UK infrastructure firms reduce carbon emissions by 30%

Around 30 of the UK’s leading infrastructure companies have collectively saved the equivalent carbon emissions generated by more than 700,000 return passenger trips from Heathrow to JFK New York.

Twenty nine large companies from across the construction, rail, utilities, manufacturing and public sectors have saved a total of 8m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents year on year over the last six years, by following a systematic carbon reduction programme. Companies from Anglian Water to United Utilities deployed a range of techniques included modernising fleet, implementing smart technologies, using renewable energies and encouraging the whole supply chain to reduce emissions.

Results were reported, and independently verified, via the Carbon & Energy Management and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS), one of the world’s most rigorous carbon reduction programmes. The achievement was revealed as more than 80 countries ratified the Paris Agreement, the international agreement to reduce emissions and global warming which is due to come into force on 6 November 2016.

Jay Katzen, chief executive of Achilles, which holds the licence to run CEMARS in the UK, said: “In a landmark week, when the Paris Agreement will be coming into force and carbon reduction is hitting headlines across the world, UK infrastructure companies have proven themselves to be global role models in responsible and sustainable business. 

“On average, the companies participating in the CEMARS programme have reduced absolute carbon emissions by just over 30%, over the last six years. That is a great achievement in any industry, but particularly infrastructure, which is traditionally energy-intensive. Achilles is extremely proud to have supported their carbon reduction efforts.” 

Later this month, Katzen will be joined by Sir Lockwood Smith, New Zealand High Commissioner at the New Zealand High Commission in London where they will present gold CEMARS certificates to the successful businesses in recognition of their efforts.  The CEMARS scheme was developed for Achilles by Enviro-Mark Solutions which is a subsidiary of a New Zealand government owned research institute. 

Dr Ann Smith, chief executive of Enviro-Mark Solutions said: “The challenge of reducing emissions to stay within the limits set by the Paris Agreement will set new requirements for accountability based on monitoring, reporting and verification. CEMARS was designed to deliver these accountabilities and has been rated as world leading for its robustness, transparency and impartiality. I am delighted to be partnering with Achilles to provide world-class tools that help UK companies to contribute to reducing their national footprint with credibility and integrity.”

Graham Edgell, Morgan Sindall group director of sustainability and procurement, said: “Achilles’ assessments are both independent and rigorous, meaning there is no scope for ‘greenwashing’. As a result of CEMARS, Morgan Sindall Group can now identify new ways to reduce carbon emissions and have made reductions though a range of measures. Morgan Sindall Group has succeeded in embedding low-carbon ways of working across all divisions.  We have not only met, but exceeded the targets we have set ourselves, and I have no doubt we will continue to drive environmental improvements.”

Eddy Taylor, head of sustainability at Laing O’Rourke added: “Our CEMARS-certified carbon footprint has dropped by 52% since our base year of 2008-09. The certification process has helped motivate step-change improvements in the efficiency of our construction plant and processes, as well as drive incremental improvement and behaviour change." 

Jesse Putzel, head of sustainability at BAM Construct, added: “CEMARS has really helped to focus our efforts over the last six years. We’ve systematically worked through our carbon reduction plan and have improved the way we deliver projects, reducing carbon, costs and also improving health and wellbeing of our teams.”

Paul Gibbs, director of water recycling at Anglian Water, said: “Along with many organisations within our supply chain, the scheme illustrates success in effectively measuring, managing and reducing our carbon emissions since 2009 and the cost benefits that have been delivered through energy efficiency, renewables and designing out carbon within our asset investment programme.”

David Picton, chief sustainability officer for Carillion, added: “Carillion continues to tackle climate change and emissions reduction, backed up by our sixth successive CEMARS accreditation and our place on the Carbon Disclosure Project’s global A-list.  One of only two UK Industrial companies that made it to the CDP’s A-List, we are absolutely focused on cutting carbon.  Climate change remains rightly high on the global agenda after the historic Paris agreements, and we are committed to transparent, trusted reporting and to working with customers, suppliers and the communities where we work and live as we shape a better tomorrow.”

Emma Ward, group sustainability manager for McNicholas, said: “McNicholas were one of the very first adopters of CEMARS, with 2008-2009 being our first year of certified emissions verification. CEMARS offered us a well-structured approach to emissions identification but most importantly, to ongoing management and reduction. As a result of its implementation we were able to open up wider conversations regarding how we can further reduce our impact and how this will benefit the company as a whole. Having reduced our carbon footprint whilst growing our business, we will continue to use CEMARS as a key tool to ensure emissions management is a part of our strategic decision making and innovation programmes.”

Among the companies which achieved the CEMARS gold certificate are: 

Anglian Water 

Aughton Automation Limited

Balfour Beatty 

BAM Group (UK) 

Black and Veatch Limited

Blackburn Starling and Company Limited

Carillion UK



Elster Water Metering Limited (Luton)


GPS-PE Pipe Systems (Glynwed Pipe Systems Limited

J Murphy & Sons Limited

Knowlton and Newman Limited

Laing O'Rourke 

McNicholas Construction Holdings

Morgan Sindall 

Morrison Utility Services Limited

MWH UK Limited

PJD Group

RS Components Limited

Saint-Gobain PAM UK Limited

Skanska UK PLC

South West Water

The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

University of Bristol 

United Utilities, Limited


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