NBBJ — A Carbon Neutral Firm
NBBJ has made two main carbon commitments:
- CarbonNeutral® Company Certification and a commitment to continued carbon-neutral operations with emissions reductions in line with Science-Based Targets (certified through Climate Impact Partners).
- Amazon’s Climate Pledge: commitment to net zero emissions by 2040
NBBJ’s targets are based on a baseline emissions year of FY2020 (March 2019 - February 2020). Emissions and reduction targets are absolute, not on a per capita or per revenue basis.
NBBJ has two resultant targets:
- 50% reduction in total emissions by 2030
- 90% reduction in total emissions by 2040 with the remaining offset through supported, additional carbon removal projects
In alignment with our CarbonNeutral® certification commitment, all residual emissions will be offset on an annual basis, starting with FY2021. Emissions are calculated in alignment with Climate Impact Partners’ CarbonNeutral Protocol, which is an evolving emissions standard, and verified through an independent assessment by RSK International.
Our targets, emissions reduction goals, and offset projects are aligned with Science Based Targets, although we have not sought certification with SBTi. This includes Scope 1, 2, and 3 sources for all of our offices globally. Our major emissions source categories are office energy use, business travel, capital goods, and commuting:
- Scope 1 emissions include refrigerant gas leakage from HVAC equipment, and natural gas and fuel oil consumption within our office buildings, used primarily for space heating and water heating.
- Scope 2 emissions consist of purchased electricity consumption as well as other indirectly purchased energy including fossil-fuel derived steam.
- Scope 3 emissions include all the mandatory requirements of the CarbonNeutral Protocol as well as select optional emissions. These emissions include water, waste, consumable supplies, capital goods (IT), business travel, staff commuting and remote working.
Where exact data is not available, we have used reasonable professional judgment and alternative calculation methods to estimate our emissions. Our intent is to improve our data quality over time such that subsequent years’ data better represents our actual emissions impact.
Employee homeworking emissions were excluded, as these did not represent a significant emissions source prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that started in March 2020. Moving forward, employee work-from-home activity will factor significantly into our emissions footprint.
Carbon Reduction Efforts
A simple view of our emissions reduction target for 2030 is to target a 50% reduction from our FY2020 baseline. However, this approach does not account for various anomalies and changes that have already occurred and are expected to occur prior to FY2030. These changes take three general forms: evolutions in the CarbonNeutral Protocol that bring new impact areas into the standard (e.g., employee home working), new emissions impacts we become aware of due to improved data capture (e.g., cloud computing), and emissions sources that are not recurring (e.g., office renovations).
We are taking a total emissions budget approach to account for and accommodate these potential changes. As we get greater clarity on our emissions between FY2020 and FY2030 we will refine our FY2030 emissions target to try and accommodate these changes to maintain emissions under our emissions budget. For example, in FY2023 we moved two of our offices (New York and Boston) which will incur embodied carbon emissions due to the construction and fit out of those new offices.
NBBJ’s carbon offsets are purchased through our CarbonNeutral® certification with Climate Impact Partners and meet the additionality and verification requirements of the CarbonNeutral Protocol. The CarbonNeutral Protocol allows for the use of multiple, global, carbon accounting and certification standards including the American Carbon Registry, Gold Standard for the Global Goals, and Verified Carbon Standard.
We are currently taking a balanced approach of including both carbon removal and emissions reduction offsets, with a goal to transition to 100% carbon removal offsets by 2040 to achieve true net zero operations. Nature-based projects are preferred for our carbon removal offsets. Projects that focus on women and other disadvantaged communities are preferred when available for all project types.
In addition to offsets, the CarbonNeutral Protocol allows for Scope 1 and 2 reduction measures that include renewable fuels or renewable electricity purchase meeting the requirements of approved Energy Attribute Certificate Standards. These reduction measures can serve to reduce our footprint as opposed to offsets.