Elementa Consulting Achieve Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (Scopes 1 and 2)

Elementa Consulting, member of Integral Group, announce that it has achieved net zero carbon emissions for Scopes 1 and 2 per the requirements of the World Green Building Council (WGBC)’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment.

At the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in 2018, Integral Group became a founding signatory of the WGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (the Commitment).  The Commitment challenges businesses, cities, and regions to take advanced climate action by setting lofty targets to eliminate operational carbon emissions from their building portfolios by 2030, starting with Scope 1 (direct emissions) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions).

Since its inception, the Commitment has grown to include a community of signatories in over 80 countries and is on track to help save approximately 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 (tCO2e) by 2030 from nearly 6,000 building assets representing 340-million square feet.

“We believe that there are two key ingredients to designing net-zero buildings: positive people and simple engineering. Signing up to the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment is a natural next step for us in our drive to build high-performance buildings that respect and enrich the earth.”

Kevin Hydes, Integral Group Chair + Founder at GCAS 2018

To meet such an ambitious goal, WGBC has outlined a 5-step process:

  1. COMMIT |Commit to owning and/or occupying assets that are net-zero operational carbon by 2030.
  2. DISCLOSE | Measure, disclose, and assess annual direct emissions (Scope 1) and indirect emissions (Scope 2) minus avoided emissions (renewables and offsets).
  3. ACT | Take action to not just track and offset emissions, but also make at least a 10% energy reduction through efficiency measures.
  4. VERIFY | Verify disclosures through third-party audits.[1]
  5. ADVOCATE | Engage in advocacy to influence the industry towards a Net Zero Carbon future.

[1] Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are provided a streamlined pathway to verification through the WGBC.  Larger organizations should take traditional pathways for annual verification, of which ISO 14001 certification is permitted, if applicable.

After over three years of data collection, meticulous analysis, and research, Integral Group have successfully achieved Net Zero Carbon for both Scopes 1 and 2, nine years ahead of the requirement (2030).  Integral are committed to going above and beyond the WGBC Net Zero Carbon Buildings commitment by looking into Scope 3 emissions and is on track to become a Net Zero Carbon business, including Scope 3 emissions (business travel, employee commute, and operational waste), by 2030, with an accelerated target of 2025.

Roadmap to Zero Carbon 1

The Road to Zero | Scopes 1 and 2

Scope 1 and 2, which covers the carbon emissions from energy use from company-owned buildings and equipment, presented significant hurdles for Integral Group which lease 100% of its operating space and does not have direct control over the energy efficiency and onsite renewable energy generation as tenants. Integral focused on bringing down energy use by optimizing daylighting and reducing lighting loads, addressing equipment plug loads, and working with landlords, where possible, to support energy efficiency measures of their owned assets.

Integral’s offices have also focused on procuring green power, for example through community choice aggregation (CCAs), where available.  Where green power is not available by the municipality, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and Carbon Offsets were purchased.  Additionally, Integral focused on the pipeline of future office spaces – looking to optimise and reduce leased space through hybrid working models, and transition into Net Zero Energy (NZE) buildings when existing leases expire.

One key step to understanding the performance of office space is by comparing the energy performance against benchmarking data, helping to prioritise offices that should consider moves to more energy-efficient buildings.  By comparing the energy performance (EUI) of office spaces, Integral provides healthy competition between locations incentivizing regional leadership to making performance-based real estate decisions – not just for positive environmental impact, but also for the health and well-being of staff.

EUI Graph

Energy Star Score by Region Graph

Carbon Offset Evaluation + Project Selection

Once every mitigation effort was considered and implemented, Integral were able to reduce total emissions per person by 20%, down to 2.06 t CO2 per person, from 2.58t CO2 per person in 2018; this equates to operational EUI by 12%, down to 177kW h/m2 from 202 kW h/m2 in 2018; and operational energy consumption per person by 25%, from 3430kW h per person in 2018 to 2532kW h per person in 2020.

Scope 1+220182020Reduction
GHG Emissions (tons of CO2e per person)2.582.0620%
Operational EUI (kWh/m2)20217712%
Energy Consumption per person (kWh)3430253225%

This alone was not sufficient for achieving Scopes 1 and 2 of the Commitment, so Integral’s Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility (CSER) team were tasked with evaluating the myriad carbon offset programs for the final push towards their targets.

However, not all carbon offset programs are created equal, and not all credits are distributed equitably and honestly. A good 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. SOCIAL IMPACT | Prioritises and supports environmental justice for the most marginalised groups, investing in places that have been historically underserved

Using these criteria, the CSER team thoroughly examined and vetted available credit options in the marketplace that not only helped them achieve Scope 1 and 2 targets but also aligned with the vision to be an equity and impact-centered firm.

From this process, Integral purchased Green-e Energy certified Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and Carbon Offsets from Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Schneider Electric. Using these credits, Integral will fund the following projects to offset Scope 1 emissions:

  • Europe | Marine Efficiency via Gold Standard: Commercial Shipping Efficiency Technology
    • Saves 1000’s tonnes of fuel and 10% CO2 emissions per year
    • Reduces transference of invasive marine species
    • Improves air quality in port communities
  • Canada | Promise the Pod: Marine Habitat Restoration
    • Removes pollutants and toxic contaminants
    • Plants 1.5 million trees near salmon streams from British Columbia to California
    • Saves orca whales
  • United States | CE Bright Futures Education Program: Clean Energy Job Pipeline Builder
    • Prepares the next generation of clean energy leaders
    • Provides classroom content, new study data, and materials for instruction
    • Creates equal exposure, access, and opportunity for all K-12 students

“In our upcoming CSER report (to be published in June 2021), we speak into our corporate carbon footprint, as well as our handprint, which refers to the impact we make through the projects which we touch. We acknowledge that when we are walking the talk (footprint) in alignment with our mission (handprint), there is an acceleration process that occurs within the industry at large. Both are necessary and our hope is to help demystify the world of climate commitments and ESG process with our clients at the portfolio level.”

– Megan White, Chief Sustainability Officer

Looking to the Future: Scope 3 and Beyond

Integral’s journey to a Net Zero Carbon future is far from over.  In the next phase, the CSER team will examine Scope 3, covering business travel, employee commute, and operational waste and water use. In this scope, the team will focus on the collection of quality data first, ensuring reductions and offsets are an accurate representation of true emissions.  COVID-19 has made a clear impact on these emissions and Integral will use this opportunity to pivot business practices through policy changes to drive these Scope 3 emissions down for the future.

Further, Integral Group continue to introduce the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment to both internal and external stakeholders and partners.  The firm is actively collaborating with some of the industry’s leading organizations to help them towards their own Net Zero Carbon future.  As signatories of the We Mean Business Coalition, Integral enthusiastically support the newly released UN Climate Action Champions’ Race to Zero campaign and the World GBC’s new Whole Life Carbon pathway.  This is an opportunity for Integral to bridge its carbon footprint with the positive impact (“carbon handprint”) left behind on its projects.

“Working in collaboration with the COP26 High Level Climate Champions (HLCC) team and the Race to Zero campaign, the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment is recognised as a frontrunner initiative within the Race to Zero, in recognition of signatories’ action to go further, faster to reduce emissions from buildings, and accelerating wider sector transformation.” – World Green Building Council

“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

Interested in learning more about the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment and how your organization can get involved?  Reach out to Megan White here.