As one of the biggest energy users in the East it's our responsibility to do all we can to minimise our impact on the environment. As well as reducing the operational carbon created by everyday activity, we must also reduce the capital carbon created by building of assets like water mains, sewers and pumping stations. Our aim is to reach net zero by 2030. Find out more about how we're doing that.
What is net zero?
Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced by a business and the amount removed from the atmosphere, by taking mitigating action. We’ll reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away.
In 2010 we set an ambitious long-term goal to transform our business and reduce greenhouse gases. We were the first water company to set ambitious targets to reduce our capital carbon levels by 50% and operational carbon by 10%.
In 2016, we became the first ever company globally to have our carbon management process independently verified to PAS 2080 Carbon Management in Infrastructure.
Since then, we’ve continued working with the Green Construction Board’s Infrastructure Working Group to further develop this global standard and we’re proud to be part of a process that brings a joined-up approach to the way industry evaluates and manages carbon emissions.
In 2019, along with other water companies in England, we agreed a series of pledges as part of a new Public Interest Commitment to show leadership at a national level. One of the pledges was to achieve net zero carbon emissions for the sector by 2030. Together we’ve launched an industry routemap of how we intend to get there.
We’ve exceeded our 2020 goals and driven down our capital carbon by 61% and our operational carbon by 34%. We’re on track to reach, and help others to reach, net zero carbon by 2030.
These case studies showcase some of the projects we’ve undertaken:
Carbon reduction only happens when all in the supply chain are committed to reducing their footprint and saving costs. As we know, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so the fact we’ve already made such savings demonstrates the commitment and strength of our suppliers and partners. In delivering against our carbon targets, we’ve achieved financial efficiencies in the investment programme of more than 20 per cent and saving hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon.
Our energy strategy continues to reduce operational carbon and costs and build resilience. Between 2010 and 2015 we rolled out 1,000 or so energy-saving projects which collectively saved over £20 million. Last year we generated 131.1GWh of electricity from renewable energy - enough to power 40,000 homes for a year. This came from solar, wind and combined heat and power (CHP) engines using biogas, a by-product of the water recycling process. Over the next few years, we’ll continue to concentrate on renewable energy, particularly solar and CHPs.
Since 2011, we’ve measured and reduced our greenhouse gas emissions. Using CEMARS certification, we understand our carbon emissions and improve upon them, year by year.
In 2017 we signed up as a supporter of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Since then, we have published climate-related information in line with its recommendations. In 2020 for the first time, we have also made a disclosure through CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project). This follows CDP modifying the structure of its climate change questionnaire to align with TCFD (CDP-TCFD technical note).
In addition to our CDP disclosure, we have published greenhouse gas (GHG) reports since 2008 and have reported under each round of the UK’s climate change adaptation reporting power.