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BLOG: The quadruple effect of our 10 Tonne Challenge

A blog by Ella Shuttleworth, Sustainability Manager, East

I’m sure you’ve all heard the notion “what gets measured, gets done” and, whilst it may be a little cliché to quote, it has definitely worked for our carbon reduction efforts.

Add to that notion, a sprinkling of alliteration, and we’ve got the birth of our '10 Tonne Challenge’.

As you’ve probably guessed, the clue is in the title – we target our teams to save at least ten tonnes of carbon on their project by each milestone. To put that into context, it’s equivalent to heating 3.7 houses for a year*, and since its launch, we’ve managed to save 23,000tCO2e carbon** across the business!

Today, Monday 12th February, marks five weeks until our next challenge, so writing this blog is also a bit of a heads up to our project teams and supply chain partners, that we’ll soon be looking for even more innovative ways of saving carbon to beat last November’s result.

In the East of England, that stood at 1,863tCO2e saved in just November! That’s the equivalent to 207 hectares of woodland for a year (the size of 300 football pitches!). And that is an awful lot of photosynthesis happening!

Back in that November challenge we saw some cracking examples – our Unity Campus project in Cambridge saved 1,059tCO2e through several packages, including the replacement of the steel framing system for structural insulated panels.

At Eversley Leisure Centre in Essex 410tCO2e was saved by changing the pool foundation design, and at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Diagnostic Centre project, we are projecting to save 233tCO2e by changing the steel supply to come from an electric arc furnace.

So, apart from the obvious carbon numbers, how else does this challenge help?

Well, I think it gives a real focus point for delivering carbon savings – whilst the solutions are developed over the year in collaboration with consultants and supply chain partners, it acts as a definitive moment in time to share the solutions they’ve implemented.

Plus, it’s also a catalyst for competition – and we all love a bit of healthy competition!

Once a year, one project per business unit wins a ‘project carbon award’ to be spent on local biodiversity improvement initiative with added social value and community engagement benefit. Those that showcase great 10tC outcomes are in with a much better chance of winning.

So, when you think about it, the challenge actually produces a quadruple effect…

Firstly, and most important of all, we save carbon. Secondly, we often realise time and cost savings associated with the carbon reduction. Thirdly, we end up with some wonderful case studies that inspire future projects and, finally, nature-based initiatives up and down the country receive a £10k investment to further the great work they are already doing. A total win-win-win-win!

However, I don’t mean this to sound like it’s plain sailing.

For me, the biggest challenge with sustainability is the behaviour and mindset shift that is required to achieve Net Zero.

But the 10 Tonne Challenge has provided an easy way of starting that shift by creating a catchy, competition-based buzz that delivers those carbon savings. Whilst there is still a lot to do on our journey to Net Zero, I don’t think our journey would have been as effective without the challenge.

So as we approach the next date (18th March), I’m already excited for what ideas our teams will be sharing and who will be the proud winners of the £10,000 carbon prize in 2024.

Thinking caps at the ready.


*2.7 tonnes of carbon per house - Data source: Energy Saving Trust, 2017

** All data is robustly calculated using third party verified software CarboniCa and peer reviewing the data rigorously.