Sustainability lessons from the ground up


After an introduction to ‘green living’ early in life, Jennifer Henderson, CEO and Registrar of Scotland, is now at the forefront of change within her organization after being inspired by Climate’s new training courses. Solutions.

STAR Wars or Smurfs? When I was in school, this was the great choice when it came to deciding which image to adorn your lunch box. Mom, like so many aspects of my upbringing, saw it differently. So I went to school with some homemade sandwiches wrapped in Kellogg’s Corn Flakes packets (which I had to bring home to reuse the next day). I attended ballet lessons in a swimsuit because mom thought the same outfit would be suitable for a crease and for water activities.

I didn’t like the fact that most of my clothes were first hand, but now I realize that it all gave me a golden lesson in living a green life. I carried my family’s passion for recycling into adulthood, but involvement in environmental issues mostly involved activities outside of work. I have come to realize that as the Managing Director of a public sector organization employing over 1,200 colleagues supporting citizens and businesses across Scotland, I am in the enviable position of being able to lead efforts that make a substantial difference.

I am the CEO and Registrar of Scotland (RoS). Among the documents we manage and maintain is the Scottish Land Registry. If you have ever bought or sold a property in this country, then you will have used our services. As the custodian of the oldest public land register in the world, RoS has a deep affinity with Scottish soil dating back centuries. The question we face in all aspects of our work is how RoS adapts to new challenges and seizes the opportunities that lie ahead. No challenge is more important than the fight against climate change. We have already made great strides and recognize the need to go further.

I work alongside brilliant colleagues who make revolutionary change possible; provide high quality services that reduce our environmental impact.
RoS are pioneers in the digital space, enabling hybrid work for colleagues, helping clients access our registers online and hosting virtual events.
The process of registering property, which for centuries has been paper-based, will in the not-so-distant future be a fully digital process.
There is also a leadership challenge for me; to find out more and open my mind to potential solutions.

With that in mind, I recently took the Climate Solutions Professional course, which aims to educate business leaders about climate change. It helped me identify that there were a lot of other things we needed to do and made me realize the urgency to make changes now. It also made me realize that viewing carbon management activities as something that happened alongside “day to day work” was the wrong approach. Making sure sustainability is embedded in all business decisions was the fundamental change in my thinking that resulted from attending the course.

Recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to focus on new approaches, in 2018 we hired a manager dedicated to sustainable development and climate change, Emma Thomas, whose expertise and commitment help us provide the necessary changes. We have removed all plastic cutlery and packaging from our canteen and sold over 400 cups in preparation for the switch to reusable cups, donating the proceeds to the Marine Conservation Society Scotland in recognition of their efforts to tackle plastic pollution on our shores .

There have been a multitude of initiatives to “green” our field, such as the installation of LED lighting, the switch from gas air conditioning units to electric air conditioning units, the investment in charging points. electric and low emission pool cars. We work closely with communities on litter selection, tree planting with Forestry and Land Scotland, and RoS is fortunate to have a network of active staff promoting ecological issues. At the center of it all is our commitment to zero direct greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 and indirect emissions by 2045.

There is a focus on sustainability throughout our business plan, underpinned by our 2021-26 sustainability and climate change strategy. This supports the Scottish Government’s commitment to creating green jobs and sustainable growth. Our offices may be located in the city center, but that did not prevent us from promoting biodiversity.
Both sites have external wildflower planters to attract pollinating insects, and we aim to introduce beehives on the roof of our Edinburgh building. We continue to challenge ourselves and help our colleagues and clients join us on this vital journey.

It seems appropriate that an organization with Scottish land at the heart of its activities does everything possible to protect this land for future generations.

This article was brought to you in association with Climate Solutions Network


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