Opus Energy: our commitment to sustainability and our work in our communities

At Opus Energy, we’re passionate about sustainability. As part of Drax, we’re committed to ensuring a zero-carbon, lower-cost energy future. It’s why, last year, 100% of the energy we supplied to our customers came from renewable sources.

The energy that we’ve supplied to our customers comes from a range of sources and locations. Whether it’s solar power or wind, whether it’s from Europe or the UK, we remain committed to making it easy for businesses to be sustainable.

We’re not just on a mission to help our customers reduce their environmental impact, though. We’re committed to improving our own track record and as part of our ongoing commitment to sustainable practice, we’re approaching the issue head-on.

Solar panels on the roof of our Northampton headquarters, Opus Energy House
Opus Energy House under the sun

Powering our offices

While we already secure the energy that we use at our offices from renewable sources, we’re making an even more significant change: we’ve started generating our own electricity at our Northampton headquarters, Opus Energy House.

Our solar panels were installed over March and began generating energy on April 25th. With almost 700 solar panels covering 1141.3m2 of the roof, the panels provide around 12% of the energy needed at the office – a great step in helping us to walk the walk when it comes to sustainability, reducing our energy consumption at our largest office.

In July, our average daily energy use at Opus Energy House was down by 56%, and to date, the panels have generated a total of 125,620 kWh – enough to power 35 homes for a year.

An EV charging
Electric vehicles represent an opportunity to reduce transport-related emissions

Encouraging low-carbon transport

We’ve had policies in place for a number of years to encourage employees to take environmentally-friendly forms of transport to work where possible, including carpool and cycle-to-work schemes.

To help meet the changing travel requirements of our staff, we’ve now installed three free-to-use ChargePoint electric vehicle chargers at our Northampton office for those colleagues who own electric vehicles, to further encourage low-carbon forms of transport to and from work.

Our EV chargers have been used almost 400 times since they were installed, and with our solar panels providing some of the electricity we’re confident that we’re doing our bit to reduce our carbon footprint and improve local air quality.

A team effort

Reducing our environmental impact doesn’t just come from the top. It’s a grassroots movement and our people are incredibly passionate about making change.

Our colleagues have come up with lots of great ideas to improve our environmental credentials. These include recycling for crisp packets, energy efficiency policies, reducing single-use plastics, and even improving wildlife around our Northampton office by installing a duck house for the resident ducks.

Thanks to new, efficient printers and initiatives around printing reduction, colleagues across the business have saved over 80,000 sheets of paper, equivalent to seven trees. We’ve also changed to LED lights, which are much more efficient. In our Oxford office, we have reduced our consumption by an average of 14%.

anaerobic digestion, renewable energy, biomass
A model Anaerobic Digestion unit

Food for thought

We hope that encouraging other behavioural change, such as turning off lights when rooms aren’t in use, can have an impact, too.  We’re also working more closely with our catering suppliers, Baxter Storey, to understand the environmental impact of our food and drink choices.

Baxter Storey’s Head of Sustainability, Mike Hanson, delivered a presentation for some of our employees, helping us to understand which materials are the most environmentally friendly and how we can do our best to recycle more.

To improve recycling across our offices, we’ve increased the number of bins and signposted them and the type of materials to put in each to ensure we’re recycling as much as possible, including food waste. In 2019, we’ve redirected seven tonnes of food waste from general disposal to anaerobic digestion – which means our food waste is getting turned into biogas, a cleaner, green version of normal gas.

A forest of pine trees
Drax is committed to sourcing biomass sustainably from managed forests.

Planting trees

Late November is the start of the tree planting season, and the Woodland Trust capitalised by running their Big Climate Fightback campaign.

Drax – Opus Energy’s parent company – also supported the campaign, which took place on 30th November, pledging to donate £3,500 to support the campaign.

Trees have a vital role to play in combatting the climate crisis, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and contributing to the health of local ecosystems. We’re proud to help support this important work, as doing so dovetails with Drax’s sustainability commitments. You can learn more here.

A model car, built by students as part of our Greenpower Initiative
A model car, built by local school students as part of our Greenpower initiative

Helping students in our local schools

This year, we’ve been delighted to work closely with one of our local Northamptonshire schools, running a project to encourage participation in STEM subjects. Pupils at Thomas Becket school have been taking part in our Greenpower initiative, led by our Early Careers team and financed by a grant provided by Drax.

Our Early Careers team has visited the school and delivered assemblies to three year groups to introduce our programme, promoting STEM subjects and inviting them to take part. After delivering a CV and job application workshop, we invited the students to apply to take part in the scheme – receiving more than 300 applications!

The successful applicants have been welcomed to our office for a tour, a presentation, and assessment centres which were developed alongside the school to support their careers programme.

We’ve worked alongside Greenpower Education Trust, a charity with a track record in kick-starting careers in engineering, to help us deliver this programme. Read more about them here.

We’re proud to have made some important steps this year to help improve our sustainability record, and we’re eager to continue this good work next year and beyond.