We have calculated Greengage’s carbon footprint for Calendar Year (CY) 2022 to demonstrate our acknowledgement of the importance of reducing carbon emissions in the built environment industry.
As part of our continued support of both to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) ‘Climate Neutral Now’ Pledge and the World Green Building Council’s (WGBC) ‘Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment’, we are committed to reducing and offsetting our emissions. We prioritise securing actual emissions reductions, with offsetting used as a tool for tackling any residual emissions, in line with PAS 2060: 2014 best practice.
In line with global reporting requirements and through the application of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG) guidelines and framework, we have calculated our carbon emissions for the CY 2022. We have measured and categorised our emissions into the following Scopes:
- Scope 1 = Direct Emissions (fuel combustion from internal gas boilers and refrigerants);
- Scope 2 = Indirect Emissions (electricity purchased and used by the organisation);
- Scope 3 = All other Indirect Emissions (emissions outside of Greengage’s ownership or control, such as; business travel, employee commuting, water supply, work from home emissions, well to tank, waste, transmission and distribution, leased assets and company purchases).
To improve our footprint accuracy, we have included additional Scope 3 categories, compared to previous reporting years. This will ensure that our offsetting strategy sufficiently addresses any residual emissions. This has been possible due to improved data visibility and quality. Therefore, the accuracy of our data and calculations has also improved, relying less on benchmarks and assumptions.
It is also important to note that Greengage has grown significantly as a company during this period, with the number of full-time employees almost doubling from the beginning of CY 2022, significantly intensifying Greengage’s overall carbon output.
Table 1.1 Greengage 2023 Carbon Footprint breakdown
Greengage 2022 Carbon Emissions by Scope (Location Based):
Greengage 2022 Carbon Emissions by Scope (Market Based):
Greengage’s 2022 carbon footprint equates to 67.86 tCO2e, the equivalent of a 100.18% increase in emissions from 2021. As shown in the chart above, the largest proportion of emissions is associated with Scope 3, with the dramatic increase in category inclusions being responsible for the increase in Greengage’s overall emissions. Scopes 1 and 2 showing a slight reduction compared to the 2021 results.
As discussed, the dramatic increase in carbon partially results from:
- Improved data visibility;
- Increased office occupancy due to COVID-19 being less impactful;
- A 54% growth in the number of FTEs; and
- A greater reliance on spend data, which will all be explored in more detail below.
In 2022, there was a 33% reduction in Scope 1 (gas and refrigerants) emissions from the previous reporting year. This has been due to improved data quality, achieved by accounting for the fact that we share the office with another company. Their portion of the office’s gas emissions were removed from Greengage’s total and apportioned to them. The quantity removed was calculated using the ratio split of desks in the office. Despite the reduction in the total gas emissions, Greengage’s gas consumption did increase in 2022. However, this was to be expected due to the office being open for 12 months of the year, compared to 2021 which included a number of UK government enforced office closures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The accuracy of our refrigerant leakage data has also been improved by using a more accurate benchmark. For 2021, BREEAM 2018 leakage scenarios were applied (15% annual leakage), however for 2022, the refrigerant leakage was calculated using the more widely accepted CIBSE TM65 leakage scenario (2021) of 4% leakage per year, this is considered to be the most up to date industry benchmark. This has resulted in a reduction in emissions, however this was due to improved accuracy of the leakage factors applied, rather than through the implementation of specific mitigation measures.
Scope 2 carbon emissions are indirect emissions associated with use of purchased electricity and gas.
The two methods available for reporting Scope 2 emissions are location based, and market based. Location based emissions reflect the carbon intensity of electricity generation from the national grid for the reporting year and market-based emissions reflect the carbon associated with the energy procurement decisions made by the reporting company. It is important to report on both.
When comparing our 2022 Scope 2 emissions to our 2021 Scope 2 performance, there has been a 41% reduction. This is partially as a result of the 2022 BEIS location-based UK electricity emission factor reducing in comparison to 2021, to take into account the decarbonisation of the national grid. This reduction acknowledges that grid electricity is now less carbon intensive than it was in 2021, with a greater proportion of electricity coming from renewable sources. This has therefore resulted in reduced emissions associated with Greengage’s electricity consumption. For best purpose practices we have also calculated the market-based emissions. The market-based emissions are 0, as the electricity supplier provides 100% renewable energy. The market-based emissions are what have been included in our total when calculating our off-setting requirements.
Again, as with the gas emissions, this large percentage reduction is a result of improving the accuracy of consumption data by accounting for the shared office space, providing a more representative depiction of Greengage’s electricity consumption, and associated emissions.
Purchased Goods and Services
The largest increase in emissions has been seen within Greengage’s Scope 3 footprint, more specifically within corporate purchases. The Scope 3 Category 1 (purchased goods and services) data accounted for in 2021 was limited to basic office supplies such as paper, bathroom items and cleaning products. However, for 2022, a much broader range of expenditure was covered, notably that of our Ecology team.
Due a persistent lack of weight-based data, purchases emissions calculations were again largely spend-based, which is widely considered to be less accurate as it can inflate emissions. Furthermore, the SECR spend emission factors used are from 2009 and are therefore outdated in comparison to the BEIS weight/volume-based factors, which update every year. Despite this, it is still important to account for these purchases to ensure transparency and where weight data is not available, overcompensate in lieu of underestimating our emissions. Where possible, BEIS weight/volume-based calculations were used, however the required granularity of data was only available for a limited number of purchases within the data sets. As a result, Greengage’s purchases were responsible for 13.61 tCO2e in 2022, compared to 0.9 tCO2e in 2021. Greengage is still looking to further improve the scope and granularity of purchase data available, for instance through including work party supplies and specific office equipment procured in the 2023 calculations.
Emissions associated with water consumption for this year were based on averages detailed in the BSRIA Rules of Thumb (2011) guidelines document. This suggests that an average office employee uses 45L of water per day, which is lower than the benchmark applied for 2021 of 50L per employee per day. This benchmark was applied to the number of days employees spent in the office in 2022, calculated from surveying employee commuting habits. The more accurate updated methodology resulted in a 70% reduction in emissions associated with water consumption, compared to the previous reporting year. Again, the methodology improvements simply improved the accuracy of consumption figures obtained, and therefore the emissions reduction was not a result of the implementation of specific mitigation measures.
Well-to-tank emissions were included in the Scope 3 calculations for the first time for 2022 reporting. This measurement focuses on calculating the emissions associated with the extraction, transportation and processing of fuels before transmission, and provides a much more accurate picture of wider emissions associated with Greengage’s gas, electric and other fuel consumption. In total, these accounted for 2% of the total recorded emissions for CY 2022.
Waste data accuracy for 2022 has improved in comparison with the previous year. A ‘Waste Data Report’ was retrieved from Greengage’s waste provider which detailed the exact weights (kg) of both the general and recyclable waste generated in 2022, and the disposal methods used for each waste type. This improved accuracy resulted in a 70% decrease in waste related emissions for CY 2022.
Business travel emissions slightly decreased, by 3.4%, in 2022 in comparison to 2021. A trend of reduced car and taxi travel was identified between the data sets, which may account for the reduction in overall business travel emissions, as these are the most carbon intensive transport modes that Greengage uses (air travel is not relevant to Greengage’s operations). Rail travel was the preferred method of travel throughout CY 2022, supported by an internal policy encouraging employees to prioritise rail travel in lieu of car/taxi travel, where feasible.
As expected, on account of the increase in the number of FTEs, emissions from employee commuting in 2022 have increased by 68% in comparison to 2021. This growth reflects the 54% increase in the number of FTEs at Greengage and the increased encouragement for employees to return to the office following the lifting of COVID-19 stay-at-home guidelines.
Upstream Leased Assets
Finally, another new category accounted for in 2022 were Greengage’s leased assets. This considers the additional rented desk space in Bristol and Manchester that Greengage acquired towards the end of 2022. This category only accounts for a very small portion of Greengage’s total emissions (0.1%); however, these emissions are forecast to represent a greater proportion of the company’s total carbon emissions over the coming year due to business growth in these regions and the associated employee recruitment in these shared office spaces.
In line with the Climate Pledge Guidelines, ≥10% of our ‘offsets’ will come from Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) as offered by the UN. We selected to support DelAgua, a public health programme in Eastern Africa, based upon the impact it would likely have in the local community. The remaining 90% of our carbon emissions, will be invested through the UK-based Forest Carbon ex-ante Pending Issuance Units (PIU) at a new increased price of £25/tonne, a price that we chose to replicate when purchasing the CDMs, resulting in the purchasing of surplus CDMs. As such, through meeting the minimum 10% threshold and implementing our £25/tonne pricing, we have offset a total of 11 tCO2e through the UN offsetting schemed. The remaining 90% emissions have been offset through the Forest Carbon emissions removal schemes which are certified in line with the Woodland Carbon Code and Peatland Code, the quality assurance standard for both woodland creation and peatland restoration projects in the UK.
Greengage began calculating company carbon emissions in 2019 and have recorded a total footprint of 67.37 tCO2e (2019-2021 combined). To date, Greengage have purchased a total of 56.5 tCO2e offsetting units, meaning we have a slight shortfall of 4.17 tCO2e units to account for in this year’s offsetting strategy. Greengage will therefore be purchasing 4.17 tCO2e, in addition to 90% of the 2022 footprint, to achieve carbon neutrality.
Improvements for 2023
To improve data quality and visibility for 2023, Greengage will be considering our digital footprint and capturing more purchase data, including emissions associated with deliveries where possible. Greengage will also be improving the accuracy of commuting data, through the use of a new data collection methodology which will reduce our reliance on the use of assumptions and estimations, regarding the number of visits to the office per FTE per annum, and will provide us with absolute figures for each employee. Greengage are also exploring the metering of office desk spaces to improve our understanding of electricity consumption patterns and to allow for a more accurate split of data between the two companies within the shared office space.
Furthermore, Greengage have produced a ‘Carbon Reduction Strategy’ for 2023, targeting Waste, Procurement, Energy, and Transport. This strategy will also support in our ambition to certify ourselves as officially carbon neutral through the PAS 2060: 2014 framework. This, going forwards, will allow for a targeted approach to developing and implementing carbon saving measures.