Pangolin Associates is a national energy and carbon management consultancy. Pangolin helps organisations achieve efficiencies and competitiveness through measuring and reducing energy, carbon and other environmental impacts. Following the Paris Agreement, Pangolin is one of the very few companies in Australia that provides strategic climate change action through science based targets. The company is wholeheartedly committed to environmental and social responsibility.
The business case for carbon neutral certification
Pangolin’s Founding Directors began the business as a carbon neutral entity. From the first year of trade (2010), Pangolin has undertaken a carbon footprint and maintained a low carbon business. Each year Pangolin has offset all remaining greenhouse gas emissions from their commercial activities with forestry conservation and wind energy carbon credits. As the consultancy advises clients to undertake these processes, it was vital that Pangolin also build their business on the same practices. In 2016, the Directors decided that since Pangolin increasingly provided services for the carbon neutral certification program, working with just over half of the participants as of 2019, it was not enough to be a net zero business without the credential themselves.
Achieving carbon neutral certification
Pangolin Associates’ base reporting year for certification was FY 2015/16. As they are a professional services company, carbon neutral certification covers its national operations. In 2018, Pangolin expanded their certification to include all of their services. The largest component of greenhouse gas emissions came from business flights, which are most frequently a requirement for on-site auditing work. The proportional contribution of specific activities to the overall carbon account is as follows:
- business flights: 42 per cent;
- electricity: 12 per cent;
- employee commute: 7.5 per cent;
- IT / telecommunications: 6 per cent;
- remaining emissions include office expenses and public transport.
Pangolin has a clear set of policies, procedures and guidelines. For example:
- Pangolin offices are paper-free. The team requests clients to provide all documentation electronically;
- as much as is possible Pangolin ensures energy efficiency in their office buildings through solar panels, energy efficient lighting, energy monitoring of the HVAC system, LED lighting and motion sensors. Pangolin is also a participating member of CitySwitch Green Office, a program that targets low energy consumption in commercial buildings;
- Pangolin selects suppliers with environmental and ethical credentials, many are certified B Corporations for their measured and recognised business practices. Prospective suppliers must complete a rigorous questionnaire regarding sustainability and ethical initiatives;
- Pangolin encourages the team to travel to meetings and to work on public transport, or other sustainable modes.
Avoided emissions and protecting biodiversity are at the core of Pangolin’s principles and business ethics. Typically, Pangolin purchases and retires forest conservation verified carbon units (VCUs), locally and abroad. By purchasing these units, Pangolin is making an investment directly into forest conservation and global biodiversity. Pangolin’s employees feel the social benefits derived from these projects is critical to the planet’s future, and to landowners and farmers who receive income from avoided deforestation activities rather than logging.
Benefits and outcomes of carbon neutral certification
- Pangolin’s team feels the company’s certification gives them confidence and greater authority when speaking about the program.
- Certification means Pangolin’s services overall are more credible. It is an assurance that the company is a good choice, and a viable environmental consultancy.
- Pangolin is a small consultancy that often competes with larger entities on government, corporate and university tenders. Climate Active certification further positions the company as a serious contender. This is particularly so if the tender requires a sustainability statement and proof of policies and actions.
- Pangolin was the first certified carbon neutral company in the environmental services sector, as such it is an industry leader.
Challenges and learnings
As Climate Active services specialists, meeting the requirements for carbon neutral certification was a straightforward process for Pangolin Associates. Working with numerous participants in the program, and having already embedded the procedures of measuring, reducing and offsetting emissions into Pangolin’s business, meant certification ran smoothly. Regardless, the detailed review of these procedures, and the third party verification was beneficial, embedding strategic pathways and ensuring continual improvement.