  • Recognition:
    • “Fleet of the Year” finalist; Energy Saving Trust (see Installer Fleet section for further details)
    • “Energy Efficiency Project of the Year”; Business Green (see Projects Delivered section for further details)
    • London Stock Exchange "Green Economy Mark" (see Introduction for further details) 
  • Other metrics:
    • 73% renewable electricity purchased
    • 22% reduction in energy consumption per vehicle
    • 37% of vehicles upgraded
    • 13,037 MWh 2019 Operational Energy Consumption

Our operational footprint is the energy we use across our fleet and estate. As our business grows, we are developing our ability to de-couple operational growth and energy consumption.

Introduction to our net positive effect

The scale and urgency of global action required for climate change to be halted and reversed has come to the forefront in 2019. Our business is intrinsically linked with tackling one of the greatest challenges of our time, and we are proud to have the privilege of utilising our passion and innovation to work with the global community as part of the solution.

Our commitment is evident in our vision to be at the heart of the smart energy low-carbon revolution and we have built our services around transforming and decarbonising the UK energy system.

We fulfil this vision through our unique energy offering, serving energy suppliers, the industrial and commercial sector, and the wider Domestic market to realise both the environmental and financial benefits of smarter energy practice.

We have been recognised for this through the London Stock Exchange’s “Green Economy Mark”, awarded to organisations that generate over 50% of total annual revenues from products and services that contribute to the global green economy.

In 2019 we developed a holistic view of our Company sustainability, quantifying both our positive impacts through our services and negative impacts from our business estate and fleet to attain an overarching understanding of our total sustainability, encompassing both the good we bring to the world and the footprint we are responsible for.

We use this “net positive” perspective to align business growth, financial benefits and sustainability gains, investing in development of our services which deliver carbon reductions including support of the smart meter rollout and delivery of energy efficiency projects.

We look to grow the positive impact of our services (handprint) in comparison to our negative impact (footprint); each year we try to increase the scale of our handprint compared to our footprint. In 2019, the positive services we were able to provide significantly surpassed the footprint we left behind. Our handprint was over nine times larger than our footprint.

Our net positive effect in context

Whilst climate change remains an issue that will require action from all areas of government, business and the wider human population, we are proud to align and support global action. Our key services directly serve Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy, Goal 9; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and Goal 12; Responsible Consumption and Production.

At SMS we have worked to help customers lead this global sustainability revolution, providing leading-edge services and products to help them quantify impacts, track energy usage and, critically, work together to halt climate change through lowering their carbon footprint. During 2019, we were invited to several global research and learning initiatives, lending our voice and expertise to both the global and local community.

Within the UK, 2019 saw the landmark commitment of net zero by 2050, the first major economy to pass this as law. At SMS we have been focused on providing solutions for the UKs largest emissions sectors; power, transport, residential and business, which together are the source of more emissions than all other sectors in the UK combined.

We use our knowledge and experience to develop and deliver services which will drive efficiency increases and open opportunities for renewable sources across all four highest UK emissions sectors.

Delivering net positive sustainability through our products and services

In 2019 we focused our innovation and investment on expanding the services which deliver the future of low carbon, helping customers reduce their carbon footprint and increase their efficiency.

Acquisition of Solo Energy

The acquisition of Solo Energy advances our offering, with the development of a Virtual Power Plant (VPP), which will help us support our customers in moving towards decentralised, 100% renewable energy storage.

Innovation in sustainable services

During 2019, our innovation team doubled in size, increasing the speed and breadth of capability to deliver the team’s key objective: explore, evaluate and develop new propositions in line with the Group’s wider strategy of asset ownership generating recurring sustainable revenue. The team’s expertise centres around linking renewable generation, storage and optimisation strategies, providing the missing link for customers to embrace smarter, greener energy.

Projects delivered

Lighting: We have continued to work with key customers in the hospitality sector, delivering risk-free investment in LED sensor lighting projects, utilising advanced energy monitoring to clearly demonstrate energy reductions at every phase and location. Through a combination of infrastructure and engineering design, customer utilisation data, and our knowledge of energy efficiency, we ensured the best possible solution for time, cost and quality in excess of building standards. A key element of the project was designing a bespoke a set of lighting and control principles which enable scaled rollout across the organisation’s 460 sites. This project was recognised by Business Green in the 2019 Leaders Awards, as a finalist for Energy Efficiency Project of the Year.

Heating: We have developed our knowledge of large-scale energy efficiency upgrades and launched an exciting new project, delivering smart control of heating at scale to realise savings in the hospitality environment. Our low-cost connectivity system enables monitoring and control of HVAC through retro fitted wireless controllers and a web-based portal. This combination offers an alternative to expensive Building Management Systems (BMS), whilst accurately monitoring activity and triggering performance parameter alarms, delivering customer comfort and energy savings.

Living our values and reducing our footprint

Sustainability governance

At SMS our culture and principles are cascaded right from the top and the passion of our leadership team is evident in the policies they set through to their every-day actions. This ethos is translated into our business values, policies, processes and management systems to ensure a consistent, integrated business-wide approach to sustainability.

Management systems

We implemented our Energy Management System (EnMS) across SMS in 2019, achieving external certification in ISO50001 in November. Our Energy Management System (EnMS) works by providing a framework of policy, procedure, monitoring and targets which enable us to identify and realise energy efficiency improvements across our organisation. We also retained certification for our Environmental Management System (EMS), held by our Cardiff sites for eight years, adding our Glasgow office to the existing certification in early 2019.

Installer fleet

Our fleet of engineer vans are critical to providing smart meter upgrades to customers across the country. As our most significant source of emissions at SMS, we have a dedicated team supporting the training, monitoring and upgrading of our fleet vehicles.

During 2019 we intensified efforts on our fleet efficiency. We upgraded 37% of our fleet vehicles, increased our consumption audits, refreshed our driver handbook and continued our driving behaviour training, achieving a reduction in energy per vehicle of 22%.

The fleet has grown to support our increasing demand for installations; this increase has enabled a greater geographical coverage of installers working more locally.  Alongside evolution of our current fleet, we are looking at step-changes through the trial of EV alternatives, which have been added to our van and pool car fleet. The fantastic work of the fleet team was recognised by the Energy Saving Trust, which nominated SMS for Fleet of the Year award, in which we became a finalist in November. 

Meter refurbishment

For every retrofitted smart meter, our engineers take back the old meter to our logistic hubs. From there these are sorted between those owned by SMS or other companies. Meters owned by other companies are returned, whilst SMS meters are handed on to our specialist team. This team is trained to assess the condition of the meter and refurbish ready for potential reuse. Not only does this avoid waste but it supports the circular economy; ensuring these meters retain their material value and purpose even after they have been used.

Purchased renewables

Our purchased renewable electricity is secured through our electricity provider, ensuring the energy we consume is matched by renewable energy production through the “Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin” (REGO) certification scheme. We have worked hard to consolidate and move our electricity contracts to renewable sources and 73% of our estate consumption is now derived from renewable sources. All remaining sites are due to be transferred in early 2020.

Estate refurbishments

In 2019 we successfully met our objective to improve environmental comfort, aesthetics and building energy performance in our older building stock and incoming estate. Five key sites received refurbishments in 2019, varying from upgrades of HVAC systems and LEDs to full office strip-outs.

Engaging our people

Energy facility co-ordinators

We have used our management systems as a vehicle to establish a network of facility co‑ordinators across the main SMS sites. These individuals act as both points of contact and ambassadors for our energy efficiency initiatives, meeting on a quarterly basis to share performance, successes, challenges and best practice.

Staff training

In 2019 we have renewed our corporate Company induction, which now includes messages from Directors on the importance of environmental sustainability and a dedicated sustainability section ensuring that the sustainability culture of the business is instilled in all employees from the moment they join the Company. This new induction format has been shared across existing and new staff alike, with over 85 new employees onboarded under the enhanced corporate induction programme.

Stewardship, community and charity

Throughout 2019 our established social committees and passionate employees have delivered exciting events across various sites, working with local education  institutions and within the community.

We provide work experience placements and are part of the “Career Ready” programme. Within our communities, we have focused on promoting biodiversity, with employee groups assisting with litter picking initiatives and working with local park rangers in maintaining and conserving green areas.

We have supported a range of charities in 2019 and promoted several awareness events including Mental Health and Stress Awareness during World Mental Health Day on 9 October 2019, National Stress Awareness Day, Moustaches in Movember, Save the Children, Macmillan Coffee Mornings, Food bank and many more. 

2020 and beyond

We have ambitions to grow our handprint significantly over the coming year, continuing to deliver smart meter technology whilst working within our sector to deliver the new technology, services and projects needed to realise the UK’s net-zero carbon target by 2050.

We will also be working to reduce our footprint through increased scrutiny of our consumption data and identification of opportunities. We will continue the alignment of business service and operational activity, leveraging beneficial synergies between our business offering and our internal operations.

The next few years will see intense evolution across the energy production and consumption landscape, and at SMS we are primed to lead the transformation to a more sustainable world.