Measuring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions: Organisations share their experiences

The following three organisations share their experiences of measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions, including their top tips. 

Victoria University of Wellington

We spoke to Andrew Wilks — Director, Sustainability

How long has your organisation been measuring its emissions?

Since 2006

 

Why did you decide to start measuring your emissions?

It was part of establishing our environmental management work. Initially it was simply a means of tracking and reporting on our progress to improve our environmental performance. NB: there is no legal compulsion for us to measure it.

 

How did you find the process of measuring?

We engaged a consultant to help set up a reporting framework, establish our scope and boundary etc. Most of the data gathering was pretty simple and reliable, but some sources of information were harder to get and there had to be a few estimates.

 

What reductions have you seen in your emissions since measuring them?

20 per cent total reduction, more if you look at it per capita or per square metre.

 

What emissions reduction targets does your organisation have for the next 5 years? 

We are working on a plan for net zero by 2030.

 

What’s your top tip for other organisations measuring their emissions? 

Getting a true understanding of what makes up your carbon footprint is critical for effectively planning where to put your efforts to maximise emissions reductions. 

Depending on the complexity of your organisation, the data that feeds into your emissions inventory could come from multiple parts of your organisation, so having a good relationship with the people that hold that information is essential.

 

    photo of Victoria University of Wellington

    Photo: Victoria University of Wellington

    Meridian Energy

    We spoke to Alison Howard — Head of Sustainability

    How long has your organisation been measuring its emissions?

    For more than a decade, with public reporting since the 2008 financial year.

     

    Why did you decide to start measuring your emissions?

    We have always been a 100 per cent renewable energy generator, so taking climate action is core to our purpose to deliver clean energy for a fairer and healthier world. Back in the 2000s we made a conscious decision that we weren’t going to develop any new power stations that weren’t renewable energy, and we successfully applied for, and sold, carbon credits from our Te Apiti (Palmerston North) and White Hill (South Island) windfarms overseas. 

    Carbon accounting was a natural thing for our business to do, and we saw an opportunity in knowing our carbon footprint, reducing it, and sharing our lessons and experience with our customers and other businesses.

     

    How did you find the process of measuring?

    It’s easy to make a start, and to get an inventory that is in the ballpark. The ongoing challenge is always completeness and accuracy. It can be tricky to ensure that you’ve got the whole of your value chain emissions covered, and that’s something we’ve struggled with over the years. And related to that is data quality – what kind of data can you get, particularly from suppliers, and is it good enough to include? 

     

    What reductions have you seen in your emissions since measuring them?

    We’ve reduced our corporate carbon footprint per employee significantly over the past ten years, mostly through technology and cultural changes within the business.

    We’ve moved and renovated offices so they are all now of 5-star standard, we’re electrifying our vehicle fleet, and we’ve invested in quality video conferencing and calling, which cuts down how much we fly between our offices. In other parts of the business, measuring our carbon has highlighted all sorts of opportunities to reduce our emissions, and to influence our suppliers to do the same.

     

    What emissions reduction targets does your organisation have for the next 5 years?

    We aim to be net zero carbon by 2025 across all our operations. We will do this through reducing our carbon footprint further where we can, and then plant forests to offset the remaining emissions. As a renewable energy generator we are already below the emissions target that the Science Based Target Initiative sets for the electricity sector, but we think we still have room to reduce our operational emissions. 

     

    What’s your top tip for other organisations measuring their emissions?

    Don’t be intimidated by it, just get stuck in! You’ll be surprised by what you learn, and it’s a great opportunity to engage your staff in one of the greatest challenges of our generation (not to mention identify ways to save money).

     

    wind turbines

    Photo: Meridian wind turbines at Makara, Greater Wellington

    KiwiRail

    We spoke to Grant Heather — Senior Strategy Manager.

    How long has your organisation been measuring its emissions? 

    KiwiRail began formally measuring and recording emissions in financial year 2012.

     

    Why did you decide to start measuring your emissions?

    Initially we were interested in improving energy efficiency, reducing operational costs, tracking the emissions intensity of business activities, and ensuring the business is using resources responsibly – thus avoiding unnecessary carbon emissions.  

    In 2018, KiwiRail obtained independent verification of the inventory to confirm data integrity and support on-going development of communications messages. This information is now used extensively in business and strategy planning and communications.

     

    How did you find the process of measuring? 

    Over 90 per cent of KiwiRail’s emissions are from transport fuels. Despite the challenges in managing the large quantity/detail of fuel data, it was a straightforward, easy to follow process for determining what energy sources were in each scope. We are effectively managing this through business systems and continuous improvement in this area.

     

    What reductions have you seen in your emissions since measuring them? 
    • KiwiRail’s total emissions in FY18 are 17 per cent less than FY12 emissions. 
    • The Rail Freight Carbon Intensity is a measure that shows the fuel efficiency and carbon intensity of freight locomotive trains – this intensity reduced by 15 per cent in FY18 compared to FY12. 
    • Interislander ferries have reduced fuel use by 5 per cent per sailing since 2016 (equivalent to the amount of energy used to power 2,478 average NZ households each year). 
    • We’ve also reduced fuel burn by 6 per cent on locomotive trains thereby saving 4.5 million litres of diesel since FY16. 

     

    What emissions reduction targets does your organisation have for the next 5 years? 

    In alignment with the Paris Agreement, the organisation aims to reduce its emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. 

     

    What’s your top tip for other organisations measuring their emissions? 

    Get started – you can always build on that foundation and increase sophistication of measurement over time. The key is to have some information to start working with. Reporting and communication is really important, making data visible and relatable to managers, staff and stakeholders.  This illuminates the invisible and encourages support for reducing emissions and improving business performance.

     

     

    photo of KiwiRail train crossing a bridge

    Photo: KiwiRail train crosses a river