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AtkinsRealis cuts Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 87%

The company, formerly known as SNC-Lavalin, is working toward net-zero by 2030

AtkinsRéalis significant cut its Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions from 2017, driven largely by its divestment in oil and gas infrastructure, energy efficiency in its buildings and limiting its business travel. (Courtesy AtkinsRéalis)

AtkinsRéalis, the Montreal-headquartered engineering and project management firm formerly known as SNC-Lavalin, outlined how it significantly cut its operational emissions and incorporated sustainability into its projects and operations in its 2022 ESG report.

Its Scope 1 and 2 emissions were cut by almost 90 per cent against a 2019 baseline, driven by its divestment from the fossil fuel business as well as optimizing its office and real estate portfolio and travel.

More than half of its revenues in 2022 came from sustainable projects such as clean energy infrastructure, water sanitation and mass transit.

With a notable gap in its Scope 3 emissions, AtkinsRéalis (ATRL-T) says it is moving to have better transparency as it works to a net-zero goal by 2030.

“The lens that we look at ESG is what’s the impact area we as a company can have in what we do in the markets where we operate,” Hentie Dirker, chief ESG and integrity officer at AtkinsRéalis, said in an interview with Sustainable Biz Canada.

AtkinsRéalis’ emissions in 2022

In 2022, AtkinsRéalis emitted 6,845 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) of Scope 1 emissions, 4,251 tCO2e of Scope 2 emissions and 33,381 tCO2e of Scope 3 emissions covering business travel and upstream leased assets.

This marks an 87 per cent reduction in AtkinsRéalis’ Scope 1 and 2 emissions against its 2019 baseline, and a 69 per cent reduction in overall emissions when adding the limited Scope 3 emissions it does calculate.

Going by emissions intensity per full-time employee for Scope 1 and 2 emissions, 2022 ended with AtkinsRéalis’ lowest to date at 0.3 tCO2e, compared to 2.1 tCO2e in 2019.

Deloitte performed a limited assurance on the metrics in the ESG report.

How AtkinsRéalis cut its emissions

AtkinsRéalis managed its emissions reductions from 2019 to 2022 by divesting from the oil and gas extraction business in 2021, limiting flights and business travel strictly to essential activities through 2020 and 2021, and optimizing its office space and real estate portfolio.

Its president Ian L. Edwards said in a press release issued for the divestment announcement, "Our business is now realigned on growing our high potential core engineering services, which includes the engineering, design and project management, nuclear and infrastructure services segments."

Dirker said AtkinsRéalis’ buildings received energy efficiency upgrades, and the engineering firm has been electrifying its vehicle fleet and turning away from gas- and diesel-fuelled vehicles.

Though it concedes the COVID pandemic impacted its energy use statistics in 2020 and 2021, AtkinsRéalis also said it believes it reached a peak in energy usage and energy intensity from 2018 to 2019.

Developing a sustainable projects portfolio

Dirker said a crucial element of ESG to AtkinsRéalis is “what impact can we have externally with our projects for our clients which aligns to our purpose of engineering a better future for our planet and its people.”

AtkinsRéalis divides its projects into three categories: sustainable, transition and extraction.

Over half its revenue in 2022 came from sustainable projects, which can include:

  • clean energy technology and renewable energy projects;
  • water sanitation;
  • health, education and cultural buildings;
  • climate change mitigation; and
  • multiresidential buildings.

Forty per cent of its portfolio consisted of transition assets, which are projects that can be made more sustainable, such as non-rail transportation; commercial, governmental, industrial and mixed-use buildings; and power transmission and distribution infrastructure.

AtkinsRealis was involved in the feasibility and concept design of an electrolyzer system, underground hydrogen storage solution and a hydrogen-fired Open Cycle Gas Turbine at SSE Thermal’s hydrogen production, storage and power generation project in the U.K.

Closer to home, AtkinsRéalis was awarded an owners engineering mandate for the Champlain Hudson Power Express project, a high voltage direct current transmission line that will be deployed from Canada to the United States. The project is planned to reduce 37 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

There was a slight increase in AtkinsRéalis’ revenue from extraction projects from 2021 to 2022. The revenue from extraction projects, defined as hydrocarbon-related projects or resource-extraction projects, increased because the company improved its data collection and had involvement with a metal mining project, Dirker said.

“It’s a journey in terms of how we are pulling this information together,” he said.

AtkinsRéalis has not yet set a target for the proportion of revenues it would like to generate from sustainable projects, but Dirker said it should be expected to increase.

Improving its ESG data collection

AtkinsRéalis is working on a more complete picture of its Scope 3 emissions, which Dirker said will be presented early next year. The goal is to cover more Scope 3 categories, such as supply chain emissions.

“It’s part of the journey and being more mature and having more data available in order for us to do just that. You will see a remarkable change from a Scope 3 emissions perspective,” he said.

There is also a focus on categorizing its projects in the correct field, as some extraction projects may need to be defined as transition or sustainable assets.

Dirker said AtkinsRéalis will be keeping a close eye on International Sustainability Standards Board guidance to align on its standards. It is also committed to bringing out a new roadmap and baseline in 2024 that is aligned with the Science Based Targets initiative and has specific measures.

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