Emissions Management And The Team Role Of Suppliers


Let me be honest that when we first discussed the idea of submitting a piece about emissions management in the DOB, I was skeptical. When I was told I would be the author of said piece, I was downright concerned.

With focused effort and collective determination, industry has made significant progress in understanding emissions, their sources, and identifying cost-effective emissions reduction techniques. However, the topic of emissions and GHGs can still feel highly complex, scientific, and difficult—and a topic I have been reticent to talk about; rightfully leaving it to the PhDs and Air Quality Engineers to decipher while I took to understanding enough of the policy periphery to conduct my work effectively. But, as part of the thought leadership imperative at CDN Controls, thought leaders must wade into important and difficult conversations, and that cannot exclude myself.

So, here’s my take: efforts in emissions management and reduction are often muddied by what can seem as a nearly indefinable nature; made confusing at times by varied climate change targets and agendas, and the broad spectrum of local to global contexts. Discussions about how to manage this context quickly becomes an unwieldy cloud of intangible scale. Political framing, in its efforts to help, tend to oversimplify the discussion, suggesting there are ‘good actors’ and ‘bad actors,’ and we need only to compel the ‘bad actors’ to do better. I believe this oversimplification inherently limits our ability to have meaningful productive conversations about the nuances of this issue, specifically the role of suppliers.

At the risk of further simplifying the topic – one purview is this: as service providers, our Scope 1 emissions can be accounted for as someone else’s Scope 3 emissions. Thus, if service providers can consistently initiate the work to understand their own Scope 1 emissions, the question of how to properly and accurately incorporate Scope 3 emissions into a producer’s GHG inventory becomes slightly more straightforward. Further, by including our output measurements within the wider tally for a given scope or timeframe, our reductions represent our clients’ reductions too. We contend that as our clients assess their emissions impact, their number is not complete without the accurate measurement of their suppliers' impact.

So, in effect, if we’re not helping to measure, we’re not helping to manage.

Service providers like us do not attract much scrutiny for our role in carbon management. But we belong in the discourse. To be excluded would be to overlook the enormous opportunity that suppliers have in helping to deliver on climate targets. Every link in the value chain has a responsibility to the final emissions output.

If you read last week’s piece from my colleague Jennifer Sanford on the role of engaging in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, she made the argument of our responsibility—ethically, morally, and cooperatively—to engage. And it’s largely the same argument here: if we want to deliver meaningful work, we must deliver meaningful impact. And in the arena of emissions management, this includes knowing our impact—and reporting on it.

As the first privately held service provider in Western Canada to publicly report on our ESG commitments, carbon management and emissions reduction have been a critical metric for us. In 2021, CDN Controls achieved a 21% reduction in normalized emissions compared to 2020, even as our fleet of vehicles continued to grow. We identified our vehicle emissions as our largest output and are determined to see our emissions reduction outpace our growth.

As a stand-alone statistic, this is negligible, at best. In the grand scheme of carbon management, how certain are we that we are moving the needle? This is where we have to view this progress through the lens of the greater supply chain. When producers and energy infrastructure developers build value chains – whether they are local or across borders – they can achieve tangible emissions reductions when they bring together partners who are willing to work together to help offset and support each other’s emissions responsibilities.

Value chain partnership is as profitable as it is imperative. When we work with businesses early in their planning process, we can effectively leverage mutual skill sets and intrinsic knowledge to reduce costs, plan our execution strategy together, and offer options to lessen the overall emissions impact. Supply chain reporting, standardizing emissions management criteria and accounting, and technology innovation are all essential opportunities for us to make global strides towards making emissions reduction more than just a goal – but a savvy decision for businesses.

As ESG-committed as CDN Controls is, the real impact is felt when we form partnerships with our clients and our supplier colleagues. The path to emissions reductions is a team sport – remember to put your suppliers on the roster.

CDN Controls

CDN Controls is Western Canada’s leader in electrical and instrumentation maintenance, automation, communication, and renewable/solar services. United by a shared belief that clients are best served by a service provider in the relentless pursuit of solving challenges through impactful relationships and partnerships, CDN’s collective team of 700 employees and contractors are committed to the highest standards in performance, measurement, and safety. With 9 branches in Alberta and British Columbia, and six formal Indigenous partnerships, CDN Controls delivers systems that perform.

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