Net Zero Week, Day 1: Achieve a realistic net zero business plan

At DB Group, we believe that the first steps to achieving Net Zero is to create a realistic and achievable plan based on scientific fact.   Before you set your date and pledge, think about how likely Net Zero can be achieved within your organisation, the challenges you may face, the staffing resource, budget and time that will need to be allocated to be successful.

Net Zero may not be achievable for everyone when taking into account your supply chain. As long as we can all contribute towards reducing energy, water & waste which can be fully verified, we can be applauded for doing our best.

There are a number of key areas that we feel would strengthen your plan such as:

  • Creating a Team of Experts
  • Define what Net Zero Means to your business
  • Reviewing your Resource – How are you going to Finance net zero & do you have the time and internal resources to manage Net Zero
  • Survey your sites to understand the cans and cants
  • Understand the challenges you may face & think of a plan B
  • Identifying the external support that is available to simplify the process
  • How are you going to Verify Net-Zero?

We have expanded upon each of the above in more detail. This will help you to formulate a starting point and vision on how the foundations can be set for creating your decarbonisation roadmap.

Build a team of experts

Choose a team of experts with a blend of internal and external consultants. The external consultants will provide you with up-to-date changes in legislation and regulation. They can also provide the technical and scientific research to back up your plan.  Internally, support is just as critical as your staff and colleagues have to engage and deploy the strategy and recommendations provided within the Net Zero Carbon Management Plan. 

The one size fits all scenario does not exist within Net Zero; each organisational goal and objectives will vary from business to business.  Once your team of experts is established, defining net zero will be critical.  With only guidance available from the local government, the definition of net zero will be up to your organisation. Therefore having the expert panel and internal support will allow you to add value and press forward towards a greener future.

Define Net Zero

There is no written definition of how to achieve Net Zero as every business will be affected in many ways. Think about any business, there is a supply chain to manage, transportation, energy and water usage, waste and costs for resource and technology to achieve your contribution to Net Zero.

Therefore defining your Net Zero strategy at an early stage is recommended. It will allow you to think about the following:

  • What is your organisations understanding of Net Zero?
  • Does your strategy include scopes 1, 2 & 3 or just scopes 1 & 2? 
  • Does your organisation know what the scopes mean?
  • Will you require external support and guidance?
  • Do you know what support is available for large, SME or micro businesses?
  • Do you have a parent company who have already set a date that you need to adhere to?
  • Do you feel the date is realistic and achievable?
  • Has Net Zero been communicated throughout the business and engaged with the wider community?
  • How are we going to finance Net Zero?

Defining Net Zero will be critical to the plan and is something that I suggest is engaged with in the early stages and once your team of experts has been established as they will help you to define Net Zero around what is reasonable and practical within the scope of business.

Review Resource – Finance & Time

A question that will feature on most organisations Net Zero agenda’s will be how Net Zero is financed.  This is possibly a section that has not been fully appreciated from local governments and may place a further strain on already stretched budgetary frameworks.  As we start to come through the challenges faced from covid the last thing we want to do is add unnecessary pressure with unrealistic Net Zero plans.

Finance will dictate how far we can engage with Net Zero although there are funding mechanism’s available with no upfront cost and support vehicles through local government and community groups that can help you to tap into some much-needed funding, guidance and support.

Another resource that will be required immediately will be internal support, time and cost associated with bringing together a plan and moving forward with the recommended solutions.  Do you have an internal resource or would your organisation benefit or need external support, guidance and finance. 

There are communities ready to work with your organisation creating a starting point and delivering a strategy suitable for your business.  Reach out to these communities and ask for help.

Survey your Sites

Spend quality time to survey your sites and understand the challenges, can’s and can’t and realistic solutions available.  With your expert team established, net zero defined and finance in place, the next step is to take this brief onto site and start to consider the options available.

The surveys will include:

  • Understanding of Local infrastructure
  • Appreciating the Building Envelope, age, building materials, and limitations
  • Existing Heating & Cooling on site
  • Utility Management – Electricity, Gas, Water, LPG, CNG
  • Utility Contracts – Green Products?
  • Future Fuels for example Hydrogen
  • Energy Efficiency Surveys – Make sure the basics are covered
  • Review of Compliance – ESOS, SECR, RHI, CCA
  • Liaison with the local council

You may already have had surveys undertaken which again will be reviewed although changes may have been made post recommendations therefore start the process again and formulate the plan based upon more recent reviews.

Challenges

During the Net Zero process we are likely to face many challenges from continued Covid disruption, budget, lack of internal training and net zero knowledge, geographical location limitations, time management etc. 

The surveys will help to alleviate these challenges and having a strong team and community support will allow you to create a plan B if required.  Understanding the challenges that are likely to be faced at an early stage of the process will make them no surprise should they arise and with your Plan B, the program continues.

Should a challenge arise, pause, re-group and refer to your plan B.

External Support

DB Group can support you through Net Zero, bringing together your plan, project management, engaging with you to bring together a team of proven experts and with partner groups such as Future Net Zero and Carbon Expert we are here to simplify the process and help your organisation to start the process with little impact to your business.

Larger community groups such as Net Zero Scotland and the Scottish Net Zero Community are also here to work with organisations large and small who are already making or would like to start contributing towards a Net Zero campaign.

We are confident that once Net Zero strategies are underway additional support will become available and help us to achieve what we set out to do by 2050.

Verification

Tracking progress as well as understanding your starting point is another key element to achieving net zero. There are many platforms and many more manual processes that can help you to understand improvements made alongside where more improvements can be made.

DB Group would recommend a cost-effective visual platform that can track your performance, provide intensity metrics and identify area’s that may need additional focus.  A visual platform can also be great for reviewing internally with a wider group including your team of experts verifying that what they recommended has worked.

Through verification we can track progress, visually and simply understanding of your data, alongside transferring measurements from known kWh and litres to Co2e.   

Summary

Set your Net Zero date based upon scientific fact and proceed with the plan facing challenges head on and referring to your plan B from time to time if required. 

Reach out to local communities and share your experiences, successes and lessons learned.  To achieve Net Zero we need to raise the awareness globally and collectively incorporate change into our busy schedules.  

Create a team worthy of delivering Net Zero and define your goals and objectives at an early stage. 

Taking the time to create a plan will allow your organisation to track performance and to share these steps with your shareholders, partners, and colleagues.

To understand what net-zero is, you can find out more in our latest blog https://dbgroupeurope.com/what-is-net-zero/