Carbon-Conscious Corporations: The pathway to net zero for businesses

In the uphill battle against climate change, all corporations have a responsibility to reduce their carbon emissions – and fast.

By the team at Envizi


Encouragingly, many of the world’s biggest organisations have pledged to hit decarbonisation targets in the coming decades. Apple have committed to carbon neutrality by 2030, and even BP want to hit net zero by 2050. But how do these corporations plan to meet their emissions targets; and how will they, and we, know when they do?

To help them achieve these goals, companies need a transparent data management platform, to collect and interpret high quality greenhouse gas (GHG) data. With the help of sustainable software, environmental reporting should become as integral to businesses as their financial reporting, allowing them to monitor their progress, and make informed strategic decisions.

Only when armed with accurate visibility on their carbon profile, are corporations are equipped to embark on the pathway to net zero emissions.

Set Targets

The first stage for any organisation in reducing their carbon emissions is to decide on their targets. This might initially look like moving to 100% renewable electricity, and then 100% renewable energy. Companies must consider whether their goal is to achieve net zero emissions; to become carbon neutral; or even to go one step further, and become carbon restorative. Microsoft, for example, have pledged to offset all their past emissions, dating back to 1975.

Organisations must also decide the timeframe in which they expect to achieve their goal. It can be challenging to translate high-level company targets down to individual asset level, but once the overall aims are clear, corporations can start to break these down into quarterly or annual targets, that are actionable and achievable.

Accurately Record Data

Before a company begins the task of lowering their emissions, they must ensure they have an accurate way of recording their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) data. Energy usage data should be recorded frequently, and at meter level, to give a detailed picture, that can be used to strategise carbon reduction policies.

By collecting this data in a single sustainability performance management system, such as Envizi, corporations can attain full visibility of their carbon footprint. This will help them to determine where energy savings could be made, and create a benchmark, against which they can measure their progress in reducing their GHG emissions.

Make a Plan

Once an accurate data management system is in place, corporations must take action. Although every organisation is different, there are a few common ways in which they can attempt to meet net zero goals, whilst still growing their businesses. These include:

  1. Efficiency improvements

The first, and usually easiest, step is to identify inefficiencies in their current operations. Often, this relates to the buildings the company owns, or manages. Corporations may make use of their data reporting tools to compare their emissions to that of similar buildings, and then use building optimisation technology to identify precise areas for improvement.

Actions taken may be as simple as turning off energy-intensive machinery when not in use, or re-evaluating the heating, ventilation or cooling systems within properties. Improving their buildings’ operational efficiency can help the company lower those emissions which are under their direct control, otherwise known as Scope 1 emissions.

  1. Emissions reduction projects

Once they’ve re-evaluated their current operations, corporations might then look at future changes they can make to reduce their carbon output. Equipment may need to be upgraded to more energy-efficient options – for example, LED lighting systems could be installed, or the company fleet could be replaced with electric vehicles. The organisation will need to examine their ESG data closely, and decide which potential improvements are likely to give them the best ROI, on their path to net zero.

  1. Renewable energy purchases

To reduce their Scope 2 emissions (those which come from the generation of energy consumed by the company), corporations can then look to replace their current sources of energy with renewable forms. This may come from on-site generation, such as solar panels on company buildings, or from purchasing renewable energy from utility companies, verified by an energy attribute certificate.

It may also be possible for a company to purchase certificates for renewable electricity unbundled from supply, and allocate it to their other assets, for the purpose of emissions calculation. Envizi can help with recording energy certification, as well as monitoring any renewable power produced on-site, to ensure it’s delivering the expected results.

  1. Reducing indirect emissions

After a company has addressed the carbon emissions under their direct control, they can then look at their Scope 3, or indirect emissions. These include those produced within their supply chains, waste processes and investment portfolios.

To reduce indirect emissions, corporations will need to work closely with their suppliers, stakeholders and employees. Examples of actions that may be taken include employees being encouraged to work remotely, to cut commuting emissions, or contracts being switched to suppliers with a demonstrably better sustainability performance.

  1. Carbon offsets

If emissions are unavoidable in some areas of their business, carbon-offsetting programs can sometimes be an option. These allow companies to contribute towards carbon-reduction projects, such as the planting of trees, to offset those emissions that ‘cannot’ be eliminated. However, carbon-offsetting is controversial, and not all pledge platforms will accept it as a method of reducing emissions. It’s certainly less preferable to the previous options.

Report on the Data

In order to know whether their actions are working to achieve their decarbonisation goals, it is essential for corporations to accurately and verifiably report their data. This must be structured in a way that aligns with how they documented their initial ESG data, and how they broke down their carbon-reduction targets.

Sustainability data management platforms such as Envizi can help companies with the complex task of recording and monitoring their GHG inventory. By keeping everything in a single system, it becomes much easier for them to monitor their progress, measure the results of initiatives, and determine whether they are on track to reach the all-important net zero.