Please find answers to our most common questions below
Investors in the Environment (iiE) is a national environmental accreditation scheme designed to help organisations across the UK reduce their impact on the environment, save money and time, and get promoted for their green credentials. We provide help and support for businesses to reduce their environmental impact and upon successful implementation of the iiE criteria members are awarded recognition through certification.
iiE membership helps organisations to reduce their environmental impact by giving them the support needed to develop an Environmental Management System and put in place environmental monitoring systems to help them meet their green targets. Organisations are audited against a stringent set of environmental criteria and awarded a certification logo in recognition of their achievements, which they can use in their communications to demonstrate their green credentials.
A step-by-step approach has been developed for each accreditation level, allowing an organisation to set achievable targets and establish a pathway of continual improvement. With three different accreditation levels to work towards, there is a suitable level for every company wishing to go green.
Many members start at Bronze level to set an environmental policy, start tracking baseline data, improve their waste management system, assess performance, and set targets for reductions. Criteria requirements increase with each level and include monitoring additional resources, adopting a travel plan, and setting targets on carbon emissions with the goal of members achieving and maintaining Green level accreditation within three years.
By joining the iiE programme, an organisation will be better equipped to:
- Ensure sites are compliant with basic environmental legislation
- Cut costs through systematic resource efficiency measures
- Improve reputation and add marketing value
- Provide the public with an externally verified and visible sustainability audit
- Attract and retain quality, purpose-driven staff
- Increase resiliency against future trends including rising costs in fossil fuels and reduced availability of resources
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve readiness for future UK carbon emissions legislation in alignment with the national net-zero by 2050 target
- Increase sustainable procurement, including services and products that have lower carbon footprint, ethical/sustainably sourced goods, and goods with low waste potential
- Credibly communicate corporate social responsibility with regard to sustainability
iiE accreditation is suitable for organisations of all types and sizes across the UK – from sole traders through to large multi-site employers. We have worked with businesses from a range of sectors including local authorities, construction, professional services, manufacturing, universities, healthcare and veterinary, events and social professional bodies. Your organisation does not need to have any prior experience or environmental expertise in-house.
Once you have signed up and become a member you will be provided access to the members area of the website.
This area contains a focused learning system to guide you through each step of the way. You can choose which modules to start with – whether this is focusing on your environmental policy first, forming a green group, or getting an action plan together.
For members with ‘Basic’ access, you will have a meeting with an iiE advisor to set you up for first steps that are tailored to you, with recommendations based on the team’s experience.
We offer templates, toolkits and a step-by-step process to help guide organisations through the journey as well as webinars to educate staff. Depending on your package we can offer 1-1 support with regular catch-up calls with an experienced iiE advisor. Further specialised consultancy services are also available, such as ESOS, SECR, waste audits, energy audits, and others.
Typically, we suggest you start at Bronze level and work your way up as you gain knowledge of how to implement your EMS effectively across your organisation. However, the level which a business starts depends on what actions they have already undertaken and what can be achieved within the year. If you feel your business is already doing a lot of environmental action, and you only need to pull the work together into a system, you may wish to start at either Silver or Green. To be compliant at Silver and Green level you will have to have at least 12 months of baseline data, and a further 12 months of data for each resource to calculate the organisations percentage improvement.
Following Green accreditation it is important for an organisation to maintain at least a further 2% reduction in resource use across the monitored resources. Audits will take place on an annual basis, and companies must continue to make progress and demonstrate continual improvement against the criteria to maintain Green accreditation.
This depends on what actions the organisation already has in place, the level of data available and how much time can be spent on accreditation work. All businesses can be accredited within their first year by spending an estimated 4 hours per month; this may be more for large companies. If you have no existing practices in place, it will take up to one year; whereas an organisation that is already monitoring data, has the majority of processes in place and is already working within their community, supporting charities, etc. would be significantly quicker in achieving their accreditation. Sharing the workload across a ‘Green Team’ will make this easier and could reduce the time it takes to get accredited.
Members who have taken this approach typically say that they wish they would have signed up right away, to give their businesses the right structure and approach from the beginning. The iiE journey is set up to upskill teams and set them up to focus on impact and achievement. Our charitable price points are extremely competitive to help remove this as a barrier to focused environmental action that also works for your business.
The iiE accreditation has three levels: Bronze, Silver and Green. Typically, we suggest you start at Bronze level and work your way up as you gain knowledge of how to implement your environmental management system (EMS) effectively across your organisation.
However, if you feel your business is already doing a lot of environmental action, and you only need to pull the work together into a system, you may wish to start at either Silver or Green. To be compliant at Silver and Green level you will need at least 12 months of baseline data, and a further 12 months of data for each resource to calculate the organisations percentage improvement.
If you are already demonstrating best practice, then Investors in the Environment is a great way to gain recognition for your work and you could potentially be accredited much sooner. If you’re still unsure, our friendly team can offer suggestions.
You may be targeting absolute reductions for specific resources, but we recommend that you set normalised (adjusted to make the targets comparable year on year) targets, especially if you are growing or changing as an organisation.
For all levels of accreditation, an organisation needs to:
- Appoint an Environmental Champion and have an Environmental Policy in place
- Monitor gas, electric and water use, as well as at least 1 additional resource for Bronze certification, 2 for Silver and 3 for Green (additional resources could include waste, transport, paper etc.).
- Calculate the organisation’s carbon footprint (using the easy-to-use iiE carbon calculator or similar)
- Set SMART targets to reduce the organisation’s environmental impact and increase resource efficiency
- Create an Action Plan to reduce the organisation’s environmental impact and increase it’s resource efficiency
- Have a Waste Management Plan
- Have a Travel Plan for Silver and Green Certification only
- Undertake environmental or social projects (at least 1 project for Bronze certification, at least 2 for Silver and at least 3 projects for Green).
- Review progress and communicate/engage with staff.
The detailed criteria for achieving Bronze, Silver and Green accreditation can be found here:
Each site can be managed independently or together as one group, however if getting accredited as one there will need to be efforts from all sites to the meet the criteria. Each site should also have its own Green champion to deliver a successful campaign, measure their own resource use and develop individual actions related to their specific services.
We get asked this question a lot! The iiE audit process is an important part of your member journey and you will get some great suggestions as to what areas to tackle depending on your environmental goals or under your given circumstances.
The accreditation is a holistic one – and there may be years with greater focus on control measures or investment and others where management is a key driver of improvement. Staff engagement, procurement and communication are common areas on which an organisation can really focus their continual improvement once they have tackled most areas of impact in their direct business activities.
Businesses, staff, and circumstances often evolve and members who said years ago they weren’t sure how they could keep improving have continued to wow us with their efforts year on year.
An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a structured framework for an organisation to manage their policies, procedures and processes (activities) in order to fulfil all tasks required to achieve their objectives and reduce environmental impact. It is important the EMS is specific to your businesses operations as it will support you to identify where your activities impact the environment and where you can reduce them.
Yes, you can. An iiE advisor will help you decide a sensible way to apportion usage in a way that accurately reflects the split between home/work use if you don’t want to include total figures in your resource measurement. The important thing is that measurement can be accurately compared from one year to the next through consistent apportionment or normalisation calculations.
We recommend you speak with your landlord first to see if there is any availability to obtain your measurements from them. If you are in shared premises with one meter across various organisations, you do not have to measure these resources and can elect to measure other resources instead. However, developing an action plan to manage these resources is still recommended.
Organisations are asked to measure and monitor the resources their organisation is using, prioritised by environmental impact. If gas is not used on site, you can elect to measure a different resource instead.