Companies face intense pressure to drive sustainability across their operations as regulators, investors, and young professionals ask for more efforts to tackle Climate Change. This year alone marks several monumental events. Among them is a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule requiring businesses to disclose climate risks, including greenhouse gas emissions. And United Nations COP27, where public and private decision-makers worldwide continued ongoing collaboration to strategize on meeting the Paris Agreement goals.
Forward-thinking, sustainability-conscious companies, are responding to the proverbial “writing on the wall,” trying to figure out their carbon footprint and how to reduce it. Professionals whose first call is to protect the health of the communities they serve are at the forefront of this sustainability movement.
The success of initiatives hinges on careful attention to every step and the presence of many integral components between them. Environmental, Social, and Governance – ESG and applying these non-financial factors as part of a sustainability analysis process identifies material risks and growth opportunities. Achieving the outcomes you aim for commands a robust, rounded approach that accounts for greenhouse gas emissions; energy, water, and land use; and waste management, among variables that impact carbon footprint.
“The job commands meticulous reporting and data analysis skills to measure and understand the impact. And it calls for a whole menu of technical and business competencies to deliver a comprehensive strategy that is both economically and environmentally sustainable,” says SCS Engineers’ Director of Sustainability Ajay Vonkarey.
About Ajay Vonkarey
Vonkarey, new to the national environmental consulting, engineering, and construction company, is a seasoned civil and environmental engineer with years of experience as a sustainability professional.
Vonkarey’s forte is building and supporting teams that develop and execute sustainability roadmaps. He leads a multidisciplinary team at SCS in helping customers plan, executes, and report on similar strategies to lessen their carbon footprint as they reach for zero waste and other ambitious goals.
“This is a good marriage of my background and experience in planning for sustainability and the broad and extensive environmental experience of SCS, which has long recognized the importance of responsibility to people and the planet,” Vonkarey says.
Taking a Holistic Approach
Clients turn to SCS for assistance with air, water, and soil compliance and reporting, greenhouse gas monitoring, inventories, and verification. And they come for support in ensuring efficient resource utilization while reducing carbon footprints—whether converting methane into clean, renewable energy; redeveloping idle brownfields into vibrant community assets; or designing and building compost and recycling facilities.
Now SCS is expanding its services in response to evolving industry demands driven by changing environmental and economic conditions and tightening regulations. Vonkarey is building a multidisciplinary team from the firm’s pool of experts to offer more support as clients opt to take their sustainability work further or close the gaps between plans and measurable outcomes.
“SCS has worked for decades on ‘the downstream’ end of sustainability—designing and executing projects for improved environmental outcomes. We are leveraging our expertise to deliver a holistic, balanced approach, beginning upstream— with the work that must happen at the start of the journey. We stay with the client through every step in between to ultimately provide successful end-to-end sustainability solutions,” Vonkarey says.
The multi-faceted process starts with an asset assessment, which starts with a Materiality assessment, broken down by each asset and its emissions.“We examine the consumption and utilization of these resources. The data we capture tells us, do we focus on real estate? Do we need to look closer at our energy or water utilization?”
This information also informs deeper decisions associated with the next step, which is to build a roadmap. This detailed plan will guide the integration of clients’ sustainability goals and strategies across their businesses.
“Once we have the roadmap in place, we will do what SCS has done for the past 52 years: execute those plans and collect and verify data to report outcomes. That data ultimately informs how to improve efficiency moving forward and reach the NetZero goal faster,” Vonkarey says.
While strategically approaching every stage is critical to delivering comprehensive sustainability solutions, as important is to have a full-service team in place. Rounded expertise is essential to devising technically sound solutions with lasting environmental and economic benefits.
“We have scientists, geologists, civil and environmental engineers who design and build projects. We have technology developers and specialists who collect, manage and analyze data. And on the business side, SCS has financial staff to inform smart investments and human resource management,” says Vonkarey.
Meanwhile, operators remain focused on other endeavors that need their full attention: their day-to-day operations, bringing in new customers, and expanding their markets. At the same time, as new climate policies and rules are rolling out and emission reduction targets increase, they have plans to meet them.
An Optimistic Outlook
“We read the headlines about Climate Change too, but our perspective differs from that of many stakeholders. At SCS, we are greatly encouraged by the extensive efforts already started. We want to help operators understand what is and will be expected of them as they are called on to address environmental issues. We can show how those expectations relate to their specific business. And we can help ensure their investment in the most appropriate, sound strategies. Together, we can make the planet better,” Vonkeray says.