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Actions for Organisations to Accelerate Their Decarbonisation Journey

The journey to decarbonisation is not just an ethical imperative but a strategic necessity for modern organisations. As the urgency of climate change becomes ever more apparent, businesses have a pivotal role to play in reducing global carbon emissions. Beyond the evident environmental benefits, decarbonisation offers tangible advantages such as cost savings, enhanced corporate reputation, and long-term sustainability.

In this blog post, we will look at a structured approach to decarbonisation, provide actionable insights and practical steps to help organisations effectively reduce their carbon footprint.

What is decarbonisation?

Decarbonisation refers to the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) generated by human activities. For businesses, this entails minimising emissions from operations, energy usage, supply chains, and transportation. Given that organisations are significant contributors to global carbon emissions, their proactive steps towards decarbonisation are crucial.

The role of organisations in global carbon emissions

Organisations, particularly large enterprises, play a pivotal role in global carbon emissions. From energy consumption to product manufacturing, the business sector has a substantial impact on the environment. Thus, corporate commitment to decarbonisation can lead to significant progress in addressing climate change.

What are the typical carbon emissions for buildings?

Buildings are a significant source of carbon emissions, primarily due to their substantial energy consumption. Heating, cooling, and lighting are major contributors, often relying on fossil fuels, which emit substantial amounts of CO2. On average, commercial buildings generate a significant proportion of greenhouse gases, driven by factors such as electricity use for lighting and appliances, as well as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Additionally, emissions are also produced indirectly through the construction and maintenance processes, where substantial energy and materials are utilised. Understanding and addressing these emission sources is crucial for any meaningful decarbonisation strategy for buildings. Implementing energy-efficient technologies, upgrading insulation, and integrating renewable energy sources are pivotal steps organisations can take to reduce their buildings’ carbon footprint effectively.

Why is decarbonisation crucial for businesses?

Decarbonisation is not merely about compliance with regulations; it reflects a commitment to sustainable practices that can lead to several benefits:

  • Cost Savings: Energy-efficient technologies and sustainable practices often result in reduced operational costs.
  • Sustainability: Long-term viability of the business is improved by mitigating risks associated with climate change.
  • Environmental Impact: Helps reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint, contributing to global climate change mitigation.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensures compliance with environmental regulations and reporting requirements.
  • Corporate Responsibility: Enhances the company’s reputation by demonstrating a commitment to sustainability.
  • Strategic Planning: Informs strategic decisions related to sustainability goals and initiatives.

Be proactive in assessing your current carbon footprint

Conducting a comprehensive carbon audit

Proactive decarbonisation begins with a comprehensive assessment of your current carbon footprint. By understanding existing emissions, key areas can be identified for improvement and targeted strategies developed to reduce impact. This foundational step enables you to set clear, achievable goals and implement effective measures that drive meaningful change.

What are the steps in a carbon audit?

Defining the scope

  • Scope 1: Direct emissions from owned or controlled sources (e.g., fuel combustion in company vehicles, on-site manufacturing processes).
  • Scope 2: Indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling.
  • Scope 3: Other indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of the reporting company (e.g., business travel, waste disposal, product use).

Data collection

  • Energy Consumption: Gathering data on electricity, gas, oil, and other energy sources used.
  • Transport and Travel: Collecting information on company vehicle usage, employee travel, and logistics.
  • Raw Materials and Waste: Measuring the consumption of raw materials and waste generation.
  • Product Life Cycle: Assessing emissions related to the production, use, and disposal of products.

Emission calculation

  • Emission Factors: Using standard emission factors to convert activity data (e.g., litres of fuel, kWh of electricity) into CO2 equivalents (CO2e).
  • GHG Protocol: Applying the guidelines from recognised frameworks like the GHG Protocol to ensure consistency and accuracy.

Data analysis and reporting

  • Identify Major Sources: Determining which activities or processes contribute the most to the overall carbon footprint.
  • Benchmarking: Comparing emissions against industry standards or historical data to identify trends and areas for improvement.
  • Detailed Report: Compiling a comprehensive report that includes all findings, methodologies, and calculations.
  • Visualisation: Using charts, graphs, and tables to clearly present the data and highlight key insights.


  • Reduction Strategies: Proposing specific measures to reduce emissions, such as energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy adoption, waste reduction programs, and changes in operational practices.
  • Offsetting Options: Suggesting options for offsetting emissions through carbon credits or investment in carbon sequestration projects.

Implementation and monitoring

  • Action Plan: Developing an action plan to implement the recommended strategies.
  • Regular Monitoring: Setting up processes for regular monitoring and reporting to track progress over time.

How to develop a decarbonisation strategy

Integrate your decarbonisation strategy into your organisational strategy

Decarbonisation should be embedded into the broader organisational strategy. This includes securing leadership commitment and involving stakeholders to ensure buy-in across all levels of the organisation.

Set clear goals and targets

Establishing science-based targets is crucial for aligning with global climate goals. These targets should be ambitious yet achievable. To ensure they are effective, they must be specific, clearly defined, and easy to communicate. They should also be measurable, allowing for quantifiable tracking of progress. Achievability is key, considering the organisational capabilities. Moreover, targets need to be relevant, aligning with the business strategy, and time-bound, set within a specific timeframe.

Organisations should aim to set both short-term and long-term decarbonisation goals. Short-term goals might focus on immediate actions such as energy audits and retrofits. On the other hand, long-term goals could include more extensive measures like transitioning to 100% renewable energy sources. This dual approach enables organisations to take immediate steps while planning for future sustainability.

Align with international standards and frameworks

Align goals with international agreements and frameworks such as the Paris Agreement, which commits to limiting global warming to below 2°C, and the Net Zero by 2050 initiative, which aims for net-zero emissions by mid-century.

Involve stakeholders and secure leadership commitment

Stakeholder engagement is crucial, involving both internal and external participants. Internal stakeholders include educating and involving employees and management, while external stakeholders involve collaborating with customers, suppliers, and investors.

You’ve done your audit, you’ve put together a strategy, now what?

Implement energy efficiency measures

Upgrading to energy-efficient technologies and systems involves investing in modern solutions like LED lighting, smart HVAC systems, and energy-efficient appliances. Conducting regular energy audits can help identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement, and following these audits with retrofits can further enhance energy efficiency. Additionally, investing in renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, or hydroelectric power not only reduces emissions but also positions the organization as a leader in sustainable practices.

Enhance your supply chain sustainability

Collaborating with suppliers to reduce emissions involves encouraging them to adopt sustainable practices and lower their carbon footprints through partnerships, incentives, and shared goals. Implementing sustainable procurement practices means adopting policies that prioritise environmentally friendly products and services, considering the lifecycle impact of purchased goods. Additionally, by sharing best practices and providing resources, suppliers can be encouraged to implement their own decarbonisation strategies.

Promote sustainable transportation

Investing in electric or hybrid vehicles for company fleets can significantly reduce emissions from transportation. Additionally, promoting the use of public transportation, carpooling, and remote working can help minimize the carbon footprint associated with commuting. To further reduce environmental impact, businesses should limit travel by leveraging virtual meeting technologies and invest in carbon offset programs for any unavoidable travel.

Implement waste reduction and recycling initiatives

Minimising waste production can be achieved through the implementation of lean manufacturing and other efficient processes. Establishing comprehensive recycling programmes for paper, plastics, electronics, and other materials is also crucial. Additionally, adopting circular economy principles by reusing and repurposing materials wherever possible further supports waste reduction efforts.

Leverage technology and innovation

Leveraging technology and innovation is crucial for optimising energy usage and reducing emissions. Adopting smart technologies such as IoT devices and energy management systems can significantly enhance energy management. Investing in innovative solutions like carbon capture and storage (CCS) further helps in cutting emissions. Additionally, using data analytics to monitor progress allows for tracking improvements and optimising operations for greater efficiency.

Engage and educate employees

To raise awareness about decarbonisation goals, it is essential to communicate the importance and objectives to all employees. Additionally, providing training and incentives can encourage the adoption of sustainable practices both at work and at home. Creating a culture of sustainability within the organisation involves celebrating achievements, sharing success stories, and recognising individual contributions.

Regular reporting and communication

Regularly reporting progress to stakeholders is essential to maintain accountability and transparency regarding decarbonisation goals. Engaging third-party auditors to verify emissions data and sustainability claims enhances credibility. Additionally, openly communicating both achievements and challenges with stakeholders builds trust and encourages collaboration.

Continuous improvement and adaptation

Regularly reviewing and updating decarbonisation strategies is essential to incorporate new technologies and respond to regulatory changes. It is also important to stay informed about industry best practices and learn from leaders in sustainability. Additionally, remaining agile and adaptable to evolving regulations and market trends will help stay ahead of the curve.

Independent verification

Independent verification plays a crucial role in strengthening the integrity of an organisation’s decarbonisation efforts. By engaging third-party auditors to meticulously review and certify emissions data, businesses can assure stakeholders of the accuracy and reliability of their sustainability reporting.  Transparent verification processes help identify areas for improvement and ensure compliance with relevant standards and frameworks.

Furthermore, investing in independent verification can lead to substantial commercial gains by either confirming that the investment in implemented energy efficient measures is delivering the level of savings expected, or uncovering performance-related shortcomings.

For organisations that have entered into services contracts with specialist contractors, impartial and objective performance evaluation is crucial, especially when savings targets, incentives, or performance guarantees are part of the agreement. This ensures greater certainty that reported savings align with the agreed terms.

Do you Know About the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)

The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is a mandatory energy assessment and energy saving identification scheme for large organisations in the UK. Established by the UK government, ESOS aims to help businesses identify cost-effective energy savings opportunities and promote energy efficiency improvements. Eligible organisations are required to conduct comprehensive energy audits every four years, providing a thorough analysis of their energy consumption and identifying potential energy-saving measures.

ESOS assessments must be carried out or overseen by an ESOS Lead Assessor, ensuring that the evaluation is both rigorous and reliable. In addition to conducting audits, organisations are required to report their energy usage and outline the measures they plan to implement to enhance energy performance. Compliance with ESOS not only aligns businesses with legislative requirements but also showcases their commitment to sustainability, potentially improving their reputation among customers, investors, and other stakeholders.

By participating in ESOS, organisations can discover significant opportunities to reduce energy costs, enhance operational efficiency, and contribute to broader environmental goals. The scheme serves as a catalyst for businesses to integrate energy efficiency into their core strategies, ultimately fostering a more sustainable and resilient future.

Read more about it here:


Decarbonisation is a critical journey for organisations aiming to thrive in a sustainable future. By taking deliberate and strategic actions, businesses can significantly reduce their carbon footprints, contribute to global climate goals, and reap the benefits of cost savings, enhanced reputation, and long-term viability.

Case study

DMA has been instrumental in helping Rye Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital achieve carbon neutrality, transforming its sustainability profile through a meticulous and collaborative approach. By conducting comprehensive energy audits, DMA identified key areas for improvement, including optimising heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, and enhancing the building’s insulation. They also facilitated the transition to renewable energy by installing solar panels and integrating energy-efficient lighting systems. Through these concerted efforts, Rye Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital not only reduced its carbon footprint but also achieved significant cost savings, further demonstrating the tangible benefits of DMA’s expertise in environmental management. Read the case study here.

Contact us to learn more about what our Energy Services team can do for your organisation in your journey to decarbonisation.

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