Today is Earth Day, the ideal time for everyone to take stock and review what we are doing to lessen our impact on the environment.
At Orchard we are working our way through our sustainability partner ESI Monitor’s Framework to assess our carbon footprint, benchmark us against other businesses and devise an action plan to reduce our emissions.
Happily, our 2021 footprint report arrived just in time for Earth Day! So first, the good news. As an organisation, we generated fewer emissions in 2021 than we did in our ‘base year’ of 2019, the first year we recorded our carbon footprint. As you can see from this chart, this is due to a large reduction in energy-based emissions, and a reduction in off-island travel. We also managed to reduce our average staff commute (more on that later).
But let’s recognise some factors here. In Guernsey we are lucky to have a source of electricity that, for the most part, is very green. Power comes primarily from a mix of nuclear and renewables imported from France, giving this (usually) a relatively low emissions rating. 2019 however saw a fault with the undersea cable, meaning power was generated on island using fossil fuels. So in fact 2021 is going to be the more relevant comparator for us there, as we’ll be able to reduce that emissions level by making our office more energy efficient.
2021 also saw travel restrictions imposed on the island because of Covid-19. For slightly more than half the year our policy was for no business travel. Interestingly, with the now widespread use of Teams and Zoom, we think this trend will continue. While we expect to travel more in 2022/2023 (as after all sometimes there is no substitute for a face-to-face client meeting), we don’t expect to return to 2019 levels of travel.
For our own part we have forged good partnerships in our key markets that mean our team don’t have to travel as much, which will reduce our footprint considerably. This has played a key role in our receiving the BAFTA Albert Sustainable Production Certification for our digital team.
So on to our main ‘controllable’ source of emissions. The staff commute. We have already lessened the impact of this category by increasing work-from-home time. If our team work from home one day per week (on average), that means a reduction of 20%. We also encourage cycling, with a storage area and a shower available for our team which several of us use regularly. But cycling doesn’t suit everyone – so our plan for this year is to get creative with an active travel plan, and to record some more accurate data so we are not relying on estimates.
We’re also planning to do a waste audit and a supplier survey in the next year – and for all of this activity, the ESI Framework is a massive help – from providing calculators and information sheets to help you calculate your footprint to templates for action plans for each of the key areas of emission generation.
Sustainability is after all one of those areas of business where the PR saying ‘If you want to look good, be good’, really comes into play. If you are not pro-actively tackling your emissions and looking to reduce them, then there is no way you can build a reputation as a good corporate citizen.