Philip Richards, senior strategic account manager at BiU, explains how his organisation gets businesses started on their net zero journey.
A quick glance at Google’s data shows us that the number of people searching the web for “net zero” has rocketed in the past couple of years. Since the UK made its 2019 pledge to hit net zero by 2050, over a third of the UK’s biggest businesses have made headlines with their commitments to climate action. But there is less publicity for the businesses that may be struggling with how to start, or which standard to align to – so it’s easy to think you’re the only one.
BiU works with clients at all stages of their net zero journey, from those who already have a clear roadmap and pathway to those who haven’t engaged with the concept at all, and everything in between.
You can’t start a journey without knowing where you’re starting from, so a mapping exercise is essential. We go through every asset and operation of your business for scopes 1 and 2, and start to assess the extent of upstream and downstream greenhouse gases (GHGs), to compile an inventory in line with GHG Protocol.
At this stage, it’s crucial that we understand the boundaries of the business and the impact of change. For example, is the asset owned or leased? Is this site shared? How will capacity issues and rising energy costs impact the electrification of fleet? The extent of the mapping is truly in-depth. Only once completed can we carry out a detailed assessment of the causes of your company’s emissions and recommend pathways to net zero.
Weighing up the options
Our goal is to help the client make the most informed decisions possible, making a technical assessment of abatement options, in line with net zero. We present the business with a variety of possible routes to net zero and our recommendations, including timeframes and capital/operational costs. We guide executive boards through the options and the trade-off between upfront costs, efficacy of the solution, return on investment, public image and so on, to help with decision making.
The implementation stage starts with scrutinising the feasibility of each chosen pathway. Certain options may not be possible, for example, a heat pump may not be feasible because there is no way to install a compressor, or the u-values of the asset are not suitable for the technology. If a first-choice option isn’t viable we are always realistic with the client; we take it back to the board and explore our secondary recommendations.
BiU doesn’t carry out the capital work ourselves, but we can call on a longstanding network of technical trusted partners. If a client’s policy requires the work to be put out to tender, our preferred contractor will go through the tender process but the ultimate choice will be the client’s.
Reviewing and improving
The measures recommended by BiU and implemented by our trusted partners have helped UK businesses save thousands of tonnes of emissions. But these changes are just the start. We carry out regular reviews to see how the business is progressing on its net zero pathway, so that we can reassess and take action if things have gone off course, for example due to unplanned acquisitions or disposals of assets. This process of continual assessment is necessary to keep up with business changes and ensure corrective measures are remedied or reassessed as part of the pathway.
Mitigating the greenwash
Your net zero strategy needs to be scientifically rigorous and stand up to scrutiny. But it is difficult for a business to be sure that it is meeting the correct standards without in-house expertise. BiU uses internationally accepted standards such as the GHG Protocol and can advise you on whether schemes such as the Science-Based Targets initiative are right for your business. We also work with an independent and international ISO/PAS verifier so that net zero claims can be backed up. To find out how we can help you get started on your net zero journey, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org