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We’re reducing our carbon footprint - 31/03/2022

As one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s leading environmental research agencies, GNS Science is committed to acting in an environmentally ethical and responsible manner, and supporting an environmentally-conscious culture. Our scientists are kaitiaki, or guardians, of New Zealand’s natural environment. We position ourselves as the ‘Energy CRI’, which means we play a major role in enabling New Zealand’s transition to a low-carbon future.

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We ‘walk the talk’ in all that we do and we’re careful about minimising and mitigating the impact of our operations on the environment. That’s why after almost a decade of monitoring our own emissions, GNS made the strategic and ethical decision to have our organisation independently audited and measured so that we could then start a formal, tracked journey to genuinely reducing the carbon footprint of our activities.

In 2020  we signed up to the Toitū carbonreduce programme, a world-leading certification scheme which helps businesses and organisations accurately measure their direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. Following our very first ‘carbon audit’ in March 2021, we committed to reducing our net carbon emissions by 4% per annum, aiming for a cumulative 20% decrease from our baseline year (2018/2019) by 2025.

What are we doing to meet our goals?
As a first step, we have replaced some of our fleet with a combination of EV and hybrid vehicles. We have also undertaken gas and electricity audits at our three largest sites  - Wairakei, Gracefield and Avalon -  and we will use this information to then introduce efficiencies in the type and ways we power our facilities.  Around a quarter of our total emissions come from staff commuting to our 5 sites around New Zealand, and we are looking at ways to help reduce these emissions where possible.

See how we’re tracking
We publish an annual Toitū carbonreduce Emissions Summary which demonstrates our efforts and progress towards meeting our targets. You can access our inaugural report here. (774 kb)

Recently we received the 2019/2020 & 2020/2021 results back from the Toitū auditors, and can report that GNS Science has successfully completed the annual audit requirements of its Toitū carbonreduce certification. These reports can be found here (2019/2020 & 2020/2021 Summary reports).

The total emissions for 2020/2021 were 2,854.76 tCO2e, which is 7% higher than the 2019/2020 total of 2,666.94 tCO2e and 11% lower than the base year (2018/2019) total of 3,218.44 tCO2e. A reduction in emissions intensity of 3.09 tCO2e/$M has been achieved (based upon a 3-year rolling average).

The reductions have mainly been due to Covid-19 (e.g. reduction in air travel and our staff commute), although the increase in 2020/2021 was mainly due to an increase in refrigerants (air conditioning repairs).   Our commuting carbon emissions still remain high, and are an area that we need to focus on. 

You can also find out more about the Toitū carbonreduce programme here.

 Science for now. Science for the future. Science for good.