Sweco accelerates sustainable mobility with the CO2 Performance Ladder

Sweco has been certified at the highest level of the CO2 Performance Ladder since 2011. With the insights gained from the CO2 Performance Ladder, the engineering consultancy agency has taken practical measures in their policy on mobility to reduce as much carbon emissions as possible. SKAO spoke with Arthur Zantinge, sustainability specialist at Sweco, about the lessons learned and the challenges that the agency faces to achieve its climate goals.

Sustainable policy for mobility

“We have the ambition to become completely carbon neutral and circular in 2035”, says Zantinge. “When we say carbon neutral, it does not mean compensating our emissions, but actually reducing our energy use among other things to cut down our emissions. Moreover, we have the ambition to turn at least half of our fleet of cars into electric vehicles by 2025. If we continue on the current path we’re taking, then we can achieve this goal much sooner.”

According to Zantinge, the implementation of the CO2 Performance Ladder made sure that the engineering consultancy agency gained more and better insights to their carbon emissions. “In a certain way, the CO2 Performance Ladder provided us with an extra view to carefully observe our policy on mobility and how to implement it more efficiently. This led to a massive improvement in our policy. Next to that, the Ladder has yielded award advantages and many projects for our organisation.”

The sustainability specialist notices that mobility is the biggest challenge to reduce carbon emissions. “Cars cause roughly 90 percent of our total carbon emissions in scope 1 and 2”, he says. “We can accomplish plenty of emissions reduction by means of electric vehicles and other forms of transportation, such as the train or bicycle. In order to do this, we must remove the thresholds among our employees and create the right incentives for them to choose for electric vehicles or to travel by train or bicycle.”

Opportunities for electric vehicles

When Sweco implemented the measures to promote electric driving, sufficient attention was paid to employee satisfaction, says Zantinge. “If we take a look at electric cars, for example, we did not decide to only drive electric vehicles, rather we have looked at how to remove the thresholds for employees to drive electric vehicles. We have come up with an incentive for this, so that almost half of our employees now opt for an electric model for their lease cars.”

The incentive consists of three new measures and two existing measures. The first measure concerns the amount of money that Sweco spends on lease cars. “We have paired the amount of spending money for lease cars to carbon emissions. The lesser a car emits CO2, the higher the monthly lease money made available for the employees of Sweco. The employee that chooses a fully electric car has the most to spend. For a broader selection of cars, the employee may add a ‘personal contribution’ in addition to the monthly leasing amount provided by Sweco. This personal contribution is subject to a maximum. As a second measure, we have removed this maximum for employees who opt for fully electric cars.”

Traveling by bicycle or train

Employees of Sweco that have a right to drive a leased car can add up the amount of kilometers traveled by train, carpooling or bicycle to the total amount of kilometers that they travel annually. Only employees who travel a certain number of business kilometers per year are eligible for a lease car. As soon as this number of kilometers decreases, for example by traveling with public transportation, employees may fear that they lose their ‘right’ to a lease car. Sweco wanted to put a stop to this. “It should not be the case that an employee who has a lease car avoids public transportation, because he is afraid that he will have to hand in his car. Then you can be certain that the employee will not travel by bicycle or train”, says Zantinge.

Furthermore, Sweco has a collection of fifty cars, of which forty are fully electric, which employees can make use of. With this incentive, the engineering consultancy agency wants to introduce its employees to electric cars for business purposes. Zantinge: “This incentive has helped us accelerate the adoption of electric driving. Employees that are eligible for a lease car and are doubting about an electric model can test drive with our collection of fully electric vehicles. This is also a way to remove the threshold for electric driving.”

Finally, employees of Sweco that get to choose a lease car receive a calculation sheet that provides insights in the amount of money they spend monthly on the lease car. “In this calculation sheet, we have already filled in the numbers for electric cars. This makes it clear for our employees that an electric car is more often cheaper than cars that run on fossil fuels”, Zantinge explains. By actively providing these insights, Sweco expects that its employees will be more willing to drive an electric car.

Strengthening the effect

“The combination of our five measures: A CO2 bound monthly spending, removing the maximum amount of money that our employees were allowed to spend more on an electric lease car, adding up the kilometers traveled by public transportation to the total amount of kilometers traveled annually, our collection of electric cars for business use and the calculation sheet, made sure that electric driving accelerates within Sweco. Moreover, by adding up the kilometers traveled by train or bicycle, Sweco can stimulate its employees to travel by public transportation more often”, says Zantinge. “What is also noticeable about our renewed policy on mobility is the fact that the government did not change its policies on vehicle taxes at the time that we decided to renew our policy on mobility. This means that the increase in the amount of electric vehicles chosen by our employees is a result of the renewal of our policy instead of government policy. Now that the Dutch government has changed its policy on mobility taxes, it also stimulates our employees to opt for electric cars, but the renewal of our company policy on mobility has strengthened that effect.”

Zantinge advises other organisations to implement the CO2 Performance Ladder and to take a critical look at their policy on mobility. “Organisations must have a clear understanding of the impact of their mobility policies, how much is traveled with which means of transport, and how much carbon emissions the traveling options cause. When an organisation is certified on the CO2 Performance Ladder, they are facilitated to gain those meaningful insights and to act upon them.”