This piece was originally published in our October 2018 newsletter and has been edited from its original version. Anglian Water holds Toitū carbonreduce certification (formerly known as CEMARS certification).
Three key tips to be an efficient, future-ready organisation
Carbon expert David Riley, from leading UK water infrastructure company Anglian Water, visited New Zealand in 2018 to share his international expertise with our community.
With over 6 million customers (larger than the population of New Zealand), Anglian Water face significant challenges as a result of their physical geography and the potential impacts of climate change. Twenty-eight percent of the land they supply sits below sea level and is at risk of flooding; Anglia is generally a dry and flat area so they are required to pump water around the region; it is one of the fastest growing populations in the UK, putting increasing demand on water supply. With these increasing pressures, Anglian Water realised they had to act to ensure they were future-proof, and able to deliver services with safety of supply.
Anglian Water’s success has come from its mantra of measure, manage and reduce. They have been CEMARS certified for eleven years, which has enabled them to focus on reducing their operational carbon footprint – no mean feat given they are one of the largest energy users in the east of England. In the first five years of their programme, they exceeded a 10 percent reduction in operational emissions from their baseline. But they also credit their success for not just working to reduce operational carbon, but including capital carbon too. Over the same period, they saw a 54 percent reduction in their capital carbon against their baseline.
David advises “carbon is great for delivering business efficiencies”. With Anglian Water’s learnings so far, David had three key takeaways that are relevant for business across the economy.
Leadership: be ambitious to see real change.
To ensure Anglian Water was able to provide water services now and into the future, they had to become a leader by necessity. They decided on radical targets, including a goal to halve carbon in construction, to create the step-change needed to really drive innovation and push them ahead.
David says “your organisation’s senior leadership, Board and investors all need to have a strong belief and belligerence about carbon reduction”. The case for carbon reduction needs to be presented as a key factor in long-term business sustainability, but the story needs to include increased efficiency and cost savings to get everyone on board.
Traditional procurement models do not work: rethink your supply chain.
With their radical targets, Anglian Water recognized that they couldn’t solve it alone, they needed to collaborate. Anglian Water utilise an alliance model to cover CapEx projects, repair and maintenance programmes and other projects. It is a partnership of organisations who work together on a project to meet the carbon and cost targets. All partners get paid only if they outperform targets, which provides an incentive to support each other – they are all as strong as the weakest member. Prior to setting up an alliance, Anglian Water hold behavioural assessments and workshops with potential partners to ensure all members work collaboratively toward the same goals.
Through the alliance model, Anglian Water commit to long contracts with suppliers to build trust and provide return on investment for any research and development that may be required. This also helps to ensure there is a culture change toward always striving for better, which helps to future-proof the partnerships. Anglian Water also provide carbon measurement tools to suppliers so they can focus on the problem at hand instead of wasting time on carbon calculations. They asked their suppliers to ensure they were contributing to emissions reduction in their own organisations, and looked for external verification of suppliers’ credentials like their own CEMARS certification.
Innovation: encourage innovation across your organisation and partners to find opportunities for efficiency and reduction.
Anglian Water have developed an “Innovation Shop Window” which is a live, real-world location to test new ideas, products and services in their Newmarket catchment. One of the now-standard solutions trialled here was the use of cement-free concrete, a building material with a much lower carbon footprint than traditional concrete.
Digital technology is embedded into Anglian Water’s design process; they now use virtual reality to walk through proposed sites and assess the prototype prior to building, minimising changes later. It also helps them to build more assets above-ground, which significantly reduces both carbon emissions and costs.
“No dig” technologies are also now standard, which means they can make repairs and maintenance in ground without needing to dig for access. In the past, the majority of their repairs and maintenance were open trenches along roads. But now directional drilling, robots and cameras mean that 95 percent of this work is done without digging, avoiding the need to dig up roads and saving time and money. This reduces operational emissions as excavation, laying and backfill for pipe works is a major source of carbon.
Anglian Water are also investing in a different type of ‘battery’ – a flow machine. This is an energy storage device that doesn’t degrade energy and lasts longer than current technologies.
With their goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, Anglian Water had to fundamentally change how they worked. Their success so far has been anchored in their strong leadership and robust, committed governance, active engagement with their supply chain, and being innovative - they are no longer a traditional water company.