Elementa Consulting Add Fleet Vehicle Emissions to Carbon Commitment Strategy


Elementa Consulting include fleet vehicle emissions in its carbon offset strategy to meet the requirements of the World Green Building Council (WGBC)’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. 

In June of 2018, Elementa Consulting, a member of Integral Group, became a founding signatory of the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) Net Zero Carbon Buildings (NZCB) Commitment (“Commitment”). In 2020, the firm successfully achieved net-zero carbon emissions for Scopes 1 and 2, ten years earlier than required, and in 2021 took the Commitment one step further by bringing its fleet vehicle Scope 1 emissions to net-zero. 

The Commitment requires businesses, cities, and regions to take advanced climate action by setting targets to eliminate operational carbon emissions from their building portfolios by 2030, starting with Scope 1 (direct emissions) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions). It also requires each entity to publish a decarbonisation roadmap and an implementation plan. Elementa released its Decarbonization Roadmap and Zero Carbon Operations (ZCO) Implementation Plan in September 2021 and continues to report on its progress as part of its annual Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility (CSER) report.  

REVISITING THE ROAD TO ZERO | SCOPES 1 AND 2 

Scopes 1 and 2 cover the carbon emissions from energy use from company-owned buildings and equipment. Last year, Elementa expanded the Net Zero Building Commitment definition to include its fleet vehicle emissions and began tracking the fuel consumption of its owned fleet to identify opportunities for further emission reduction. 

Collecting the data for its vehicle emissions was straight-forward:  

Owning the vehicular assets means that the business has all the details required to report on emissions based on the distance travelled, the fuel type, and to what market segment it belongs. 

In addition to including these emissions in the carbon offset strategy, Elementa focused on bringing down Scope 1 and 2 emissions, re-examining its building portfolio, and accelerating change by moving operations into more energy-efficient buildings: 

  • The two Sydney offices merged into a single, all-electric, green-powered location, which is expected to reduce Scope 2 emissions by 60% based on early sub-metered billing data. 
  • The Melbourne office switched to green power part-way through 2021, greatly reducing the residual offsets to be purchased to cover those emissions. 
  • The Victoria, Canada office relocated to a brand new, LEED Platinum-certified building with an energy-saving, radiant and geothermal heat pump system. 

These changes are in line with the firm’s six-step process to zero-carbon operations outlined within the published Zero Carbon Operations Implementation Plan: 

6 Steps to Net Zero

CARBON OFFSETTING + PROJECT SELECTION 

At the end of each calendar year, Elementa take stock of changes in its emissions profile. 2021 was another year that showed a decrease in energy demand in the offices due to many staff working from home.  

However, these reductions were not as great as anticipated. Many offices are situated in buildings with non-submetered heating and cooling systems or do not have in-suite temperature control. Unprecedented weather events, such as record high temperatures, meant building systems had to be switched on and working to capacity despite being only partly occupied.  

Despite this unexpected energy use, and due to changes made to occupy more energy-efficient buildings, Scope 1 and 2 emissions dropped by 38% overall. 

Scope 1 Building Emissions (KgCO₂e) Gas heating + District Energy (1)

The reduction in emissions did not equate to decreased spending on offsets and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) due to an increased demand for high-quality carbon credits globally. The increased cost combined with a strategy to invest in locally-focused offset projects (ensuring the carbon rebalancing occurs in the region emissions are emitted) saw an increase in the unit price per credit, especially in regions where the carbon credit market is still maturing. 

The carbon offset strategy includes purchasing: 

  • Green-e, Ecologo, or Green Star-certified RECs as per regional Green Building Council guideline requirements to cover Scope 2 electricity consumption not already offset through the purchase of green power. 
  • High-quality offsets to cover Scope 1 emissions which are consistent with the Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting. 

According to these principles, a quality carbon offset is defined as one that has: 

  1. ADDITIONALITY | Ensures offset projects would not have happened without the credits being purchased 
  2. PERMANENCE | Provides a long-lasting solution to the problem it solves 
  3. VERIFIABILITY | Assures that the project will yield expected results 
  4. PREFERENCE FOR CARBON REMOVAL | Actively sequesters carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to decrease atmospheric CO₂. 
  5. SOCIAL IMPACT | Prioritizes and supports environmental justice for the most marginalised groups, investing in historically underserved places. 

Using these criteria, the CSER team thoroughly reviewed available carbon credit options in the marketplace that helped achieve Scope 1 and 2 targets while aligning with the vision to be an equity and impact-centred firm. 

The offset projects funded to offset 2021 Scope 1 emissions are: 

Projects

SCOPE 3 AND BEYOND | LOOKING TO THE FUTURE 

In the next phase of its Net Zero Carbon journey, the CSER team will examine Scope 3 emissions, covering business travel, employee commute, and operational waste and water use. In this scope, the team will focus on collecting quality data first, ensuring reductions and offsets are an accurate representation of true emissions.  

By sharing its Net Zero journey and remaining transparent, Elementa demonstrate to staff and clients that the firm takes an introspective approach to accelerate change in the critical fight against the climate crisis. Through its leadership, the firm hopes to inspire industry peers to take similar steps either as a stand-alone initiative or as part of a broader CSR/ESG strategy. 

How we show up in our own building assets is how we recommit to our values and serves as the example we seek to set for our clients, colleagues, and partner firms around the world. I am proud to see us achieve this next step in our Net Zero future so we can continue to proactively demonstrate our position as the world’s leading deep green engineering and consulting practice.  William Overturf, President and CEO

ESG SOLUTIONS FOR THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 

Elementa Consulting have launched an ESG consulting service with a holistic approach to support clients at every stage of the ESG/sustainability journey. The ESG team seeks to integrate, embed, and operationalise sustainability for its clients, working with them to identify what matters most to the business, define and measure long-term success and engage employees along the way. 


Interested in learning more about our ESG consulting service and how your organisation can reach its own environmental targets?  

Reach out to Mary Casey here. 

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