Setting a carbon reduction goal can be daunting. The fear of scrutiny both internal and the public can be unnerving to most hardened energy professionals, but it need not be this way. In my work as an Energy Manager, I’ve learnt to adopt three simple steps to an ambitious and attainable target through creation of a carbon strategy.
Establishing a baseline
GAIA’s approach to setting a baseline begins with delving into the data. We help businesses to understand their carbon footprint and where they can reduce emissions. We create a detailed overview of the sources of carbon within a business and what can be done to mitigate emissions. The footprint will depend on exactly what is included, and our process focusses on large sources of emissions which a business has control over to maximise investment return. Every company will be different, with some companies having significant emissions from transporting goods while others may find that lighting in buildings is their biggest source of emissions.
Building the plan
Having identified the major sources of emissions GAIA will work with a business to develop opportunities to reduce them, through working with the main stakeholders and plotting the size and cost of each opportunity. We will identify simple and cost effective projects, such as installing low energy lighting or buying green energy, to build a detailed plan to reduce emissions in the short to mid-term. We also look further into the future to investigate solutions which might become possible or necessary in the future. This ‘horizon scanning’ gives a view on where more development is required and helps plan actions into the medium and long-term. Once a business has a list of opportunities of varying size and cost GAIA can build a Marginal Abatement Cost Curve to prioritise the best opportunities, providing a range of options for your final carbon strategy to achieve your carbon target.
Use the results
The carbon strategy builds a framework for achieving your carbon target, but the most important step is to use it to engage the business and build support for energy and carbon reduction.
This could include:
- Selling the target to the board, stressing the science which has gone into its creation
- Showcasing the business case behind the carbon target, showing that being sustainable is about being a better business in all senses of the word
- Using a structured plan to focus on the important actions needed to reduce carbon emissions
- Working with key stakeholders to take the actions identified within the strategy
- Keeping the strategy updated with the latest projects and performance to track progress towards your targets.
When this is done successfully the strategy turns into a living, breathing plan which everyone is bought into, understanding the benefits and their place within it. GAIA creates its carbon strategy with these actions in mind and provides support all along the way, giving our clients the best chance to succeed at achieving their carbon reduction goals.