"It was great to be able to give our suppliers a really practical programme to help them meet their sustainability goals"



We’re very proud that by working with one of our ambassadors, Grosvenor, on a Supplier Mentoring Programme, we’ve helped 39 SMEs (small and medium sized businesses) across the UK work towards a science based target and understand how to map and reduce their own carbon footprint. As a result, we saw a 20% increase in UK SMEs with a science based target. In June 2023, the programme won the Climate Crisis Initiative award at the 2023 Property Awards.

Working together to support SMEs

Grosvenor has been a long-time supporter of Heart of the City through our ambassador programme – they’ve spoken at events for us, mentored some of the SMEs on our Foundations for Responsible Business programme and their staff have been on our boards in the past.

So, they saw that we launched our Climate for SMEs: 4 Steps to Action course and climate action toolkit in 2022. They loved the course but wanted something more specifically about science based targets for the SMEs in their supply chain.

They got in touch with us and together, we worked on a supplier mentoring programme that we launched in March 2022 for the SMEs within their supply chain.

Supporting Grosvenor’s own net zero aims

Grosvenor has ambitions of its own to reach net zero by 2040 and be a climate positive business by 2050. The emissions of a company’s supply chain contribute to its carbon footprint measurement, so all businesses need to consider this as part of their net zero journey. Grosvenor knew this, and knew that the SMEs in their supply chain were supportive of their environmental ambitions. But they also knew that smaller businesses don’t have the resources to commit to net zero that big businesses like themselves do.

By 2030, Grosvenor expects 40% of its supply chain to have a science based target and from this year, they aim to only award contracts over £1 million to businesses with a science based target.

So, they wanted to work with us to create this programme – not only to help Grosvenor reach its net zero target, but also to help their SMEs stay competitive with clients.

“The response has been fantastic and we’re proud to be contributing significantly to the number of SMEs with science based targets. We’ll be looking at how we can expand the programme to support other parts of our value chain.” Victoria Herring, Sustainability Programme Director, Grosvenor

Bringing SMEs on a net zero journey

The mentoring programme took Grosvenor’s SMEs on a net zero journey, connecting them with experts in sustainability to learn at five workshops over eight months, with clinic sessions in between. They covered five areas: the business case for net zero and committing to a science based target, calculating your baseline, setting your action plan, achieving a validated science based target, and offsetting

The SMEs had the chance to learn from each other at the workshops and clinics, and learn green skills from sustainability professionals at Grosvenor and Heart of the City. Our net zero programme manager Laura McCullough, who led the SMEs through the programme, said:

“The programme was a huge success and we’re delighted to have guided so many businesses towards net zero who were completely new to the space. The SMEs were amazing – they really got involved in the work and we’re very proud of their progress.”

Supporting SMEs from across industries

The SMEs who took part in this programme were from a wide range of industries, including architecture, recruitment and construction. When they began the mentoring programme, many of them were starting from scratch. Our support started at the very beginning with understanding what net zero means, and they worked with us over eight months to get to a great position on their net zero journey.

By working with us and Grosvenor, those businesses have accelerated their journey to net zero and are well on the way to reaching net zero, meaning they’re more likely to stay resilient, keep their current contracts and win new ones.

Buckley Gray Yeoman is one of the SMEs that took part. Their Head of Sustainability, Rachael Owens, said:

Thanks to Heart of the City and Grosvenor, we’ve been able to accelerate the rate at which we’ve scoped our emissions and put targets in place.

We’re incredibly grateful to Grosvenor for the support, and for Heart of the City for putting together such a comprehensive and accessible programme; nudging us into taking some very big first steps. The Heart of the City course covered all aspects of understanding, measuring, planning to reduce, offsetting and reporting our operational emissions. The sessions were interactive, packed full of information, but without the jargon that can often makes this topic seem inaccessible. We were empowered to take action, and given the confidence to do this work ourselves, rather than relying on external companies, which we felt gave us more power to make change in the future.

Our carbon reduction and regenerative practice plan was published at the start of 2023 and we are already on our way to making emissions reductions.”

Helping more SME supply chains in the future

We’re really proud of this partnership with Grosvenor. We know that net zero isn’t an easy topic for SMEs – they have limited resources to dedicate to sustainability and are facing many current business challenges. But we also know that SMEs are fundamental to the UK’s economy and as a country, we won’t reach net zero unless all businesses can make changes.

That’s why we were so happy that Grosvenor, as an ambassador for Heart of the City, wanted to commit to helping their SMEs through this mentoring programme.

We hope this project will inspire other bigger businesses to think about how they too can offer this kind of practical support to the smaller companies they work with, to help more SMEs across the UK make similar steps towards net zero.

“We loved working with Heart of the City to support the SMEs in Grosvenor’s supply chain. It was great to be able to draw on their experience and knowledge of working with SMEs to give our suppliers a really practical programme that’s going to help them meet their sustainability goals and stay resilient as larger businesses start asking for this information from them.” Victoria Herring, Sustainability Programme Director, Grosvenor

If you’re working for a big business and would like to support your supply chain to become more sustainable, responsible businesses, find out how you can work with us.

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