What makes a net-zero leader? Meet our Award winners at the Environment Agency

With applications now open for edie’s 2023 Awards, we’re showcasing the achievements of this year’s winners. Up next, the winner of our Net-Zero Carbon Strategy of the Year, the Environment Agency.

What makes a net-zero leader? Meet our Award winners at the Environment Agency

Pictured: The EA team collecting their award at edie's ceremony in London this March

Over the past 15 years, the Environment Agency has achieved a 47% reduction in emissions from its direct activity. Now it is going further by incorporating all of its Scope 3 supply chain emissions (84% of total emissions) into its net-zero reduction targets.

As a large complex organisation which builds significant flood defence infrastructure protecting hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, the scale of the low—carbon challenge is enormous for the Environment Agency.

Click here for more information on the edie Awards 2023. 

The Agency has set a target of being net-zero carbon by 2030 and developed a comprehensive 10-year roadmap to achieve its goal. Its five-year action plan commits it to be net-zero by 2030 in its operations and supply chains, reducing emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.

Its EA net-zero Roadmap will ensure it delivers on that goal and stays true to its core purpose of creating a better place. The roadmap includes 92 director-owned actions to reduce Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 45%, in line with science-based-targets. The EA is developing a comprehensive approach to absorb remaining emissions through UK nature-based projects, benefitting people and wildlife.

It is investing in staff capability to help implement these actions. It is also revising processes, for example, by developing carbon budgets to run alongside financial budgets to integrate carbon into its decision-making.

Additionally, it is addressing governance and performance. Its board papers all require the authors to explain how their proposition or paper will contribute or impact on its net-zero goal. Progress against actions is tracked quarterly and monitored by the executive directors’ team on the corporate scorecard and it is linking executive reward to carbon performance.

The quarterly review is also an opportunity to update and improve the plan, in line with experience and new developments. The scale and difficulty of the target the EA has set means innovation is key to success. It will be electrifying its large fleet early by 2023 and reducing the number of vehicles from 4,000 to 2,000 through innovation projects to remove the need to travel – such as remote sensing and using drones rather than driving to collect field data.

It is the first government organisation to sign the plant charter and has saved 300 tonnes of carbon emissions through the purchase of 25 electric vans.

With construction activity accounting for 54% of its total emissions, one of the organisation’s first deliverable actions was to set a new standard to use low-carbon concrete as its default choice. Its pilot of Earth Friendly Concrete in the Midlands is anticipated to deliver embodied carbon savings of up to 70% over traditional solutions and 50tCO2eq was saved at Hythe through low-carbon concrete.

Elsewhere, the 3D printing the organisation has used on its Houghton Brook flood scheme has saved 40% in material and associated carbon use.

edie’s judges said: “We were highly impressed by this very inspirational strategy which ran through the entire organisation and had a broader impact across the public sector. The use of carbon budgets alongside financial budgets is highly commendable, as is the robust governance and assurance processes and measures.”

Are you our next winner?

Now in its 16th year, the world’s largest sustainable business awards scheme – formerly known as the Sustainability Leaders Awards – continues to champion bold and brilliant climate leadership. From the most ambitious net-zero carbon programmes through to cutting-edge green innovations; from impactful climate partnerships and social sustainability initiatives to the heroes on the ground who are driving positive change.

The edie Awards are hosted during our flagship Business Leadership Month, offering a unique opportunity to have your sustainability achievements recognised and admired by thousands of businesses and climate experts. Winning an edie Award empowers teams, inspires stakeholders and accelerates sustainable business growth.

Entries for the awards are NOW OPEN and the deadline for entries is 14 October. The winners will then be revealed at a ceremony in London on 30 March 2023. Click here for full details and to enter. 


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