HERA, which drives thought leadership for the heavy engineering research industry in research and innovation, wanted to use a rigorous and independent process to calculate its carbon footprint. It also wanted to be able to share this process with its own members and members of the Sustainable Steel Council to show how easy it is and what data needed to be collected. The aim was to make this process easier for others to prepare for.
What was your goal in undertaking the carbon footprint analysis and offsetting? To assist members to prepare themselves for a similar process and understand the data requirements and effort involved. Also, to identify HERA’s own carbon footprint to move towards carbon neutrality and to identify ways to reduce carbon emissions in its operations.wanted to use a rigorous and independent process to calculate its carbon footprint. It also wanted to be able to share this process with its own members and members of the Sustainable Steel Council to show how easy it is and what data needed to be collected. The aim was to make this process easier for others to prepare for.
What issues needed to be addressed in the process to calculate the required offsetting? We didn’t really understand what activities needed to be measured, nor how these were best measured. Thinkstep used the following standards to calculate our emissions and set-up a spreadsheet where we could provide the data we had and then calculate the relevant carbon emissions:
What were the challenges associated with the process? We found that we did not accurately measure some of our contributing factors. For example, we just arranged regular waste collection but we did not measure how full our bins were at each pick-up (to determine volumes). While we kept good financial records, we did not keep accurate carbon records so had to spend a bit of time going back to convert the data we did have (e.g. flight details or invoices) to data we needed (e.g. carbon kilometres).
How were the challenges addressed? We had to go through all of our credit card records to identify flights purchased, then calculate distances between locations and convert that into carbon tonnes. Air New Zealand has a calculator to help with this here.
We also had to determine staff commute emissions by measuring home to work distances and the various transport modes used.
What were the criteria for success in this project? How were these met? Criteria for success were accurately determining our carbon footprint and offsetting this, sharing the learnings with our members to help them to do this also, and to identify opportunities for HERA to reduce its footprint. We have achieved two out of three of these criteria. Due to Covid-19 financial impacts, we haven’t yet been able to offset our carbon. However, the Covid-19 silver lining is that we have pivoted to digital delivery of many of our programs, including training and audits. Work travel was a key opportunity area for us to improve and we now have the experience and comfort with digital methods to be able to reduce our reliance upon face-to-face delivery.
How did ‘innovation’ and ‘experimentation’ contribute to the success of the project? There was a lot of experimenting with how to be collect the data for the first audit but also on how to collect it for future audits. The first audit was somewhat tedious (sorting through credit card records for staff over a 12 month period was not fun) but we now know to record flight details.
What kind of feedback have you received on this? From customers, from stakeholders and from staff? Everyone is very excited about this, so it is a bit disappointing to not be in a position to pay for the offset just yet. However, with the audit identifying the carbon cost of our travel, it certainly has motivated us to re-think how we have normally done things.
Has the project gained or been submitted for any awards or any other accolades? No- we hope that our members will use us as a case study for how simple and affordable this is to do and then hope they will get the accolades!
How has this made a difference to your business? Definitely- it is changing our mindset, it is changing the way we record and track the relevant contributions, it has led us to question the necessity of some activities and it has made us feel good to be part of a movement towards greater responsibility for our carbon emissions.
Approximate Time scale of project (months): Four months
Approximate Cost of project (to the nearest $50k) excluding GST: <$10K excluding offset costs
And the HERA inventory here