- Environmental Compliance
- Environmental Management
- Water Use
- Water Preservation
- Paper Consumption
Carbon Emissions and Energy Use
CH2M has invested the resources to understand, manage, and report on its energy use and carbon footprint. We calculate and document carbon emissions that fall within our organizational and operational boundaries annually.
In addition to the global carbon emissions inventory, individual regions track and manage their energy use and emissions through environmental management programs, tailored to their locations and opportunities. Some regions began tracking emissions as early as 2003, as reflected in previous sustainability reports. This section contains energy use and carbon reduction programs from the following CH2M geographies:
- Global operations
- North America (United States and Canada)
- Asia Pacific and Australia
- Middle East, North Africa, and India (MENAI)
- Latin America
Global Carbon Emissions Inventory
CH2M completed its first global GHG emissions inventory to assess our company-wide carbon footprint for Scopes 1 and 2, and selected Scope 3 emissions, in 2011. The Scope 3 emission estimates include air business travel, ground business travel, employee commuting, electricity transmission and distribution losses, contracted solid waste disposal, and offsite wastewater treatment.
We chose to establish 2012 as our baseline year for assessing performance toward company-wide emission reduction targets. Specifically, in 2014, CH2M endorsed a new strategic commitment to reduce our absolute Scope 1 and 2 GHG footprint by 25 percent from 2012 to 2017, regardless of company growth. This will be accomplished by reducing our carbon emissions steadily year over year, leading up to our 2017 goal. This aligns with what we believe is required to effectively combat climate change.
Reducing GHG emissions in Alaska
When CH2M acquired oil and gas company VECO in 2007, we got over US$200 million in capital assets in Alaska and Russia—real estate and 1,200 pieces of equipment and vehicles. Most of our buildings, equipment, and 30 industrial facilities are in extreme locations, such as Deadhorse, Alaska, along the North Slope. When we began tracking our GHG emissions in 2011, it became clear that our Alaska operations contribute heavily to our carbon footprint; extremely low temperatures in Arctic locations make it more difficult to implement environmental improvements. But changes we have made are reaping environmental benefits and cost savings that will continue for years to come:
- LED lighting: By converting one of our main equipment shops (30,000 square feet) to new LED lighting, we will improve safety and task lighting for our shop employees, with increased and sustained lumens. We will reap the benefits of our investment in approximately 2 years because of the high per-kWh price for electricity on the North Slope. Maintenance will also drop dramatically, with bulbs projected to run at least 11 years, and we will no longer need to have hazardous material collection points and disposal fees for metal halide bulbs. We will continue to replace traditional lighting with LEDs as funding becomes available.
- Equipment: All of our new fleet is compliant with the EPA’s Tier 4 emissions standards. On our ExxonMobil Point Thomson project, almost 100% of the construction equipment we used met these standards, at the client’s request. We have been replacing 10 tractors per year, out of our 100-tractor fleet, with Tier 4-compliant equipment, and over one-third are now Tier 4. We are also continuing to replace our diesel-powered vehicles (once less expensive to operate) with gas vehicles when the project circumstances can provide that fuel. Gas trucks not only cost less to purchase and maintain, but they are also more environmentally friendly and heat up much faster in the Arctic (less need for idling time). In addition to obvious GHG reductions, this allows us to reduce consumption of US$5/gallon fuel, and results in lower purchase cost, less maintenance, more reliable startups, and a safer workplace.
These investments express our commitment to reducing our GHG emissions in a part of the world where we use the most energy. They also reflect our passion and technical innovation in improving the safety and quality of life for our employees and the environment in one of the harshest, coldest parts of the world, where it takes a huge amount of resources and energy for our clients to operate.
Like most service-based businesses that occupy leased offices, we typically do not manage those buildings, or directly meter or pay for power. We face challenges in reporting our energy use and related carbon emissions, yet we find value in understanding our emissions and how we can be most effective in reducing our footprint. Thus, for most of our leased space, we estimate energy consumption by using data published by the U.S. Department of Energy, which provides average energy use for various types of buildings across various climate zones. The carbon emission inventory provides CH2M with information to develop future strategies for managing resources.
Although we cannot, at this time, directly measure and quantify the benefits of our facilities’ energy conservation programs, we nonetheless actively manage our energy use. As a matter of policy, CH2M purchases Energy Star-certified equipment and electronics for our North American offices. For offices in other regions, we purchase equipment that uses less energy and is certified under programs that endorse energy efficiency. Where we can, we implement direct programs to reduce energy use. We operate three buildings at our Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®)-certified headquarters campus and regularly assess our energy conservation practices. Where CH2M has an EMS in place, we implement procedures to reduce energy used in offices and have active “turn it off” campaigns.
In accordance with the World Resources Institute and the WBCSD’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative—A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard (revised edition, 2004) guidance (GHG Protocol), we are restating our previously reported 2012 through 2014 global carbon emissions in 2015 to account for methodology/emission factor updates, revised or newly available data records, and an updated data management system.
With these changes, CH2M’s estimated global carbon emissions for Scope 1 direct and Scope 2 indirect combined prior to application of carbon offsets and RECs were: 84,552 tonnes (93,203 tons) for 2012; 84,473 tonnes (93,116 tons) for 2013; 75,808 tonnes (83,564 tons) for 2014; and 74,270 tonnes (81,869 tons) for 2015. This represents approximately a 2 percent decrease in total Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions from 2014, a 12 percent decrease in total Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions from 2013, and a 12 percent decrease in total Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions from 2012. Our company-wide strategies for achieving additional emissions reductions to meet our target are discussed in the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target section. Specific, additional actions taken by each of the regions are described in the remainder of this section.
In 2015, the largest single source of carbon emissions included in our inventory (38 percent of the total Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions) was employee commuting. The second highest (18 percent of the total) was electricity consumption in facilities.
Boundary and Methodology
Using the GHG Protocol as guidance, we applied the operational control approach in defining our organizational boundaries for reporting. Operational control refers to the authority to develop and carry out the operating or HSE policies of an operation or a facility. Using this approach, our company accounts for 100 percent of emissions from operations over which we or our subsidiaries have operational control (including leased space and vehicles).
CH2M calculates emissions based on actual data, where available, and estimates emissions according to standard protocol guidelines where data are incomplete or unavailable.
Conducting an inventory allows us to better understand emission sources and refine data collection processes. CH2M continues to refine the inventory and data collection processes and anticipates continual enhancements as more staff are aware of the importance of keeping accurate data records for emission sources.
In our North American offices, energy-conscious employees, managers, and landlords take steps to reduce our carbon footprint. In 2015, 21 percent of our U.S. leased offices were located in Energy Star‑certified buildings. Our Energy Conservation Best Practices document gives us ideas for conserving energy in our offices and talking with landlords about energy conservation. It also provides examples and success stories from various offices.
We directly manage the facilities at our corporate headquarters in Denver. As our largest single location, the Denver campus provides us the opportunity to take positive actions in managing our environmental footprint. All four of the Denver campus buildings are LEED- and Energy Star-rated. They feature water-efficient fixtures, have motion sensors to control lighting, offer comprehensive recycling options, and use recycled and local building materials. We track our energy usage monthly in Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager System.
We view energy conservation as an ongoing process. Historically, we have been able to reduce energy consumption in our Denver campus buildings. In 2015, we uncovered an increasing electricity consumption trend at our company headquarters and set out to stabilize our consumption at 8,706 MWh (2014 levels). We achieved this goal, with electricity at our headquarters at 8,513 MWh by year-end (2 percent decrease from 2014).
We are striving for an additional reduction of 850 MWh at our headquarters by 2017, through the implementation of a pilot program. Xcel Energy, our utility provider, will be including one or more CH2M headquarters buildings into their pilot Demand Response program. The program is designed to reduce electrical energy by optimizing the cooling systems performance during peak electrical demand periods. Also under consideration are a data center energy assessment and development of a retro-commissioning program to ensure that computerized control systems provide optimal working conditions during the heating season.
Natural gas usage decreased by 31 percent, primarily from a decrease in space heating, as reflected in lower heating degree days. The Denver campus continues to seek opportunities to reduce energy consumption and implement energy-efficiency projects going forward.
Europe Carbon Emissions
In Europe, our objectives in 2015 were to:
- Reduce office carbon emissions by a target of 5 percent by the end of 2015, and monitor emissions as a ratio per employee.
- Track business travel carbon emissions as a baseline for subsequent years, and implement a plan to realize reductions.
We recorded consumption data at 14 offices, and we continued to record emissions from our company car fleet. In 2011, we began reporting carbon emissions associated with UK business travel, which represents approximately 47 percent of our UK carbon footprint. In 2013, we extended our recording to include our 11 offices in mainland Europe and air miles flown by employees in these offices.
In 2014, we implemented some of our plans for more efficient use of office space, which continued into 2015. These actions have contributed to a decrease in carbon emitted per employee in the United Kingdom, from 1.27 tonnes per employee in 2013 to 1.20 tonnes in 2015; this is a decrease of approximately 6 percent.
In the United Kingdom, our total Scope 1, 2, and 3 carbon emissions decreased by 3.5 percent from 2014 to 2015.
Europe has seen a steady decrease in electricity and natural gas consumption since 2013.
From 2013 to 2015, office electricity and heating emissions decreased by approximately 10 percent, exceeding our objective.
In the UK, electricity consumption at our area offices decreased by approximately 210,000 kWh, or 5 percent, between 2014 and 2015. Heating consumption decreased by approximately 397,000 kWh, or 16 percent, compared to 2014.
Asia Pacific and Australia Carbon Emissions
Our Australian EMS team has long tracked and managed our operations’ carbon footprint. We continue to measure the carbon impacts of our activities in 2015; office electricity consumption is our main carbon contributor.
As in previous years, electricity conservation measures have included removing unnecessary lights, selecting energy-saving IT hardware, and encouraging staff to switch off unnecessary lighting. In 2015, the Sydney office underwent a lighting retrofit to significantly improve energy efficiency.
The Hong Kong office has implemented environmentally friendly measures to reduce its carbon footprint. It has reduced electricity use by 6.8 percent in 2015.
Middle East, North Africa, and India Carbon Emissions
The MENAI offices continued to reduce GHG emissions in 2015, with a 40 percent reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions from 2014 to 2015. The decrease was caused by office consolidations.
Latin America Carbon Emissions
We continue to manage electrical energy consumption in the Latin America Region by asking employees to turn off their computers after they finish work and turn off lights and air conditioners when leaving a meeting room or office. We have also trained maintenance staff to minimize lighting in unused areas.