– By Caroline Falls –
Lara Young, group carbon manager, at Costain, one of the UK’s leading infrastructure providers, is managing the company’s transition to a net zero emissions organisation.
One of the key planks in the climate change action plan is to alter the company’s fleet, including company vehicles and equipment, as well as modes of transport used by employees.
Young, speaking to the IPWEA fleet conference in March, said one of the guiding principles of the roadmap for shifting the vehicle fleet to carbon neutral was to ensure it wasn’t prescriptive. Rather, it would provide options for employees to choose from.
“We’re not saying everyone must go to an electric vehicle or a hybrid. People might choose to have no car at all.”
The vehicle fleet transition plan covers 2020-2035. It was launched in 2019, giving everyone in the company time to absorb it. Actions according to the plan take place over time. The approach is to stagger the adoption of greener options over the next decade with the goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2030.
“We’ve established a roadmap, upping the standards, staggering our approach to adopt emission free vehicles. Three-quarters will be emission free by 2027 and 100 percent will be by 2030,” Young said.
The Vehicle Fleet Transition Plan is designed to take Costain’s company car and car allowance fleets to fully electric or hydrogen powered. Earlier this year the plan was shortlisted for the transport/fleet management initiative of the year at the 2021 edie Sustainability Leaders Awards.
“In addition, to tackling car fleet emissions for both company cars and car allowance vehicles, we are also tackling plant and machinery emissions from our projects.”
Costain has committed to deliver low carbon solutions to every client by 2023. Costain operates in multiple sectors, including energy, transportation (rail and highways), water and defence. Its services extend from consultancy on programs to delivery of them.
“Every complex delivery contract established an idling baseline and reduced that by 20 percent. We are using that data to help drive carbon conscious behaviours,” Young said in a chat outside the recent virtual IPWEA fleet conference.
In that exchange, I asked Young: “Do you have any thoughts on how important conferences are for leading thoughts such as carbon management in the transport industry?”
Her answer: “This can play a huge part IF the message shared is accessible and relatable to the audience. However, raising awareness isn’t the only ingredient to tackling climate change and air quality, taking action now is key.”
Young was recently listed in the Energy Saving Trust’s “Eight Great Women” list. Also, apart from managing the carbon reduction plan, Young is leading an integration of the world’s first standard for managing infrastructure carbon PAS2080 within the Costain Group. She was named Carbon and Energy Manager of the Year at a UK sustainability event following her 2020 naming as Highway UK Associate Laureate. She is also a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers carbon project steering group.