Property and Infrastructure Specialists

Carbon Net Zero – Could being ‘green’ actually be better for your business (as well as the planet)?

The increased shift towards Sustainability as a result of the CoP2 in Glasgow has seen many businesses making commitments to improve their Total Shareholder Returns (TSR). For many businesses, the dilemma has been: do you lead or do you follow? Is there a cost or a benefit in the first mover advantage, and do you even have a plan to meet the commitments that you have already made?
Carbon Net Zero

Depending on the industry you’re in, you may already have to report on your Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, focusing on your Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. These are the emissions generated by operating your business using heat, steam or electricity. As we get closer to a global agreement on Carbon Net Zero Emissions by 2050, you will need to report on Scope 3 emissions, which is the impact on emissions that your products generate.

Meeting Carbon Net Zero emissions by 2050 will require a 7.6% drop each year in global emissions from now until 2030, to limit temperature exceeding 1.5 degrees C*. One path to meeting this ambitious target could be summed up in the words of Socrates: “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.’

Put simply, we need to do more with fewer resources to change the balance.

In my experience, every business has low hanging fruit opportunities to improve their carbon footprint. With objective analysis there are simple operational and asset investments which deliver real payback and over the longer term avoid ongoing costs.

Our approach is explained more clearly in a Carbon Net Zero Pathway below:

Net Zero Pathway

If you can’t measure, you can’t manage

The first step is to objectively Measure your emissions, this sets your baseline for improvement. Once this baseline is established, with support and understanding of the different technologies and operational solutions available, the next step is to Reduce emissions.

Reducing emissions can deliver additional benefits

A common misconception in many businesses is that reducing emissions will require additional capital investment or operational costs, with no foreseeable return. Actually, the reverse is true. As an example, in my experience the commercial payback in replacing metal halide lights with LED lights in a retail setting is about 2.5 years on average. This permanently reduces the electricity that your business uses, simplifies your maintenance (no working from heights issues in replacing globes) and the cost of the maintenance. The permanent reduction in electricity volumes is a permanent cost avoided, as electricity costs rise with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Many other technology options in assets exist to improve efficiency in energy usage. These range from improving air conditioning efficiency, Building Management Systems to reduce peak load impact, co-mingled waste, or heat pumps to use waste heat energy to heat water.

The next step is to investigate Renewable options, to reduce your carbon footprint.

Exploiting renewable energy to generate income

If your asset portfolio includes a reliance on electricity, then have you considered using renewables to reduce your electricity costs and generate an income?  

Imagine if, as an example you had a network of 100 locations, each with solar panels on the roof, and a 1-megawatt battery (noting that batteries are typically available as 4 MW units and supply issues aside). In the middle of the day when panels are generating more energy than the network can absorb, the solar power is used to charge the battery. Then, when peak load is reached at 6pm, your Virtual Power Network (VPN)of 100 Megawatts sells power into the peak demand market. The current market average in October 2021 for a Megawatt of power in peak demand was $18,000. That’s $1,800,000 for an hour of battery power you sold back into the network when there was need!

In this example, you have reduced your business power bills by generating your own energy and simultaneously leveraged your asset portfolio to generate another income stream by operating your own VPN.

Procuring emission-reducing initiatives that suit your portfolio

Having identified the options in renewables, the next step is to Procure and execute the specific initiatives to realise the emission targets. This could be as simple as installing Building Management Systems to make sure that no one leaves the lights on (literally) or a range of other interventions.

Finally, having measured the result of your efforts, any residual gap could be Offset by securing Carbon credits, or entering into a Private Power Agreement (PPA) which provides access to completely carbon offset electricity.

And just like that, you have a clear pathway to Carbon Net Zero and proof positive that being green is not only good for the planet, but great for business.

*Source United Nations Climate Action Fast Facts Temperature Rise

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