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Using AI To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Climate action is the focus of many Auditel articles given our carbon expertise. However, another strategic priority for a number of organisations in 2024 is embedding the use of AI into their operations to drive efficiencies.

The rapid increase in the use of AI across the business community has meant that the government has had to look into AI regulation, outlining its thinking in its response to the AI Regulation White Paper consultation in February 2024.

It is often said that the most carbon efficient businesses are also very efficient businesses overall. AI has many applications, which can drive efficiency in business and therefore there should be overlap between climate action and the use of AI.

There are challenges as training and running large AI models consumes lots of energy and water. However, significant activity is taking place to manage the energy and water consumed by AI, for example data centre energy consumption and the use of modern, energy-efficient servers and storage devices. As these advances continue, it is expected that AI will play an increasingly important role in carbon reduction plans and the overlap between these two strategic priorities will increase.

How can you therefore use AI to reduce your carbon footprint?

Using Data Insights To Drive Efficiencies

As Carbon Accountants we always say that you cannot reduce what you cannot measure. We advise clients that measuring their carbon footprint is crucial as their first step towards Net Zero. It is the data about your current footprint that informs decisions about how to reduce and prioritise reduction initiatives.

One of the first benefits of AI is its ability to use data and provide meaningful insights. AI can analyse energy consumption patterns in buildings and recommend optimisations to reduce waste. AI is an integral part of an efficient building management system, with smart thermostats and sensors that can adjust heating, cooling and lighting based on occupancy and usage patterns.

AI can also be used to analyse data across your company and spot opportunities for carbon reduction. Take, for example, business travel. Rather than flying to the United States multiple times a year to visit different locations, AI can help create a travel schedule which delivers the same outputs with less time in the air. Data insights can be produced at a company or individual level to highlight the full range of choices available.

AI can be applied to the logistics of a company. For example, data can be used to help map more efficient delivery routes and timings, minimising fuel consumption. AI can also facilitate carpooling or ride-sharing to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

These insights can therefore drive significant efficiencies in your business, reducing cost and carbon emissions. We recently spoke to a fertiliser company which was using AI to optimise the fertiliser being used by analysing data on soil quality, weather conditions, and crop health, ultimately aiming to reduce the amount of water and fertiliser being used. This would reduce emissions and help to preserve ecosystems.

Replacement Of Manual Tasks

There are manual tasks within organisations which can be done much more efficiently through the use of AI. Data input is one example.

Think about when you hire a new employee and they fill in a form as part of the recruitment process. That information then needs to be inputted into the various different systems to get the new employee fully set up for their first day. Rather than having individuals do this, risking human error being introduced to the process, companies can use robotics to do the job. The human task is then to check accuracy, making the process much more efficient and saving huge amounts of time.

We have seen AI being used for things like due diligence exercises, which can involve searching for certain clauses in large sets of documents. This has helped support the digitisation of documentation, with many more records now being held electronically rather than in print.

How does this reduce your carbon emissions? Some of these practices replace processes which have historically been paper based, requiring documents to be printed, sent and disposed of. There is however significant scope for organisations / individuals to improve their disposal of electronic documents when they are no longer needed to minimise the amount of digital storage.

AI is already widely used in contract automation. In some cases this has the added benefit of reducing the amount of printed materials used in the process as some people find it easier to review documents online. We are also seeing more people use AI to generate the first draft of reports, driving further efficiencies.


AI is being used in a number of different ways across specific sectors. For example, in agriculture AI is being used to pick fruit only when it is perfectly ripe, reducing waste. As each sector works to reduce its carbon emissions, using AI to drive efficiencies could form part of the reduction plan.

If you would like to find out how your company can start its Carbon Management journey, and make cash savings, please get in touch with Ed Browning on 07887 376779 and ed.browning@auditel.co.uk



Responsible business: the importance of incorporating sustainability into business strategy

It is now accepted that integrating sustainability into business is not optional but is key to driving competitive advantage and addressing stakeholder preferences. Businesses driven by purpose and not merely profit have been seen to attract socially conscious consumers, deliver savings in materials and resources, reducing environmental impact. Sustainability in business has become a key strategy for long term business success. A 2019 study by Nielsen found that 73% of consumers were willing to change their habits to lessen impact on the environment and 81% said that companies should implement programmes to improve environmental impact.

The Sustainable Business Project is an evidence-based research study at the Centre for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Surrey. The aims of the study are to measure and analyse approaches to business sustainability including environmental management, social impact and Corporate Social Responsibility in a range of UK and international companies. The benefits for participating organisations include: receiving a benchmark of sustainability performance with granular insights from the economic, environmental and social areas of business operations, highlighting areas where improvements or cost savings could be made – including energy, emissions and waste management. Several businesses have already signed up to take part by completing an online survey. The responses from the anonymised survey will be analysed to give each participating business an overall sustainability score and a detailed performance score for seven areas of operations using a new ‘7E’ model developed for the study. This will allow organisations to compare their business performance within the group and gain further insights on environmental and social performance.


The 7E model – a holistic new framework for organisational sustainability management.

Why business should take part

Taking part in an empirical science-based research study can support a business’s sustainability journey and enhance business strategy, whilst contributing positive environmental and social impact. The framework used in this research is novel in that it goes beyond the standard economic, environment and social measures providing more detail and a comparable benchmark of sustainability performance. With the recent developments in sustainability reporting such as new sustainability disclosure standards released by the ISSB, it would benefit businesses to be aware of the impact of their operations to prepare for future compliance and add to preparation towards a net zero transition. For SMEs, this is an opportunity to manage business sustainability towards better value chain partnerships, identify savings and access insights towards more responsible business. The 7E model used in this study allows for easy data collection and an adaptable approach, which still yields interesting and detailed insights from the sustainability indicators measured, making this particularly suitable for SMEs.

How your business can sign up for a free assessment

The first phase of the study is complete with case studies from one sector and has given participants a sustainability profile and useful insights with recommendations for improvements. The second stage of the project is now open to organisations of any size or industry sector to take part via an online survey. A Triple Bottom Line (TBL) score and a 7E score is calculated for each business, and a sustainability profile will be provided for comparison with others in the study. The 7E model measures a number of sustainability indicators drawn from established frameworks and performance indicators that measure ESG performance. These include decarbonisation and emissions strategy, sustainability reporting, staff wellbeing, technological investments and materials management.

What’s in it for your business?

Companies who took part in phase 1 of the study have already incorporated some of the learnings from the study and are actively furthering their sustainability goals through understanding how to incorporate sustainability successfully into their business strategy. These actions will help to make savings and improve social and environmental impact whilst also contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Comments from companies who have taken part in phase 1:

“This is great work – we would like to discuss further and work with this model for our sustainability going forward.” (Head of Sustainability)

“It was useful to find out about our performance and how we could improve our sustainability. We are keen to discuss learnings and recommendations from the study.” (CEO).

Several companies (SMEs and large) and public sector organisations have already signed up to take part in phase 2. We are grateful to the Surrey Chambers of Commerce, the Reading Economy and Destination Agency (REDA) and other regional groups for sharing information about this research. There is a still time to join the study which aims to complete the survey by the end of March. Data is anonymised in the results and organisations can compare their own confidential result to others in the group. Most importantly, the companies taking part will receive a free sustainability assessment based on a scientific study which they can use for their own purposes.

So take climate action today and move to more responsible business by emailing Nayanee Silva at d.silva@surrey.ac.uk (University of Surrey) or visit the website.


Made in Surrey: Robots flying kites to monitor greenhouse gas emissions 

New devices that can monitor gas emissions – and which way the wind is blowing them – will be built at the University of Surrey, thanks to a £620,000 grant.

The team will build new, lightweight wireless gas sensors. These will be attached to helium kites and flown by an autonomous robot. Researchers hope the new devices will be able to monitor emissions.

Dr Robert Siddall, Lecturer in Robotics at the University of Surrey, said:
“If the world is to reach net zero, we need to be able to check that emissions really are reducing.

“Previous projects tried to use drones to monitor gas flux – but the quality of their measurements wasn’t good, their flight time was too short, and airspace restrictions limited their use.

“Our robot balloon towers, kitted out with sensors and built here at Surrey, should solve many of these challenges.”

The team will work with several local businesses. University spin-out company Surrey Sensors Ltd will build the sensors, while Hampshire’s Allsopp Helikites Ltd will provide the helium balloons.

This complex project will combine a range of skills from across the University – from fluid dynamics to building robots, analysing data and sensing emissions.

The technology will be tested in a variety of locations – including Thames Water treatment works, the University’s land at Blackwell Farm, Guildford, and rice paddies in Spain.

Dr Bing Guo, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Engineering and Microbiology, said:
“The UK water sector faces huge challenges in achieving net zero. One of the biggest issues is that wastewater treatment systems produce methane and nitrous oxide. These have a much greater warming potential than that of carbon dioxide.

“We don’t have an accurate and affordable way to monitor these emissions. Our project will create innovative tools for the industry to achieve net zero.”

Dr Belén Martí-Cardona, Associate Professor in Earth Observation and Hydrology, said:
“Rice farming is one of the main methane emitters worldwide. Farmers can access financial incentives for reducing their emissions. We are currently using satellite images to monitor whether these practices are being implemented, and using simulation models to estimate the emission reductions achieved.

“This new project will allow us to take ground measurements of the actual emissions, which we need to calibrate and verify our estimates.”

This is one of 13 projects nationwide to be funded by a £12m investment from UKRI’s Natural Environment Research Council, Defra and Innovate UK.
The research will support UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 (climate action).

Make plastic packaging less confusing, scientists warn 

If you want people to recycle compostable plastics appropriately, they need more help understanding how to do it.   

That is one of the conclusions of a new study of university campuses on both sides of the Atlantic, carried out by scientists at the University of Surrey and Imperial College London. 

Dr Zoe M Harris, Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Environment and Sustainability, University of Surrey and co-author of the study, said:   

“The vast majority of our plastic waste goes to landfill, or worse, into nature. Meanwhile, recycling plastic at home can be challenging. One solution has been to develop compostable plastics, which, when certified, may be biodegraded alongside our food waste and turned into compost. 

“Yet that only works if people place compostable plastics in the appropriate bin. Our study suggests that many simply don’t.”   

Certified industrially compostable plastics have been designed and tested to break down under conditions found in industrial composting.   

To study why some people recycle these plastics appropriately while others do not, the team surveyed communities at Imperial College London and the University of California, Davis. 

They studied the recycling systems on both campuses, carrying out focus groups and surveys to identify the factors that could influence disposal practices. They then applied a method called network analysis, which maps the relations between factors and disposal practices to investigate which factors might be most influential.

The scientists found that the more knowledgeable about biodegradable plastics and recycling a person was, the more likely they were to dispose of biodegradable plastics alongside food waste. 

While knowledge was important, having access to the right infrastructure was essential. Participants at the University of California, who had more access to a food waste bin (78% vs 57%) than their counterparts at Imperial College London, were, in turn, significantly more likely to recycle their biodegradable plastics in that bin (71% vs 45%). 

Dr Sarah Kakadellis, postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Food Science at University of California, Davis, and lead author of the study, said:   

“If we want biodegradable plastic alternatives to deliver on their sustainability potential, we need to understand how and where they are used. Providing the appropriate waste collection and treatment infrastructure is essential to close the loop. 

“But we also need to make sure consumers can easily tell the difference between which plastics they can put in the food waste bin and those they cannot. The terminology around biodegradable plastics can be truly misleading – stricter labelling rules and stronger producer responsibility are needed.”  

The paper was published in the journal Cleaner and Responsible Consumption. It helps promote UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 13 (climate action). 

Surrey can be the catalyst of a UK green jobs boom 

Surrey businesses are being urged to find out how to make their businesses more sustainable – as tens of thousands of local jobs will go green by 2030.

Figures from Surrey County Council and the Surrey Chamber of Commerce suggest that over 3,600 jobs a year will become green jobs between now and the end of the decade.

Now, the Institute for Sustainability at the University of Surrey is offering businesses help to get there at an event later this month.

Nathalie Hinds, Director of Operations, Innovation and Partnerships at Surrey’s Institute for Sustainability, said:  “We launched the Sustainability Innovation Hub to help businesses transition to sustainable practices.

“Many organisations face the same challenges and don’t know where to start. Together at the Hub, we can explore how to increase employee wellbeing, how to integrate nature-based solutions or review the efficiencies of a supply chain.

“This event will help local organisations shape a sustainability strategy that makes business sense for all, customers, employees, suppliers and the planet.”

The Institute for Sustainability and non-profit network, Surrey B Corp, are co-hosting ‘The Journey to Better Business’ event on 27 March. Over 200 local firms, academics, and sustainability professionals will attend to learn how to improve the environmental impact of their businesses.

Sally Pritchett, CEO of Something Big and event organiser (Surrey B Corp) said:

“We’re delighted to bring the power of research together with the force of business. The Institute for Sustainability has the academic expertise. B Corp brings the practical solutions. Surrey has all the ingredients needed to turn the region’s economy green.”


Farnborough Airport embarks on one of the largest solar installations in the South East

Farnborough Airport, the home of British aviation and Europe’s leading airport for premium air travel connectivity, has today announced plans to embark on one of the largest light-weight solar installations in the South East, enabling the Airport to generate 25% of its own power.

The innovative and extensive plans will see solar panels mounted on Farnborough Airport’s iconic curved hangar roofs, as well as its state-of-the-art terminal building, the Airport’s control tower, its Ground Support Facility building, and its award winning 169 room hotel, the Aviator Hampshire. The installation will also enable the Airport’s operational fleet of electric vehicles to be charged using self-generated electricity.

The solar installation project is aligned with the Airport’s wider sustainability goals, as Farnborough Airport’s CEO Simon Geere explains, “In our efforts to be a sustainability showcase for airports around the world, we are always looking for new ways to supply and create sustainable energy sources – the new solar installation will enable us to reduce our controllable emissions as set out in our Net Zero Roadmap, in which we have committed to be Net Zero by 2030 or sooner.” The installation also aligns with a recent government bill, which encourages more rooftop solar, opposed to solar on agricultural land.

The installation, construction of which is to start in 2023, will be carried out by solar power generation providers Solivus. Solivus are at the forefront of new-innovation light-weight solar installations. 40% of large buildings like aircraft hangers are unable to take the weight of conventional solar and Farnborough embraced this decarbonisation opportunity. The company’s Chief Executive Officer Jo Parker-Swift commented: “At Solivus, we are on a mission to simplify the decarbonisation of the built environment, so we are proud to be working alongside a business who have likeminded goals.”

The solar installation plans follow a series of successful milestones in recent years at the Airport. In 2018, Farnborough Airport was the first business aviation airport to achieve Carbon Neutral 3+ status. In 2021, it began offering all customers Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), and in 2022, for a two-week trial period in the lead up to the Farnborough International Airshow, Farnborough Airport became the first airport in the world to offer SAF at the same price as standard Jet A1 fuel. Also in 2022, Farnborough Airport made a commitment to be Net Zero by 2030 or sooner for emissions within its control, setting one of the most ambitious targets in the aviation industry. Earlier this year, Farnborough Airport was awarded Level 4+, the highest level of carbon accreditation, by the Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) scheme.


A Local Energy Advice Demonstrator for Surrey

The LEAD project will be kicking off within the next month or so, and with funding from DZNZ, via the Greater South East Energy Hub, this will launch some exciting projects within Surrey.

Firstly, residents will be able to request an energy survey on their property. If they fall into one of the target audiences they will be eligible for a free in-person assessment on their home, including a thermal imaging survey and information about where to go to get support or funding specific to their personal circumstances.

Around 30% of Surrey’s emissions are from residential energy, so the project will focus on properties which are hard to treat, and therefore likely to contribute significantly to emissions, and to residents who may struggle to engage in funding for retrofit measures, for example where language or cultural barriers, or access to the internet, may create an obstacle. As such, properties such as those that are off-gas, in conservation areas, flats, and EPC rated D or worse will all be eligible, as will residents who may be struggling to pay bills or have English as a 2nd language.

The second part of the project will see a Spring-time launch of Surrey’s One Stop Shop, a platform to help residents create a high-level retrofit plan which will be bespoke to the property’s age and design, as well as the resident’s budget, and the projected launch of any retrofit funding and expected reduction in cost of low carbon technologies. It will then connect residents with a Retrofit Assessor to help create a detailed step-by-step retrofit plan, and provide a network of trusted installers and suppliers, as well as Retrofit Coordinators to guide them through the process.

If you are interested in finding out more about any aspect of the LEAD project, please let us know at info@surreyclimate.org.uk with the subject heading “Retrofit” and we will pass on your details, for the relevant person to contact you in due course. You can tell us:

  1. If you are interested in becoming a trained and paid energy surveyor as part of the LEAD project
  2. If you would like a free energy survey on your home

3. If you would like to register your early interest in the One Stop Shop


Pathways to employment in community energy

The team at Community Energy South recently delivered a session on building capacity for community energy groups, including case studies, options for employment, fundraising and governance.

Click here to read more


Companies Face ‘Generosity Tax Trap’ with Newly Enlarged ULEZ

Businesses in and around London are being advised not to fall into a ‘generosity tax trap’ now that the expanded Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is in force across the capital.

Owners of non-compliant vehicles will now be charged £12.50 a day for driving under the ‘polluter pays’ policy which will cover all London boroughs and an extra five million people.

But well-meaning companies located within the newly enlarged zone should think twice before offering to cover the additional costs for staff travelling into the workplace, it emerged today.

Click here to read more


COP28 UAE Thematic Program

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EV Charging in Elmbridge Gets a Boost With The Installation of 25 New Charge Points New Project Enhances Transportation Options for Elmbridge’s Elderly and Vulnerable While Increasing EV Charger Availability for Council Workers and Residents

Elmbridge residents and those who work in the borough, are to benefit from the installation of 25 new electric vehicle (EV) charge points in the area. Elmbridge Borough Council, in line with its 2030 Vision for a thriving and sustainable Elmbridge, appointed SMS plc, the smart energy infrastructure group, to increase EV charging availability by fitting the charging stations across eight separate, council-owned locations.

These installations will help to improve access to EV charging points in Elmbridge and support the borough’s fleet, employees and residents with switching to EVs, marking another positive step towards improving local air quality and reducing carbon emissions.

Click here to read more


Zero Waste Week with Too Good To Go

We’re here to say you might be wasting edible food every time you prepare a meal.

Here are our best tips for reducing food waste in your kitchen…

Wash your carrots and potatoes rather than peeling them 
Eat those skins – you don’t have to remove them. There are nutritional benefits from eating peels – carrot peels have the highest concentration of vitamin C, and vitamin B3, and potato skins contain lots of fibre, vitamin C, B vitamins and minerals.

Pickle your watermelon rind 
Make a pickling solution with a vinegar of your choice and water (use a ratio of about 1.25:1 of vinegar to water), and add a small amount of sugar, salt and your favourite flavourings – for example, dried chilies, star anise, or peppercorns. Bring this to a boil, let it cool slightly, and then pour it into a jar with your rinds. Leave it for 24 hours and then enjoy your free pickles.

Make your own DIY stock 
Collect any little nubs of veg or meat left over from meal prep and freeze them until you have enough to make a stock. Add it all to a pot of water along with a few cloves of garlic, some peppercorns, an onion, leeks and celery. Make a bouquet garni by tying 2 stalks of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf together with kitchen string and add to your pot. Bring it to a boil and drop to a simmer for about 2 hours. Use within 7 days, or freeze and use within 6 months.


BCC Net Zero Hub

Now’s the time for your business to develop a clear action plan to reach net zero and help achieve the UK’s ambitious goal. We realise that starting your journey to net zero can be daunting but the BCC Net Zero Hub together with O2 provides insights, tools and support to help you build a greener future for your business.

In 2019, the UK made a legally binding pledge: to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The science is clear – the next decade is critical for action on climate – and with growing public concern and increasing scrutiny from government and investors, now’s the time for businesses like yours to ramp up its efforts in reaching net zero and help achieve the UK’s ambitious goal. The British Chambers of Commerce has teamed up with a business on its own journey, O2 – the only mobile network to commit to net zero by 2025. From sharing insights and information to providing tools and support, our partnership will help you find practical steps to reduce your environmental impact and build a greener future for all.

Click here to find out more


  1. Singing the praises of carpool karaoke

A University of California, Berkeley study found carpooling reduces energy consumption, emissions, pollution, congestion AND demand for parking. Whether a regular commute or seeing granny for the weekend, it can be a gamechanger. One regular Edinburgh-Glasgow traveller saves £2,500 a year. PLUS ride-sharers often become firm friends.


Try out apps such as www.liftshare.com or your neighbourhood, or workplace WhatsApp group to get started.


  1. Waste nothing – loot the larder

Go through your fridge and dry grocery cupboards, including herbs and spices.  Check what needs using up and ‘best by’ dates. Then search online (or even better, old fashioned recipe books – ie no emissions at all!) to see what you can make with the various combinations.  Uses up food that might otherwise have been thrown away (eventually!) and gives you some fun new taste adventures at the same time.

Top tip: check out Jack Monroe’s recipes.  Eight years ago she had £10 a week to feed herself and her son, and now she creates simple, super-tasty recipes for people living on extremely tight budgets.

  1. Sniff out the smellies

Round up any trial size toiletry and shampoo bottles or sachets you have rattling around your bathroom. Or smellies from a hotel, sent with online orders; even freebies from magazine pages.  Use them up, recycle what you can of the packaging and only then buy new. (Even better, refill full size bottles).


Plus, as with foodstuffs above, you have the added benefit of decluttered cupboards.  Marie Kondo eat your heart out! Learn more.




Wildfires: an increasing peril for Surrey’s wildlife

Click here to read their latest press release





The Surrey Climate Commission:

The Surrey Climate Commission was officially launched in June 2019, formed from a collaboration of organisations, including Surrey University, Surrey Chambers of Commerce, Siemens, World Wildlife Fund, and Surrey Wildlife Trust. Professor Chris Rapley, CBE, of University College London gave the keynote address  (see his presentation on The Need for Transformation in the downloads below). Our aim is to provide an independent and authoritative voice to all organisations in Surrey, whether they be private, or public sector or other, helping them contribute to the County reaching its necessary climate target, to avoid the damaging effects of runaway climate change.

Click here to read a welcome from Surrey Climate Commission

Click here to learn more about Surrey Climate Commission


University of Surrey: Living Lab

12 Businesses, Public Sector Organisations, Community and Climate Action Groups We would love to hear from you if you are interested in developing, testing and applying research-based solutions with the University or would just like to join our network.

Read below about the projects that they are currently working on and how you can get involved

What is a living lab project_v3