Case study 30 October 2020

Establishing sustainability targets for an international consultancy


Our customer, an international consultancy, sought the guidance of our Plan Zero team to establish ambitious, yet achievable targets that would significantly increase sustainability and reduce their impact on the environment.

Baselining and targeting is a stage of our Plan Zero A to E process, which is explained in more detail in our Plan Zero Playbook, which is available for download here.

The undertaking

Naturally some businesses are further on in their sustainability journey, which is what makes baselining both sustainability and carbon reduction performance against similar organisations so important.

Mitie undertook this aspect of Plan Zero on behalf of the UK and Ireland branch of an international consultancy, for which Mitie Smart Energy Procurement Team procures energy for 40% of its assets on a renewable energy contract.

Mitie’s dedicated Sustainability Manager worked alongside the organisation’s Global Sourcing and Procurement Director to complete an audit of relevant data. The scope included usage and carbon emissions related to:

  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water
  • Waste
  • Travel (Flights, rail and taxi journeys)

Once the data had been supplied and collated, it was uploaded into a dashboard to assist with illustrating how the company compared to competition in the same sector. This showed that the firm was behind other organisations in some respects. Catching up to align with or surpass competitors is indeed a key driver for many businesses when setting challenging sustainability targets.

The outcome of the baselining exercise was presented to the company’s sustainability steering committee and some changes have already been implemented. For example, rather than simply sending waste to landfill, the firm is now attempting to support the circular economy by recycling or repurposing materials. They also use compostable food containers rather than single-use, non-recyclable and non-compostable equivalents.

Mitie also made corresponding science-based target recommendations with a five-year projection. Such targets are the globally accepted standard for companies wishing to reduce their carbon footprint and are bespoke to each organisation; They specify what participants need to do to help limit global warming to below 2oC above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to further limit the extent of warming to below 1.5oC.

Mitie’s recommendations would generate a 4% reduction, year-on-year.

As a result of baselining it was found that transport proved to be a key contributor to the client’s total emissions. In fact, in 2019, Scope 3 emissions accounted for 71% of total emissions, with transport responsible for over 90% of this. The client was therefore above the Science Based Target Initiative’s 40% threshold, which meant reporting of additional emissions was required for an accurate reflection of the carbon footprint. It was also necessary in order to qualify for an approved science based target acknowledgement.

Without baselining, this information may have been overlooked and a review of transport policy and ingrained culture would not have been a client priority. The organisation is now considering options, including offsetting, to mitigate its significant footprint.

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