The group has developed a suite of carbon management software tools to help designers work on low-carbon solutions, covering buildings, infrastructure and transport projects.
Some 75% of its own, mainly office, emissions in the UK are covered by the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme. But in most cases, with the major exception of its head office in Epsom, Atkins is a tenant rather than freeholder. It only has full responsibility for the CRC where it pays utility bills directly.
But even where bills are paid indirectly through service charges, the group seeks to have access to full data and install meters to help control use. Richard Hulland, group quality safety and environment director, stresses: "We’ve installed meters and try to work with landlords irrespective of the CRC."
He estimates the group will initially need to spend £100,000 a year on allowances to cover its CRC emissions.
Atkins already monitors energy use in 14 of its locations, covering 50% of its CRC emissions, and has installed its own remote technology system of emissions monitoring software - also on offer to clients.
Mr Hulland points out the group recently gained recognition for early emissions reductions under the Carbon Trust Standard: "I actually think it’s a good thing irrespective of CRC."
He adds this will help with recycling payments in the first three years as it is rewarded through the ‘early action metric’, and that the group is looking to see if the standard can be extended to its global operations.
Staff engagement is central to Atkins’ plans. It began a worldwide energy reduction programme in October 2009, with the aim of cutting overall energy use by 12.5% over 18 months. Different sites and teams are encouraged to compete via an award scheme. Much of its CRC effort has been derived from this.
Atkins’ new Bristol office, ‘the hub’, has been given an ‘excellent’ rating under the BRE Energy Assessment Method for buildings, achieving 60% savings in energy efficiency and an overall reduction in CO2 emissions of over 35%. Its newly refurbished Derby office could cut 40% from energy bills, through a new heating system, heat exchangers and natural ventilation.
"We would hope we could do more," says Mr Hulland. But this will depend on varying degrees of influence over local landlords.