• Net Zero Energy Consumption
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  • Climate Action Plan
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  • Energy as a Service

Using a Practical, Six-Step Process to Net Zero

Peter Asmus
Nov 02, 2021

Guidehouse Insights Sustainability

The drivers for climate protection are intensifying and the time to address it through a practical net-zero approach is now. Each commercial, industrial, or institutional customer has their own climate disruption footprint challenges, which is why a customized approach is often necessary. This blog discusses a six-step process to shape each company or institution’s path to net-zero climate impact, as articulated in this white paper

Step One: Identify Opportunities and Goals

Identify existing and potential voluntary initiatives and seek quick wins that the company can achieve with the lowest financial investments before earmarking activities that will require a longer, more sustained effort. Identify what level of cost savings would ideally be met for each possible upgrade and how these savings will be calculated. List all feasible greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction options and develop a ranking system that incorporates payback periods, aggregate cost savings, and other ancillary benefits.

Step Two: Establish Baseline Values for Energy and Emissions

To measure success, baseline performance values are needed. This measurement requires initial baseline assessments on the company’s current operations, a process that helps identify near-term steps to take on the journey to net zero. This is the approach BMW took, which led to an innovative landfill gas project to reduce GHG emissions. 

Step Three: Develop a Roadmap

This roadmap needs to vet aspirations with practical budget and timeline realities. For each milestone along the way, consider the financial options available to support solutions and meet goals. Seek out synergies between demand-side and supply-side solutions rather than viewing these options as siloed.

Step Four: Build and Commission

When it is time to move to full-scale implementation, organizing work crews, identifying and hiring subcontractors, and establishing clear lines of communication are keys to success in smooth project delivery. Working with an experienced partner lets a company focus on its own business operations while the strategic partner takes care of the details of implementation. John Paul II Catholic Secondary School in Ontario, Canada is an example

Step Five: Measure, Verify, and Report

Once the project has been installed, the real work of delivering value to the company, its customers, and greater society begins. Paramount to enhancing long-term equipment life and minimizing downtime are proactive monitoring and ongoing maintenance, both of which are tailored to the organization’s needs and available resources. Energy as a service, which limits upfront capital costs for the customer while shifting performance risk to an outside and experienced vendor, has emerged as a particularly attractive business model with value that can be fully realized during this phase of the project. 

Step Six: Continuous Innovation and Improvement

The journey to Destination: Net Zero requires ongoing opportunity analysis and continuous measurement against milestone goals. This journey is a work in progress. Goals can be updated as better metrics and opportunities present themselves. New technologies can be integrated into the solutions portfolio and be evaluated on a regular basis as projects progress through near-, mid-, and long-term milestones.

Each company, university, and institution’s journey toward Destination: Net Zero will differ depending upon the sector, geography, policy environment, and maturity of any previous sustainability initiatives. With the added scrutiny of investors now taking environmental, social, and governance commitments to the next level, the stakes have never been higher. To learn more about the journey Bank of America has taken, tune into an upcoming webinar, sponsored by Ameresco, on November 9.