Groundwork at the ‘Achieving net zero’ conference


On Thursday 23rd February 2023 Greville Kelly, Director for Sustainable Business at Groundwork was a guest speaker at Cheshire East’s ‘Achieving net zero’ conference.

The conference was designed to support organisations across the borough to plan and take action for a more sustainable future and included guest speakers from Siemens, Chester Zoo and IEMA.

Greville shared advice and experience supporting local organisations with decarbonisation with a presentation titled; Making a Start, Making the Case & Sustainable Business.

Part 1 – Making a start

Greville talked about the importance of organisations knowing their Carbon Footprint, with scope 1 & 2 emission monitoring being essential and Scope 3 being desirable.

He spoke about the importance of knowing the baseline emissions and ensuring data is refined.

From here, organisations can identify opportunities for reduction, whilst considering the CO2 emissions which are under the direct control of the business e.g. decisions around how energy is used on site within offices and factories

He also discussed the importance of a Carbon Literate workforce empowering employees to act more sustainably and drive forward environmental objectives.

Finally, he shared the important fact that it’s not all about renewables and the fact that organisations should consider carbon reduction in the following priority:

  • Elimination
  • Reduction
  • Renewables
  • Quality offset (as a last resort only)

Part 2 – Making the case

Greville outlined a range approaches for companies

Drawing on evidence from the 2006 Stern Review which looked into the Economics of Climate Change, Greville discussed the benefits of strong, early action on climate change, emphasising that the Stern Report made a clear case for early action back in 2006, and todays economic conditions make a stronger and yet more compelling case than that which Stern was able to outline in 2006.

Greville expressed the importance of not to waiting for the grants, showcasing an example of energy an efficiency project from 2020 which promised a 1.3 year payback and was now paying back the capital investment every three months, more than tripling the original return on investment forecasts. With shorter payback periods, companies can invest today with greater confidence that these investment will generate stronger returns compared to waiting for grants in the future.

Greville also spoke through the 4 C’s, a great reference point for organisations making the business case for investment in decarbonisation and taking action on sustainability. These included:

  • Cost savings
  • Compliance
  • Corporate image (focused on action and not a Green Wash exercise)
  • Leading to a Competitive advantage

Sustainable Business

Greville explained the importance for companies to consider their wider sustainability, stating:

“Focusing on the challenges and opportunities from net zero is critical for all companies, however there remain significant business risks for companies who ignore the wider sustainability agenda, and it is therefore important for companies to consider issues relating to pollution of water ways, bio-diversity loss, air pollution and land contamination”

Greville ended the presentation with some opportunities for local businesses, including the opportunity to join Groundwork’s free webinar on energy on the 15th March as well as some helpful signposting links:

Groundwork’s Sustainable Business Accreditation Framework

SME Energy Efficiency Guide

Cheshire East Council and the Cheshire & Warrington Growth Hub

Finally, he finished with a quote from Emmanuel Macron;

“By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying our biodiversity, we are killing our planet. Let us face it, there is no planet B.”