The Crown Estate is one of the largest property companies in the UK, with assets of over £11bn that include London’s West End; dominant regional retail; large areas of agricultural land, including Windsor Great Park; and managing the UK seabed. All of its profit is returned to Treasury for the benefit of the nation’s finances.
The Crown Estate recognises that a successful business and a sustainable business are one and the same; meaning it is absolutely vital that it integrates sustainability into everything it does and drives commercial performance. The range of activities across its portfolio will inevitably lead to higher energy consumption, emphasising the importance of an effective carbon strategy. The Crown Estate has won numerous awards in recognition of its work on carbon reduction, including the Green Apple Environment Awards 2015 and the Scottish Green Energy Awards in December 2012.
The Crown Estate has set itself an ambitious sustainability target of a 50% intensity reduction in carbon emissions by 2022 (from a 2012/13 baseline). This, coupled with the increasing complexity of its reporting requirements, presents a challenge for The Crown Estate to manage its data in the most effective way. Carbon Credentials is working with The Crown Estate to manage the collation, aggregation, and analysis of a large set of environmental data streams across its diverse portfolio to provide accurate data for the purpose of compliance, reporting and analysing sustainability performance over its 10-year target period.
Carbon Credentials turns data into meaningful information that can be interpreted by numerous internal and external stakeholders to support The Crown Estate’s sustainability objectives and valuable deliberation at forums such as that on its Sustainability Action Plan (SAP).
Solution 1: Engaging internal and external stakeholders in the most effective way
The Crown Estate recognises the importance of engaging all of its key internal and external stakeholders in the most effective way across their UK-wide business. To ensure this is achieved, Carbon Credentials, on behalf of The Crown Estate, has developed relationships with many of these stakeholders to develop an understanding around its needs, challenges and opportunities.
The external stakeholders that Carbon Credentials engages with include the managing agents, other key consultancies and on-site facility managers. Internal stakeholders include the sustainability and stewardship, finance, Windsor Estate, and the Central London and rural teams. Using these relationships, Carbon Credentials collates all required data streams for reporting and compliance and then stores all of this in a tailor-made sustainability database. The on-going data collection enables Carbon Credentials to provide validation checks on all streams of The Crown Estate’s data to allow accurate and verified data to flow seamlessly into annual reporting and compliance frameworks such as CRC and ESOS.
In addition to these requirements, Carbon Credentials further assists by developing narratives around environmental sustainability and provides data to a large number of stakeholders each quarter to drive engagement by utilising the information provided to support performance. Importantly, at the end of the reporting year each stakeholder has clearly defined roles and responsibilities, which results in a more co-ordinated and streamlined approach.
Solution 2: Easing the burden of reporting
The Crown Estate has significant reporting commitments, both mandatory and corporate. Carbon Credentials was brought on board to help support this activity, in particular through improved accuracy and scope of data; mitigating any possible risks of non-compliance; and maximising any opportunities presented – such as improved disclosure scores and reduced financial expenditure of the reporting process.
- The data for the annual report is collated including waste, water, energy, renewables, business travel and an increasing amount of HR and non-financial data.
- Total emissions are calculated and reported using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
- The calculated annual emissions (absolute and the intensity metric) are verified by PwC; throughout the process Carbon Credentials engages with PwC to reduce the burden on The Crown Estate.
- Carbon Credentials completes an Annual Report Disclosure Check service; a valuable review designed to improve the reliability of reported information prior to the publication of the annual report.
- Each year, The Crown Estate has to submit its annual natural gas, electricity, and renewables consumption to the Environment Agency.
- The data is collected, analysed and made ready by Carbon Credentials in preparation for submission. This includes the collection of challenging supplies such as voids.
- Carbon Credentials mitigate the risk of non-compliance and maximise opportunities for savings by following the prescriptive nature of the CRC and reducing estimation.
- Carbon Credentials also provides a forecast, to help inform The Crown Estate’s decision regarding the forward purchasing of allowances.
- Carbon Credentials supports The Crown Estate’s innovative Total Contribution approach, which measures the value it creates through the way it does business.
- Carbon Credentials supported The Crown Estate to achieve ESOS compliance. This involved considerable interaction with stakeholders to understand the energy performance opportunity.
- Carbon Credentials supported The Crown Estate’s GRESB submission, where they achieved three green stars and increased their overall scores.
Solution 3: Tracking and supporting The Crown Estate’s sustainability objectives
As part of The Crown Estate’s on-going strategy, it is vital that it can effectively track its progress against its long term target of a 50% intensity reduction in carbon emissions by 2022. To make this possible, Carbon Credentials’ programme has helped to develop a tool that effectively tracks progress up to 2022 – this is called the Crown Carbon Indicator (CCI). The indicator helps to describe The Crown Estate’s historic and current performance relative to their baseline and against the set target. To make the indicator as effective as possible for such a large and complex property estate, multiple variables have been identified that are key to measuring the portfolio’s performance, such as changes in occupancy, the area of an asset that is covered by the recorded consumption, and the consumption of an asset relative to the portfolio’s total emissions.
Significantly, due to Carbon Credentials’ central role in managing The Crown Estate’s environmental data, Carbon Credentials also administers the on-going management of the indicator and more importantly how key stories from the indicator are best conveyed to the various stakeholders across the business. To provide additional weight behind the data and structure of the tool, the indicator is assured by PwC on an annual basis.
By helping to support The Crown Estate’s sustainability strategy, Carbon Credentials assists in providing it with the tools and information to engage and mobilise stakeholders across the business. Carbon Credentials’ deep understanding of the property industry also helps The Crown Estate get more value from reporting and initiatives such as the Crown Carbon Indicator. Important business objectives, such as 100% waste diversion from landfill, have already been achieved, having been proactively tracked by Carbon Credentials.
Importantly, Carbon Credentials, through their industry-leading data and analytics programme, are able to reduce the administrative burden of complying with key reporting objectives to empower The Crown Estate to enact and achieve its strategies. Having made so many developments in the programme already, Carbon Credentials looks forward to developing new ways of supporting The Crown Estate’s future sustainability objectives.
“In order to really be able to tell that our carbon emissions are going down, we need real accurate data. Data comes from all over the place, there are lots of stakeholders, there are lots of kinds of data, and Carbon Credentials does a fantastic job in collecting the data, making sure it is accurate, and making sure it is auditable so that we can use it and give it back to the managing agents in a form that they can interpret, in order to do some of the changes that they need to do, and to be able to deliver the carbon reduction.”
Claudine Blamey, Head of Sustainability and Stewardship