09 05, 2023

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Are you aware of the benefits carbon emissions reductions can bring to your organization – but uncertain about where to begin your decarbonization journey? You are not alone! According to a recent report by Google Cloud, 72% of corporate leaders share this uncertainty despite their desire to jumpstart sustainability efforts.

Developing energy and decarbonization strategies, as well as implementing your roadmap, is no easy task due to factors like internal alignment, expertise, resources, risk, regulatory frameworks, and competitive pressures. However, organizations can overcome these challenges by seeking expert guidance, leveraging partnerships, analyzing data, and developing customized energy strategies. Here are the actions your organization can begin taking today as you embark on your decarbonization journey. 

STEP 1: Obtain buy-in from key decision-makers in your organization and align stakeholders

If decarbonization is a new priority for your organization, any action needs to begin with obtaining buy-in from the C-suite and across the organization. C-level support is vital to align your organization’s overall mission and business strategy with sustainability and encourage organization-wide buy-in. It’s essential to communicate the business case for decarbonization by highlighting potential benefits, including cost savings, risk mitigation, enhanced reputation, improved competitiveness and resilience, access to new markets, and meeting stakeholder demands for sustainability action.

However, to create ambitious but achievable energy strategies and decarbonization targets, you must align all relevant stakeholders, not just the C-suite. To effectively implement your decarbonization strategy, it’s important to assemble a diverse team with a wide range of skills and expertise. This team should include functions such as sustainability, finance, legal, real estate, facilities or energy management, investor relations, corporate communications, and more.

STEP 2: Conduct a carbon footprint assessment

Before setting decarbonization targets and developing a plan of action, you need to understand your emissions baseline. A comprehensive carbon footprint assessment involves collecting and analyzing data and measuring and quantifying the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across your operations and your value chain. By identifying the main emissions sources and areas where the most significant impact can be made, you can set realistic targets and prioritize actions, resulting in a robust energy and decarbonization strategy.

Your carbon footprint will serve as your baseline for tracking progress and evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of your decarbonization strategies over time. It is also important to benchmark against peers to establish targets that align with industry standards – and are ambitious yet realistic. 

STEP 3: Set energy goals and decarbonization targets

Building on your carbon footprint assessment bringing to light your current emissions profile, you need to set your GHG emission reduction targets. These targets should be clear, measurable, ambitious yet realistic, and should encompass scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions per GHG Protocol. Many organizations that are just starting out on their decarbonization journey focus on scope 1 and 2 emissions, which are often easier to address, since you can directly control them. Scope 3 emissions are those associated with organizations’ value chain and are not in your direct control – and so are more difficult to reduce.

Infographic explaining details of scope 1, 2, 3 emissions

The current best practices for decarbonization targets may differ depending on your industry and geographic location. However, targets are commonly considered ambitious and effective in addressing the climate change threat if they align with the goals of the Paris agreement to keep global warming below 1.5°C.

Whatever targets you set, you will have to monitor and report on progress to ensure accountability and adaptability in response to the changing landscape. Defining meaningful KPIs will help you measure and track that progress. We recommend aligning your targets to one or more of these three common, validated frameworks:


FrameworkDescriptionRelevant scopes
RE100RE100 is a global corporate renewable energy initiative for organizations that commit to 100% renewable electricity.Scope 2 (100% renewable energy by 2050)
Science Based TargetsRequires companies to commit to GHG emissions levels that are consistent with “what the latest climate science says is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”Scope 1, 2, and 3
Net ZeroReduce scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions while offsetting any remaining emissions to reach zero – many organizations aiming for net zero use the Science Based Targets Corporate Net-Zero Standard.Scope 1, 2, and 3

STEP 4: Engage stakeholders

Stakeholder engagement involves the identification, communication, and collaboration with individuals or groups – including employees, customers, suppliers, NGOs, and local communities – who have a strong interest in or are impacted by your organization’s decarbonization action.

Engaging stakeholders in energy and decarbonization strategies and initiatives fosters diverse perspectives, transparency, and better decision-making. Engagement produces valuable insights, identifies risks and opportunities during implementation, and fuels innovation for sustainable solutions. It can even encourage employee productivity and retention. Moreover, stakeholder engagement ensures strategies align with market demands, making your organization more appealing to customers and investors. It also helps meet stringent environmental regulations, mitigating potential legal and reputational risks. Ultimately, this approach considers local communities’ needs, leading to positive impacts, stronger relationships, and shared value creation.

STEP 5: Develop your decarbonization roadmap

Once you have collected the proper data and analyzed your carbon footprint, aligned your stakeholders, and set your targets, you can develop a strategic roadmap for decarbonization and energy initiatives. You will need to create a roadmap outlining the initiatives, actions, and energy solutions necessary to address the identified areas for improvement. Start with manageable and impactful projects and solutions that will help you build momentum.

STEP 6: Evaluate energy and decarbonization solutions, create a portfolio, and integrate solutions whenever possible.

Your energy and decarbonization portfolio should be diversified and balanced, encompassing a variety of solutions to meet organizational goals. Think of energy efficiency, renewables, clean electrification options, and more. Energy partners can help optimize your portfolio, based on where you are in your decarbonization journey. They can help you decide on what solutions to implement, the order of implementation, and how to optimize over time – ensuring quick wins for your organization. They can also help orchestrate longer-term activities, like assisting with procuring, developing, and maintaining renewable energy projects.

As your organization is just starting on your decarbonization journey, we recommend you consider the following energy solutions. They could be mixed and matched and depend entirely on your organization’s unique needs and goals.

SOLUTION: Energy efficiency

Prioritize energy efficiency measures as a cost-effective method to substantially reduce emissions. These measures often require minimal capital investment and offer swift returns. Beyond simple lighting changes, options encompass HVAC systems, chillers, motors, compressors, water systems, and building envelope enhancements.

SOLUTION: Demand response (DR)

Engage in DR programs to earn incentives for reducing energy consumption during grid stress and support a flexible, sustainable energy grid. During supply-demand imbalances on the electric grid, DR programs act as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuel peaker plants, preventing blackouts. By agreeing to curtail electricity consumption when required, participants earn payments while ensuring grid reliability. Your organization can spend the payments you earn from DR on renewable energy initiatives in your energy and decarbonization portfolio.

SOLUTION: On-site distributed energy resources (DERs), including solar and battery storage

On-site solar and battery storage is a great way to leverage your facility’s infrastructure to generate and store on-site renewable energy, reducing energy costs, enhancing corporate sustainability, and boosting resilience – and integrating the two technologies amplifies the benefits of each solution. Solar generation is a great way to decarbonize operations and transition to renewables instead of relying on grid power. However, solar generation is limited at night – and sometimes the system generates more energy than what is consumed on-site, wasting valuable renewables. And battery storage, when charged from the grid, doesn’t help with decarbonization. The magic happens when these technologies are paired, allowing flexible usage of renewable energy. Battery assets can charge from solar power, discharging stored energy during periods of low solar generation.

SOLUTION: Unbundled Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)

Your organization can purchase unbundled RECs to match your electricity consumption from any source to claim a renewable energy, or green power, product. According to the U.S. Environmental Production Agency, a REC is a market-based instrument that represents the environmental and other non-power attributes of one megawatt-hour of renewable electricity that was generated and delivered to the electric grid. While bundled RECs come as a package deal together with the physical renewable electricity that they represent, unbundled RECs can be separated from the electricity they represent and can be bought and sold independently. 

Embark on your decarbonization journey with a trusted energy partner

As decarbonization expectations continue to rise, your organization should be proactive about recognizing where you are on your decarbonization journey and what you need to do to stay ahead. At Enel North America, we have the right sustainability track record, experience, and expertise to work across products to get you started and integrate your strategy in the simplest way possible. As a turnkey provider of holistic energy solutions, we can help you develop a comprehensive energy strategy and roadmap. Take a look at our guide, Decarbonization navigator: a toolkit for organizations, to learn more about the specific steps required to jump-start your organization’s decarbonization journey. Contact us today to discover how we can guide you on that journey.

Learn more about advancing your energy strategy by leveraging our integrated energy solutions.