A Sustainable Xmas with Kay Orlopp: Affordable homes, consumerism and chess

Resonance property fund development manager talks reducing waste, mental health and proposals

It has been an astonishing year, one that none of us could ever have predicted and the remainder doesn’t look much more appealing with the festive season with our extended family and friends in jeopardy.

To lighten the mood, we wanted to find out from ESG investment professionals the achievements and lessons learned in 2020. We also asked how they will be making their festivities sustainable and their New Year’s resolutions to protect the planet and society.

In this article, we speak to Kay Orlopp, property fund development manager at Resonance.

What are your biggest personal and professional achievements this year?

Professionally I have project managed the launch of two new property funds – one providing housing for people with learning disabilities and one for housing vulnerable women. It has taken a lot of drive and determination from the whole team to design two completely new impact investment models, build relationships with new partners and investors on a virtual basis, then finally pull it all together to make it a reality. I am really proud of my team’s work on getting to this point plus excited about the impact this will have for organisations we partner with and the tenants they house in the years to come.

My biggest personal achievement (apart from just getting through the year!) would probably be getting engaged in August. My partner is a nurse and so has been working on the frontline of the pandemic this year – I am incredibly proud of her and extremely happy she said yes. You could say it was done in a sustainable way as I proposed with an engagement ring from the Edwardian era.

In ESG, what has had the biggest impact this year?

The stories of the positive impact of reduced travel on the environment has made us all at Resonance pause for thought on the amount of physical meetings we would travel to attend in the course of a normal year. 

This is something that will continue past the impact of Covid-19 and into the coming years to reduce our contribution to emissions and pollution by thinking twice about face-to-face meetings and travel.

What is a major positive change your business has introduced permanently as a result of the pandemic?

At Resonance, the pandemic meant bringing in an urgent working-from-home policy, which all staff fully embraced. 

We had already just introduced Teams pre-lockdown but now we have all had to use it constantly. It has enabled us to have virtual coffee breaks with those not in the same office so I think relationships have improved as a result. It has also led to enhanced communication between teams and individuals. Some colleagues even spend their working day working ‘alongside each other’ using Teams to replicate being in the office – but virtually.

Colleagues have found the flexible start and finish times invaluable for maximising balance with family life. Resonance also introduced an additional flexible working environment policy to its existing policy for those working full time, enabling staff to work slightly longer days for four days so that on the fifth day, staff can finish their working day earlier. 

Supporting the mental health of staff has also been a priority during this time and has seen Resonance’s people team, and line managers, providing one-to-one support to colleagues and in the next couple of months Resonance will have three members of staff trained as mental health first aiders, continuing to provide mental health support.

How will you be having a sustainable festive period?

Covid-19 rules have definitely removed the ‘noise’ of consumerism that often surrounds Christmas and highlighted the true nature of the festive period, which is of course the generosity of your time spent with family, friends and your community.

For me, it has been a welcome disruption to the barrage of ‘buy, buy, buy’ that often accompanies this time of year. We have bought quite a few presents from some great social enterprises that offer experiences rather than things – cooking lessons from Migrateful proving a favourite. 

We also decided to get a pot-grown tree, which we can move outside after Christmas and reuse for many Christmases to come.

What is your go-to winter holiday routine and what’s your back-up plan for this year? 

There’s usually a big group of us who meet up on the Friday before Christmas in our friend’s bar, Station Hop in Levenshulme, but unfortunately we won’t be able to do that this year due to the restrictions. We have decided to have a group video call instead (still being supplied by bottles of beer from Station Hop of course).

For our Christmas dinner we will still see immediate family but only visiting one home instead of hop-scotching around the extended family as we usually would.  

During Covid-19 I have rediscovered a love of playing cards and chess so I will no doubt spend a lot of time doing that – sometimes in the park for a change of scenery.

What’s your sustainability New Year’s resolution? 

I am going to target being less wasteful – mainly of food but also for buying things that aren’t really needed or aren’t good enough quality to last a while. 

In order to ensure I get out of the house on either side of the working from home day, I have also enjoyed walking and cycling and intend to continue this as a method of travel where possible once the world starts to reconnect in person.

What’s your big prediction for next year in the ESG space?

Next year will see even greater emergence and interest in residential social impact property funds. The UK’s demand for affordable homes continues to increase. The pandemic has seen an even greater surge in demand, in particular for those experiencing domestic abuse, where calls to helplines surged across 2020. The pandemic also highlighted the need for a roof over the heads of rough sleepers and indeed saw hotels provide accommodation for people who hadn’t had a place to call their own in years. This spotlight on the demand for housing sits in the context of the well-documented growth and interest in ESG and impact investing, especially among institutional investors, a trend that will gather greater pace in 2021 and beyond.

See also: – 

A Sustainable Xmas with Bethan Rose: Target measuring, plastics and charity

A Sustainable Xmas with Dan Bland: Managing risk, carbon footprints and advent calendars

A Sustainable Xmas with Hannah Simons: Net zero, inequality and Zoom carols

A Sustainable Xmas with Yuko Takano: Games, electric cars and diversity

A Sustainable Xmas with Diane Earnshaw: Flexible working, last-minute wrapping and embedding ESG

A Sustainable Xmas with Caroline Langley: PT puppy, 1970s wrapping paper and greenwashing

A Sustainable Xmas with Bev Shah: Homemade decorations, food waste and measurable metrics

A Sustainable Christmas with Eilidh Duncan: Agile working, Disclosure Regulation and meat-free meals

A Sustainable Christmas with Jean-Jacques Barbéris: Baby news, China’s game changer and reduced travel

A Sustainable Christmas with Patrick Thomas: Staycations, veggie diet and panic buying