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ICON plc

Using Footprint Expert software to measure, manage and reduce carbon emissions and support sustainable business decision making

ICON plc is a global firm employing over 13,000 people across 38 countries. The business offers consulting, development and commercialisation services related to drugs and devices, working with governments and businesses involved in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices.

The Result

Thanks to the implementation of Footprint Manager, ICON has been able to complete its emissions reporting in a more straightforward, efficient and less time-consuming manner than if the same exercise had been conducted using less advanced methods, such as Microsoft Excel.

Within one year, ICON plc has transitioned from having minimal capability to measure and report on carbon emissions, to being able to measure the footprint of its entire global operations and report the robust outputs to globally-recognised voluntary carbon reporting frameworks. This has helped ICON prove to its stakeholders that it is serious about managing its environmental impacts and committed to continuous improvement.

Improving Reporting

A major challenge in measuring the company’s emissions is the size and global nature of the organisation, with a range of specialised services and products across over 70 locations in 38 countries.

Therefore, a systematic approach was needed to engage and collect data from all sites. Another challenge was the variability of information from sites. This needed to take into account differences in:

  • type of activity (laboratories, offices and business suites);
  • data collection method (metered versus estimated);
  • unit(s) of data collection; and
  • ownership (directly-owned and leased).


ICON needed to collect data from all sites, accurately calculate its carbon footprint and to create meaningful reports to inform future decision making. This would allow the business to compare and benchmark sites across a number of key performance indicators (KPIs), helping to identify best practice and poorer performance. Using this information, intervention measures could then be implemented to ensure a consistent high standard for carbon management across global operations.

Finally, ICON wanted to report to CDP for the first time. This required the ability to extract data by site, business unit, time period, and emissions source (Scope 1, 2 and 3), including specific details on emissions from electricity, onsite fuel use, refrigerant gases and business travel.

Footprint Manager

The Carbon Trust recommended the use of a bespoke version of Footprint Manager as an online data collection and software service for ICON, which would enable the company to easily measure, manage and report their carbon footprint.

To implement this, the Carbon Trust worked with ICON to understand the ownership structure for all of its sites and determine which ones fall within the company’s operational control, and therefore in scope of its corporate greenhouse gas emissions inventory. Each site was also categorised by type in order to facilitate ready analysis and comparisons between similar sites. A bespoke data collection template was developed, allowing ICON to easily enter data for one site at a time, or for all sites at once. Data for activities can also be entered in locally-used measurement units, which can then be converted where necessary and used for analysis.

Automatic data aggregation at site level has helped ICON to continuously examine its carbon footprint, both within specific regions and globally, by drilling down into particular sites and identifying hotspot areas. This makes the system useful as a way to focus improvement efforts and optimise efficiency, cutting emissions in business operations.

In addition to Footprint Manager’s standard outputs and reports, the bespoke version for ICON included a customised dashboard to allow the company to benchmark sites according to specific KPIs, which can be reviewed over quarterly, biannual and annual time periods.

To strengthen data transparency and make future auditing simpler, the tool also enabled users to upload documents as evidence, allowing managers to track the data sources with ease. Similarly, a submission status dashboard helped the ICON team to track the status of data completion, allowing them to prompt users to ensure data is entered and updated in a timely fashion.

The Carbon Trust’s software implementation came with full training and support, ensuring the team could understand and make the most of the tool. This helped ICON to submit a high quality report to CDP in its first year of reporting carbon data.

Carbon footprinting was a new subject area for ICON and the Carbon Trust has provided valuable support in getting us off the ground with our first global carbon footprint. The Carbon Trust has proved to be a reliable partner and it was their expertise in carbon emissions that lead ICON to the Carbon Trust. This expertise has resulted in confidence throughout the process.

Céline Stothard, Programme Administrator, ICON PLC

The Result

Thanks to the implementation of Footprint Manager, ICON has been able to complete its emissions reporting in a more straightforward, efficient and less time-consuming manner than if the same exercise had been conducted using less advanced methods, such as Microsoft Excel.

Within one year, ICON plc has transitioned from having minimal capability to measure and report on carbon emissions, to being able to measure the footprint of its entire global operations and report the robust outputs to globally-recognised voluntary carbon reporting frameworks. This has helped ICON prove to its stakeholders that it is serious about managing its environmental impacts and committed to continuous improvement.

 

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