What EMCOR UK is doing to respond to climate change

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As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) gets underway this week in Glasgow, it’s a chance for everyone – individuals, organisations and governments worldwide – to examine their impact on the planet and their progress in reducing that. Our purpose at EMCOR UK is to create a better world at work for our colleagues, customers, supply chain partners and the communities in which we work. A significant part of how we achieve this is determined by our social impact and the effect our operations have on local communities and the environment. Over the past few years, we have made great strides in making positive improvements in this area, but we recognise that it is very much a work in progress.

We are committed to achieving net zero by 2030 by reducing our operational emissions through continual improvement, increased efficiencies, new technologies and new ways of working. We will do this through science-based targets once we have baselined our supply chain partners scope 3 emissions which we are undertaking in 2022. In the interim we will offset those annual emissions which cannot be avoided or reduced.

Our climate action plans fall into four main areas:

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Route Zero: the time is now

Route Zero is our holistic approach to supporting our customers in becoming carbon zero.  Aligned to UK government guidelines and legislative requirements, the Paris Agreement and UN Global Goals, it includes both a detailed roadmap (the Z Plan) to understand our customers’ carbon baseline and develop a reduction strategy together with the ‘zero’ products to achieve the desired outcomes. These are in four key areas:

  • Buy Zero: Utility procurement and portfolio management in carbon/cost/risk efficient ways
  • Platform Zero: An integrated data platform to visualise building and energy performance, augmenting savings
  • Create Zero: Introducing and implementing SMART asset changes and replacements, to decarbonise portfolios
  • Spend Zero: Funding solutions to support and enable overall Route Zero

Route Zero takes our customers’ corporate climate aims and translates them into tangible actions which we can then deliver on the ground – such as utility procurement or technology platforms such as BMS.

The approach starts by measuring the customer’s current impact on the environment, through scope 1-3 emissions, and creating a verified footprint position in CO2e. This approach then looks at opportunities to mitigate that through, for example, avoid and reduction strategies, alternative generation, behavioural change or automation strategies. In the final stage, the programme looks to include funding models, building a business case, offset requirements and the integration with an FM model.

Route Zero offers our customers a strategic roadmap to net zero. It cuts through the greenwash to provide an aligned, measured and supportive approach across scope 1-3 emissions which delivers real business and carbon benefits. While Route Zero has been carefully designed for our customers, it’s also a programme we are following ourselves. We are currently in the measurement phase, creating a benchmark from which we can gauge future reductions.

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Carbon neutral

While we undertake that benchmarking phase, we are compensating for the carbon we produce by offsetting our emissions through a verified carbon offset project. Our people voted from a number of projects from across the world, aligned to our chosen UN Global Goal of providing social and environmental value to the communities in which we operate as well as avoiding or removing or storing carbon emissions. The chosen project was Improved Cookstoves for Social Impact in Ugandan Communities. 

The project reduces green-house emissions by using fuel-efficient stoves. The improved charcoal stove reduces fuel consumption by the introduction of an insulated combustion chamber which increases combustion efficiency and retains heat. While these stoves will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they also reduce fuel costs for families and reduce the exposure to health-damaging airborne pollutants.

This means that in 2021, EMCOR UK will be carbon neutral.

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Electric dreams

Our vehicle fleet is considerable. In 2020 our mobility division had 1,867 drivers, driving 916 company vehicles, which burned 1,291,021 litres of fuel while traveling 11,359,396 miles. These vehicles account for 93% of EMCOR UK's carbon footprint and 3,271 Tonnes CO2e. Changing the way we run our fleet can therefore have a significant impact on the planet.

In 2020 we embarked on our zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) transition and mobility strategy with electric vans introduced across several of our accounts to replace our current vehicles, together with the charging infrastructure to support them.

As well as starting to replace our commercial fleet, we have also redefined the company cars available to our people. We’ve removed all but one internal combustion engine vehicles and all car grades now have the option of battery electric vehicles or mild hybrid. We regularly review the list to ensure we take advantage of new technology. 

But simply replacing vehicles isn’t enough. We are currently reviewing how we use our vehicles, what we carry and how we plan routes so not only can we transition to ZEVs sooner but we can reduce our overall mileage. This includes the installation of vehicle telematics and a driver-focussed behavioural training programme.

The mobility team also support our customers helping them through their own transition from Internal Combustion Engine vehicles to ZEVs, while also encouraging the early uptake of electric vehicles in privately-owned fleet through incentive schemes.

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Supply chain impacts

Scope 1 and 2 emissions are relatively straightforward to measure and analyse. But scope 3 emissions – the impact of our supply chain partners – are much harder to gather. But for EMCOR UK to achieve net zero, it’s essential that we can measure and reduce these impacts. To achieve this, we recently introduced our Sustainability Dashboard.

The dashboard requires our supply partners to provide data around their employees, environmental management, materials, carbon, health and safety, supply chain, biodiversity, waste, and social value. Using a simple traffic light (RAG) model, it’s easy for each supplier to see where they’re performing well and where they need to improve.

We currently have 66 preferred suppliers onboarded to the dashboard and our first target is to onboard 120 suppliers by May 2022. Overall the aim is to measure the impact of 50% of our scope 3 emissions based on a population of 200 suppliers – to establish a supply chain benchmark. We will then set targets to reduce this impact. The tool will also support our supply partners in reducing their own impact.

This is just a flavour of the work we are doing to reduce our impact on the environment. With COP26 ensuring that climate change is topping the corporate agenda, we are confident that over the next few months and years, we can lead the way towards further emission reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

Contact us to find out how we can support your organisation, to better understand and tackle the impact your operations have on your local communities and the environment.

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