Zac Van Bochove Baker / Data Scientist | 02/08/2022
Naimuri and the Carbon Neutral/Sustainability Power Group
Here is a little insight about the Naimuri Carbon Neutral/Sustainability Power Group, what we’ve been up to, the challenges we've faced and what the future of sustainability might look like for the company.
The Sustainability Power Group is one of many 'Power Groups' within Naimuri.
Groups of colleagues who share similar interests in a subject are given the autonomy, time and funding to put forward ideas, discuss, plan and take action on what is deemed appropriate ways to better their cause.
In our case, to help reduce our overall negative environmental impact as individuals and as a business; we all share the same passion for wanting to make the world a better (liveable) place for future generations.
In a nutshell, our work specifically focuses on taking the time to understand how and where Naimuri has a negative impact on the environment and what we can do to help make more informed decisions to ultimately reduce this.
One of our first impactful pieces of work is working towards creating a Carbon Reduction Plan and in doing so committing to being Carbon Net-Zero by 2050.
From the offset, it was obvious that there isn’t a clearly defined path or set of actions for achieving sustainability at cloud-native SMEs like Naimuri.
Initially, we sought out some advice from a sustainability consultant who provided some great advice. Ultimately, we ended up taking the initiative and started steering in the direction we thought best. I’ll caveat this by saying, we are aware that we may not have done this in the best way. Still, for us, we thought it's better to start actually doing something and figure out the best approach further down the line, instead of thinking about doing something and doing nothing in the meantime.
# Why and how does our work impact the environment?
A typical business tends to contribute the most negative environmental impact that revolves around office usage; commuting to and from work, gas, electricity and water usage.
However, over the last few years, Naimuri, like many others, adopted a hybrid approach to work as a response to the pandemic. This led to a global reduction in BAU office usage and an overall global reduction in CO2 emissions, albeit temporary. Now, global CO2 emissions are back to near pre-pandemic levels. Understanding to what degree hybrid working affected Naimuri from an environmental perspective, we thought was key in our Sustainability journey.
As a software development and data intelligence company, calculating our non-BAU environmental impact may not be as straightforward as others. Throughout the lifecycle of all projects no matter the context, there is some level of discernible impact on the environment.
Naimuri recognises that as a software development and a cloud-native company, our work tends to have a large indirect environmental impact as a result of the ecological impacts cloud computing.
Whilst there is little we can do as a business to impact environmental goals of public cloud suppliers, we are committed to putting in the groundwork at company level to contribute towards an overall appetite for positive sustainable change in the industry; for us, this means greater education, awareness and action.
# Understanding where we currently stand….
As a group, we felt it was important to gauge where Naimuri currently stands in terms of its Carbon Footprint. This would allow us to track our historic performance and in turn provide us with a means of visualising our carbon impact throughout the years and create a baseline for future reference. In doing so, we can see what areas we need to work on the most and take ideas from other areas which might be doing better.
To begin with, and as part of our Carbon Reduction plan, we followed guidance from the official Greenhouse Gas Protocol handbook, opting to calculate Scopes 1, 2 and 3 using a range of baseline CO2 metric indicators. This would then provide us with a solid understanding of our historic and continued environmental impact, with the ability to visualise this data around the office. If you aren't familiar with what each scope entails, Deloitte provides a concise summary of each scope.
- Scope 1 — This one covers the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions that a company makes directly — for example while running its boilers and vehicles.
- Scope 2 — These are the emissions it makes indirectly – like when the electricity or energy it buys for heating and cooling buildings, is being produced on its behalf.
- Scope 3 — In this category go all the emissions associated, not with the company itself, but that the organisation is indirectly responsible for, up and down its value chain. For example, from buying products from its suppliers, and from its products when customers use them. Emissions-wise, Scope 3 is nearly always the big one.
We found that due to the nature of Naimuri's work (primarily digital - cloud-native, software development, data intelligence) there was nothing to calculate for Scope 1.
For Scope 2, we were able to backdate our electricity usage by contacting our energy supplier and then calculate an estimated overall carbon footprint using baseline metric indicators. In doing so, we were able to calculate our impact month by month for each section of our office (floors are split into sections).
We found that calculating our Scope 3 emissions was far harder to capture due to the larger surface area covered. Initially, we decided to look at our water supply, business travel, upstream transportation and distribution, waste generated in operations, employee commuting, and downstream transportation and distribution. We carried out an anonymous company-wide survey that asked questions centred around commuting, mainly the form of travel and the distance to the office. This had huge engagement from the company and from this, we could begin to calculate the impact we have as a collective from commuting alone. Our results followed industry research, finding close to 90% of employees drive to work. As a result, commuting is by far our largest contributor to a negative environmental impact - making up for around 60% of total CO2 equivalent emissions.
The data collected for scopes 1, 2 and 3 are now monitored via a central dashboard, regularly updated and visualised on screens around the office.
# What are we doing to help?
A quick win, contacting our current energy supplier and having them change to a green sustainable energy tariff with immediate effect with no extra cost. This helped Naimuri drastically reduce the Carbon Impact at Scope 2.
Looking further, Scope 3 covers far more ground and with it comes greater challenges in reducing Carbon Emissions under this scope. Our current work is looking for ways to better track and monitor factors contributing to Scope 3 impact to understand where we’re currently at, where we want to be and how we compare to the industry.
Despite this we have begun efforts in making sustainability more accessible and easier for people in the office, giving people a chance to get involved. Small changes, such as putting our recycling area in the kitchen (instead of outside) have already come into play. We’re also looking at implementing wall-mounted charging solutions for electric vehicles in our office car park. There is a government-backed scheme that can cover 75% of the installation costs, up to £350 per socket. The small changes add up and will hopefully lead to larger overall reductions at a Scope 3 level but also help promote green behaviour in the office.
Contributing towards the larger goals of the group, the Carbon Reduction Plan means Naimuri will commit to being Carbon Net-Zero by 2050 as well as setting carbon reduction targets every 5 years leading up to it.
Digitally, we are aware of the new cloud-native tools released by cloud providers to measure environmental impact as well as open-source projects like https://www.cloudcarbonfootprint.org/ and are currently assessing ways in which we can integrate them into our general workflow. In the public cloud, the AWS Ireland region is powered solely by sustainable energy. We hope to make more use of this area going forward and hope that more regions in AWS become powered by sustainable energy. With AWS and Azure both pledging to use 100% renewable energy by 2025 this will in turn help us reduce our downstream environmental impact.
We are well on our way to calculating all the necessary components for our Carbon Reduction Plan and with it our commitment to being Carbon Net-Zero by 2050. Whilst also beginning the centralisation of the monitoring of our carbon footprint so as to better understand where we have the greatest negative impact. We are also looking to begin embedding a sustainability culture within the company to begin by hosting meetups, attending talks and offering climate education to employees.
As a group, we are really proud of the work we’re doing and whilst we’re at the very start of our journey it's really motivating knowing that we are positively contributing towards a global movement that aims to look after the health of our planet.
To try and help promote green behaviour in the office and at home.
# What we have learnt…..
Everyone business is different
There is no ‘one size fits all’
Get started and figure it out along the way
Lisa Wood / Marketing and Communications Lead
Lisa Wood / Marketing and Communications Lead
Lisa Wood / Marketing and Communications Lead