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    Our Climate Commitment

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    We are renewing and building infrastructure to deliver tomorrow's smart, sustainable energy - helping everyone to reduce their impact on climate change.

    We need to reduce our own impact as a business, at a time when the demands of network investment mean we must buy more goods, services, resources and materials. This will inevitably increase our environmental impact, as well as the greenhouse gas emissions generated by our supply chain on our behalf.

    We are committed to measuring these emissions, and reducing them relative to our investment and growth. At the same time we are working on our UK networks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and the release of sulphur hexafluoride and natural gas.

    occ1 Overall, we are committed to reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our processes, operations and offices. By 2050, we are aiming to reduce our GHG emissions by 80% (from a 1990 baseline), with an interim target of a 45% reduction by 2020.

    cdp-logoIn 2016, we achieved a place on CDP’s Climate A List, in recognition of the actions we have taken to reduce our emissions and mitigate climate change in 2015/16. We scored within the top 9% of over 1000 companies worldwide that participated in CDP’s climate change program.


    What we're doing

    We’re setting each of our business units an annual carbon target. This is to make sure that accountability runs throughout the business, so everyone has a part to play in helping us reduce emissions.

    We’ve been examining end-to-end construction and operation of our assets to see where we can reduce GHG emissions. And we’re pushing ahead with new trials, such as the low emission alternative to the insulating gas SF6, as well as new ways of managing energy in our buildings.

    We’re introducing an internal price on carbon, which we use in major investment decision-making. This means we can make sure that we fully account for the lifetime carbon impact of projects when we make investment decisions.


    Case study: Lower carbon, lower cost

    occ2 We’re challenging our contractors to reduce carbon emissions by building a carbon weighting into our tenders for major infrastructure work. And it’s already delivering significant carbon - and cost - savings.

    Many of our construction projects have traditionally had a high carbon impact, due to the materials used and energy consumed during a lifetime of operation. One of the consequences of this was high operational costs. So we set up a project to integrate carbon weighting into our tenders and the resulting design of our infrastructure assets. The aim was to incentivise suppliers to make a real and positive difference.

    The first step on this journey was to develop an innovative carbon assessment tool. This allows us to accurately measure the carbon emissions produced during the construction phase and lifetime operation of our infrastructure assets. The benefit is that it gives us really useful data about which areas of a project have the highest carbon intensity. And that means we can consider how we can make reductions in these areas and define our target standards.

    As a consequence of this innovation, we’ve introduced a 5% weighting related to carbon reduction on large-scale infrastructure projects. By incentivising suppliers to reduce carbon in this way, we’ve already unlocked significant cost and carbon savings.


    The benefits

    We used the approach on a recent tender for a new electricity substation in Wimbledon, London. It resulted in estimated carbon savings across the asset’s life of more than 20%, along with cost savings of £3m against the original design.

    These savings resulted from smarter thinking around the project’s design and the sourcing of materials, including:

    • Reduction of volumes of insulating gases (high contributors to GHG emissions) in electricity transmission equipment
    • Use of low-carbon concrete
    • Sourcing of recycled steel for reinforcements.

    The innovation we’ve seen in this project, together with everything we’ve learnt from it, have given us a baseline to work from for future tenders.