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Sustainability Spotlight Series: Surrey County Cricket Club

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Introducing our new series: the Sustainability Spotlight Series. In this debut edition, we're joined by Emily Iverson-Pritchard, Head of Sustainability at Surrey County Cricket Club. Emily will be shedding light on both the club's sustainability journey and her personal experiences.

Eliana: Emily, it's a pleasure to have you join us today as a featured guest in our Sustainability Spotlight series. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Emily: Hi! I'm Emily Iverson-Pritchard, and I am the Head of Sustainability at Surrey County Cricket Club.

Eliana: Fantastic, so let's get started. Please tell us more about your professional journey in sustainability and how you came to take on the role of Head of Sustainability at Surrey County Cricket Club.

Emily: Yes, certainly. So, it actually starts in a very personal sense. I was raised with a strong respect for the environment, and environmentalism and sustainability were important values in my household, even when I was a young child. These were things that I was truly passionate about. However, that didn't mean that I naturally gravitated towards a career in sustainability. Before becoming the Head of Sustainability, I worked in non-match-day commercial sales here at the ground. It was a very corporate role, not directly tied to environmentalism or sustainability, but my passion persisted. It was interesting because we saw a commercial imperative from clients to prioritize sustainability. It became part of their requests. They were asking about our sustainability goals, and I naturally embraced it due to my existing interest and because it felt like the right thing to do. I then pursued a Master's degree focusing on sustainable events. My thesis delved into whether virtual events could replace face-to-face events as a cost-effective and sustainable alternative. This further channeled my energy toward sustainability. One of the central pillars of the club also became sustainability, and when the opportunity to be the Head of Sustainability arose, it was something I felt compelled to go for. So, that's how I ended up here. It might not have been the most linear path into sustainability, but due to my passion, I've wholeheartedly embraced it. I've thrown myself into sustainability, and its dynamic nature means there's always something new to learn and innovative approaches to explore.

Eliana: That's quite the journey. It's like the stars aligned for you. Haha!

Emily: Absolutely, it really did. I had been with Surrey County Cricket Club for quite a few years, and I was a cricket fan even before working here. The convergence of my sustainability passion and my love for the organization I work for is quite remarkable.

Eliana: Indeed, it's a perfect fusion of your passions. Thank you for sharing that. Could you elaborate on the focus of Surrey's sustainability strategy and how deeply it's integrated into your overall business strategy?

Emily: We've repositioned the club as a social enterprise, which means that we ensure all our profits contribute to making the club better, improving the environment, and doing good. While we were already a not-for-profit organization, we've cultivated a culture of striving for the best we can achieve. Cricket, depending on the audience, is a seasonal sport and is sensitive to weather conditions. With the increasing impacts of climate change on traditional seasons, it's critical for us to maintain cricket's viability. We recognize that safeguarding the environment is paramount for the club's success. Sustainability's role becomes even more crucial.

Eliana: Absolutely, climate change affects various industries, including sports. In terms of achieving net zero, could you provide more details about the strategies and actions that Surrey County Cricket Club plans to implement to achieve this goal by 2030?

Emily: Achieving Net Zero by 2030 is an ambitious goal, but we believe it's attainable. Our Board of Directors and general committee have endorsed it as a fundamental part of our operations. We're focusing on initial steps in the first two years, such as transitioning from gas immersion heaters to electric heaters, following a phased approach. Currently, each individual bathroom within our sports concourse area is gas-powered, which accumulates significant on-site gas consumption. We plan to switch these to electric heaters. However, we anticipate challenges in areas like cooking, especially for our world-class hospitality during international games. We need to find alternatives, but I'm confident we'll come up with solutions. We're also addressing electricity consumption, despite already utilizing 100% renewable power. To mitigate the intermittent nature of renewable energy, we're working on minimizing electricity usage and introducing our own renewable resources, like solar panels and wind farms.

Eliana: Your phased approach seems well-thought-out. When it comes to transparency and accountability in reporting sustainability performance to stakeholders, how does Surrey ensure this?

Emily: When we first developed our plan, we reached out to a consultancy to calculate our carbon footprint. While this step was initially useful, it didn't quite provide the level of transparency we required because we lacked a clear understanding of the underlying details. We shared our data, and they provided us with numerical values. This approach is beneficial if you want to identify primary concerns at the outset. However, to ensure transparency and honesty with all stakeholders, we need to dive deeper into the specifics, into the nitty-gritty. Our collaboration with Persefoni aims to achieve this level of detail. A standout feature of the software is its ability to delve into granularity and pinpoint previously unnoticed areas of concern.

Moreover, the system allows me to ensure that the correct departments are inputting accurate information. It's important to acknowledge that the quality of your carbon footprint and related actions depends on the quality of the input data. Therefore, it's crucial to approach each stakeholder constructively and request their data. There's a balance between desiring granularity and accuracy. We must ensure that by focusing on granularity, we don't compromise accuracy. Using the software has been advantageous, allowing us to input expenditure dates even when granular details are lacking for a specific aspect. We can also specify the granularity of waste types or product categories, for which we possess detailed data. This empowers us to compile and present comprehensive information to our stakeholders.

However, it's fair to recognize that not everyone is familiar with the distinctions between Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3. In fact, some individuals may not be highly interested. Nonetheless, that's perfectly acceptable as long as they acknowledge the importance of reducing the associated numbers. Transparency involves acknowledging that we have this data, which is available for review if desired. Yet, my aim is to guide you on this journey, and I understand that your primary concern revolves around the significant figure. Our intention, year after year, is to witness a decline in this significant metric.

Eliana: Finally, could you summarize the key lessons you've learned on your sustainability journey and how they shape your current approach?

Emily: The most significant lesson is that being an advocate is acceptable. Advocating for change and elucidating why it's essential can drive positive transformations. Addressing easily achievable goals can showcase commitment and influence behavioral changes. Collaboration and buy-in from all departments are pivotal for achieving sustainability success.

Eliana: Emily, it's been such a pleasure to have you with us today. We're so honored to be able to partner with Surrey County Cricket Club, and we appreciate you taking the time to participate in our Sustainability Spotlight Series. We wish you all the best in your journey moving forward!

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