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22nd February 2021

Net Zero Carbon Occupation of our Offices: Our Journey

Net Zero Carbon occupation of our Offices: Our journey

The start of the year is typically a time to reflect on the preceding 12 months, looking back at what has been achieved and setting resolutions around the areas that can be improved.

2020 was a significant year for Tritax Symmetry.  We launched our net zero carbon in construction commitment and made great inroads to reduce our carbon footprint and move towards a greener, more sustainable way of developing logistics facilities.  But, in a year when we have all had to adapt to working from home, we started thinking what more we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, starting with our offices.

Listed below are five things we’ve learnt from this process:

1. Measuring data is a complicated and time-consuming task

In order to understand the carbon footprint of our offices, our first task was to measure it.  As Carbon Footprint were already involved with our offsetting scheme for new developments, it was the logical choice to ask the same consultancy to assist with this stage of the process.  To provide an accurate baseline, Carbon Footprint asked us to provide data for a full financial year. The company provided us with a comprehensive data pack to record the information and so we spent eight weeks working through the pack, gathering and inputting data from the past 12 months including:

  • How many business miles were covered and in which car
  • How many flights we took
  • How much electricity and gas we used
  • Our air conditioning maintenance activity

Once the data was submitted to Carbon Footprint, they spent the next four weeks assessing and calculating our footprint before returning a report on exactly what is contributing to our carbon footprint, and their recommendations for reducing the total figure.

2. There’s more to net zero carbon than offsetting

As we don’t simply want to offset our carbon but rather make changes to the way we operate our offices day-to-day, we also included data for additional items such as office consumables and IT equipment.

3. Working from home does not equate to a low office carbon footprint

When we submitted our data pack to Carbon Footprint, we knew that we would have some changes to make but were surprised to find that, during a year when we were all confined to our home office desks for around nine months of the year, our business mileage and office electricity were the main contributors to our footprint figure.

4. The way we travel is important

Vehicles account for 15-20% of global carbon emissions so it is not that remarkable that despite periods of lockdown, business mileage accounted for a large percentage of our total carbon footprint last year.  What is startling is that the carbon emissions of an economy class flight are typically equivalent to half that of a single occupancy petrol-driven car.

There are various actions that can be taken to reduce business mileage footprint, from continuing with the virtual meetings to which we have all become so accustomed, to providing staff incentives for switching to electric vehicles or car sharing (once COVID safe) and installing facilities for bike commuters in our offices, all of which we are investigating.

5. Little changes do make a big difference.

The obvious step to reduce our office energy use is to switch to a renewable energy tariff.  Climate Action state that by switching to renewable energy, global Co2 emissions could reduce by 70% by 2050 and be completely phased out by 2060.  Our Northampton office is already using renewable energy, but this is an early step we can take to reduce the footprint of the Manchester office.

Reducing the amount of energy used in the office is more difficult to remedy.  Home working obviously reduces the amount of power used in offices, but even when we are not there, there is a certain amount required to keep the necessaries ticking over (intruder alarms, servers etc).   Our offices are already fitted with motion sensitive lighting but by installing smart plugs which can be controlled remotely we can turn off the power to our printers, monitors and even coffee machines etc overnight which will help to reduce our electricity usage.

Now that we have our carbon footprint baseline figure, the hard work starts.  In 2021 we plan to implement changes in the way we work and ultimately reduce the amount of carbon we offset in order to achieve net zero carbon in our offices.

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