Clare Fallon on GC’s Journey to Net Zero

  • Thursday, April 21, 2022
  • Posted By The Growth Company

The Growth Company (GC) is an award-winning provider of green services which are designed to accelerate the UK’s Net Zero ambition. Whilst we’re on a mission to help businesses reduce their impact on the environment, we’re also proud to be leading by example.

To mark #EarthDay, I’m reflecting on the importance of implementing greener processes and practices in business and sharing what GC is doing internally to meet its target of being a Net Zero organisation by 2035.

What our planet could look like if we don’t act now

The latest IPCC report provides stark reading: we must reach maximum carbon emissions by 2025 and then rapidly decline by 2030 if we are to be within touching distance of ensuring global warming does not increase by more than 1.5oC and therefore avoiding the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Currently, we’re on a 2+oC increase trajectory. However, even with a 1.5oC increase, it is predicted that we still see the risk of major flooding double. In addition, some 350 million people will be exposed to droughts and water scarcity, 700 million people will be exposed to extreme heatwaves and 46 million people will be impacted by a sea-level rise of 48cm. In the North-West, rising sea levels will see coastal regions flooded on average once per year by 2050.

Supporting businesses to become greener

According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), in 2020, businesses accounted for 18% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing this is an integral part of the environmental strategy, at both a local and national level so businesses large and small need to play their part.

In this respect, GC is in a unique position - as a large employer with 30 plus sites, there is scope for us to reduce our carbon emissions, but we also support and educate other organisations on reducing their own impacts through our Sustainability and Net Zero programme, and training learners in green technology and skills through our fully funded electric and hybrid vehicle system repair and replacement courses. 

Already, through this network of support, GC is seen as a key partner in the sustainability field – therefore, our internal efforts to reduce our carbon emissions must reflect the part GC plays in supporting both the GMCA’s Environmental Plan, but also national strategies.

Our commitment

This is why we have recently announced our new target to be Net Zero by 2035 across scopes 1, 2 and 3. This will require a year-on-year reduction of 31 tCO2e for scope 1 and 2 emissions, and a 158 tCO2e reduction in scope 3. This is an ambitious target and one which will require all GC services, employees and stakeholders to consider the environmental impact in their decision-making.

This target puts us in a position to have productive conversations and release resources needed to achieve continual improvement, rather than having a target that is so far into the future it is not seen as being relevant to our business activities and not embedded into our business-as-usual operations.

How we’ll work towards our targets

Carbon reduction and environmental impacts will be taken into consideration in our corporate delivery and business development, but also in bid writing, contractual relationships, procurement and supplier engagement, and much more. Currently, GC is a Carbon Neutral business, meaning we are measuring, monitoring and reducing our carbon emissions, and each year off-setting these using the Gold Standard scheme. 

Already, GC has made improvements in reducing its carbon emissions. Last year we saw a 37% reduction in our carbon emissions against our baseline year. Although some of this was due to the impact of COVID-19, many of the changes implemented during the pandemic will remain, and this will have a lasting, positive effect on our carbon emissions. This includes the expansion of GC’s ‘Our Working Way’ agile working policy, producing more digital documentation and reducing procurement of stationery, ink, paper and plastics due to purchasing decisions. We also introduced hot water dispensers in our Lee House headquarters in Manchester to reduce wastewater. In addition, all energy purchased directly by the business is via a green tariff, and smart metering has been introduced to monitor our energy usage more effectively.

Future improvements include environmental awareness training for staff, continuing to replace lighting with LEDs, opting for energy-efficient technology in procurement and working with our supply chain to understand where good environmental best practice is in place (and where we can influence and support our suppliers on their own journey to Net Zero).

GC will continue to play a significant role in local and national strategies to reduce the carbon emissions of businesses. Our strengths lie in our partnerships and collaborative work through our networks, our ability to influence policy and develop thought-leadership pieces through the intelligence gathering and business support we offer.

This #EarthDay, I would encourage you to think about your supply chain and your business's day-to-day operations and consider what changes can be made to help your organisation operate in a way that is kinder to our planet. The theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Invest In Our Planet’, and by analysing where your business could implement greener activity, you will be doing your bit to help prevent the devastating impacts of global warming.

You can view the Growth Company’s Carbon Reduction Plan here.

Alternatively, learn more about the GC Business Growth Hub’s services to help you boost your profitability and productivity, whilst reducing your impact on the planet. View our Resource Efficiency Support page and see how we can help your business.