Cutting carbon through Investors in the Environment

Central East London and South East North East North West South West West Midlands Yorkshire and Humber

Who Are We?

Investors in the Environment (iiE) is a national environmental certification scheme for organisations. It is designed to help organisations save money, reduce their impact on the environment, and get promoted for their green credentials. To become certified, each business is audited and awarded a certification level of either Bronze, Silver, or the highest award, Green.

The different certification levels reflect where an organisation is on their environmental journey. The differences between them are the number of resources monitored, the number of environmental projects undertaken, and the improvement in resource efficiency achieved.

All organisations working to achieve certification need to develop a waste management plan. Silver and Green level organisations need to additionally develop a travel plan. Currently, only Green level businesses need to calculate a carbon footprint, but from May 2021, all certification levels will be required to do so.

iiE members are supported each year in working towards achieving their certification on both a one-to-one basis through help from their support officer, and one-to-many through webinars and member events.

Audit Process

Audits are conducted annually, and the annual iiE audit period is April to March. At the end of each period, an annual awards ceremony is held to celebrate the achievements of the members, including special awards for those organisations who went above and beyond in different sustainability categories.

Organisations provide up-to-date measurements of various resources, which are compared against previous year measurements to demonstrate improvements made through the implementation and management of their environmental management system (EMS). At Green level, members are required to work towards a minimum 2% reduction year-on-year, for each measured resource.

Why is Carbon Reduction Important?

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to the future of our planet. 196 different countries came together in 2015 under the Paris Climate Agreement, with the central aim to reduce carbon emissions and work towards limiting the increase in global temperatures to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5°C.

The UK Government has passed legislation for the UK’s target to achieve net zero carbon by 2050, compared to the 80% it was previously, against a 1990 baseline. To achieve net zero, the UK needs to reduce all unnecessary carbon emissions, and balance the remaining emissions by investing in carbon removals that will remove the same amount of carbon that is emitted each year. It is vital, therefore, that everyone starts making a difference and reducing their own carbon footprint.

Carbon is the term given to the group of seven Greenhouse Gases (GHG) as recognised under the Kyoto Protocol, including Methane (CH4), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), Hydro-and Per- fluorocarbons (HFCs, PFCs), Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6), Nitrogen Trifluoride (NF3), and of course, Carbon Dioxide. These gases are expressed as equivalents of Carbon Dioxide referring to the Global Warming Potential of each gas over a period, measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, CO2e.

The planet’s carbon cycle, while in a constant state of flux, is considered to have been relatively stable over the last 800,000 years, because carbon is naturally emitted when organisms die, volcanoes erupt, fires blaze, etc. and is absorbed by plants into the ground or by the oceans.

Unfortunately, these activities are generating carbon at a faster rate than would naturally occur. According to the IPCC, just over half of these emissions are absorbed by the planet, leaving around 40% of these ‘extra’ emissions in the atmosphere and as our emission rate is rising, not slowing down, the effect is being compounded.

As these carbon levels rise, so will the planet’s temperature, causing the polar ice to melt and sea levels to rise. More than that, this rise in global temperature has knock-on effects such as disruption of eco-systems and an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

Individuals and organisations at a local and global level need to be more aware of the challenges that we face collectively. We need to become smarter, more efficient and considered with the resources and materials we use. iiE is working with organisations nationally to support their efforts in making these changes and reducing their resource consumption.

Our Impact

To measure the impact that is achieved, the iiE team converted member resource measurements into carbon equivalents and compared the information against the previous year’s audits. Through the amazing work of iiE members audited between April 2019 and April 2020 an estimated total of 7,436 tonnes CO2e was saved.

To demonstrate what impact this has, this is equivalent to powering 2,267 UK houses or taking 3,467 cars off the road for a year. This is a fantastic achievement for all members and iiE thanks everyone involved in achieving these reductions.

The Challenge…

It is vital, however, that this number continues to increase and that more and more people consider their impacts and start making changes to improve them. Together, we must all make every effort we can to reduce our carbon footprint and help to limit the impact of climate change to only 1.5°C.

For any business looking to make an impactful change and work towards improving your sustainability, come and join iiE. Sign up to our newsletter or start the process in getting certified here.