With more than 25 years’ experience in energy management, Kam Singh of EMCOR UK shares his insight into this year’s carbon reduction trends and how businesses can keep their net zero journey on track.

The recent news that 2023 was the warmest year on record served as yet another reminder of the challenges we face in combating climate change. The built environment constitutes 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint and is a critical battleground in this fight.

Many businesses are developing and delivering strategies to achieve net zero, with 2030 a common target. Maintaining momentum can be difficult; here, I share advice about carbon trends in 2024 and how to stay on track to reach carbon goals.

Carbon offset schemes

Carbon offset schemes have been a popular choice in sustainability strategies, but as we move closer to net zero businesses must scrutinise the schemes they use, as well as explore complementary or alternative options.

Third-party certifications like Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) have been widely used but their legitimacy is being questioned. The potential over-allocation of REGOs against actual electricity availability in the market has raised concerns about greenwashing.

The market is rife with other schemes, but some certifications simply aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

A more discerning approach to carbon offsetting is essential. I expect businesses to gravitate towards credible and certified carbon offset schemes, coupled with the adoption of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

PPAs establish a tangible link between businesses and renewable energy providers, moving beyond the vagueness of certifications. Unlike REGOs, PPAs offer multi-year contracts, providing a stable and authentic solution for cross-organisational carbon offset schemes. This shift towards legitimacy and long-term commitments is pivotal in achieving meaningful carbon reduction goals.

Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions

A lot of businesses have been able to make meaningful progress in understanding and reducing their scope 2 emissions. Scope 1 and 3 emissions may be more challenging, but they are equally as important in the road to net zero.

A key part of scope 1 emissions are vehicle fleets, and electric vehicles (EVs) are the best solution in the years ahead. However, their implementation demands meticulous planning. The infrastructure is not yet in place to support EV charging on a large scale, and businesses cannot risk switching their fleets while this is the case. Forward-thinking organisations are exploring initiatives where they fund innovative EV charging points outside employees’ homes, which allow the employer to pay for the electricity directly.

Scope 3 emissions, which are those that come from supply chains, are the hardest to tackle and therefore require the most attention. Achieving goals demands collaboration, open communication, and a collective commitment from corporations and their suppliers. Larger organisations can play a pivotal role in supporting smaller suppliers by providing the education and tools to measure emissions accurately.

Collaboration with software providers can also support the development of carbon reduction schemes, enabling organisations and their supply chains to embark on the journey towards net zero together. As more businesses demand sustainability from their suppliers and support them to achieve this, it can uplift whole supply chains to be more sustainable.

Smart building development

The UK has had half-hourly metered electricity supplies for all sites with a demand exceeding 100 KW for more than thirty years. This infrastructure allows businesses to review daily energy profiles, informing decisions on energy efficiency. However, the future lies in more advanced data management systems that offer intelligent insights into individual asset operations.

The integration of AI monitoring software and IoT solutions goes beyond merely replacing aging appliances. It enables informed decisions about optimal maintenance and replacement regimes, ensuring proactive measures before assets fail. Predictive technology at an asset level, such as vibration sensors on pumps and motors, allows for pre-emptive fixes, avoiding disruptions and optimising efficiency.

With fluctuating office occupancy patterns, data collection becomes critical. Smart systems that respond to changing usage patterns, such as sensors detecting CO2 levels to gauge building occupancy, are paramount. Maximising data collection across the estate enables organisations to make strategic decisions on energy and space utilisation, furthering their commitment to sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint.

High level strategy

The three trends I have covered offer plenty of opportunities to make meaningful reductions in carbon. There are also higher-level strategies that can be adopted to ensure the overarching carbon plan is achievable.

One example is to shift away from treating energy as a procurement project, and instead approach it from a risk management standpoint. The energy market will always be volatile and to navigate this uncertainty, businesses should consider adopting rolling three-year reviews of their energy market positions. This proactive approach helps in managing price risks which provides an opportunity for the creation of an energy efficiency budget from the savings or cost avoidance. This allows for further investment in low carbon technologies.


Carbon reduction is always a huge undertaking, regardless of where you are in the journey. It’s important to celebrate the wins along the way but also be planning ahead to keep the momentum.

Addressing the three trends I have highlighted here will set up a business for success in 2024 and the years ahead. Of course, the benefits extend beyond sustainability, and many will help increase efficiency, reduce costs and make a business more attractive to customers, employees and stakeholders.