4Sight Consulting: a CEMARS case study
4Sight Consulting Limited provides a range of environmental consultancy and project management services, including planning assessments, environmental impact assessments, consent acquisition, specialist environmental investigations, and environmental monitoring and compliance. In addition, 4Sight provides carbon management and other sustainability-related services to a range of clients in the private and public sectors.
- 38% reduction in electricity use per FTE since 2011/12
- 43% reduction in printer paper use per FTE in Auckland office since 2011/12
- 0.82 tCO2e – Average commuting emissions per FTE in 2014/15
"We were taking action from the start but CEMARS certification provided the structure and confidence that our measurements were complete and accurate." Alice Andrew, Director
Balancing environmental and business needs
4Sight Consulting has a straightforward mission – balancing the needs of land, water and people. They have found that most New Zealanders want to look after the environment and they provide good advice to help them do so. 4Sight recognises that as we transition to a low-carbon economy, environmental impacts will become business risks. Their skill in considering both sustainability and client outcomes has seen the business grow steadily since being founded in 2002.
4Sight is just as determined to take action within their own organisation; they didn’t accept that business growth had to mean a growing footprint as well. With core values of trust, integrity and respect it makes sense that they are passionate about doing the same work they ask of their clients – finding sustainable routes to success.
As part of this journey, 4Sight joined the Certified Emissions Measurement And Reduction Scheme (CEMARS) in 2012. Though they had already been measuring impacts from the beginning, this third party endorsement of their work provided structure and confidence to their carbon footprint. CEMARS certification allows 4Sight to trust that the information is accurate and complete and therefore use it to plan proactively.
A key aspect of CEMARS certification is the requirement to reduce emissions, as well as measure them. In developing their emissions management plan, 4Sight brought the same careful planning that they bring to their clients. They measure a wide variety of performance indicators per full time equivalent (FTE) staff to help them understand their impacts. Using this data, 4Sight can focus on efficiency to ensure that as their business grows their environmental impacts shrink.
Staff engagement ensures results
In the Auckland office, electricity use, paper use, and waste per employee (FTE) have decreased over the last four years of their CEMARS certification. And company-wide, the gross emissions per employee have held steady over the last few years though the company continues to expand. It helps that they have passionate as well as skilled staff; working for a likeminded company ensures that staff are able to contribute to the overall mission. There is a continued focus on electricity, composting food waste, office procurement and travel, but in fact many of the environmental initiatives are well established and need only be maintained. This is evident in something that 4Sight measures that most other companies do not – staff commutes.
Staff commutes are an optional additional emission source for CEMARS participants to measure (this optional criteria reflects international best practice with regards to measurement standards). A typical company doesn’t have much control over commutes and it is difficult to gather verifiable data. But it is typically a large emissions source and one that ultimately only exists because that company needs staff to travel to work. The challenges of recording staff commutes haven’t stopped 4Sight from reporting this each year in their CEMARS certified carbon footprint. Wanting to help reduce environmental impacts wherever possible, 4Sight has used this data to help minimise commutes where possible.
4Sight already allowed for flexible hours and telecommuting as part of a healthy work-life balance, but this can also help reduce commute impacts by preventing unnecessary travel. When they need a new office space due to business growth, they can use the data to choose an office location that minimises anticipated travel for staff and clients, and they can ensure the office is near public transport. 4Sight’s Wellington office demonstrates this clearly: the local staff all walk, cycle, bus or train to get to work.
“Most New Zealanders want to look after the environment; 4Sight Consulting provides good advice to help them do so.” Alice Andrew, Director
Of course, travel remains a hotspot for 4Sight’s footprint – especially as they grow their business into new geographic areas. The use of videoconferencing and strategic office locations can help minimise impacts, but their team of experts still need to visit sites as part of their environmental work. 4Sight’s next target for improvement is with their fleet and as always, they are seeking the most balanced option. 4Sight is currently investigating the lifecycle impacts of their choices including the latest vehicle technologies, such as Electric Vehicles.
In fact, whether they are purchasing large items like vehicles, or smaller items like coffee, 4Sight always considers the impacts of their purchases and seeks the most balanced option. Their procurement policy considers the human health and environmental costs of a product or service as well as the actual product quality and costs, and considers the full lifecycle of a product or service in order to make their choices. And if a current supplier doesn’t stack up against their preferred qualities, they will engage with the supplier to provide them an opportunity to take action and meet 4Sight’s expectations. This supply chain engagement helps to spread the mission of balancing the needs of land, water, and people. In this way 4Sight is able to take action not only within their own organisation and their clients, but in the wider business community.
For other companies looking to find that sustainable balance, 4Sight would encourage them to also seek certification – the structure of the CEMARS programme and the third party endorsement is really valuable for environmental credibility and the data can really help you minimise risks and plan for the low-carbon future. 4Sight can help other organisations interested in seeking certification, as they are qualified consultants for the CEMARS programme with hands-on experience from developing their own inventories and strategies for managing and reducing emissions.
4Sight will continue measuring their carbon footprint and looking for new ways to minimise their impacts. Having a verified inventory means they can trust the wealth of data at their fingertips and use it to plan proactively. Whether managing their own impacts, finding new ways to inspire action in others, or helping their clients, 4Sight continues to plan for New Zealand’s sustainable future. As they work to balance the needs of business and the environment, they are a leader in the journey to a low-carbon future and CEMARS certification provides the confidence and credibility behind their mission.
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CEMARS Certified organisations
(Certified Emissions Measurement And Reduction Scheme)
This certification is awarded to companies that are actively working to measure and manage their carbon footprint.
To achieve CEMARS certification, an organisation must measure their organisation’s full greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (also known as a carbon footprint) so they understand what their impact is on the global climate. They measure all operational emissions required under the international standard for carbon footprints, ISO 14064, including vehicles, business travel, fuel and electricity, paper, and waste. The emissions are measured annually and the inventory is independently verified to ensure it is accurate and complete. Once they have measured their footprint, the organisation must develop plans to manage and reduce their emissions continually. As part of achieving CEMARS certification, the organisation needs to achieve emissions reductions on a five year cycle.