Cutting carbon at Capital Cooling

4th May 2010


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  • Management ,
  • Waste ,
  • General services ,
  • Mitigation

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IEMA

Reducing carbon emissions is now a critical business consideration. Lowellyne James details the steps his company has taken and says strong management has a significant impact.

Many industries are faced with ever-increasing environmental legislation and stakeholder pressure to reduce their impact on the environment.

The refrigeration and air conditioning industry is no exception and has been subject to new regulations within the past 12 months such as the Fluorinated Gas Regulations 2009 and the EU-wide ban on the use of virgin hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).

The 1992 amendment to the Montreal Protocol stipulated a ban on the use of virgin HCFCs and the Kyoto Protocol identified HCFCs as hazardous ozone depleting substances contributing to overall global warming.

However the enactment of the Climate Change Act and government policy to reduce UK carbon emissions has made the issue of carbon emissions critical to the future survival of refrigeration and air conditioning businesses.

Capital Cooling Ltd is an ISO 9001 certified Scottish-based company specialising in the supply, installation and maintenance of stationary refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. Although a family-owned enterprise it has grown from very humble beginnings to be a company with a turnover of over £20m in 2008.

Key to the company's success has been its management team, most of whom have been with the company since its inception, and 145 support and engineering staff who deal with our customers and stakeholders on a daily basis.

The senior management of the organisation, foreseeing increased environmental legislation, embarked on a programme to develop robust environmental management systems and environmentally friendly products and services to meet the carbon challenge.

Indeed the company's environmental culture is now driven by environmental policy and procedures. At an operational level we established an Environmental Management Committee that is authorised to systematically monitor environmental performance.

The committee is chaired by a member of our executive team who is also a relative of the business's actual owner and this ensures continuity within a business structure that is very family-orientated. Other key members were selected from specialisms such as sales and account management, quality, warehousing and transport.

The main criteria for selection were the individuals' ability to influence change and their interest in environmental management. With the aim of continuous improvement the committee convenes on a monthly basis and regularly monitors the following as part of its agenda:

  1. Review of environmental management implementation plans
  2. Agree actions
  3. Review environment legislation and compliance
  4. Review of environmental aspects

Environmental aspects

In September 2009 the Environmental Management Committee reviewed information provided by the finance department on the organisation's environmental aspects. This review and analysis provided a few surprises and highlighted the following opportunities for improvement or reduction in use:

  • paper - during a 12 month period the organisation consumed 985 reams of paper (including card, plain paper and printed stationery), the equivalent of consuming 60 trees;
  • ink toner cartridges - recycled ink cartridges were not being purchased as part of corporate policy;
  • electricity;
  • gas;
  • fuel - vehicle fuel consumption was a substantial operating cost even though fuel-efficient vehicles were being procured as part of the organisation's fleet lease agreement;
  • water;
  • waste; and
  • end of life waste electrical, electronic equipment (WEEE).

This review of environmental aspects also revealed a gap in our reporting system as regards our products. We were unable to collect pertinent quantitative data regarding the tonnage waste produced, the tonnage of end of life ‘Capital Cooling' branded refrigeration equipment and the level of inadvertent refrigerant gas emissions resulting from leaks arising from installation and maintenance activity.

To improve the accuracy of our reporting we have established an improved reporting system for the collecting of data regarding waste and ensured that our engineers are registered to the new City & Guilds 2079 safe refrigerant handling certification - a £37,000 investment over a three month period.

This training initiative improves their brazing and welding competency, thereby reducing the likelihood of inadvertent refrigerant gas leakages and simultaneously meets our commitment to comply with the Fluorinated Gas Regulations 2009.

Data analysis

And acknowledging the general business risks that may result from the poor management of environmental aspects and the anticipated introduction of mandatory greenhouse gas reporting, the Quality, Safety and Environmental Manager participated in the IEMA/Defra-sponsored consultation on guidance for greenhouse gas reporting held on 29 July 2009 in Edinburgh.

The information provided from this event was instrumental in the development of our Defra-compliant greenhouse gas 2008-2009 report covering Scope 1 and Scope 2 activities (see Box 1).

For the reporting period August 2008-August 2009 Scope 1 activities of the business accounted for 1,145.786 CO2e tonnes and Scope 2 activities accounted for 126.961 CO2e tonnes of emissions resulting in combined total emissions of 1,272.746 CO2e tonnes.

Further analysis of the data revealed the following level of emissions:

  • Company Cars accounted for 157.75 CO2e tonnes
  • Lorries accounted for 207.65 CO2e tonnes
  • Vans accounted for 738.875 CO2e tonnes
  • Utilities accounted for 126.961 CO2e tonnes
  • Gas accounted for 41.425 CO2e tonnes

Mitigation

To mitigate our impact we embarked on the implementation of an Environmental Management System (EMS) compliant to ISO 14001 system requirements. This implementation programme has necessitated that we initiate an environmental-awareness training programme for our staff and engineers.

So as part of our World Quality Day 2009 celebrations in collaboration with the Chartered Quality Institute we organised a quality, safety and environmental training seminar for subcontractors to introduce our approach to managing our environmental aspects and their key stakeholder role assisting us in complying with UK regulations.

Aligned with these efforts we established an office waste recycling/efficiency programme targeted to reduce our paper consumption and recycle 100 per cent of waste generated by staff working at our corporate headquarters.

In 2010 we aim to enhance our greenhouse gas reporting by including Scope 3 emissions arising from activities that are not under our direct managerial or financial control and reduce our fuel consumption through a real time computerised route planning system for our delivery drivers and field engineering staff.

In July 2009 the company achieved another milestone in that one of our products passed the stringent requirements to be listed on the UK Government's Enhanced Capital Allowance Energy Scheme (ECA).

The ECA Scheme allows our clients to claim 100 per cent of their first year capital cost (which includes transportation, installation and consultancy fees) as a tax rebate for purchasing our energy-efficient products and services, thereby giving us a unique selling point in comparison to the competition and reinforcing our commitment to the environment with our stakeholders.

As with most small and medium sized businesses during the present recession we are constrained by access to funding; however we have found that managing our environmental impacts is not only good for the environment but is also great for the bottom-line.

Finding the funding for training and implementing an EMA and conducting training and development has embedded environmental concerns into the company's DNA and means that the foundations for the business's continued success have hopefully been laid.

Box 1: Corporate carbon footprint

By definition a Corporate Carbon Footprint is the total direct and indirect emissions that a company is responsible for as a result of its business activities.

Defra guidelines establish that a standard greenhouse gas report illustrates an organisation's environmental impact in terms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) per tonne (a universal measurement used to indicate the global warming potential of a greenhouse gas expressed in terms of the global warming potential of one unit of carbon dioxide) in two main areas or scopes:

Scope 1 Direct emissions arising from business activities that are owned or controlled by Capital Cooling, eg emissions from use of company-owned vehicles to the atmosphere.

Scope 2 Indirect emissions arising from business activities that are not under the exclusive control of Capital Cooling Ltd, ie emissions to the atmosphere as a result of the use of electricity, heating and cooling systems.

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