We are committed to the highest standards of environmental management and to proactively addressing the challenges of climate change.
We continuously revise our approach to reducing the environmental impact of business activities, and our investment in leading asset management systems and processes contributes to enhanced network asset performance and energy efficiency. Significant milestones have been the implementation of an Environmental Management System (certified to ISO14001) in 2012, achieving the Energy Management System certification (ISO50001) in 2014 and being one of the first companies in the country to achieve the Asset Management System Standard ISO55001 in 2015.
To reduce our impact on the environment we have developed objectives in several areas including greenhouse gas/carbon emissions, energy use, biodiversity, waste generation and efficient use of resources all of which are verifiable within our certified Environmental Management System ISO14001 and Energy Management System ISO50001. Our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory was independently verified according to ISO14064-3:2019 specifications with guidance for the Validation and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Statements.
The sustainability team promotes an integrated and strategic approach to environmental and energy management across the business and our asset base. Bespoke in-house design toolkits and environmental guidance assist our designers, planners and operations colleagues to apply a standardised approach to environmental management.
Securing our future - Working collaboratively to develop a sustainable energy system that facilitates and supports Ireland’s net zero target.
The gas network is crucial to Ireland’s energy mix. Our vision is for a net zero carbon gas network by 2050, by replacing natural gas with renewable gases, such as carbon neutral biomethane made from agricultural and food waste and carbon free green hydrogen. Decarbonising the gas network will complement the development of renewable electricity, reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy including those that are traditionally difficult to decarbonise such as industry, agriculture and heavy transport, and further enhance the security and diversity of Ireland’s energy supply.
The European Union, through its 2021 Climate Target Plan Impact Assessment, concluded that gas will continue to provide 20% of Europe’s energy in 2050. The EU Energy System Integration stating that of this 20% “80% should be of renewable origin”. We are currently working to meet the Government’s 2022 Climate Action Plan (CAP) target of 5.7TWh/yr of biomethane on the national gas network by 2030, noting the Government’s intent to explore opportunities to increase targets and further reduce emissions in the agri‑food sector, which we believe is possible.
Environmental management systems
We recognise that our activities have the potential to cause environmental impacts and that it is our responsibility to manage our activities in a manner that provides a high level of protection for our natural environment and contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting sustainable economic development. Due to the nature of our activities, we are subject to rigorous standards of environmental legislation and regulation through environmental licences and permits issued by relevant regulatory authorities.
For example, our compressor stations in Scotland are licenced by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and we comply with all aspects of our licences. Non licenced activities are subject to assessment during planning processes, and we have developed tools to help our designers and planners carry out such assessments. Our bespoke Envirokit and EnviroPlan environmental planning and design toolkits assist our designers and planners in applying a standardised approach to Environmental Management. EnviroOps, our in-house environmental guidance document was developed to assist our operations personnel in applying best practice while working for the organisation.
To reduce our impact on the environment we have developed objectives in a number of areas including air/carbon emissions, energy use, waste generation and efficient use of resources all of which are verifiable within our certified Environmental Management System ISO14001 and Energy Management System ISO50001. Our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory was independently verified according to ISO14064- 3:2019 specifications with guidance for the Validation and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Statements.
The environmental team promotes an integrated and strategic approach to environmental and energy management across the business and our asset base. Our bespoke inhouse design toolkits and environmental guidance assist our designers, planners and operations personnel to apply a standardised approach to environmental management.
In 2022 we continued to focus on the areas of biodiversity, GHG emissions/carbon management, waste, energy and procurement.
Any significant fines and non-monetary sanctions for noncompliance with environmental laws and/or regulations are demonstrated in the table below.
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Access to information on the environment
The Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) Directive was transposed into Irish law by the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2014 (the “AIE Regulations”). Under the AIE Regulations, members of the public can request access to environmental information from public authorities. More information on Access to Information on the Environment can be found here.Read more about climate action
Biodiversity Action Plan
We have embraced our important role in promoting biodiversity awareness, not only among our colleagues but also in the communities where we work.
With a significant national underground infrastructure network, plus over 200 Above Ground Installations (AGIs) and office locations, we recognise our role and responsibility to respond and act to protect and restore Ireland’s biodiversity. We also recognise the potential to create a network of pollinator friendly habitats across the country and to share our knowledge with other businesses.
Gas Networks Ireland are signatories of the government’s biodiversity ‘Seeds for Nature’ Charter, pledging to manage all of our infrastructure, asset base and office locations (on the island of Ireland and in Scotland) in line with Biodiversity Best Practice and to strive to have a net gain impact on biodiversity across its operations by 2025 to support, scale up and fast track the implementation of the National Biodiversity Action Plan. Gas Networks Ireland is a Partner of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan which is a leading biodiversity initiative in Europe.
Our Biodiversity Action Plan, which is a key part of our Sustainability Strategy, outlines action to be taken by the business to help achieve its Biodiversity Commitments.
In 2022 we focussed on delivering our Biodiversity Action Plan with specific goals and measurements to be achieved by the organisation, incorporating guidance for changing the way we design, build and operate our sites and assets including environmental criteria for assessing work by our contractors and increasing the delivery of biodiversity enhancements at our sites. We surveyed eleven more of our AGIs using our own Biodiversity Scoring Metric to establish the current biodiversity score and potential for improvement.Read more about our biodiversity action plan
Water reduction and management
While water use is not a material issue for us as we are not a significant user of water, we do monitor and track usage. We have substantially reduced our water usage since 2013, as a result of improved performance and upgrading of offices.
We monitor and report water consumption based on utility meters and reconcile this, where possible, with sub metering data. We report water consumption by supply and treatment of both volume and carbon equivalent using Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) conversion factors. We utilise internally sourced emission factors for both supply and treatment of water. We do not consume water from areas of water stress.
In 2022 we used 3,718,000 litres of water, resulting in our water consumption falling to 1.6 TCO2e in 2022.
Waste reduction and management
We are committed to reducing our waste to landfill and the company’s long-term target is to send zero waste to landfill by 2025. Monthly key performance indicators (KPIs) are recorded and reported.
All our waste suppliers are audited to assess operational best practice and to ensure adherence to Gas Networks Irelands standards. Our two main contractors who carry out work on our behalf also report monthly on their waste KPIs and are also striving to meet Gas Networks Ireland’s target of zero waste to landfill by 2025.
In 2022, the overall figure for recycling and recovery in our offices was 100%.
We monitor and report on waste from office locations. As well as site waste generated from our operations across the entire gas network in Ireland, we have regional office locations – headquarters in Cork, the Network Services Centre (NSC) in Dublin and smaller regional offices in Waterford, Limerick, Galway, Midleton and Brownsbarn Innovation Centre at Citywest.
Our main office waste includes recycled paper, mixed packaging, compost, cardboard, glass, wood, metal, waste electrical goods, printer cartridges and plastic. Our operational waste includes plastic, metal, timber and waste electrical goods. We have management systems in place to dispose of hazardous and biological waste. Our waste data, including recycling rates, are calculated from waste collection documentation provided by our waste collection service provider.
Of the 102.9 Tonnes of waste produced in 2022, all of this waste was recycled or recovered. Our total carbon footprint associated with waste is 6.59 TCO2e in 2022, an 841% increase on 2021. Increases in waste are related to the return of staff to office locations.Read more about water and waste reduction management
We are certified to the Energy Management System (EMS) ISO50001:2015.
Public Sector Monitoring and Reporting Targets (PSMR)
We are an active participant in the Government’s Public Sector Monitoring and Reporting (PSMR) initiative. The scope of the PMSR applies to our office and fleet energy.
Gas Networks Ireland offer staff a number of commuting options including a car-sharing facility, the establishment of Bicycle User Groups (BUGs), carrying out events promoting sustainable travel and providing free bike services to staff.
We promote and support smarter travel options which have positive impacts for our colleagues, our business and for our environment. We encourage staff to use public transport where feasible over taking their vehicle. We reviewed our “agile working” policy (which allowed staff to work from home or from one of our nationwide office locations) and have moved to a “hybrid working” policy allowing staff to continue to work remotely for part of the working week. We also provide and promote the use of video conferencing. This allows employees to benefit from flexible work locations and hours, exceeding current government guidelines.Read more about energy management
GHG emissions management
Our Energy Management System (EMS) supports us to meet energy efficiency and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission reduction targets.
Sustainability and decarbonisation principles are at the core of our business and strategic decisions.
We established our carbon footprint in 2019, aligned with global best practice. We selected 2010 as our baseline carbon year, a time before Corrib gas field commenced supplies of natural gas to Ireland. We utilised verified emission equivalency conversion factors from SEAI where possible, DEFRA and empirical data from staff activities such as commuting.
In 2023 our 2022 GHG inventory will be independently verified according to the ISO 14064-3:2019 Specifications with Guidance for the Validation and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Statements.
Low carbon pledge
We are committed to embedding sustainability and decarbonisation principles into the core of our business decisions and strategy.
In 2018 we signed up to the Low Carbon Pledge, a Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) initiative for Irish businesses to invest time and resources into creating a more sustainable operation, by being more energy efficient and reducing carbon usage.Read more about GHG emissions management