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Net zero – what is it and how do you get there?


What is Net Zero?

For most organisations, producing zero emissions from their activities would be extremely difficult or impossible as it would entail 100% of all energy required being generated on-site and none being imported, as well as having no vehicle fuel use.

Net zero carbon or carbon neutrality is where an organisation reduces their own energy use and emissions as far as possible and any remaining are offset by another acceptable means. For example, an organisation that has solar panels on their roof may generate more electricity than they need during the day but would have to buy electricity overnight. As long as the excess generated and the amount bought from the grid are equal, the result is carbon neutrality. Alternatively, the excess emissions can be offset by generating renewable energy or reducing consumption elsewhere in the world.

There are many ways to achieve net zero depending on your organisation, its outlook and structure.

What energy use and emissions are covered?

The emissions covered in your organisation’s footprint result from an organisation’s structure and to a degree, what you choose to include, or they may be designated by a formal standard if you are following one. However, emissions are classified in a standard way based on the emissions covered by the Kyoto protocol. The classification is based on who creates the emissions.

•       Scope 1 – emissions directly controlled by an organisation such as: burning gas in heating boilers, purchasing fuel for use in vehicles and gas losses from air conditioning systems. These would always be considered your emissions

•       Scope 2 – mainly emissions from electricity use. Although a power station ultimately uses the fuel to create electricity, the control of the use of electricity is deemed to be with the end user. These would also be considered as your emissions 

•       Scope 3 – other emissions you do not directly create but are incurred because of your activities. These are usually third-party emissions from activities such as employees use of private vehicles and emissions incurred by your suppliers such as fuel used in delivery vehicles that supply with products. Some of this group may still be considered as your emissions, or you may wish to include them to give a fuller picture of your environmental impact

How do I start?

You need to initially measure your current carbon footprint by calculating your total energy use and converting this to tonnes of carbon using the relevant conversion factors.

From this and a review of your business activities, a plan can be produced to see how you can reduce your energy consumption or generate your own energy. Any difficult to de-carbonise energy use can then be considered for offsetting outside your organisation.


If you want to know more contact us on 01432378690

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