We apply three general methods to reduce our footprint:
- Direct reductions in facilities we own or operate
- Investment in a portfolio of carbon mitigation projects
- Investment in renewable energy
In 2014, we committed to reduce CH2M’s absolute GHG footprint by 25 percent by the end of 2017, including carbon emissions from fuel and electricity (Scopes 1 and 2), and to provide accurate, transparent and complete information as proofs of our progress. That commitment received special recognition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 2015, the White House invited CH2M to participate in a roundtable on greenhouse gas reductions. At the same time, CH2M was held up as an example in federal supplier scorecard reporting for disclosing emissions and setting an emissions reduction target.
Since the baseline year of 2012 (net emissions of 77,701 tonnes), we have continually met our commitments to mitigate or reduce our carbon footprint each year, regardless of company growth. Our goal is more aggressive than represented by absolute numbers, since we based it on 2012 net emissions — after the purchase of offsets and renewable energy credits (RECs) — rather than on total emissions before offsets and RECs. During our baseline year, we mitigated 17 percent of our 2012 carbon footprint, in part by purchasing carbon offsets and RECs.
Our target of 25 percent, or 5 percent annually, is based on a 2013 study by the Carbon Disclosure Project and the World Wildlife Fund titled The 3% Solution. The study indicated that, if each company in the U.S. corporate sector were to reduce its carbon footprint by an additional 3 percent each year, our global temperatures would stay below a 2°C increase.
CH2M remains on track to meet our 25 percent carbon emission reduction goal by 2017. Both gross Scope 1 and 2 emissions and net emissions (emissions after the purchase of offsets and RECs) have declined since 2012. Our net emissions, the focus of our carbon reduction goal, declined 21 percent from the 2012 baseline.
Our total carbon emissions have declined each year since 2012, as we have consolidated our business’ physical footprint and implemented direct carbon emissions reduction programs. Because our goal is to sustain net carbon reductions regardless of revenue growth, we have continued to invest in carbon offsets and RECs in our annual progress toward our 2017 goal, even though our internal reductions have proven to be much greater than our original projections. Our carbon offset and renewable energy investments resulted in total emission offsets of 18 percent, 16 percent and 20 percent respectively in the years 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2016, RECs resulted in a total emission offset of 13 percent of total emissions. Given substantial reductions in our gross Scope 1 emissions in 2016, offsets were not necessary to achieve our targets for the year.
Scope 1 and 2 Carbon Emissions and Offsets and RECs
Total Scope 1 and 2 Emissions (Tonnes )
Carbon Offsets (Tonnes)
Renewable Energy Purchased (MWh)
Net Scope 1 and 2 Emissions (Tonnes)
MWh: megawatt hours
Carbon mitigation projects
To make sure that carbon-reducing programs are implemented globally and achieve our goals, we invest in a diverse portfolio of carbon mitigation projects that align with our business. After purchasing high-quality offsets in 2016, we found they were not necessary to meet our 2016 targets, so they will be reserved for use against our 2017 footprint. Through our investment we supported the following Verified Carbon Standard projects:
- The Jucunda REDD+ (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) project in Brazil. In addition to preventing the carbon emissions associated with continued rapid deforestation in the country, the project also has Double Gold level certification for community and biodiversity benefits through the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance. Dedicated revenue streams from the carbon offsets go to health, income generation, education, communications and environment programs for the local population.
- Methane emission reductions through better landfill gas capture and utilization at the Dalton Whitfield County landfill in Georgia.
To address energy use, we purchased 2016 vintage RECs from Green-e certified wind power facilities in the United States and made investments in green power through Bullfrog Power in Canada.
REC accounting for net zero power consumption
With the 2014 GHG Protocol Scope 2 guidance, World Resources Institute and other organizations have abandoned the “avoided emission” concept that historically has driven REC accounting. As with our 2014 inventory, consistent with the new guidance, the unbundled REC purchases are now combined with an equal quantity of grid power purchases to yield a “net zero” power consumption. For transparency, we apply our RECs to reduce net power consumption at our largest area offices in the continental United States, beginning with our largest power consumption location and working down, regardless of grid power intensity for those locations.
2016 emission inventory
In accordance with the World Resources Institute and the WBCSD’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative — A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard guidance, in 2016 we restated our previously reported 2012 through 2015 global carbon emissions to account for methodology/emission factor updates and revised or newly available data records.
In 2016, the largest single source of carbon emissions included in our inventory (37 percent of the total Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions) was employee commuting. The second highest (19 percent) was purchased electricity.