5 Tips for Climate Action within the Built Environment By Imogen Player

With the next annual COP taking place in November (COP27 in Egypt), businesses within the built environment should use this time of the year to check in with their performance on climate action and re-invigorate their efforts.

Use the following five tips to structure your efforts and check that you’re actually making real progress:

1. Strategy – what’s your plan?

Having an overall strategy for climate action helps to set your framework and guidelines so that you don’t lose your way. This may come in the form of a sustainability strategy, or a more specific environmental or carbon strategy – as long as it’s relevant to your organisation, contains clear ambitions and targets and focuses on your key impacts, then your strategy is well suited. For more help on setting a strategy, read our top tips for developing a sustainability strategy.

If you already have a strategy, don’t forget the importance of making sure your strategy is still relevant and applicable – which might mean that you need to update it. Hear from organisations within the built environment on the importance of updating your sustainability strategy here. If you’re an SME you can hear from similar SME organisations on the same topic here.

2. Measurement – what gets measured gets done!

This is arguably the most crucial part when it comes to climate action – understanding how you’re currently performing allows you to understand how you can feasibly, realistically and accurately improve.

If you’re new to measuring your climate-related impacts, firstly think about what your impacts are and what data you need to collect to understand your climate-related performance. Use the free Carbon Calculator to work out what your carbon footprint is. To get an understanding of how other companies measure their carbon footprint, read our SME’s perspective of calculating and offsetting carbon emissions.

If you already calculate your carbon footprint regularly, understand how you’re performing against your KPIs, where your hotspots for carbon are and where you need to improve. You may need to adjust your KPIs or set more detailed data-driven KPIs. Strongly consider setting science-based targets, becoming carbon neutral and setting your plan for becoming net-zero.

3. Reduce carbon throughout the value chain

Firstly, be aware of the carbon hotspots throughout your value chain – both upstream with your supply chain and downstream with your customers. Make sure you understand the fundamentals, for example, what the difference is between scopes 1, 2 and 3.

Focus on a few key plans and initiatives for your organisation that will really make a difference. Less is more when it comes to carrying out projects and process changes. Start firstly with your operational carbon – carbon in your own operations and organisation – for example, you could consider moving to lower carbon and alternative technologies. In addition, a really quick way of reducing the carbon in your electricity use is by moving to a green tariff – speak to your energy provider about this.

Then begin to think further about the carbon in your supply chain and associated operations, the embodied carbon in the materials and packaging that you purchase and use, and finally think about your goods and services in use with your customers. Are there ways that you can improve the energy efficiency of the products that you provide? Or reduce the carbon in the materials that you provide?

If in doubt about where to begin, or where to progress, speak to your supply chain and customers – they understand their operations better than you do so tap into that wealth of knowledge and start the conversation and ideas flowing.

4. Training – who needs to know what?

Work out who within your organisation and your supply chain needs to know what on climate action and carbon. Different roles will need to understand different aspects in varying levels of depth. Think about your different departments; from design to procurement, work-winning to operations.

Use the many different resources on the Supply Chain Sustainability School to cater for their needs – site-based jobs may only have time to watch short toolbox talks at an introductory level, whereas office-based jobs may have more time for longer e-learning modules at an advanced level of knowledge.

5. Communicate

Communicate your climate action progress internally within your own organisation – get the buy-in and support from employees, as these are the key people that will be driving forward your climate action agenda and carrying out the day-to-day tasks to deliver your initiatives. Share the knowledge that you learn along the way, whether that’s through short team briefings or guidance documents. Communicate your progress in achieving your climate-action goals with your supply chain and customers and share your carbon footprint data and case studies publicly on your website.

It’s important that you hold yourself to account transparently and honestly in sharing your climate-action progress so that we can all truly understand progress towards achieving our global climate goals.

Interested in how we can help your organisation with your climate change & carbon strategy? Get in touch with our expert James Cadman here.

For more information

Imogen Player
Senior Consultant

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