Graham + Sibbald's in-house Carbon + Sustainability department was appointed to support for the delivery of the University of West of Scotland's Carbon Champions project.
Our role involved the provision of expert consultancy support to the following small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) based in the South Ayrshire as they embarked on their journey towards assessing their baseline carbon footprint and developed strategic carbon reduction roadmaps:
- Albion Environmental Ltd
- Alex Begg Ltd
- Ashleigh (Scotland) Ltd
- Ayrshire Cancer Support
- Hillhouse Quarry Group
- Peacock Salt Ltd
- Trump Turnberry
- Woodward Aircraft Engine Systems
Graham + Sibbald were appointed as expert environmental consultants to provide independent one-to-one consultancy support to SMEs based in South Ayrshire as they undertook the University of West of Scotland's Carbon Champions programme.
We initiated a kick-off session on Teams with all participants in our cohort to explain the carbon baselining process and its components.
Following that, we provided 5 days of dedicated support to each participant, guiding them through each stage of the process of carbon accounting to calculate their organisation's baseline carbon footprint. The accounting methodology applied was aligned with either the GHG Protocol or ISO 14064 standard, depending on each organisation's individual needs.
Through the dedicated one-to-one support, we helped the participants in understanding the environmental impact of their operation activities and identifying priority areas to be addressed. We assisted in the development of tailored carbon emission mitigation and avoidance strategies to form a feasible net zero pathway for their organisation over the short to medium term. Further support was given to participants through phone and email whenever needed.
Finally, we produced a GHG Assessment Report for each participating organisation which was delivered to both the University and participants, serving as a solid foundation for their ongoing net zero efforts.
Time and resource- The support provided by our team was crucial during the 10-week period as the program participants were completing this activity alongside their regular job responsibilities and further university training. Our assistance played a significant role in helping them achieve their ambitious aims without experiencing excessive stress or overwhelming workload.
Differing participant needs- we were required to support a wide range of business with varying sizes, industries, and operational complexities. This diversity presented unique challenges in terms of understanding the specific needs, contexts, and emission sources of each business.
It required tailored approaches, resources, and expertise to effectively guide and assist each participant in calculating their carbon footprint and developing mitigation strategies. Flexibility, adaptability, and a comprehensive understanding of different industries were crucial in addressing this challenge successfully.
We provided guidance and practical assistance in the following key steps to creating a carbon footprint baseline:
- Defining the scope and boundaries: determining the boundaries of the assessment by identifying which emissions sources and activities should be included in the calculation. This could include emissions from Scope 1 (direct emissions), Scope 2 (indirect emissions from purchased electricity), and Scope 3 (other indirect emissions arising in the value chain).
- Data gathering: identifying and collecting relevant, accurate and robust data relating to emissions-generating activities such as energy consumption, fuel use, transportation, waste generation, water consumption, etc.
- Emissions calculation: we supported participants in either the manual calculation of emissions using appropriate conversion factors for each emissions source, or directed them in the use of the accounting software made available through the programme.
- Normalising the data: developing and applying intensity metrics to normalise the emissions and allow for comparison data over time, for example kg CO2e per £m turnover.
- Analyse results: reviewing the outputs and identify emissions hotspots or areas of significant impact which may be targeted as a priority.
- Set targets and develop mitigations pathway: based on results and the organisation’s ambitions, identifying a comprehensive mitigations pathway outlining specific actions and strategies to achieve the targets and reduce the participating organisation’s carbon footprint over time.
Calculating carbon footprint and identifying actions to reduce emissions can present many opportunities for participating organisations, potentially including:
- cost savings through energy and fuel efficiencies, etc
- competitive advantage in winning business e.g. through tenders
- enhanced reputation amongst customers and stakeholders
- improved employee engagement and retention
The programme was ell-received by participants and has been subsequently nominated for multiple awards.
Good communication by email, telephone, Trello and in person alongside open and approachable discussion with participants on challenges meant that we could easily convey messaging and detail around carbon accounting, mitigation, and risks and opportunities of climate change on their business.
Prompt production of reports for UWS at end of each phase of the programme as well as supporting the carbon accounting software developer in improving the accuracy and usability of the reporting tool, meant that the project ran as smoothly as possible.