Sustainability Report 2016

Our performance

Environmental footprint

We recognize the need to continue improving our own environmental performance through the effective management of our offices and assets, business activities and client project work. Environment is a key focus area within the UN Global Compact and, as a signatory, we strive to embrace its core values and promote these values within our sphere of influence.

As a company and through the advice we provide to our clients, we support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges, undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility and encourage the development of environmentally responsible technologies and products.

Management approach

ERM's Executive Committee has primary responsibility for our environmental performance, with local performance coordinated by the Sustainability Network, as described below. ERM's Global Sustainability Policy and our Sustainability Approach guide our environmental roadmap.

In FY16, we refreshed our internal approach to sustainability through the establishment of a global Sustainability Network that aligns with the company’s operational management structure. This has enabled us to strengthen our engagement with employees, drive performance at a local level and implement efficiencies in our sustainability reporting processes. Globally, ERM uses a software system to manage and report our environmental, community and thought leadership data. Through the Sustainability Network, improved systems and use of software tools, we can gather and process information in a more efficient, integrated, timely and user-friendly manner to improve business performance.

As required under our global Safety Management System (SMS), each of ERM’s business units around the world must complete an annual environmental aspect assessment to identify significant environmental impacts. The SMS also requires that we conduct an environmental risk review before initiating or modifying significantly any client project, and we are seeking to apply a more consistent approach to these reviews in the future.

The work we do for clients provides many opportunities to help reduce environmental impacts and drive innovation throughout the world. Our projects relate directly to critical issues, such as greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, natural capital, resource efficiency (water, land use and natural resources) and biodiversity. ERM also provides both strategic and technical advice to clients on understanding, managing and measuring product sustainability and life cycle impacts.

We continue to develop innovative approaches and tools to create business benefits for our clients and collaborate with third parties on solutions to global sustainability challenges.

Green buildings

We apply our expertise to make improvements as we open, renovate and move to new offices, incorporating lessons learned on each occasion. We are progressively relocating our offices to more resource-efficient buildings and to areas with improved public transport links to help reduce the commuting footprint of our employees. We minimize the office space we require through smarter building designs and new working practices. This, in turn, lowers heating and cooling costs and related emissions. A number of our offices have been recognized by building councils and local authorities for their reduced environmental footprints.

Project impacts

While we continue to take steps toward reducing the impacts of our operations, it is clear that our work for clients forms the largest part of our sustainability footprint. Stakeholders have challenged us to undertake more effective measurement and disclose the impacts we have through our client projects. We continue to explore and refine our methodologies in this complex area of work.

The ERM Foundation has adapted the methodologies we developed for measuring impacts on projects for clients and applied these tools to ERM Foundation projects. This practical application of these methodologies is, in turn, informing our application with client projects.

During FY16, ERM continued to deploy and refine tools to help our clients enhance sustainability-based decision-making. One example is the newly released Natural Capital Protocol. ERM was part of the consortium, led by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), which developed the protocol. Doug MacNair, an ERM Technical Director, is on secondment to the Natural Carbon Coalition to provide expertise and guidance in the development, launch and implementation of the Protocol. By working with the protocol, ERM can assist clients to identify, measure and value their impacts and dependencies on nature, and in turn, incorporate these insights into their business decisions.