Climate Champion: The Keyholding Company

January 27, 2022


Our guest this month is Lucas Gundry, Chief Technology Officer, from The Keyholding Company.

The Keyholding Company is a tech-enabled mobile security services company and the UK’s number one keyholding and alarm response specialist. They help keep thousands of properties safe across the UK, from offices and factories to pubs and clubs to banks and palaces.

We’ve been working with The Keyholding Company for the past two years, and so spoke with Lucas about why they started their sustainability journey, some of the changes they’ve implemented, and the reaction in the wider industry.

Why did The Keyholding Company initially start its sustainability journey?

"I’ve always been passionate on a personal level about what’s going on with the climate emergency, and what we can individually do to be more sustainable. Ironically it was on a flight back from a supplier in Europe that sparked the initial conversations about sustainability within the business.

After further conversations with other team members, we realised we were all aligned in terms of wanting The Keyholding Company to be doing all it can be doing in terms of sustainability.

..the short answer is that we wanted to do our bit, but we wanted to prove we were actually making progress towards a target.

It was great to have that common ground quickly, and we decided that having a measurable target to aim for was the best way to move this forward. With sustainability, there’s a lot that you can aim for, but having a single focus to aim for is the best way to progress a project.

As such, our carbon output rose to the surface as one very quantifiable element of that, so we decided to start our journey by looking at that.

Summarising that all, the short answer is that we wanted to do our bit, but we wanted to prove we were actually making progress towards a target."

It sounds like there were employees who wanted sustainability initiatives but maybe there hadn’t been a collective voice. Do you think that’s a challenge organisations face, and what do you think the best way is to raise that in a purposeful way?

"I was blown away by how weighted the responses were towards positive climate action in the first employee survey, and how everyone wanted to see tangible change. It wasn’t just an executive-level decision but instead, it was one throughout the organisation. I think organisations have a responsibility to speak to their employees about these things and to understand what matters to them.

A really interesting change is that when recently interviewing for a new role in the tech team, the candidate was interviewing me about what we were doing about sustainability and ESG in general. For employers, it’s gone beyond a nice thing, and in the coming decade, we’ll see a complete flip as employees demand more than just making money for shareholders. I think they’ll demand the company is doing something that’s good for the world, too.

In the near future, I think a lot of companies will go on this journey and I think employers will be surprised at how many employees value it beyond traditional methods of remuneration."

What are some of the main changes that you’ve adopted since beginning the exercise?
"There are a few key examples of what we’ve done:

The Electric Vehicle fleet

The first, and something I’m incredibly proud of, is the rollout of the Electric Vehicle (EV) fleet. We’ve rolled out half of the car fleet already, and we’re looking to go all-electric soon.

Team Awareness

We’re also really proud that our team has taken it upon themselves to look at sustainability more widely; the operations team is looking for ethical suppliers for uniforms, and we’re really focused on all furnishing in the office to make sure the carbon footprint of these items is reduced.

For me, the main thing that’s changed is that everyone across the organisation is thinking about these things and so we can trace the lines to tangible actions that are taking place.

Client Engagement

Regarding client awareness, Pip, our Marketing Lead has added detailed ESG information in our pitches so that we can show it front and centre as a company. While we understand that our footprint is not the biggest in the world, we know that by showcasing our journey we can encourage other companies to start it too. If we can cause a ripple effect, then that will have a much larger impact than we can achieve just by ourselves.

Our Wider Network

Finally, we’ve looked at our 200 strong nationwide Service Partner Network and have offset their emissions too. This is something I’m so excited about because it’s going to a much larger network, and I think we’re using our influence for good and will hopefully drive a wider shift."

The rollout of the EV fleet is a huge step and a real marker of intent for you. What have some of the challenges been with the rollout?

"I think the biggest challenge has been finding vehicles to deliver operationally. We provide a critical 24/7 service, we have spikes in demand and need vehicles on the road almost all the time - that has to be considered above all else as we continue to provide the level of service our clients deserve. Therefore, the charging was a big piece of the puzzle, and fortunately, Workspace (our office provider) was great in helping to make that work by installing charging points at our HQ.

For the cars, there was a pretty good choice on the market and the team was able to do a robust analysis of the vehicles to be really happy with their final choice. Motorcycles are harder, and we haven’t been able to crack this yet (we’re still working on it!) - the ideal vehicle isn’t there yet.

EV bikes are incredibly fast, and we obviously take the health and safety of our staff very seriously so we’re still on the hunt. We’re searching every day and hope to crack that soon!"

Were there things that surprised you in the analysis?

"Definitely! The thing everyone always used to talk about was paper. Paper would be the reference point for companies, and printing less was the main action in meetings. Having measured our footprint, we realised just how insignificant paper use is compared to the wider impact, so it was good to understand that once and for all that we can start focusing on more meaningful hotspots.

Personally, the impact of uniforms and clothes really surprised me, too, as it was just something I hadn’t thought of before.

In the wider analysis we saw that because of the London HQ, people mainly commute on public transport so the impact here was minimised. That meant, when it came to transport more broadly, it helped us to focus our minds on the EV fleet and knowing that is where we could target to have the biggest reduction impact.

We also looked at the Service Partner Network, as beyond our own boundary, we knew that’s another area we could have a large impact with."

Personally, the impact of uniforms and clothes really surprised me, too, as it was just something I hadn’t thought of before.

What has the reaction been to The Keyholding Company’s project externally?

"I’ve been pleasantly surprised about the increased focus on sustainability in the tender processes we’re going through. Questionnaires that ask about what you’re doing, and about reporting Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. It’s amazing to see actual numbers being required in the tender process, and this gives me hope that companies will do what they can to tackle the climate crisis.

The reaction when we introduce the subject has been great, too. In meetings, we insert it into our deck, we talk about it passionately - from here, the conversations are overwhelmingly positive that companies think we’re doing a good job and in such a data-driven way. It then gives them ideas of how they’d like to take this on so that we know we’re helping to propagate this wider change. There are very few examples when it’s passed over without getting the level of importance we think it deserves."

What about internally?

"Internally, everyone has taken it upon themselves to complete actions. I haven’t had to beat the drum for actions to be taken - the EV fleet is a great example of this, which was enthusiastically moved forward by our operations team.

As a small company, it’s hard for us to dedicate a full-time role to this at the moment (I’d love to do it in the next few years), but the fact that everyone takes their own initiatives and actions is fantastic.

The role Alectro played in gathering the data to allow the actions to take place has been crucial to put energy into the right place."

Do you have any advice for someone looking to begin their own journey?

"Internal conversations are crucial to get the ammunition and employee input to give the project sponsorship (if that's needed). Having an open conversation with all members of the team will help to understand what employees want to see.

Then, however daunting it might seem from the outset, the process can be easy when managed well. Having Alectro come in and simply ask for specific data points made it easy - all we had to do was go into our system and extract the specific information for you. As a smaller organisation without a dedicated role, that could have been a stumbling block but as Alectro did all the heavy lifting for us, it expedited the process a lot. We probably couldn’t have given weeks of our own internal time to this, so the Alectro process made it doable.

Finally, external expertise is invaluable. I think a lot of companies might be missing the knowledge to guide them through the process, so having the external knowledge there with us was great.

In terms of the cost, it’s nothing compared to the value it brings to the company. Ignoring even the social value it brings to the company, from a business perspective the investment has been paid back many times over. In terms of staff we’ve been able to hire, the client opportunities we’ve been able to go after, and the marketing opportunities that arrived. If it did come down to a cost-benefit analysis, it would go completely in the right direction to favour a project.

In terms of the cost, it’s nothing compared to the value it brings to the company. Ignoring even the social value it brings to the company, from a business perspective the investment has been paid back many times over.

For anyone starting their journey, it shouldn’t be seen as scary. I didn’t know the right pathway at the beginning of the journey, but now it seems easy and we know exactly what we need to do.

Once you understand the pathway, it becomes a lot simpler from there.

Things can be complicated if you allow them to become complicated. The fact we can just provide the data and Alectro can do the hard work, it’s worth its weight in gold."

So, there you have it - a detailed insight into The Keyholding Company's net-zero project. If you're interested in finding out more, then reach out to The Keyholding Company.

You can read the The Keyholding Company's resulting blog post: Cutting out the carbon: 5 things we’re doing now to reduce our impact on the planet on their website where they talk about annual reductions, and quantitatively report their footprint.

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