Reducing our carbon footprint

The British Red Cross is committed to reducing its carbon emissions. We're taking our environmental responsibilities seriously.

There is strong consensus within the scientific community that rising world temperatures are caused by human activity. The British Red Cross is increasingly responding to climate-related emergencies here in the UK and abroad.

For this reason, we’re committed to doing our part to reduce carbon emissions. 

We believe this makes good sense environmentally and economically.

Calculating our carbon 

We’ve calculated that the sources of our carbon emissions are:

  • gas and electricity use in buildings - 58 per cent
  • vehicle use - 31 per cent 
  • air and rail travel - 8 per cent 
  • printing, paper, etc - 3 per cent

Reducing carbon emissions

Since our buildings are responsible for most of our CO2 emissions, we’ve made changes to how we manage energy by introducing new processes to cut costs and carbon. See how we’ve done this below.

Tackling our emissions

We took the following steps to cut our emissions:

  • appointed carbon champions to identify areas of improvements in our buildings and communicate the messages
  • set up the Environmental Performance Improvement Fund worth £50,000 per year. Our carbon champions can apply for money from the fund to carry out improvements to our buildings 
  • moved 165 of our buildings, mostly shops, to a green energy contract where the electricity used is generated using a renewable source, in most cases wind power 
  • installed solar panels on seven of our buildings
  • expanded our video conference facilities and made deliberate cuts to our travel budgets to reduce travel.

We changed our ways of working:

  • only travel when necessary and use video conferencing instead
  • control heat and power in our buildings
  • reduce waste on packaging for bought-in goods
  • recycle paper, card, metals and plastics
  • tell new staff and volunteers about our environmental and carbon reduction policy
  • challenge those who don’t follow the policy.

Monitoring, reporting and reducing emissions is important, so we: 

  • report to senior management on environmental issues and achievements
  • create minimum environmental standards for current and future suppliers
  • provide quarterly reports to each service showing their carbon emissions generated from electricity, gas and travel 
  • conduct environmental impact assessments to identify potential environmental risks to UK and international projects.

Results: reducing our emissions by 38 per cent

Overall, due to all these changes, we’ve reduced our emissions from properties by 38 per cent (that’s a reduction of 3,247 tonnes between 2009 and 2016). This has also saved us £481,000.

Solar panels have saved 336 tonnes of CO2 and earned us £195,674 so far. 

Twenty-six buildings, including our head office in London, have benefitted from the Environmental Performance Improvement Fund. With money from the fund we’ve switched to energy-efficient LED lighting and installed cavity-wall insulation and energy-efficient water systems, as well as new boilers and heating systems. 

We were awarded with the Carbon Trust Standard in 2013. In 2015 we received the ISO 14001 standard certification for our environmental management systems.

To find out more, please contact us: