Our Sustainability Policy
First Western accepts the climate crisis facing society and business. We recognise the urgency and scale of action required to avoid reaching irreversible tipping points that will fundamentally disrupt our natural and human systems.
We must act now to hold global average temperatures below 1.5°C as set out in the Paris Agreement, a highly ambitious but necessary target to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change globally.
First Western is doing its part to decarbonise business operations. Our first step was to measure the CO2 emissions from our business operations focusing on Energy, Transport, Waste and Water. In total, we calculated an annual carbon footprint in 2019 of 21.62 tonnes of CO2.
Below is a list of measures that have been implemented to date on our net-zero journey:
Energy and Transport
- Our head office is powered 100% from renewable energy sources through our partner, Panda Power (annual C02 saving of 6.24 tonnes compared with average of Irish market usage).
- Investment in a new electrical heating and cooling system eliminating the use of oil and upgraded insulation of the office building fabric. The system allows each office to regulate its own usage resulting in heat only being used in the part of the building that it is required (annual CO2 saving of 2.65 tonnes).
- To cut transport emissions, our Work from Home policy gives staff the choice to travel to the office or remain at their home office as suits their needs (annual CO2 saving of 8.29 tonnes).
- LED bulbs used through head office with automatic lighting sensors installed, where appropriate.
- Implementation of the “Reduce Your Use” initiative by Government.
Total annual CO2 savings from Energy and Transport measures: 17.18 tonnes which is a 77% reduction on CO2 emissions from 2019 levels.
- The introduction of a policy to choose digital over printing has resulted in a reduction in printed material of 85% between 2019 and 2022.
- No disposable cups for hot or cold beverages available at head office; no single use products such as cutlery, straws, sugar, or salt sachets in kitchen area; water filter installed to allow refilling of reusable bottles to discourage plastic water bottles.
- Reuse of packaging from suppliers for storage purposes or mailing of items.
- Refillable dispensers used for products such as soap, washing up and cleaning products.
- The contracting of our waste and recycling collections to Barna Recycling; a fully licenced waste collection, recycling, compost, and environmental service provider for Connacht. The company is committed to a long term of zero waste to landfill.
- Waste segregation stations in offices and kitchen with visual aids and instructions for staff.
- All batteries and electrical equipment disposed of in accordance with environmental guideline.
Water is provided through the public mains system to the business premises.
- Within the premises, lavatories are all low flow variety.
- Hot water is heated on demand to the requirement quantities only using instant water heaters. This saves energy and storage of hot water which may not be used.
- A filtered water system is in place to allow mains water to be used as a safe supply of drinking water, thus eliminating the need for bought in drinking water and its associated packaging.
Staff Awareness and Training
- Weekly “Eco-Time!” bulletins circulated to staff on articles, topics and videos related to environmental issues. Recent circulations include a video on the Wealth Economy and the measurement of natural and social capital; a website visit to the Regeneration project that documents what a sustainable world looks like.
- Successful completion by staff member Karen Curry of the Cambridge University Business and Climate Change: Towards Net Zero Emissions online short course in 2022.
First Western is proud of the tree planting programme that has been in operation since 2012. To date, we have planted over 1,500 native trees, (60% Beech, 25% Whitethorn, 15% mix of Oak, Sycamore, Alder). When fully grown, each tree will absorb 14kg of CO2, giving us a total offset to date of 2.1 tonnes.
A 500m2 garden at the rear of the company’s office is left to natural rewilding. This garden has a range of mature hedgerows, shrubs and trees and the natural grasses, flowers and plants are allowed to always grow unencumbered, making it a haven for wildlife, insects, pollinators, and bees.
First Western will continue to drive change within our business to play our part in meeting climate targets. We hope to build on the actions we have implemented to date by working with our wider stakeholder groups to influence change on a broader scale.