Multiplex’s journey towards setting a Science Based Target

Pavan Juttla, Sustainability Manager at Multiplex Construction Europe

At the time of writing, the latest climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stipulates that average global warming must be limited to an increase of no more than 1.5°C by the end of the century (compared to pre-industrial temperatures) if we are to avoid catastrophic and irreversible damage to our planet. For nations, businesses and communities, this is no easy task, but it is critical. 

To help tackle this challenge, Multiplex has set the goal of becoming Net Carbon Positive. To achieve this, we have set a science-based target that aligns our carbon footprint target with internationally-recognised thresholds. Our journey towards setting this target has involved researching the Science Based Targets initiative, understanding the business impacts of our carbon footprint and reduction strategies, building internal capabilities and buy-in, dissecting and reassembling the data, modelling targets, and – most importantly – coming up with a plan to achieve them.

Our target was approved by the Science Based Targets initiative and published in early 2019. We still have a long way to go, but our two-year journey to date has already resulted in several breakthroughs that are setting positive precedents for Multiplex and have applications across the wider industry. Three of these breakthroughs are outlined below, and I believe they have the power to influence the UK construction market to start aligning itself with climate science:
  1. The first breakthrough is about renewable energy. Our commitment to setting a science-based target opened up an internal conversation about the electricity we buy. Construction sites can be energy-intensive, with equipment including cranes, plant, tools, lighting and heating, and we saw an opportunity for our business to support the renewable energy market, while also centralising our energy procurement. We made the decision to switch to 100% renewable electricity tariffs by 2020, and last year we reached a figure of 70% renewable energy use across our sites. In this way, we are reducing our carbon footprint and streamlining the way we buy energy.
  2. The second breakthrough is that setting a science-based target has created a platform for us to further explore our supply chain relationships. Our goal is to empower our supply network to understand their own carbon footprints, set science-based targets and develop robust plans to achieve them. Equipping our network with the tools and knowledge they need to improve energy efficiency on our sites allows them to apply this across all their operations and with their own supply chains. This amplifies our radius of influence and creates a ripple effect of carbon reduction across the construction market. 
  3. Finally, through our work in setting a science-based target, we have aligned our carbon footprint with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a globally-recognised carbon accounting framework. Multiplex has been collecting and reporting carbon data for several years now, and aligning this activity with a standardised framework has given us greater visibility of our indirect (Scope 3) emissions. The ability to gather this transparent and robust carbon data is a very significant milestone and will play an important role in the strategies we set going forward. 
To sum up, this issue is of critical importance and the actions we take to tackle this challenge can often bring unexpected lessons and opportunities that help us along the way. The more businesses that take action in line with climate science, the more we will learn and the more chance we have of reaching our goal to limit dangerous global warming. 

Multiplex has been delivering landmark property, commercial structures and infrastructure assets for more than 55 years, with a focus on sustainable growth. Find out more...

You may also be interested in: Circularity in the built environment: an impossible dream? 23 May 2019, London. Find out more and register.