We focus our social sustainability activities around the communities we serve, our workplace and marketplace, and the environment we work hard to protect.
Our social programmes in the community, workplace, and marketplace focus on education initiatives, environmental stewardship and social inclusion. We are committed to ensuring that sustainability is at the forefront of everything we do and to help Ireland to reduce its carbon emissions.
In 2022, we retained certification as one of only 41 companies in Ireland to hold the Business Working Responsibly Mark standard, in line with ISO26000, from Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI). The Mark is the only independently audited standard for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability practices in Ireland. As holders of the Mark, we are a member of the BITCI Leaders Group on Sustainability, co-chair of the Low Carbon Economy Group, and members of the Elevate diversity and inclusion Group.
Employee volunteering is part of our corporate responsibility strategy, where we aim to deliver our services in a sustainable manner that contributes to the protection of the environment while supporting the social and economic development of their communities.
Acting responsibly and building strong relationships in the communities where we operate is fundamental to carrying out our business effectively.
Supporting local communities
Our core community programmes focus on environmental awareness and three key areas of social inclusion: education, employability and accessibility.
In 2022 we supported 59 community initiatives, provided over €200,000 of financial support to local communities, and 618 volunteering hours were delivered by Gas Networks Ireland staff.
Our Education Initiatives
Gas Networks Ireland sponsor and deliver impactful education initiatives across Ireland promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths, employment and the development of life skills including Energize, Time to Count, and World of Work. We also supported other STEAM initiatives including sponsoring a panel event at I Wish and ran events during Science Week and Biodiversity Week.
2022 marked the 12th year of our partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland with over 400 Gas Networks Ireland staff volunteering on Junior Achievement programmes to date, working with over 30,000 students nationwide. Not only did students enjoy the Energize programme there were more positive attitudinal associations with education, the world of work and science.
“Energize has been the highlight of the term for my 6th class students. Our Gas Networks Ireland Volunteer has brought curiosity, fun and energy for STEAM into our classroom.”
Carbon monoxide poster competition
Each module of Energize features a creative element allowing students to engage with STEAM subjects in a new way; in the “Safety First” module, students design a poster promoting carbon monoxide awareness. Through this activation method students learn the important message of carbon monoxide safety and in turn convey that message in their own homes, promoting Gas Networks Ireland’s goal of 100% of homes having a carbon monoxide alarm.
We received many creative entries to our carbon monoxide poster competition. The term winners were from Scoil Chaitríona Cailíní National School, (Coolock), Carrigeen National School, (Kilkenny) and Scoil an Linbh Íosa, (Naas). Each winning submission won an iPad for their class donated by Gas Networks Ireland.
“All our sixth-class pupils engaged in the poster competition and grasped the important safety messages related to carbon monoxide with wonderful creativity thanks to Junior Achievement Ireland and Gas Networks Ireland.”
Time to Count
The Business in the Community Time to Count programme fosters children’s confidence around numeracy and maths problem solving skills which play a vital role in their development. Third class pupils at Scoil Aiséirí Chríost in Cork were visited by Gas Networks Ireland employees over an eight-week programme of specially designed numeracy and activities aimed at building confidence and enjoyment of maths, supporting problem solving skills and reinforcing number concepts.
“Time to Count supports the curriculum and helps to make maths more enjoyable and interesting for the pupils. Having engineers and scientists from Gas Networks Ireland deliver the programme has certainly promoted a positive attitude and helped inspire the pupils.”
Our employees are central to the success of our business. They are the driving force, the creative intelligence, and the passionate energy behind our achievements. Investing in our people allows us to attract and retain the best.
During 2022, we delivered several new training programmes in person and virtually across a range of key personal and professional development, we supported our staff through returning to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic with the introduction of new ways of working and collaboration tools, and provided opportunities for teams to connect through All Hands and Quarterly updates.
Our overarching ambition is that the people who work in our organisation feel like this is a great place to work, and that their experience at work is enriching and rewarding. We continued to give our teams an opportunity to provide insight and opinions on their organisational experience through our annual engagement survey, employee forum and our employee resource groups. By continuing to listen and address areas that are important for our people we can take positive steps to shape our culture, improve how we do things and how we support our people. We are proud to see an increase in overall sustainable engagement in our company through our annual survey.
Throughout 2022 we considered future ways of working post pandemic, and commenced our hybrid working trial, transformed our offices in Cork, and took the first steps in the Digital Workplace Technology project which mark important milestones in our Future of Work project.
Headquarters building upgrade
In 2018, Gas Networks Ireland committed to halving our energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as part of the low carbon pledge. Furthermore, in 2018 the new EPBD (Energy Performance of Buildings Directive) regulations identified that Public Sector buildings will need to comply with EU and Irish Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB). This will mean that all public sector buildings will need to achieve a minimum BER of B by 2030. An upgrade project commenced at our company headquarters in Cork in 2022 and will bring the building from its current BER of C3 to B1.
Natural gas plays a critical role in providing a cleaner, competitive, and secure energy supply for Ireland. Our challenge is to drive the evolution of Ireland’s energy system and respond to the challenge of climate change while providing a safe and secure energy supply.
Customers’ needs, wants, and perceptions change as the context around them and the world shifts. In this changing environment, we continue to listen to our customers. We consider customer understanding to be a guiding focus whether related to a specific interaction or project or as part of broad scale strategy.
Supporting our customers during the energy crisis
We supported the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) initiative to implement a general system wide moratorium on debt-related gas meter locks and disconnections during the pandemic and up until March 2023 (managed by gas suppliers and facilitated by Gas Networks Ireland), ensuring customers had access to the gas they needed to help heat their homes and cook food. We also engage with MABS, where quarterly meetings allow both parties to share information in relation to the challenges faced by customers relating to energy costs.
Putting our customers first
We met all our customer satisfaction score targets across all activities surveyed and with a 4% reduction in complaints made by our customers compared to 2021, continuing the trend of complaints decline since 2018. We continued to engage with the wider industry in Ireland and the UK, gaining insight on best practice and developments within the industry. Nurturing these critical industry relationships and sharing common experience, helps us define our ever evolving customer strategy and operations approach as we adapt to meet changing customer needs.
We helped customers manage their energy costs by enabling supplier switching and by installing Pay as You Go (PAYG) meters. PAYG meters now constitute 16.9% of the total residential meter population. These meters can be used as an important tool in the fight against energy poverty. In 2022, we have also exchanged more than 18,094 meters under our domestic meter replacement programme (both credit and PAYG).
We are responsible for the process of switching customers from one supplier to another. In 2022, there were seven competing retail suppliers active in the market. 128,000 gas customers changed supplier in 2022. Since the gas market opened to competition in 2004, over 1.5 million gas supplier switches have been completed.Read more about our marketplace initiatives