World FM Day: Net zero
13 May 2022
The Sustainability SIG is contributing to World FM Day 2022 by publishing an article a day during the week. For the fifth and final article, Toby Morgan, senior manager of built environment at Climate Group and Sustainability SIG committee member, will discuss net zero.
Companies are increasingly setting net zero goals to address climate change, but to be taken seriously they must have energy efficiency at the core.
We are now two years into the Climate Decade, during which we must halve emissions by 2030. Corporates and policymakers are setting net zero goals at a pace which some argue lack any real substance – amounting to little more than greenwashing.
Up to 10 or 20 years ago, setting environmental goals may have been seen as an exercise in managing reputation. Now, the C-suite of the world’s top firms increasingly see decarbonising their business as essential; not only for the protection of the planet, but for their bottom line.
We at Climate Group are working to accelerate climate action among 300 multinational businesses across every major sector. With the release of the latest IPCC report, it is clear that we must act now to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Leaders and policymakers must urgently align ambitious talk with financial backing, innovation, and action.
Having a group of influential companies setting their own net zero goals sends a clear signal to governments that climate matters to business success, and that authorities need to support this in their national commitments.
Yet what continues to be missing from the conversation – a less glamorous but arguably central factor in decarbonising our global economy – is energy efficiency. Any meaningful and credible decarbonisation strategy must have smart energy use as its foundation. This is because there are not enough resources in the world for everyone to solely switch to renewables or rely on carbon capture technologies. This is where facilities managers can play a key role, optimising equipment such as lighting and HVAC systems to reduce energy demand, before companies need to start investing in renewable energy and buying offsets.
Energy efficiency improvements can deliver over 40% of the reduction in energy-related greenhouse gas emissions that is needed over the next two decades to meet climate goals, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Yet global progress on energy efficiency has continued to slow due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. As economies open up, it is imperative that organisations invest in their workplaces. Having sustainable buildings is not only good for the future of the planet; it is also vital that we employees have healthy and productive workplaces.
Workplace and facilities managers can play a vital role in decarbonising buildings, while at the same time making their businesses more competitive. It is crucial to take a long-term perspective, whilst protecting against future risk, towards achieving a net zero goal. This begins with harnessing a smart energy approach to business.