Our people are our company’s greatest resource, so we recognize the importance of providing productive and healthy work spaces. Furthermore, we often need to travel to provide consulting and operations solutions for our clients and communities. These activities produce direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and regardless of the source, we aim to reduce the impact of these emissions. We have analyzed these impacts since 2016 when our formal reporting framework was created; today we are providing an update of the composition of our operational emissions sources that incorporates the continued growth of our company.
Scope 1 and 2 emissions – our offices and fleet vehicles
Our offices exist to provide healthy, productive workspaces that allow our employees to thrive. At the same time, we want these spaces to be efficient and provide the appropriately-sized spaces our employees need. Due to our work to consolidate and optimize our office real estate portfolio and bring our systems to the cloud, our emissions from office electricity use have continued their downward trend. Compared to 2016, our 2021 emissions from office electricity use have declined 37% overall and were 11% of our operational GHG emissions in 2021 – compared to 18% in 2016. In 2020 we began working with our renewable energy clients to purchase renewable energy certificates (RECs) to account for our office electricity usage. Our emissions from office heating systems have increased slightly since 2016, while seeing a decrease from 2020 to 2021. We expect our heating emissions to continue a downward trend as we move into more efficient, sustainable office spaces.
The remainder of these analyzed emissions include the use of our fleet vehicles.1 Since 2016, these emissions have increased, mostly due to vehicles being added to our fleet from new contract operations contracts.
2021 Scope 3 emissions remain low after 2020 plunge
Our analyzed Scope 3 emissions – business and employee commuting travel – have always composed the largest percent of our GHG emissions inventory, accounting for 60 percent of our operational GHG emissions in 2021. The three main components of our Scope 3 emissions saw a sharp reduction in 2020 due to reduced travel, as demonstrated by the decreased composition of 72% in 2019. Compared to 2020, our 2021 business travel emissions saw a slight uptick, after a significant decrease in 2020. On the other hand, our commuting emissions decreased slightly from 2020 to 2021, as our employees continued to embrace flexible work arrangements.
We understand the impact that business travel has on climate change. That’s why we’ve continued working on our systems, technology, and flexible work arrangements to reduce emissions.
Engaging employees to take the lead
While we continue to invest in the company-level systems that will reduce the emissions impacts from our business operations, we also know that our employees need to be invested and engaged. Since 2019 we have run an annual Office Sustainability Program, providing a framework of actions that our offices can undertake to improve upon their existing infrastructure, making them healthier and more sustainable communities. This program, along with other environmental communications campaigns, has been successful due to the involvement and growth of our internal Green Team community. We appreciate having over 50 employees in our offices that are committed to being their local office environmental sustainability representative and champion.
In 2017 we set a 2025 target to reduce our emissions per employee by 20%. This was an initial target based on where we were at in our GHG inventory journey. Our 2020 and 2021 emissions data reflect that we’ve achieved that goal. At the same time, over the next year, as part of our company’s forward-looking strategy to continually expand our sustainability solutions and commitments, we’ll be reevaluating our strategies and goals. This will include reaffirming our GHG inventory and expanding our climate action plan and goals, across our business operations and beyond.