Four steps to Net Zero



There’s no one-size-fits-all journey for going Net Zero Carbon. Depending on your business’ operation, you may find it more or less difficult to reduce your energy consumption. You may have tonnes of opportunities for installing renewable electricity generation on site or you may be in rented office space with no control over your energy sources. You may have a huge budget to spend on installing low and no-energy technology to reduce your carbon footprint, or you may be stuck with outdated technology which is far from energy efficient.


Whatever situation you currently find yourself in, there’s bound to be action that you can take to move you further towards going Net Zero. The key thing for all businesses is to connect with why it’s so important for them to go Net Zero and commit to doing what ever feels right for them to reduce their negative impact on our planet.


At Energise, we believe there are 4 steps on the Pathway to Net Zero – review, reduce, renew, rebalance. They often run in order, but there’s no reason they have to. Let’s take a look at each step below so that you can figure out where you can best impact your own Pathway.


Review


This is about understanding where you are in respect of:


1. the data behind your carbon footprint – how much you use, from what sources and where the opportunities are to reduce it. If it’s the first time you’ve done this, this will be your first carbon footprint, the level that you compare future performance to - your “baseline”.


2. getting insight from your carbon footprint – where is your greatest impact? What trends are occurring? Where might you be able to make the greatest difference quickly?


3. compliance and disclosure – are you compliant with all energy and carbon

requirements? How will you meet future obligations? What is your approach to disclosure and how could it be improved?


Reduce


This step is about identifying opportunities and implementing an action plan to improve your energy/resource efficiency. There are three key strands to any plan:


1. People – you need to engage and educate your workforce on the challenge in front of us all. A lot of the solutions to the challenges ahead are enabled by bringing people with you. You need to connect with them


2. Systems – developing clear management approaches to ensuring you have the right governance around your Net Zero work and you can maintain any momentum you are building


3. Technology - these could be low and no-energy technology installations, simple retrofits, redesigns or complete overhauls to your operation.


Whatever you do here, it’s great to monitor your progress and the impact that your measures have on your energy use so that you can calculate your energy ROI. You can use a simple spreadsheet tracker or get in touch to discuss our reporting/monitoring options.


Renew


This step is about renewals/transformations, principally:


1. generating some or all of your energy needs through renewable sources. Renewable generation generally has a lower carbon factor per kWh generated than grid energy, so you can quickly reduce your carbon footprint, and some solutions are zero carbon. Options include photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, biomass boilers and ground- or air-source heat pumps, so there’s often a solution to suit your needs.


2. technology transition such as electrification or the introduction of hydrogen technology to your organisation.


Contact us to discuss carrying out a renewable feasibility study on your site if this is the next right step for your organisation or you require advice on how to handle the risks/opportunities that come from technology transition.


Rebalance


Last but not lease comes Rebalance. This step is all about offsetting any remaining carbon to get you to that coveted position of being a Carbon Neutral. You can do this through schemes that plant trees around the world to recapture emitted carbon, or you can purchase credits that allow you to contribute towards investments in clean energy generation projects. Energise offers flexible options for rebalancing your carbon, so get in touch to discuss your choices if this is the right next step for you.


At Energise, our philosophy is that, in an ideal world, you should aim for Carbon Neutrality now, and achieve Science Based Net Zero when you can. This means you remove your impact now by offsetting what you cannot immediately act upon, and then over time, as you change your business to be Net Zero ready, you can focus on maximising your results in the Reduce and Renew steps.


"...attaching a cost to carbon now...will create a greater incentive to reduce your impact..."

Many organisations leave offsetting until they have already tackled the Reduce & Renew steps, but attaching a cost to carbon now, by monitoring and offsetting your carbon footprint, will create a greater incentive to reduce your impact through the Reduce and Renew steps. At the end of the day, we all have an enormous stake in the game. The more we do now to reverse the negative impacts of our business and personal operations, the lower the risks of having to completely redesign our lives in the future.


Where do I start?


It’s hard to avoid the need to start at the Review step. If you don’t know how much your organisation currently emits, where and how, you won’t know what options there are to reduce it, what capacity you need to generate, or how many carbon offset credits you need to purchase. So starting here is the logical first step.


Beyond that, it’s really a choice, depending on budget and levels of interest and commitment amongst your key stakeholders. Saying that, the obvious second step, if you want to make a positive impact as quickly as possible, is to aim for Carbon Neutrality. Beyond calculating your footprint, this requires 3 simple steps (a plan, reduction year on year – your reductions don’t have to be massive -, and offsetting the balance of your emissions). Offsetting all or part of your carbon footprint immediately contributes to reducing your organisation’s burden on the planet, as long as it’s done via reputable schemes (e.g. Gold Standard, UN CDM).


Going Net Zero isn’t simply about offsetting all of your organisation’s emission, but it’s a great way to get started and to show your commitment to supporting the Climate Challenge. In the end, you just need to figure out what the four steps look like for you and make sure you know what your unique Pathway looks like.


Get in touch today to discuss your Pathway to Net Zero and let us help you on your journey.


Simon Alsbury is the MD and co-founder of Energise. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.

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