Combined Heat & Power, District Heating & Cooling, Demand Side Services, Energy Efficiency

COVID has changed everything. But it hasn’t changed the imperative to cut emissions.

14 September 2021

Together the ADE and ACE-Research have worked to create a decarbonisation pledge which sits alongside our sustainability strategy, to reflect the essential role that businesses like ours have in decarbonisation, in line with global net zero targets.

The process of setting a meaningful pledge to decarbonise our own operations has provided some key insights into the complexities of the process, as well as providing some learning opportunities. Through sharing our experiences, we hope to inspire and mobilise our members to do the same whilst also highlighting the support businesses need to effectively decarbonise.

Originally, we were inspired by the Race to Zero campaign and wanted to be a certified business setting a decarbonisation target in line with 1.5 degrees to support the momentum to shift to a decarbonised economy ahead of COP26[1]. Therefore, our strategy follows the format of the Race to Zero campaign strategy on pledge, plan, proceed and publish.

However, despite our well-placed ambitions, we were thwarted at the first stage: a lack of data.

As an organisation which rents a floor in a multi occupancy building we were unable to obtain energy data or an EPC rating specific to our office’s operation. Despite engagement with the landlord and office management it was becoming increasingly apparent that our vision of benchmarking our energy usage and associated emissions in order to set a decarbonisation target in line 1.5 degrees was not going to be realised. Although we could have made estimates based on average calculations using floor space and estimated energy use based on other offices of a similar size – better than nothing, right? - this would not truly reflect our actual energy consumption with the accuracy needed to commit to a science based target.

Therefore, creating an authentic and achievable strategy which we could confidently fulfil became the main priority. This has become a critical theme to decarbonising, both internally and in our communications about what’s needed more widely – being practical and realising small but tangible changes is more important than making sweeping statements. To achieve this, we clearly outlined what type of organisation we were such as number of staff, number of members, office based with no fleet to clearly communicate what is in scope. The pledge then focused on beginning a data collection journey based on our building’s energy use with the aim of setting a decarbonisation target once we had a clear baseline to perform a gap analysis. We also highlighted the importance of training all staff and creating a high level of awareness around behaviour change in house to avoid any battles over the thermostat.

Through our engagement with members and research conducted by ACE-Research, we often hear about the issues faced by renters over the lack of control over their buildings capacity to decarbonise. Experiencing this first-hand sparked an internal discussion over the power as a renter to actively choose office spaces which conform with our efforts to decarbonise and provide accurate and reliable energy data. When forecasting future office procurement obtaining a space which fulfils this requirement is key.

Decarbonising the built environment is core to hitting the UK’s emissions reductions targets, yet our experience so far has proved that there are still large barriers that prevent setting strategies such as these from being a straightforward process. The ADE, already engaging with over 130 interested parties from across the industrial, commercial and public sectors, can play a catalytic role in helping our member companies get there.

Get in touch with us if we can help you at [email protected].

You can see our Pledge to Zero here.

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