Leeds Housing Association

How to engage in re-use through the use of an EMS

29th June 2016
Highlights
Benefits of re-use to Registered Providers of social housing (RPs)
How to use an Environmental Management System to support re-use; monitor and evaluate impact to refine working arrangements
Time For Action Report showcases how RPs have worked with re-use projects
Voids monitoring forms designed specifically for RPs

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This guide is for Registered Providers of social housing (RPs) and focuses on implementing a re-use programme following the principles of the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard within the housing sector. This guide seeks to provide readers with the skills and information required to maximise the value achieved from implementing the re-use agenda.
Specifically, the guide looks at the process of quantifying the potential for re-use from void clearances and from the maintenance of housing stock, as well as  how monitoring can provide the information required for a simple business case for re-use that can be aligned with an existing or new Environmental Management System.
The Time for Action Report showcases re-use organisations which repair, refurbish and recycle unwanted household goods and distribute them to low income households. This report uses 13 case studies and trials commissioned by WRAP in 2013 (the majority of evidence came from third sector re-use organisations) to make the case for RPs to explore the benefits that they, and their tenants, can reap from the wide range of services delivered by re-use organisations.

Introduction

Registered providers (RPs) of social housing that are actively engaged in re-use have seen clear benefits; not only by way of cost savings and reduced carbon footprint, but also through an increased benefit to tenants, to staff well-being and through wider positive social benefits within communities.

Why re-use in the housing sector?

RPs often have a lot to gain from becoming involved in re-use over and above reduced environmental impact. While they directly realise the operational benefits, including reduced waste management costs, their tenants are very often the beneficiaries of quality, affordable, or even free household items provided by re-use organisations to those most in need.

 

Using an EMS to support Re-use

Many RPs undertake audits and reviews to assess environmental performance, but these may not be enough to ensure that performance continues to meet changing legal requirements, policy requirements and the ambitions of the organisation.  An EMS is designed to provide a framework that can be integrated with other management requirements to achieve both environmental and organisational goals.  An EMS can be used by RPs to determine the effectiveness of re-use actions and the structure of the EMS ultimately leads to informed decision making at a strategic level maximising the organisations ability to promote the re-use agenda.

Implementing an EMS for Re-use

This section of the guide focuses specifically on developing an environmental policy, determining significant environmental aspects and developing an improvement programme for re-use following the principles of the ISO 14001 Standard.
Actions to quantify the opportunity for re-use are advisable at an early stage, so that the scale of the opportunity can be identified. Establishing responsibility holders for each action within an improvement programme is usually best practice to prevent the programme from drifting. It is also advisable to provide key stakeholders with regular updates as to the progress of the improvement programme to ensure that engagement levels stay high.
The key to continued success is communication across an RP, and to all partners and stakeholders working on the improvement programme. Make sure that successes are communicated and that lessons learned are shared to increase knowledge across the re-use partnership and beyond.  If the stages set out in this guide are followed, you should have an action plan that: has the buy in of all the required stakeholders; is aligned with the strategic aims of re-use; sets out the actions and timescales required; and outlines a framework for monitoring and evaluating the impact of the re-use initiative in order to refine working arrangements.