Acclaro Advisory has celebrated 10 years in business by offsetting all its historic carbon emissions to become carbon neutral for its lifetime. A fast-growing consultancy headquartered in Wokingham, we help organisations maximise their performance by improving their environmental and social outcomes, and support them to achieve zero carbon and positive social impact. As a company that lives by its values, we strive to achieve a low carbon footprint and strong social ethic for our own operations, too. With increasing focus on Scope 3 carbon emissions (the ones that fall upstream and downstream along an organisation’s value chain) this also means that Acclaro can directly contribute to the achievement of its clients’ own emissions reduction targets.

Gold Standard Offsets

It’s critically important that offsetting should not distract from the fundamental challenge of reducing carbon emissions. Acclaro has committed to a Net Zero target and will be following the SBTI methodology that requires emissions reductions of at least 90%. We have signed the SME Climate Commitment which requires the company to halve its emissions by 2030, achieve Net Zero by 2050 at the latest and report annually on its progress.

Recognising that carbon offsetting can be controversial, Acclaro undertook a thorough selection process, choosing projects certified by Gold Standard, one of the most highly regarded regulators of offset credits. This ensures that the projects selected have a genuine climate impact by meeting the following criteria:

  • Real – emissions reductions are measurable and permanent.
  • Additional – the emissions reductions would not have happened without the project
  • Independently Verified – activities and impact data verified by independent third parties.
  • Unique – carbon credits are not counted or claimed by any other party.
  • Traceable – all certified impacts are tracked transparently in a public registry.

In addition, Gold Standard offsets must meet a minimum of 3 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which in turn are subject to robust methodology requirements:

  • Safeguards – all projects must meet rigorous safeguarding principles.
  • Stakeholder inclusivity – projects must include local stakeholder consultations and grievance mechanisms
  • Gender sensitivity – projects must follow gender-sensitive design principles.
  • Project eligibility – Higher-risk projects like fossil fuel switch or large hydropower plants are excluded.

To maintain their status as producing Gold Standard carbon offset credits, projects undergo rigorous certification by both the Gold Standard and independent third parties. Their unique focus on supporting sustainable development alongside climate action has enabled Gold Standard-certified projects to create over $28 Billion in shared value, which means that our offsetting activities contribute social as well as environmental value. The projects we chose represent a mix of hydroelectric, wind power and reafforestation:

Betulia Hydroelectric Project in Hondurasa small run-of-river hydroelectric plant providing 23,000 MWh of green energy annually in a region where lack of access to electricity is a major issue.

The Nicaforest High Impact Reforestation Program A Shared Benefit Scheme empowering local people by planting approximately 360,000 trees on deforested land for future Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified timber production.

Sidrap Wind Farm ProjectIndonesia’s first utility scale wind farm, helping to reduce Indonesia’s dependence on fossil fuels through 30 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of 75 MW.

Transition Fund

In recognition that carbon offsets don’t reflect the true cost of carbon, Acclaro has established a transition fund. From 2022 onwards, we will set a voluntary internal carbon price that values emissions realistically based on credible sources. After purchasing each year’s verified offset credits, the balance will be invested in a Transition Fund that can be invested into additional carbon mitigation activities, for example UK reforestation or peatland preservation, or local renewable energy projects.

To find out more about Acclaro’s Responsible Business Impact, visit Our Responsible Business Impact – Acclaro Advisory (acclaro-advisory.com)

Earlier this month, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) published its Roadmap to Recovery, setting out how the construction industry can adapt and support transformation following the COVID-19 pandemic. It describes three phases, Restart, Reset, and Reinvent, making up a two-year plan to recover and transform the industry.

While the CLC’s roadmap focuses on the construction industry, the Restart, Reset, Reinvent framework can be applied to the existing built environment as well. The world is changing, bringing both a need to adapt and an opportunity to do things better.

The world is changing, bringing both a need to adapt and an opportunity to do things better.

A key area of change is how buildings are used. Organisations and individuals have proven that flexible working is effective and, in many cases, working practices are unlikely ever to return to pre-COVID “normal”. Workplaces will change, hours will become more varied, and companies may look to downsize their space. This will have a significant impact on energy management and utilities use, but we are in a period of flux and it will not happen overnight.

This article considers the steps organisations can take to improve their energy performance in the short and medium term.


Restart

In the coming months, lockdown measures will continue to be reduced. Organisations which have been on hold will be kicking back into action, furloughed staff will be returning to work and those who have been working from home will start to return to offices on a flexible basis. The focus for many will be increasing output, minimising disruption, and keeping colleagues safe.

This is the time to maximise on immediate, low cost energy savings – the simple practices that can avoid waste and reduce bills. Many organisations are cascading information around health and safety, working practices, and annual leave, and these updates provide a great opportunity to ‘reset behaviour’ and bring energy efficiency into the discussion.

Although the year so far has been far from ordinary, legislative requirements have not changed and compliance activities must still be carried out. The Restart phase is a great time to perform risk reviews, to identify any gaps and make sure necessary work is underway. SECR, ESOS, EPCs, DECs, and a plethora of other acronyms must not be ignored.

The Restart phase is a great time to perform risk reviews, to identify any gaps and make sure necessary work is underway.


Reset

As operations start to gain some stability, companies will be looking to consolidate and develop. There will be increased understanding of what the “new normal” will look like, and a period of forward-planning.

Energy efficiency, zero carbon aspirations and climate resilience should all be part of this conversation. Many organisations have, or are in the process of, setting strategic Net Zero targets and the Reset phase is an ideal time to develop ambitions into a robust plan.

As working practices start to settle into a routine, it’s a great time to review how buildings are performing. What has changed? Do spaces meet occupants’ evolving needs? Do controls strategies fit with the new world? Building and energy management controls will be the key to unlocking performance improvements, with better zoning allowing more flexible control, and landlord-tenant contracts starting to incorporate bespoke occupancy and controls requirements.

As working practices start to settle into a routine, it’s a great time to review how buildings are performing.


Reinvent

In the long term, ways of working and how buildings are used will be permanently transformed. Communities and organisations are striving for Net Zero and technology innovation continues at a supercharged pace. The Reinvent phase brings the challenge of preparing for this new world.

In the next few years, the focus will be on implementing systems to support and enable this transformation, and understanding and trialling new technological solutions. Robust planning through the Reset phase means these changes can be aligned with existing asset replacement programmes as far as possible to reduce costs. The following ideas map out what this could look like, but the list is endless.

  • Occupancy monitoring linked to building management systems, enabling automatic control with flexible occupancy patterns.
  • High resolution asset monitoring, using performance data to drive proactive maintenance regimes.
  • Interlinked low carbon generation, EV charging and battery technologies with demand management capabilities.
  • Detailed energy monitoring, improving understanding of consumption and waste, while enabling flexible billing in variable workspaces.
  • Low carbon heating solutions able to modulate without losing efficiency, to meet highly flexible demand.

In the long term, ways of working and how buildings are used will be permanently transformed. The Reinvent phase brings the challenge of preparing for this new world.


Looking to the future can be both exciting and intimidating, but with a methodical approach and robust planning we can deliver a positive and lasting transformation in the built environment.

To learn more about the broad range of services we provide, please browse our site or get in touch with us today.


Header photo by Philipp Birmes from Pexels

Acclaro Advisory - The Carbon Balance of Working from Home - A Woman Using her Laptop at a Home Desk

There’s plenty of news about the environmental benefits of lockdown. Pollution levels have dropped, skies are clearer and the roads are teeming with bicycles and pedestrians rather than the usual rush hour jams. Although we all face struggles with the isolation and uncertainty brought on by COVID, many people relish the newfound freedom to work from home.

Flexible working patterns have been on the rise in recent years, and there are proven health and productivity benefits from avoiding the daily commute. Companies have increasingly encouraged remote working as a cost-saving exercise, seeing benefits as the same employees occupy less space and consume less company-purchased energy.

However this energy is still being used – lights and laptops are still on and fuel is still being burned. Which raises the question: How does working from home really affect an organisation’s greenhouse gas emissions? It’s not a clear-cut answer. Working from home isn’t necessarily “better” or “worse” for a company’s carbon footprint, but it definitely is a challenge to measure, understand and report.  It comes down to a balance between emissions avoided by not going in to the office, and additional emissions generated at home.

What is the Carbon Balance of Working From Home vs Working On-site?

A video conference call taking place between a man and a woman.At an individual level, it’s a balance that can be measured. You may ditch your daily 40 mile drive, but keep the heating on an extra three hours to keep you cosy until the sun hits the kitchen window. Rather than grabbing a sandwich on the way in, it’s suddenly easier to cook a proper lunch on a stove. Many things don’t change much – a laptop will use the same power wherever it’s plugged in, and you will probably need the same number of cups of coffee to get through that last phone call in the afternoon.

Scaling this up to an organisation level becomes much more difficult. Organisations and Facilities Managers have an opportunity during lockdown to reduce energy use at low or unoccupied sites as much as possible. In many cases, however, a small number of people are still using the space, or lease agreements state that it must remain ready for occupancy, limiting the scope for savings. Control systems, zoning arrangements and occupancy patterns are all under scrutiny.

As well as trying to understand and reduce emissions, responsible businesses should be considering how to report the impact of employees working from home. It’s analogous to outsourcing services – a company should not claim a carbon reduction from moving to externally hosted servers but should bring this service in scope as part of their operations. For emissions from working from home this has been done very rarely in the past, and comes with a number of challenges.

The reporting challenge

Challenge 1: Relevance

Emissions from employees working from home are not covered by the fifteen reporting categories of Scope 3 emissions under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. This creates an uncertainty for organisations. Should these emissions be reported? Will other organisations include them? Where should they sit?

Defining an inventory boundary is an important aspect of emissions reporting, and separating company-related emissions from a household setup is not straightforward. How can these emissions be separated from “normal” household consumption? And how should responsibility be split between multiple household members working for different organisations?

Challenge 2: Accuracy

The difficulty of defining which household emissions are attributable to the organisation makes it almost impossible to measure actual energy consumption data from working from home. Figures will therefore largely be based on estimates, necessitating a range of assumptions. A company traditionally occupying one medium-sized office building may now be spread across several hundred domestic dwellings with a plethora of heating systems, lighting arrangements and daily routines. Benchmark data and “rule of thumb” assumptions will be essential.

Challenge 3: Consistency

Reporting emissions from home working has very rarely been done in the past. But in many organisations, flexible arrangements are nothing new. Bringing a new emissions category in to scope to include these emissions creates a risk of inconsistency with previous years. Companies should consider whether restating past emissions is necessary under their internal reporting procedures.

Opportunities

A man commuting on his bicycle.Although reporting the impact of working from home is a challenge, by calculating and being transparent about emissions companies can understand the greatest area of impact and focus their reductions efforts. The following examples may contribute to emissions targets in the short to medium term:

  • Improved understanding of company building set-backs when not in use. These changes may be implemented over Christmas breaks, bank holidays or even weekends and evenings going forwards.
  • Users have become more comfortable using collaborative technology (for example team chats and videoconferencing) which should reduce the need for face to face meetings in future, saving business travel emissions.
  • More time at home, where individuals are paying their own bills, may encourage better energy efficient routines and ways of working.
  • After months of rarely going anywhere near a car, individuals may seek lower carbon methods of commuting.

The Future

There is little doubt that flexible ways of working will be commonplace in the future. At the same time, organisations will be under more scrutiny to report their impact in a comprehensive and transparent way – including emissions from working from home. Responsible businesses on a pathway to zero carbon will need to collaborate with employees to reduce emissions wherever they work. As we have seen with schemes to encourage low carbon commuting (e.g. cycle-to-work, lift-sharing and rail ticket loans), perhaps incentive schemes will arise for home energy improvements.

Wherever this transformation takes us, it will be important to embed a culture of sustainability that every member of the organisation takes home.


To learn more about the journey to becoming a zero-carbon business,
click here to download our completely free 10-page guide.