A climate crisis requires all levels of cultural change so what are we doing to address this? Orms Associate Rosie Bard writes about the process and the importance of understanding our actions as a business in the fight against climate change.
Why Act now?
The practice wanted to understand the impact that we have as a business on the environment in order to reduce our impact on climate change. In 2021, with the close of COP26, I think were all left asking whether the commitments made went far enough, how governments and nations will be held accountable to these commitments and how progress will be tracked?
As a practice we felt that that it was the time to turn commitments into meaningful action. At Orms we are committed to driving down our emissions and making meaningful change both as a business and within the projects we deliver in order to demonstrate clear climate leadership to our clients and collaborators in a sector which accounts for more than 40% of the UK’s carbon budget and a quarter of global emissions.
Where did you start?
First we needed to understand the impact that the current business model has in terms of carbon emissions. We worked with an external consultant (eight versa) to help us understand our baseline footprint and chose 2019 as the last year of ‘business as usual’.
Essentially this meant collecting a lot of data but allowed us to really understand our business operations in a way we had not before, and to highlight key areas we could target for reductions.
We learnt that whilst most companies report their scope 1 and 2 emissions the majority of our footprint (over 80% sits within scope 3), clearly this is an important area to investigate further.
What targets have you set?
We have committed to a reduction target in line with the science based target initiative SME programme and commit to reduce our scope 1 & 2 emissions by 46% over a 2019 baseline, and to measure and reduce our scope 3 emissions. Our target was validated in September 2022. By analysing hot spots within our footprint, we can set actions in motion to reduce our carbon emissions and we intend to report our emissions annually.
Over the last 2 years we have reduced our scope 1 & 2 footprint by 9% and our overall footprint by 23%. We intend to seek external verification of our assessment to ensure transparency and completeness.
What is your approach to offsetting?
Offsetting is a contentious subject with some companies using them as a ‘get out of jail free card’. In addition to setting a science based target for the reduction of emissions, the practice also offsets our scope 1 & 2 emissions. To tackle the twin targets of reduction and removal, this action which is not counted towards impact reduction, is a recognition that whilst efforts are focused on the reduction of impact, until the impact is ‘absolute Zero’, investment in projects that help address climate inequality and carbon reduction represent a valuable contribution to the fight against climate change.
For 2020 and 2021 and future years, we have undertaken the footprint calculation in house. We feel that there is value in analysing the data ourselves as it gives us a better understand of how we operate and where we can make reductions. Once we have improved the accuracy of our data collection, we also intend to set a net zero target. We have spent 2022 getting to grips with calculating our footprint ourselves and understanding each section of our footprint to enable us to set a net zero target in 2023.
One of the big shifts in the last couple of years brought about by the pandemic, has been the introduction of an element of remote working. For 2022, we are aiming to include this within our footprint and are researching ways to do this.
A key takeaway from the analysis of our 2019 footprint was that over 80% of our emissions sit within scope 3 – purchased good and services. Essentially the people we work with, our co-collaborators and consultants and companies we buy goods from. The most effective way to reduce this element of our footprint is to advocate for others to also undertake this exercise and set their reduction pathways. Additionally, we are developing a green purchasing checklist to ensure that the companies we work with and purchase from are also committed reducing their impact on the planet.
Our full report will be available to download shortly.
Some useful links below, to help you get started, please do get in touch if you want to know more email@example.com