Our net zero roadmap

I’ve been cycling in and around the capital for two decades. Sometimes a short between-meeting burst within zone one, more frequently a longer commute from home. I love the control over my own time, the freedom, the exercise and worshipping at the #outsideisfree altar.

I’m lucky be in good health to be able to ride as often as I do. But it’s exactly this that worries me every time I clip in – not for the ever-present road dangers but for the potential of respiratory issues.

While initiatives such as the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Low Emission Zones (LEZ) are steps in the right direction, according to TFL, 99% of Londoners live in an area where pollution still exceeds guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization. And, according to a study from Imperial College London, more than 4,000 Londoners died in 2019 because of the impact of toxic air.

A recent global study by George Washington University found that things aren’t exactly great in most developed cities either, with Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow joining London for the UK’s worst offenders. And while some cities are taking a stand in the fight against pollution, the need to reduce all harmful emissions – not just combustion-related nitrogen dioxide (NO2) – goes way beyond enjoying a cough-free commute.

Reducing our carbon footprint is key to tackling climate change. It will remain a key narrative of our generation and one that every individual and every business needs to play an actionable role in.

At Archetype UK, we’re therefore committed to becoming a net-zero business, supporting the UK’s commitment to be net zero by 2050, London’s intent to be carbon neutral by 2030, and adhering to the UN’s 13 (Climate Action) and 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) SDGs.

But before we get into why ‘being committed’ simply isn’t good enough, a buzzword breakdown:

Being a carbon neutral business means that any CO2 released into the atmosphere from our activities is balanced by an equivalent amount being removed. Archetype UK is employing a measure-and-reduce strategy, before offsetting what we can’t. This is our phase one, with a target completion date of July 2022.

Being a net-zero business means that we are adding no incremental GHGs to the atmosphere. This is our phase two, with a target completion date of ‘soon as humanly possible’ but no later than 2030.

Back to ‘being committed’. Let’s rephrase that to ‘leading with action, not just words’, or  ‘practising what we publish’ (spot on, Happiful) or ‘showing demonstrable impact’…

We are one of 20 businesses taking part in the London Mayor’s Business Climate Challenge to reduce office carbon emissions by 10% in a one-year period. We’ve just finished our first audit, found that we emit 13.6 tCO2e per year and now have clear reduction goals in place such as standardising our server room temperature, automating air con and creating policy that equipment/lights are only on during working hours.

We are, however, 100% solar powered. We use air-source heat pumps and, when required, use REGO-certified UK energy suppliers. Our aim is to go beyond that 10% reduction in our first year (ending September 2022).

We have recently submitted our application to become a certified BCorp business, publicly promising to accelerate the reduction of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, among other commitments across community, clients, governance and our teammates.

While we wait for our result, 95% of our food and drink suppliers are BCorp accredited (meaning they have to comply with exacting environmental standards) and those that aren’t are vetted for environmental credentials before purchase (beer brewed with old bread?). Everything adheres to our written and circulated environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) policy.

As we’re a fully hybrid working business, we have produced a guide to sustainable home working for all teammates to support their own ambitions for carbon footprint reduction.

We offer all teammates two cycle-to-work schemes to encourage alternative modes of transport, one being with our great partner Dash Rides who recently pointed us to this article; in 2021, the US imported more e-bikes than electric cars for the second year in a row. Judging by the amount of e-bikes (hopefully fuelled by renewable sources!) I see on the roads, an seemingly upwards trend in the UK, too.

Finally, but most importantly, in October 2021 we partnered with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Turner and Townsend to produce a clear energy audit and recommendation report that maps out Archetype UK’s journey to a net zero business by 2030 latest.

Our steps to achieve this are as follows:

  • 1 - To measure and report energy consumption and emissions
  • 2 - Operate our hybrid hub as efficiently as possible, with minimal waste energy
  • 3 - Where appropriate, transition to low carbon sources for heating and hot water systems
  • 4 - To generate clean energy on site
  • 5 - To procure renewable energy
  • 6 - To offset emissions

Thankfully, we’ve made excellent progress already. But we’re under no illusion, reaching net zero will be a road with many bumps along the way. Following COP26, the GLA suggests that to avoid catastrophic environmental damage, we need to accelerate our ambition even further. Including those initial 10% reduction targets.

It will require continued effort but doing nothing is not an option.

We will continue to collect our data. We will continue to be transparent with our progress. We will track and publicise change over time.

We are united in our ambition to accelerate positive impact for people and planet.