Carbon Trust Standard

The Carbon Trust Standard is the world’s leading independent certification of an organisation’s impact in respect of the three primary constituents of environmental sustainability:

- Energy usage and greenhouse gas (CO2e) emissions
- Water usage, management and effluent
- Waste management and disposal

Awarded to recognise best-practice and real achievements in reduction, the Carbon Trust Standard helps organisations to Measure, Manage and Reduce their environmental impact, whilst improving their resource management and operational sustainability.

The certification process acts to identify inefficiencies in resource use and provides a framework for improving management processes, reducing waste and costs.

Achieving the Carbon Trust Standard provides independent and internationally recognised verification of your achievements in reducing resource use and waste and offers tangible proof to customers, employees, shareholders and suppliers that you are committed to sustainability

Standard Bearers include a wide range of organisations, all proud to bear the Carbon Trust Standard logo and with over 1,100 organisations having certified, they have helping create a new business culture whereby corporate sustainability is now an essential part of business management.

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Tuesday, 9th July 2013

Julia Barrett, Willmott Dixon

I would reflect that our experience at Willmott Dixon reflects that of John Lewis and our view of the benefits is the same. I would also add that the benefit of an externally accredited benchmark to achieving and maintaining strong leadership and management focus to carbon emissions should not be underestimated.

The issue of metrics and comparisons is a thorny one as Sean and Moira have highlighted. I strongly agree that more metrics need to be developed that are focused on recognising that the right outcome is achieved. As a construction business the more we build the higher our emissions, which is why internally we also look at emissions intensity compared to turnover and compared to FTEs. Interestingly intensity by FTE is an allowable CT measure for part of our business but not the whole. Our emissions are also affected by the type of construction; for instance we are seeing clients demanding more smaller projects, more densely planned housing developments which use a lot more concrete and therefore carbon. This clearly is a very different performance management proposition than say a property based estate. These are not intended to be excuses but rather to highlight that a single tool will always struggle to compare "apples and pears" . Perhaps we should get together and set some industry benchmarks and share some best practice as suggested by Morgan?

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Tuesday, 9th July 2013

Moira Thomas, John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership has achieved the CTS and went through recertification last year. My view of the main benefits:
1. Early action metric credits for the CRC
2. Learning from external assurance process, as we had not conducted formal external assurance before, although undoubtedly this benefit tappers off
3. Reputational benefit of achieving the standard, although this is arguably limited to audiences in the know. I don't expect many consumers would know or understand the CTS, but accept there is some onus on us to market the CTS more.

Mat poses an excellent challenge regarding how do we get a metric which is fair, representative and repeatable across all business sectors. Arguably though there is still a need for better metrics within sectors when competing businesses are growing at different rates and have different starting points in terms of their carbon intensity or efficiency. Not to mention that some of those that are growing are doing so at the same time as disposing of sites, while others rarely close a site.

On the cost issue perhaps there needs to be a more sophisticated charging structure that takes into account you level of preparedness or experience of having been audited via CTS or some other means. But surely we also need the view of those conducting the work. As I understand it most of the assessments are in fact outsourced.

The fact that the assessments are outsourced makes we wonder whether this effects quality of service, approach and advice, and ultimately value for money. Our experience has been very positive to date; we've had the same assessors both times.

Our next step is to consider collectively the benefits of the carbon, water and waste CTS.

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Tuesday, 9th July 2013

Sean Lockie, Faithful+Gould

Our thoughts from Atkins / Faithful+Gould:

Some very interesting issues here. For organisations that are serious about energy and carbon management, as Carbon Management Consultants, we would now tend to recommend the use of appropriate ISO standards. ISO 50001 (Energy Management Systems) provides an internationally recognised standard for energy management that is compatible with the use of ISO 14001 (Environmental Management Systems). ISO 14064 (Quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals) provides a robust protocol for GHG measurement and reporting. ISO standards have a strong image internationally, and used appropriately are applicable to most organisations, irrespective of size.

Many organisations are now measuring their energy and emissions anyway as a result of legislative requirements such as CRC, CCAs, EU-ETS, mandatory GHG reporting by UK quoted companies from 1st October 2013 and various voluntary schemes such as Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). The Carbon Trust Standard (and comparable schemes such as CEMARS) no longer gives any CRC early action benefits due to the scrapping of the CRC Performance League Table. In the context of regulatory requirements, the good use of ISO standards should provide a robust system for managing legal obligations.

ISO certification is costly, but is generally rigorous. Some schemes (including Carbon Trust Standard) require a demonstration of improvement in either absolute or relative terms, which is a plus in comparison with purely system based standards. Whilst in principle this is desirable, it requires strong auditing safeguards.

Benchmarking has been mentioned as a benefit of the Carbon Trust Standard, but given the inherent difficulties of energy benchmarking, we are not convinced that this is of great value.

The loss of information developed through programmes like BRECSU, ETSU, Action Energy etc is a considerable loss to the industry.

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Tuesday, 9th July 2013

Morgan Jones, The Carbon Trust

Thanks for all your comments so far. It was also great to see some of you on Monday afternoon at the House of Lords, where we celebrated the Standard’s fifth birthday. We are really grateful for you taking the time to provide feedback that will help us to refine and evolve the Standard over the next five years.

First of all I want to say that we are genuinely very proud of what we have achieved so far. To give you an idea of the scale, we have now certified 230 million tonnes of CO2e and issued over 1000 certificates independently verifying real reductions in emissions. The Standard is also becoming increasingly globally recognised - some of the largest footprints we have assessed are now in Korea, and companies like GSK are certifying their global footprints, including some 71 countries.

There is always room for improvement, but we are confident that the Standard is the leading voluntary scheme in this area and the most credible way that organisations can prove their reduction performance to their stakeholders. Certification is a big part of the Carbon Trust’s mission to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy. We feel that our Standard Bearers are amongst the global leaders in reducing their environmental impact and mitigating climate change.

To help extend our mission we are also expanding the Standard to cover other environmental impacts – you will be aware that we have just launched our Water Standard and that a Waste Standard is coming later this year.

To address some specific areas raised by Mat, Mathew and others:

• Price/Value:
o It is worth remembering that the assessment takes place every two years, rather than annual audits that are usual in other schemes. Our research shows that the price we charge is comparable with other schemes when you take account of the two year certificate and the scope of the assessment. Further, we believe we have very high quality assessors that are able to add a lot of value during their site visits and have abundant experience in energy and carbon management. In terms of other data verifications, it may also surprise you to learn that even if footprint data has been verified for other uses we still often find issues, and that reflects our expertise in carbon footprinting, and how rigorous our process is. With that said it has to remain accessible, so of course if you are already amongst the leaders when it comes to reporting you will be able to comply without too much difficulty.
o The Carbon Trust is a not-for-dividend organisation, and we do not have the same economies of scale of some of the largest certification schemes - the prices we charge reflect that. We also think there is huge reputational value that can be activated after achieving the Carbon Trust Standard – but this often involves using the logo and making it a part of communications. We have a team of people here to help you get the most out of the brand value of holding the Standard and point out some best practice examples. Some of our Standard Bearers are really good at this and use the logo everywhere!. Holding the Standard demonstrates that your organisation is going beyond compliance and is the only well-known Standard that recognises actual carbon performance and real carbon reductions. It is designed to mark you out as a leader. Please do drop me a line if you want to explore how to get the most brand value out of your achievement.

• Absolute versus relative reductions:
o The Standard methodology includes the use of relative benchmarks to allow growing organisations to achieve the Standard for becoming more efficient, or improving their ‘carbon intensity’. We do have a set of agreed upon benchmarks by sector, but our favoured approach is to discuss the right benchmark with the client at the time of assessment. Every company is different, even within sectors. Turnover is a good benchmark for many organisations, although it can be problematic in sectors where products are commoditised and price fluctuations impact turnover greatly. It would be great to see industry trade bodies get together and agree sectors benchmarks for carbon intensity, but until then we do discuss this with every organisation and find something that works for them.

• Re-basing:
o The Standard methodology contains rules around rebasing. We allow organisations to rebase for any significant structural changes that have a material impact on the footprint. We want to avoid constant adjustments, so we don’t allow rebasing for ‘organic change’. It has to be a significant change to be worthy of rebasing.

• Free advice:
o The Carbon Trust doesn't get core grant funding from government anymore, so we are constrained in what we can do on a limited budget. Your feedback made us think about trying something we run for public sector organisations with our Standard Bearers. It's a private forum we run where organisations can share best practice around a variety of topics including reporting, implementation, and procurement in a closed setting to learn from each other. Would that be a good idea for Standard Bearers too? If so we can explore setting it up.

• More contact/updates:
o We have just rolled out a new initiative for our Standard Bearers where we stay in regular touch with useful updates throughout the two year certificate period. Hopefully you will feel the benefit of it soon. We have also recently developed a new service called Sustainability Management, that includes certification within a programme of advice from our sustainability experts. Do get in touch if know if you want more.

Thanks for all the feedback and the interest shown in our Standard, we really appreciate it!

Reply

Tuesday, 9th July 2013

Karen Jones, Kingspan Insulation

From my limited knowledge of the scheme, following reading the resource and the discussions, the following are items that I believe should be considered.

- Companies will carry out their own internal measurements if they believe there is a cost saving to be gained from it. However, such tools that help to achieve product accreditation would be preferable. Ie Ecopoints being used as Green Guide rating in BREEAM/ CfSH.
- A SME may not have the resources (personnel) to be aware of such tools that are there to help them establish where savings could be made.
- For any carbon saving scheme to have a benefit over other similar schemes there needs to be the incentive, in the form of being a requirement as part of a PPQ or similar.

It should be noted that I agree with the points Perry made regarding baseline and that the methodology should have clear guidelines on what the scope is. (ie not having options to choose whether cradle to gate is considered, or gate to gate, so comparing like for like on all).
One of the problems we faced when releasing our figures on of Carbon Reduction on the league table was that we had in previous years reduced our carbon usage significantly, thus making it hard each year following that to achieve the same levels. So comparison with other companies was not always relevant.

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Tuesday, 9th July 2013

Matthew Webster, British Land

Mat,

Some good points well made.

From our perspective, we agree on the cost point – does seem expensive and I would also question the value of the process – for a company that is particularly well versed in carbon reporting for its own CR report, compiles with the CRC and will meet mandatory carbon reporting standards next year – all of which are also externally and internally audited, the CTS was a simple exercise for us to illustrate our credentials in the CRC league table.

Also a good point on the absolute savings. As a property company with a relatively lively portfolio churn, we had to look at a relative saving on a per m2 basis. This has its pitfalls as we tend to buy older stock for redevelopment etc. This is definitely something that needs further consideration and probably sector specific guidance.

We did re-certify, but awareness of the scheme seems low amongst our stakeholders – we aren't questioned on whether we have the CTS by our investors or customers, it hasn't driven any further savings or pushed us to develop our carbon/energy strategy any further.

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Tuesday, 9th July 2013

Mat Newton, Hanson UK

Matt (Carbon Trust) has made some good points and a I think the CT owe the NEF a debt that they let on. It’s important to remember the history of this scheme to understand its evolution if we are to contribute to further development.

To really get the process moving probably annoy and stir some wider comments:

Whilst I understand the benefits of the system I do query the cost of the scheme. A large proportion of organisational emissions are verified elsewhere in other compliance schemes to a higher degree of accuracy. More transparency around this would benefit users.

There is also the issue of the absolute nature of carbon savings - In a recession this is all well and good (as production falls), but for an expanding business this can be almost impossible to meet. The relative savings metric can also be difficult to justify especially where organisations are large and have significant product differentiation (by that I mean that they make different things which have significantly different energy input requirements). If we took tonnage or “units” made as a metric we could trip ourselves up simply by having a product mix change. Anyone familiar with CCA with know about the early attempts to develop product mix out algorithms or the Novem method as it became known. These were difficult for CCA and I don’t think they would work as benchmarks in the CT standard.

How does cash vs turnover work when margins fluctuate? Output could remain flat whilst turnover or costs vary tremendously. How do we get a metric which is fair, representative and repeatable across all business sectors as I don’t feel we have that at the moment (and I say that from the point of view of an organisation passing)

If anyone has a solution answers on a post card please.

I understand that the CT are looking at allowing banking of allowances which is one answer but it’s not a solution, only a work-round. Ringfencing of “new” venture can be done – but sounds complicated to me.

Perry has also made good points with reference to the baselines. It would certainly help to re-baseline if an organisation changes shape but this could be an endless task for some organisations who buy and sell divisions, sites and facilities as a business model for growth. Confusion will reign if we are not careful with multiple re-baselines occurring.

If one stands back and considers the complexity you may reach the conclusion that the standard could be potentially as flawed as the CRC performance league table in that the flexibility is limited and not representative of reality. However having achieved the Energy Efficiency Accreditation Scheme certification [that was a really good day out!] and having invested in real improvements in my business I have to say it would be nice to see a scheme which recognises the real improvements made and I think that started off as the intention of the scheme.

There was a lot of value in the Energy Efficiency Advisory Service, ETSU, Good practice guides and the free advice that were previously available. For me, the quasi-government organisations filled with boffins who provided advice for free to those of us who were prepared to listen were like prophets. Some of their advice was dated, technically questionable and very expensive but a lot of it was really valuable. We need wider access to freely available quality information, advice and research on serious technical issues without bias and less marketing spin. It would be a great addition if the CT Standard had this kind of advice built in.

I value the CSR credentials the badge brings but am also wary of the greenwash it can create.

Clearly these are my views and not those of any organisation which I work for.

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Tuesday, 9th July 2013

Perry Shard, Balfour Beatty

As someone who is integrally involved in data management, I think it is vital to ensure that there is a consistent model for all to use and benchmark against. The following comments are based on my approach generally to data, but echo the intent here…
• There have always been numerous tools and indicators to help you differentiate your approach, but until you are able to undertake direct comparisons with others, reporting such major issues as carbon management is open to scrutiny.
• Baselines are always a difficult issue, and the more mature the understanding and approach, the better handle you have on the current position. Therefore, it would be very easy to revisit and recalculate these based on that mature understanding, but reissuing tends to draw breathe as it appears to be a shifting of the goalposts to suit.
• This leads on to the issue of transparency and ensuring this is foremost in the mind. This helps internally in terms of understanding inclusions, assumptions and interpreting the data, whilst externally it maintains the benchmarking element.
• Finally, external verifications are a great way of both validating the data and challenging the approach. Both are essential pieces in maintaining reputation and, when you do it correctly, making strides towards continually improving the process (not for just getting a badge for the wall).

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Tuesday, 9th July 2013

Matt Cotton, National Energy Foundation

The National Energy Foundation (NEF) were the operational delivery partner for the Carbon Trust Standard from 2008 to March 2013 and were actively involved in helping to set up and launch the standard (CT now fully administer the scheme internally). In addition, NEF achieved certification against the Standard in Dec 2012 (Absolute reduction of 15% and carbon management score of 88%).

Benefits:
- Gives organisations a framework against which to review themselves.
- Provides a form of benchmarking of the organisation’s overall carbon performance.
- Recognised as an external performance standard and differentiator but also is generally recognised internally within organisations helping to drive improvement.
- Awards organisations on a results basis (not just process driven or on good intentions)
- Demands continuous improvement (recertification required after two years)
- Early action metric in CRC
- Accessible to all organisations, public/private, large/sme
- CT is a recognised body and has strong customer base
- Strong network of qualified assessors delivering certification

Area for improvement:
- Move to more of a regular review / support rather than just an assessment every 2 years.

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The Carbon Trust is a world-leading organisation helping businesses, governments and the public sector to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy through carbon reduction, energy-saving strategies and commercialising low carbon technologies. Read more


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