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How Wipro Reduced Air Travel Emissions

Wipro, an Indian IT services multinational company desiring to become greener, commissioned cBalance to calculate its carbon footprint from business air travel so that strategies could be implemented to reduce these emissions. Wipro has an international presence and a wide geographic base and, thus, must use air transport in order to meet the needs of its clients. In the 2013-14 financial year, Wipro reported 103 thousand tons of CO2e GHG emissions from business travel, which was 13% of its total! Here lied a great opportunity for Wipro to substantially reduce its carbon footprint. So we set out to:

• estimate the carbon emissions factors for domestic and international airlines used by Wipro in 2014-15
• estimate a GHG inventory of Wipro’s business air travel based on the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard,
• make a rankings index of domestic and international airline carriers sorted by their GHG emissions factors,
• recommend a best-in-class air carrier for each sector of company air travel,
• model choices that could reduce GHG emissions (choosing the best airline, reducing the number of stops in a journey)

Not only would this be useful for Wipro, the results of the study could be potentially used by the public at large to reduce their own carbon footprints by simply by making the right decision at the time of booking a flight.

Methodology:
The scope of the project covered all airline business travel, international and domestic, of Wipro during the 2014-15 fiscal year: nearly 500,000 flight legs and about 1.3 billion passenger-km traveled. While about 60% of the flights were domestic, over three quarters of the distance traveled was from international flights.

The GHG emissions inventory was taken following the GHG Protocol’s Corporate Standard, which covers the accounting and reporting of the six greenhouse gases following the Kyoto Protocol: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and requires adherence to the principles of relevance, completeness, consistency, transparency, and accuracy. Only the first three greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), are considered, as emissions of the other three were below the materiality threshold as defined by the ‘completeness’ principle. Operational boundaries have been specified according to the standard, which entails categorizing emissions as either direct or indirect emissions and choosing the scope for indirect emissions. The measured unit of reference flow is passenger-km of air travel and the unit of analysis is Metric Tonne of CO2e.

Wipro provided the raw data set (flights, airport codes, and carrier codes) and collection began by devising and administering a list of data needs identified by the Standard. Domestic short-haul and long-haul flights were defined as shorter and longer than 500 km, respectively, and international short-haul flights as up to 2,000 km, medium-haul flights as between 2,000 and 5,000 km, and long-haul flights as greater than 5,000 km. cBalance corrected errors and invalid entries in these data.

To develop emission factors, LTO (landing/takeoff) and cruise mode emissions were calculated for all aircraft models. Next, best-case per-passenger emission factors for finite distances were derived for every aircraft model (using maximum passenger capacity and load factor of 1). The same was done for additional finite distances on every aircraft model. Then, the per-passenger emissions for finite distances for each airline was calculated by summing the LTO and cruise-mode emissions (accounting for weighted average airline passenger capacities, airline-wide passenger load factors, and passenger to freight ratios). Finally, the same was done for additional finite distances for each airline. Unfortunately, the relative frequency of operation or share of annual passenger-kms performed by a given aircraft model in an airline’s fleet could not be taken into consideration due to the unavailability of the necessary data regarding domestic airline operations. Incorporating such statistics to arrive at a weighted average would provide a more rigorous approach.

Wipro Air Travel Emissions Reduction Case Study PDF

Scenario Modelling:
cBalance also modelled two different scenario comparisons. The first compared the baseline to the best-in-class and found that if international flights were switched to the best-in-class scenario, it would result in savings of 41% of GHG emissions. For all Wipro’s international flights, the total savings would be 70.44 thousand tonnes of CO2e emissions. For domestic US flights, the best-in-class scenario results in 37% savings (7.47 thousand tonnes), and for domestic Indian flights the savings are 20% (3.92 thousand tonnes). The second compared multi-stop to non-stop flights and found that for international flights, 25% savings resulted from using non-stop flights, and for US domestic flights, the savings were 50%.

Conclusions:
From the fourth quarter of the 2015-16 fiscal year to the first quarter of the next, Wipro reduced the number of segments flown by 8.7%, but GHG emissions decreased 30% cumulatively and 23% per segment. Wipro was able to achieve such huge emission reductions by merely flying 7% fewer multi-stop segments and choosing ‘cleaner’ airlines.
Based on these findings, cBalance recommends that if the difference between the two airlines is less than 15%, pick the non-stop flight on the ‘dirtier’ airline instead of a flight on a ‘cleaner’ airline with a layover. If the difference is greater than 15%, on the other hand, pick a flight on a ‘cleaner’ airline with a layover as opposed to a non-stop flight on a ‘dirtier’ airline.

Air travel is a highly unsustainable activity that should be avoided when possible. Companies are pledging to take advantage of the teleconferencing capabilities enabled by our age of high speed internet to avoid unnecessary face-to-face meetings. When it is impossible to avoid such flights, companies and individuals can choose the optimal airline, reduced number of stops, and economy class, to reduce their GHG emissions. Something as easy as picking a non-stop flight can save dozens of kilograms of CO2e emissions. For some perspective on what that means, a large tree breathes about 12 kilos of CO2 a year. This is an easy way to reduce one’s carbon footprint.

View the Project Report here.

A sustainability guide for the hospitality sector in India

This article is a simple “sustainability guide for the hospitality sector in India”. It will give an overview of the methods that can be taken by a hotel to chart a performance based sustainable growth path.

While a lot of hotels are taking positive measures to become environmentally friendly most of them are ad-hoc steps undertaken without any long term plan and data to substantiate the investment thus preventing hotels from being able to fully leverage their benefits. The main objective of these exercises is to be visible to the customers and project themselves as a green brand. This has led to “greenwashing” becoming a norm in the industry. Greenwashing can be defined as “The act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service”. The trap of greenwashing may enable firms to get short term returns on small investments but with a constant evolution of the knowledge base among customers, it compromises the integrity and the long term sustainability of the brand

Over time, green practices in the hospitality industry will become a baseline requirement, HCMI stands for Hotel Carbon Measurement initiative and is an effort to unite the hotel industry in order to calculate and communicate carbon emissions from guest rooms and meeting space in a uniform way. It is a simple method, available free of cost and a great starting point for any hotel looking to wet its toes on the path towards sustainability. It was developed by industry, for industry and will help customers especially corporate customers get accurate and consistent carbon footprint information from hotels globally. It is being pioneered by The International Tourism Partnership, World Travel & Tourism Council and 23 global hotel companies including well know ones such as Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton etc. It requires hotels to report emissions from only three key sectors which make up a bulk of the emissions namely: Fuel, Electricity and Outsourced Laundry. This will enable conscious individuals and companies to compare the basic sustainability of hotels globally and make informed decisions on how to spend their money; particularly as the cost of non-renewable energy continues to rise, regulatory pressure increases, and consumers become more demanding. Therefore, hotels with business models that revolve around green practices will have the strongest opportunity to achieve a competitive advantage by being ahead of the emerging sustainability curve. It would need hotels to move from a standard practice of proclaiming sustainability through words to a holistic approach that quantifies and certifies the operational performance of the hotel. As expected the international hospitality industry has taken the lead on this front. While doing so they have realized the benefits of these steps not only as a tool to better their image but one that also has a significant effect on their efficiency and as a result on their bottom line. This has resulted in the laggards in the industry having to pay dearly by spending large amounts of money to retrofit their hotels just to be competitive.

With the investment in India’s travel and tourism sector expected to grow at 8.8 % to INR 2,827.5 billion (US$ 63.7 billion) until 2021 there is a huge opportunity for hotels in India to learn from the industry around the world and invest early in a performance based system of sustainability that will help the hotel continuously improve its efficiency and performance.

The biggest challenge for the sector is that it is fragmented with the exception of a few big players. The smaller hotels are unable to visualize the larger impact of their activities. With limited knowledge and capability to invest in technological interventions it is absolutely necessary for them to accurately calculate the cost and resultant savings of various interventions so as to maximize their ROI. It is also equally important for these hotels to be able to accurately calculate and convey the savings and benefits to potential customers in a quantitative and qualitative manner to enable them to make informed decisions.

With a vision of enabling all: small & medium to large chain hotels across the country to undertake a wholesome approach to sustainability in a cost effective manner, outlined below is a realm of strategic steps that a hotel can take to put itself on the path to sustainable low carbon development.

 

The Sustainability roadmap

Figure 1: The Sustainability roadmap

Measure your current performance: This is a process of defining the baseline for your hotel. It will help you see where you are currently placed and accordingly set goals. This does not require a hotel to have taken significant steps towards becoming sustainable. There are several frameworks that help you measure your baseline such as HCMI and The Green Signal Ecolabel.

Figure 2: Sustainability Parameters of HCMI and green signal

green signal <Sustainability guide for the hospitality sector in India>

Hotels looking to get deeper into the realm of sustainability there is the Green Signal ecolabel which not only enables a hotel to measure its carbon footprint but also helps it measure sustainability parameters in energy conservation, water conservation, waste reduction and Social economic involvement. The method for measuring the carbon footprint of a hotel is also far more rigorous and includes parameters in Fuel, Electricity, Outsourced Laundry, Water, Waste Water, Corporate travel & F&B. This enables an organization to view its sustainability not only from the perspective of carbon but also from other key parameters like water and waste. Such a holistic study of a hotels sustainability enables it to prioritize areas of focus and set specific targets for improvement.

Certify your sustainability initiatives:. A common way of certification around the world has been in the form of ecolabels or other similar certifications from independent third parties. There exist in India quite a few certifications like LEED, GRIHA, IGBC etc for new development projects as well as a few international ecolabels especially for hotels. These standards are helpful to some extent but they fall short of providing a holistic solution to organizations as they are static, intent and compliance based rather than performance based. These methods advise you on what targets are to be achieved but do not help you select the appropriate interventions specifically for your project that will help you achieve those targets in a cost effective manner. A simple compliance system is not sufficient to accurately measure and convey the savings and the effect of the efficiency and conservation measures undertaken for the project to potential customers. The Green Signal Ecolabel while also providing a framework for sustainability measurement certifies applicants not only based on pre-specified targets but also on their relative performance to their peers in the sector. This is done by benchmarking the performance to specific peers who fall in the same sub groups such as hotel type, agro climatic zone and service grade. This encourages hotels to continually strive for improvement and keep pace with competitors, which improves the overall market stock. A survey conducted by BEE in partnership with USAID the results of which are shown below tells us that an average 5 star hotel can save between Rs.1-5 cr/year and abate between 500 to 5000 tonnes of CO2e/year depending on the agro climatic zone and size if it improves its energy efficiency to be in the Top 25% percentile.

co2 emissions of hotels by service grade

Figure 3: co2 emissions of hotels by service grade

Figure 4: co2 emissions of hotels by service grade

Figure 4: co2 emissions of hotels by service grade

Leverage the certification: After certification, hotels can take advantage of the credibility to reach out to current and potential customers and project themselves as a brand on the path towards sustainability. This includes branding all publicity collateral with the ecolabel, publishing a sustainability report, getting featured and listed on eco friendly travel portals frequented by conscious tourists. Hotels can also get innovative by initiatives such as conveying key performance data to guests in a non invasive manner at the appropriate point of contact such as ‘Our sensor taps save 3500l/year equivalent to 5% of our total water consumption shown in restrooms’, or using department specific data for staff training and internal goal setting. They can also go the extra mile and offer certified carbon neutral holidays to their guests.

Create a sustainability roadmap: Once a hotel has measured its baseline, taken some steps towards sustainability and gotten themselves certified they can opt for a in-depth analysis which will help them chart a short, medium and long term sustainability plan for their organization. Energy, Waste and Water audits can be carried out to assess resource intensive hot spots and deep opportunities for savings that can be harnessed by using eco-friendly alternatives for key products along with appropriate staff training. Innovative tools such as Marginal Green House Gases(GHG) Abatement Cost Curve (MACC) modelling can help prioritize green investments based on growth and investment patterns. MACC analysis is designed to discover the most cost-effective means of mitigating climate change impact by identifying the low-hanging fruit alternatives that must be pursued before embarking upon token or capital-intensive programs. MACC will help maximize tonnes of co2e abated for every Rs. spend and can be hotel or hotel chain specific or even community specific.

Monitor and manage sustainability: Once the opportunities have been identified and targets have been set a hotel will need to track its progress towards these goals. This can be done by empowering an individual or team within the organization to be the champions for change who will monitor and track progress. Cloud based carbon footprinting tools such as Footprint Reporter powered by an India specific emission factor database can also be effective methods to track sustainability projects and automatically generate statistics and reports which can help an organization effectively monitor its progress.

Each of these topics will be taken up in detail in the subsequent editions of this article.

In conclusion it is imperative for the hospitality industry to quickly realize that with increasing choice tourists are getting more discerning and environmentally conscious and are looking for brands with credible differentiators. Despite first-time guests basing their decisions on location, amenities and service, inclusive but non-intrusive sustainability initiatives have been shown to create positive perceptions in guests resulting in a higher recall rate. This results in increased customer loyalty as well as higher brand value of the hotel. To keep attracting tourists especially foreign tourists whose numbers are growing at 7.2% CAGR, hotels need to tap into new customer bases and create differentiators for themselves. Developing a short term and long term performance based sustainability strategy will enable an organization to identify a proactive low-carbon development pathway to be future ready.

For comments or feedback contact me on: udit@cbalance.in ( www.cbalance.in)

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