On July 19, 2010, A.T. Kearney achieved carbon neutrality, completing a journey begun in 2007, when the firm's board of directors committed to becoming carbon-neutral in all aspects of global operations within three years. In making this pledge, Paul Laudicina, A.T. Kearney's managing officer and chairman of the board, acknowledged that the biggest challenge would be in addressing carbon emissions from travel. This component typically comprises 80 percent of the company's carbon footprint.
As A.T. Kearney examined its internal operations, the company refocused its sustainability practice and service offering. The expertise and experience of the sustainability practice guided the development of the internal carbon-reduction program, and at the same time the rigor of the internal analysis and resulting innovations provided insights for clients' sustainability programs.
To achieve the carbon neutrality pledge, A.T. Kearney developed and implemented a five-step program in which the company: 1) established baseline metrics for carbon indicators; 2) built a global network of internal sustainability champions; 3) spearheaded local activities and honed best practices; 4) developed models for serving clients; and 5) invested in climate-protecting carbon offset projects. Below is a summary of the actions taken as part of this five-step program.
The A.T. Kearney sustainability team adopted industry-leading metrics and relied on state-of-the-art scientific research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and emission calculation methodologies from Atmosfair, a not-for-profit sustainability partner. The metric for air travel is built on calculations of climate-impact potential that is much more precise than using only CO2 emissions. Working together with the A.T. Kearney travel department, this joint team developed a state-of-the-art travel planner that measures the carbon footprint of all key elements of a business trip, including the carbon emission differences from various types of aircraft, hotels, rental cars and public transportation.
The czars use the firm's quarterly sustainability metrics-with data by country, business unit, employees and rank-to measure local performance and assess projects under way in other offices. The czars are aided by the A.T. Kearney Global Sustainability Program Manager, who promotes the exchange of ideas and innovative activities across offices and coordinates with various functions, including finance, knowledge services, travel and office services.
In addition, an office services team continues to make sustainability an integral part of the construction and remodeling of A.T. Kearney offices. To date, two North America offices, New York and Cambridge, have achieved certification by Leadership in Energy & Environment Design (LEED). The company's London office has all three certifications from the International Standards Organization (ISO): environment, quality and security.
With today's range of certification standards, it is important to distinguish between rigorous certification and project quality. A company's sustainability methods might be certified at the highest levels, but that does not necessarily mean its projects are being run most efficiently or its approaches and investments align to the needs of the firm. With this in mind, A.T. Kearney performs a detailed project analysis of each carbon-offset investment.
Using this approach, A.T. Kearney has built a climate-protection portfolio of projects across emerging markets- Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Turkey-with technologies that range from hydro and wind power to composting to regenerative braking systems.
The Way Forward
A.T. Kearney reduced its carbon emissions by 5 percent in 2008 and 14 percent in 2009. This year, the company anticipates reducing emissions by 20 percent. Looking ahead, A.T. Kearney plans to pursue its sustainability commitment on two fronts. Externally, the company will continue to deliver results-driven consulting for which it is known, with a focus on more responsible, sustainable practices. Internally, the company will continue to establish aggressive targets for reducing its own carbon footprint, and offset any remaining emissions by investing in top-quality internationally recognized projects.
Source: A.T. Kearney
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