Abley has successfully passed our third Toitū CarbonReduce audit. After setting a 5% year-on-year emission reduction goal for Abley, absolute as well as relative to headcount and turnover, we continue to achieve our targets.
This year we decided to move the goalposts. After launching CarbonWise earlier this year, we knew it was critical to walk the talk with our own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reporting to include commuting emissions.
It has been a revealing experience! Commuting accounts for 12% of our annual GHG emissions. This is our third largest emission source, behind business travel (63.5%) and imported electricity consumption (13.5%).
Commuting emissions weren’t included in our base year audit figures, but for 2023 we will restate our audited emissions baseline to include commuting. We are pleased that even with the addition of commuting data, we are currently achieving our targets.
So what else did we learn?
Abley has been measuring how our employees commute for several years now, but by using CarbonWise we’re now able to do it in a way that can be evidenced and easily reviewed by Toitū for audit purposes. 2021 was an unusual year for commuting due to COVID. We had a significant amount of time where employees worked from home and the extrapolations, which we would usually take from CarbonWise data, needed additional manipulation to account for the extended lockdown period in Auckland.
Interesting to note that emissions from employees working from home, combined with our commuting emissions, represent 17.5% of our emissions inventory, our second largest emission source.
Currently Abley is one of few organisations that includes commuting emissions in its audited emission inventory. From an audit perspective, additional checks on data quality and surety around numbers are required. And historically there has not been an accepted and standardised approach to capturing and measuring commuting emissions.
We’re happy to be transparent with our emissions data. We share monthly updates with employees and enable everyone to track their air travel and GHG contributions.
We are passionate about this.
Equivalent to over a quarter of our air travel emissions for the year, commuting is an emission source we can influence.
Post-COVID, our team have changed behaviours around air travel and have not returned to pre-COVID travel levels – however some travel remains necessary, and emission intensive.
Our electricity consumption is pretty static. We save energy where we can, but scope for additional improvements is small.
Which is why commuting is something we can and should help with.
Why should that be an employer’s responsibility?
We pride ourselves on being environmentally-minded. For many people who work here, our day job is to encourage active modes of transport and safer transportation for all. Work often extends well beyond the traditional 9 to 5; and as an employer we care about employees getting to and from the workplace safely. We have a very high ratio of cyclists to drivers in this organisation – all the more surprising then to discover that commuting was still such a high emissions source – so what else are we doing?
Abley have flexible start and finish times. We provide secure bike storage and showers. We promote and appreciate the health benefit for our employees of additional walking and cycling.
And for the guilty car users amongst a large number of committed cyclists, the practicalities and realities of a lower carbon commute are somewhat daunting – but not insurmountable.
Abley recently received funding from the Waka Kotahi Innovation Fund to further investigate how sustainable travel can be incentivised and not just supported. I’m now personally working on how to build family logistics into the bus schedule and actively enjoying the additional time catching up on life admin whilst riding the bus.
There is always more we can do to improve results and inspire positive behavioural change when it comes to commuting. We encourage all organisations to share their results, insights and initiatives in this space, for education and continual improvement purposes.