First building society to publish the carbon footprint of its lending

24 June 2021

Ecology is the first building society to publish the carbon footprint of its residential mortgage lending.

In order to calculate the carbon footprint, or ‘financed emissions’, arising from our lending, we have applied the new Global Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Reporting Standard which was developed by the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) and launched in November 2020. Financed emissions arise from the burning of fossil fuels (mainly gas) to heat and power mortgaged properties.

By reporting our financed emissions, we’re adding our weight to the growing momentum for all banking providers to measure and disclose their emissions.  This will be critical as the financial sector supports the transition to a net-zero economy to meet the Paris targets.

The move to calculate the emissions from our sustainable lending is in addition to our long-standing commitment to measure and report the carbon footprint from our day-to-day business operations including the energy used to heat our offices, purchasing supplies as well as commuting and travel.  We offset these operational emissions through accredited tree planting schemes.

Ecology became one of the first members of PCAF UK group, when it formed in 2020. We are co-chairing the Residential Property working group which is developing and sharing best practice on measuring emissions from mortgaged properties with a view to improving the methodology. The group plans to launch a report at COP26, building momentum for more banking providers to transparently measure and disclose their emissions. Reporting emissions from residential property also helps to focus attention on the condition of the UK housing stock, and the growing need for an urgent national programme of renovation, if net zero targets are to be met.

Alison Vipond, Ecology’s Sustainability lead explains,

“To achieve net-zero we need to unlock the financial solutions required to transition to a low carbon economy.

“Measuring our financed emissions using the PCAF methodology gives us a better understanding of our current mortgage portfolio.  We are using this to help develop our net zero plan, especially to target and improve energy inefficient properties.

“We’re looking forward to sharing our experience with other banking providers at COP26 so that they can join us and use the carbon accounting approach to focus on building a sustainable future.”