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Co-creating a sustainable delivery framework fit for a net zero future

Mary Lawrence
May 9, 2024

The clock is ticking on climate change, and every industry must take action. For consultancies like ours, the carbon footprint lies not in manufacturing, but in delivering services. Recognising this, we embarked on a collaborative project with the UK Government Department responsible for improving and protecting the environment (Defra), to co-create a groundbreaking framework for sustainable delivery. The goal: a 50% reduction in emissions within just three years, achieved through rethinking how we work and implementing innovative practices. This is more than just a pilot project; it’s a roadmap for a net-zero future across the industry. Here we explore the challenges, solutions, and lessons learned so far.

A New Approach

During 2023, we started working with Defra, one of our largest clients, to develop a framework for sustainable project delivery. Our aim was to develop and test new ways of working that will reduce our carbon footprint aligned to the services we provide. Once the pilot is proven, we aim to scale up and roll out across other accounts, and eventually hope it is adopted in the wider supplier ecosystem too. This is just the start of the journey, and Capgemini and Defra are looking to collaborate with others on similar initiatives through partnerships such as the Government Digital Sustainability Alliance, as it will require collective action across the industry to transition to more sustainable delivery models.

So how have we embarked on this new framework?

Calculating our Baseline Emissions

We established a methodology for calculating the baseline emissions for our work with Defra. This followed our carbon accounting process aligned with the greenhouse gas (GHG) protocol. We identified emission sources, for example energy used in our offices and data centres, the impacts of business travel, commuting and working from home, as well as purchased goods and services. To calculate the emissions, we used a combination of estimates and actual data and took into consideration the locations and number of people working on the account. Using these data points has enabled us to establish our baseline measure covering all three scopes of GHG emissions.

Ambitious Targets

We then set a target to achieve a 50% reduction in emissions in just three years. We know that this will be a significant challenge. Many of the emission sources are out of our direct control, for example, in our supply chain, or the type of energy used in our employees’ home working environment (e.g., if they are on a renewable electricity contract), or the choice of how to commute to the office. However, we believe that a stretch target is our best hope for driving innovation and prompting immediate action.

We also established a methodology for a tracking and reporting process to monitor progress towards our target.

Decarbonisation Roadmap

Thirdly, we considered different aspects of how we work to help us make sustainable changes and developed a roadmap of carbon reduction initiatives, targeting travel, home working, cloud migration and data centre exit, digital habits, and supply chain engagement.

Five Take Aways:

We have a long way to go. But here is what we have learnt so far:

  • Starting Imperfections: Begin, even with limited data, as action drives iterative solutions.
  • Empowering Champions: Recruit dedicated ‘champions’ within teams to lead and inspire change. Strong leadership is also critical for setting the vision and motivating action.
  • Small Actions, Big Impact: Start with engaging, team-wide initiatives around simple sustainable habits that everyone can adopt. Focus on awareness and shared purpose, not precise impact measurement initially.
  • Measuring & Improving: Acknowledge data limitations, but proactively estimate instead of excluding hard to measure emission sources. Develop a plan for improved measurement but remember action is more important than precise data.
  • Collaboration is Key: Transparency and honest communication improve partnerships and solutions.

What’s Next?

We’ve been working with Defra to re-think how we deliver our services with a shrinking carbon footprint, in line with our net zero goals. We’ve set up a strong foundation with a methodology to measure the carbon footprint of our services, and a framework to deliver decarbonisation initiatives.

We’ve had good engagement with a sustainable digital habits campaign, educating people on the carbon cost of data across email and file storage, resulting in an estimated 230 gigabytes of old data removed from just 4 sessions run so far for Capgemini colleagues on the account.

As Tom Parry (Head of Digital Sustainability at Defra) referenced, this is an important start.

“Capgemini continue to be a vital partner in our work on sustainable IT – both within Defra as one of our key suppliers, as well as one of the central members of the Government Digital Sustainability Alliance supporting wider Government work on the issue. Their Sustainable Delivery Framework provides a really helpful structure for thinking about sustainable IT throughout delivery, and in particular recognises the importance of baselining and setting targets. We look forward to working in collaboration with them as they continue this journey”.

Mary Lawrence from the Capgemini UK sustainability team reflects,

“We’re excited to build on this work in 2024, continuing to roll out decarbonisation projects where we can make a difference on the account. This year we are also looking to scale the framework up and test it out with additional clients and pave a path towards wider adoption.”

Look out for more updates as we want to be collaborative – sharing further learnings and the framework methodology as it develops. We can’t meet the challenges ahead of us without everyone playing their part, think about what you can do today in your organisation, and remember: it doesn’t have to be perfect, just make a start.


Mary Lawrence

Sustainability Professional, Capgemini UK
Mary is a sustainability professional at Capgemini UK, driving the company’s transformation towards a net zero future. Her expertise spans shaping sustainability strategy, carbon accounting, and delivering decarbonisation projects, with a particular focus on behavioural change initiatives and travel emissions reduction. A member of IEMA, Mary’s passion lies in fostering employee engagement and building a strong sustainability community within Capgemini.