by Diane Mas, PhD, REHS/RS, CC-P
In 2021, Fuss & O’Neill decided that one of the most impactful actions we could take to address climate change through our operations was the adoption of a science based emissions target. As a small to medium enterprise (SME) (<500 employees), we were able to utilize the Science Based Target Initiative’s streamlined validation route for SMEs to set our target of a 42% reduction in our Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. Our inventory is aligned with the with The Greenhouse Gas Protocol: A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard (GHG Protocol Corporate Standard), which is recognized as the global standard for calculating corporate GHG emissions.
Our baseline was a total of 475 tCO2e♦ of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions for 2021. We also inventoried business travel (144 tCO2e) and commuting (246 tCO2e) in Scope 3 because we felt it was both a substantial source of our Scope 3 emissions and an area where we have the potential to directly make change through our business operations, including office locations and hybrid and remote work options.
Our 2022 inventory shows a slight decrease (7%) in our absolute Scope 1 & 2 emissions (440 tCO2e), particularly in Scope 2 emissions which decreased by 12%. 2022 marked a return to more in person meetings, conferences, and in-office time at Fuss & O’Neill and that is reflected in our Scope 3 emissions which increased by 28% (498 tCO2e), with the majority of increase due to increases in employee commuting. It was also the result of our growth as we expanded from 314 employees in 2021 to 340 in 2022. Although we grew in employees, our average Scope 1+ Scope 2 GHG intensity decreased from 1.51 tCO2e/employee in 2021 to 1.29 tCO2e/employee in 2022.
Fuss & O’Neill’s 2022 GHG Inventory Summary
As we work to meet our targets, office electricity sources and field vehicles are major levers of change. Selecting renewable energy sources where we can, like in our Boston office where we purchase electricity through the Boston Green 100 program, and looking for opportunities to convert our fleet to hybrid vehicles are some of the most impactful actions we can take to meet these targets.
The third major lever for change is our people. We are a company of problem-solvers and innovators, and we apply our skills and talents to our own operations in the same way we do for our clients. This fall, our newly formed Office Sustainability Council will bring together representatives from each of our offices to collaborate on the identification and implementation of actions to advance our Sustainability Policy at the office level.
I look forward to continuing reporting on our progress as we take action to reduce global GHG emissions and I invite our clients, collaborators, and peer consulting firms to join us in this important work.
♦tCO2e = tonnes (t) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent (e) – is a standard use for counting GHG emissions
About the Author
Diane Mas, PhD, REHS/RS, CC-P is a Water Resources Engineer, Sanitarian, and Chief Resilience & Sustainability Officer at Fuss & O’Neill, and a founding member of the company’s environmental impact assessment practice. Her current areas of water resources practice focus on climate change resiliency and adaptation for water resources; water quality assessment, modeling, and watershed management; harmful algal bloom impacts to drinking and recreational waters; and the relationship between water quality and public health.