CH2M’s energy use and carbon emissions are managed both globally and locally, enabling offices to set reduction goals and manage their own programs to achieve them. The most significant driver of our Scope 1 and 2 emissions ties to leased office space; therefore, our carbon footprint historically has tracked with company growth. However, this correlation does not account for our increased reliance on telecommuting.
As a service-based business, we cannot measure actual energy use associated with leased offices and telecommuting, but we find value in understanding opportunities to reduce our footprint. For this reason, we estimate energy consumption for most of our leased office space by using data published by the U.S. Department of Energy, which provides average energy use for various types of buildings. Including such averages in our carbon inventory helps us develop strategies to manage resources and consumption.
Directly reducing energy use — and measuring the results of those reductions — is most difficult in leased facilities where we lack management control and the cost of power is not identified separately for the space leased. As a matter of policy, we work with landlords to participate in turn-it-off programs and purchase Energy Star or comparable appliances, electronics and other equipment to reduce emissions associated with energy use, even though we cannot measure the results of doing so.
At our corporate headquarters where we house the most employees, we track and report energy use. The entire campus is Energy Star-certified and we remodeled the space to increase daylighting, improve building automation systems and upgrade to efficient lighting fixtures. Likewise, at our facilities on the North Slope in Alaska, we have implemented a number of projects to reduce energy use and fuel consumption, with more planned.
In 2016, 28 percent of our leased offices (approximately 50 percent of rented square-footage) were located in buildings certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®), Energy Star or BOMA Best. In the United States, we purchase Energy Star-certified equipment and electronics, and in other parts of the world we purchase equipment that is certified as energy efficient. We regularly assess our energy conservation practices at our LEED®-certified headquarters.
We directly manage our LEED- and Energy Star-certified headquarters, enabling us to take steps in managing our environmental footprint. The buildings feature water-efficient fixtures and lighting motion sensors, offer comprehensive recycling options and use recycled and local building materials. We track energy usage in Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager System.
In 2016, we set a goal to reduce electricity consumption by 850 MWh by 2018 through a pilot program that reduces electricity use by optimizing cooling system performance during peak demand periods. We reduced our electricity usage by 1.8 percent in 2016, while also cutting natural gas consumption by 8.5 percent, primarily reflecting reduced heating requirements.
We recorded energy consumption data at 14 of our offices in the UK and 12 locations in mainland Europe. Since actual energy consumption data were not available at two of our European offices, usage was estimated for those two locations. We continued to record emissions from our car fleet and vehicle rentals. In the UK we have negotiated energy supply contracts under the Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) scheme for those offices where we procure electricity directly. We have REGO-backed supplies in place at our offices in London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Derby.
Our 2016 goals in Europe were to:
- Establish an ESOS page on the CH2M intranet, review office-specific ESOS assessments and create a tracking document to monitor energy-saving opportunities
- Review electricity supplies to offices where CH2M directly procures electricity and agree on tariff and metering requirements while considering best environmental options (for example, REGO-backed supply and smart metering)
- Continue to track European business travel and office-related carbon emissions
In the UK, our total Scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions increased by 5 percent from 2015 to 2016, while our office electricity and natural gas emissions decreased by 3 percent. We also expanded our operations in Poland and opened our Global Design Production Center in Krakow in 2016; therefore, we saw an overall increase in Europe carbon emissions.