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AES Engineering goes Net Zero


AES Engineering Ltd, the Yorkshire-based engineering group including AESSEAL®, says it has reached Net Zero eight years earlier than it initially committed.

The group’s UK business has been Net Zero in terms of its carbon footprint since 2019. Subsequently, the Rotherham headquartered global reliability company pledged to invest £29 million in order to get to Net Zero and beyond for its entire operation in time for the 50th anniversary of its founding, which falls in 2029.

In the latest update on its ‘29by29’ investment pledge, AES says that in just over a year it has placed orders to a value of almost £7.8 million for environmental projects including solar panels, advanced battery systems, fleet electrification, and other energy saving or environmental measures.

The group, which produces precision-engineered mechanical seals and water management systems for global industry, says that, pending independent verification, it has already reached the Net Zero target for 2021, but is pressing on with its investment.

AES Engineering Managing Director Chris Rea says, “Even after the noise around the COP26 climate change conference has passed we are following up on our undertaking to report until we have invested all the money.”

After preparing and internally auditing hundreds of calculations of the group’s carbon footprint, AES Engineering ltd has calculated that its global Scope 1 and 2 emissions in 2021 were 4,799 tonnes for direct and indirect emissions. This has been compensated for by purchasing 5,000 tonnes of offsets from ‘gold standard’ schemes.

The group also calculated that its global Scope 3 emissions amounted to 87,000 tonnes CO2e in the supply chain. However, as a result of the positive environmental impact of the products and services supplied, CO2e avoidance was almost five times larger at 464,000 tonnes.

The figures have been passed to the independent auditors, BSI, for accreditation or confirmation but Chris Rea says they are confident that they hit the Net Zero target and by-passed it in 2021, eight years earlier than they committed to.

For those interested in the details of the group’s Net Zero journey and its investments, the company has reported the exact financial commitments made between January 1, 2021 and January 14, 2022, including a breakdown of the main investment areas and the global regions where the money is being spent.

Chris Rea says that this level of detail and openness is “absolutely necessary” in the face of public scepticism about the real commitment that businesses have to the environment.

“I realise that accusations of ‘green washing’ are out there. The best way to combat this is to be absolutely open and honest. That is why our commitments to date are calculated to the penny and reported for all the world to see.”

Chris Rea points out that since the company already buys green energy in the locations invested in, the vast majority of the money committed – over £7 million of it – has had no benefit for the group’s CO2e scorecard. However, this investment does benefit the planet since it leaves more ‘green energy’ for others to use.

“It is also good to have seven million reasons to rebut uninformed opinions that our environmental commitment is not real. In the 1950s and 60s, businesses were all about naked capitalism and making profit. In the 21st century we learned to embrace all ‘stakeholders’ - that is employees, customers, suppliers and communities. Our 29by29 investment makes the statement that our most important stakeholder is the planet.”

With the Net Zero goal reached so early in the 29by29 investment schedule, and some £22 million still to invest, what next?

The additional UK investment this year and beyond will be circa £5 million as environmental projects for the UK Bradford and Derby facilities are likely to be approved and possibly completed in 2022. In addition to the group’s ‘Factory of the Future’, currently under construction at Mill Close, a BREEAM excellent building is also being constructed on a 2.29 acre plot on the Advance Manufacturing Park, Brunel Way, in Rotherham.

The Group says a much larger portion of the outstanding investment will be made outside of the UK in the other 42 countries where AES Engineering has directly owned subsidiaries.

Chris Rea insists that the investment is good for the group, good for the planet and also good for its customers as the benefits of dealing with suppliers that have Net Zero credentials becomes increasingly important.

“Let’s remember, for external customers who buy from a Net Zero supplier there is no CO2e tariff to report for the purchases”, he adds.

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