In last year’s report, we announced measurable short-term targets for 2020 that support our overall corporate responsibility goals in three areas. Here’s our progress:
Include Embodied-Carbon Specifications for Concrete, Steel & Wood in Our Structural Engineering Standards
In early 2020, we established an internal community of practice (CoP) on embodied carbon. This 100-member multidisciplinary group formed five working groups and set their sights on several initiatives focused on reducing embodied carbon in our projects and throughout the AEC industry.
The group worked with our standards committee to develop and implement an embodied-carbon specification for concrete in 2020. And we identified regional performance-based average values that engineers can use to track and show improvements through better materials selection. The rollout of the specifications – paired with internal education on embodied carbon in concrete – led to immediate use on projects.
The Structural Engineers 2050 Commitment (SE2050) – of which we are an executive sponsor and an inaugural member – launched in 2020. The program calls on structural engineers to achieve net-zero embodied carbon. Our CoP prioritized the development of an Embodied Carbon Action Plan (ECAP), a key part of the SE2050 challenge. As a result, we moved our completion target for steel and wood specifications to the close of 2021.
Lower Per-Person Carbon Footprint Below 3.9 Metric Tons of CO2e Per Person by Cutting Energy Use
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented changes in the way we work and live. One unexpected result? We learned that people around the world could quickly and drastically lower their carbon footprints if a situation demands rapid change.
At Thornton Tomasetti, we saw a considerable reduction in our total greenhouse gas emissions, due largely to the rapid switch to remote work. We more than met the target we set in 2019. Our 2020 average per-person carbon footprint of 2.73 metric tons of CO2e represents a 32 percent per capita emissions reduction since 2018. Our 2020 total firm-wide emissions were 3,255 metric tons CO2e, much lower than our target of 4,965 metric tons.
Despite seeing a sizable reduction in our carbon footprint in 2020, we still have some work to do to reach our long-term emissions-reduction goals and achieve carbon-neutral business operations by 2030. We’re aiming to cut our use to an average per capita carbon footprint of 2.27 metric tons CO2e, and then to offset the emissions that are left. As our people begin to return to offices, we will seek ingenious solutions to maintain – and improve on – the reductions we saw in 2020.
Achieve 100% Employee Awareness of Our Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) Initiative
The 2020 launch of two new employee network groups (ENGs), which advocate for underrepresented groups among our staff, followed a restructuring of our ED&I committee. A 2019 employee survey showed that only 65 percent of participants were aware of our earlier inclusion and diversity programs. Our reboot of the initiative and heightened global attention to issues of racism and social inequity contributed to a 31 percent increase, with 96 percent of those surveyed indicating their awareness. To continue to achieve high awareness, we’re looking ahead to new formal learning programs and ongoing forums with our three ENGs – Mosaic (focusing on multicultural issues), Spectrum (LGBTQIA+) and Women@TT.
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