What does Net-Zero look like?

What does Net-Zero look like?


Net-Zero is a phrase many companies are using when it comes to creating and acting on their environmental policy.

The awareness is there – which is great – but dig a little deeper and it soon becomes apparent every large company has a different definition of what net-zero emissions within their business look like.

How different businesses define Net-Zero

At the time of writing, there’s no standard definition of what it actually means to be net-zero. So, you can’t blame businesses for setting their own interpretations as they attempt to show how environmentally-sensitive they are.

Starbucks, Microsoft and AstraZeneca are a case in point. Three global brands. Three different definitions.

Let’s take a look:

1. Starbucks

Starbucks defines net-zero as ‘becoming resource positive’. This means they plan to store more carbon than they emit, replenish freshwater and cut-down and eradicate waste. (Credit: Edie.net)

2. Microsoft

Microsoft defines net-zero as reducing their carbon footprint to below net-zero by 2030. And to do that, they plan to continue removing all of the carbon they have produced since they were formed – in 1975. (Credit: Edie.net)

3. AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca, meanwhile, pledged to become carbon-negative across its entire value chain by 2030, with the hope of reaching net-zero by 2025. (Credit: Edie.net)

Their actions are noble, and neither Starbucks, Microsoft or AstraZeneca are in the wrong, but as you can see from these examples alone, the lack of definition means businesses can create their own net-zero story.

So, if you’re a business owner trying to figure out your own environmental policy, it’s understandable if, right now, you’re scratching your head and asking “Where do I begin?

How to reach Net-Zero emissions

In the UK, Net-Zero has a very clear definition in the sustainability sector based on the Government’s 2050 Net-Zero pledge.

Although the end goal is to reach Net Zero by 2050, the pledge includes an interim target of a 50% reduction in emission levels from 1990 levels by 2030. This means companies (including SMEs) need to achieve a reduction of 80% or more from their current 2020 emissions by the end of the decade.

However, due to current technology, some offsetting of emissions elsewhere may be needed to enable businesses to reach Net-Zero.

And to help business owners understand what constitutes direct and indirect emissions, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol have split them into three separate categories:

Scope 1 – Direct Emissions

Emissions you generate internally at your premises or through company vehicles.

Scope 2 – Indirect Emissions

Emissions created from the energy you’ve purchased, including heaters, fans, air conditioning units, etc.

Scope 3 – Other Indirect Emissions

Emissions caused by your ‘forwards and backwards’ supply chain, i.e. goods and services you don’t own, like waste, water, employee commuting and end-product distribution.

What does Net-Zero look like

Image credit: GHG Protocol

And there are things you can implement immediately to reduce emissions, but before you do, ask yourself:

  • Do I really need to travel to see that customer?
  • How much energy are we wasting that is easy to fix?
  • How much are we paying for consumables we just don’t need?

Once you’ve answered these questions, how you can reduce emissions will become much clearer.

These might include:

  • Switching off computers at night
  • Turning off lights in empty offices
  • Replacing equipment with green alternatives (like LED lightbulbs)
  • Reducing the thermostat
  • Requesting staff print only necessary paperwork
  • Car share schemes
  • Incentives for workers who can walk, run or cycle to work

Implementing some quick changes means you’ll consume less and waste less, reduce your energy bills and make your business greener and more profitable.

By starting now, you’ll also avoid the upcoming Carbon Emissions Tax, which is likely to increase over time. Reducing your emissions right now means you’re unlikely to be hit financially, which you will be if you put it off.

But that’s not all. Reducing your emissions also means you won’t miss out on working with large, blue-chip supply chains who, because of Scope 2, have already committed to Net-Zero by 2030 so they’re able to attract employees and clients only interested in working with businesses who value the 2050 pledge.

How Inteb can help with your Net-Zero

Whether you’re looking to set science-based targets, commit to a net-zero future or just want to be more energy-efficient, the Inteb team can help you define your vision and put the necessary building blocks in place to make sure you get there.

We call this our connected energy map, which consists of six steps:

Our team of experienced energy managers, chartered surveyors, engineers and utility experts work with corporates, real-estate investors and landlords throughout the UK, helping them to create their environmental policy, improve sustainability, reduce their carbon footprint and stay compliant.

Reaching net-zero just got a lot less daunting.

Want to find out more about Net-Zero for your business?

Let’s get the conversation started- call us now on 0151 601 3476