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26 April 2018

Kirstin McEvoy is Group Sustainability and Corporate Social Values Manager at The Jockey Club. Driving home the benefits of simple, common-sense actions to save energy and money for the group’s 15 racecourses is at the heart of Kirstin’s work and the Going Green campaign.

I joined The Jockey Club in 2010 at about the time that the government introduced the Carbon Reduction Commitment, which meant that organisations like ours would need to meet various criteria needed to start reporting annual energy consumption.

I spent the first few years of my career as an Operational Research Analyst then Schedules Planning Manager at British Airways, so I was used to managing and analysing data.

My role has developed over time and The Jockey Club has supported my learning by putting me through an Environment Management Diploma, which I completed in 2012. A big chunk of the work I do now is keeping the subject of sustainability on all our agendas, and talking to as many people as possible who work at our racecourses. During the past seven months I have spoken to over 500 employees in 19 locations about how The Jockey Club is performing against sustainability targets, and how all of us can play a part in helping us to achieve them. Everyone was asked to make a personal pledge, something that they would do differently to support The Jockey Club’s sustainability targets. These roadshows have had a really positive impact on our figures – Market Rasen, for example had a 22% reduction in their electricity consumption from the very next day, and they’ve kept up the good work.

Engaging employees has proved to be the most successful way of achieving our targets and with the help of the network of 44 Green Champions, we vary the way we communicate and get people involved in our Going Green campaign. Big ‘Switch Offs’ are what we call our weekends, where we do just that – we simply ask all sites to do a walk round on a Friday night, often at the start of a Bank Holiday weekend, and switch off as much equipment as is operationally possible. Being able to measure the energy (and money!) saved through access to detailed data has been a good motivator to us all.

It occurred to me that we should look to use the Racing Together Community Day on May 11th to encourage all racecourses in the UK to pick and commit to a weekend that would work for them operationally to have a go at a Big Switch Off. Making that pledge is the important first step. Here are some tips that I hope may help:

– Make it a weekend when you have as few events on as possible
– Get as many people as possible involved, the more the merrier but it’s really useful to have:
– the boss, or someone with the authority to give the thumbs up if you’re not sure if you’re “allowed” to switch it off
– someone operational
– someone from catering
– someone who knows where the switches are and whether you’ll break it if you switch it off!
– See who can switch off the most switches and who can work out where the off switch is for those beer pumps or why the TV socket is behind a ceiling tile!?
– If you have access to your energy data, work out how much energy you used on the same weekend the previous year and then calculate the savings
– Shout about the success afterwards – both yourselves and through Racing Together.

Another part of my job that I really love is when I go out to speak to people from other sports and organisations about sustainability, whether at conferences or on a one-to-one level giving advice. The Jockey Club has been an integral part of BASIS, the British Association for Sustainable Sport since its inception in 2011 and I have been on the Steering Group for the duration and have been the Finance Director since 2014. Last week, I was at a meeting organised by DEFRA as part of Commonwealth Week where we discussed the role of sport in raising public awareness of marine pollution; I also spent some time with one of our partner charities talking about how they can save money by being more efficient, and next week I will be presenting in Amsterdam at the European conference on Sustainable Innovation in Sport.

It is great for me, for The Jockey Club and for our sport to be actively involved and taking a leadership role in the area of sustainability.

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