ICON is committed to conducting our business in an environmentally sustainable manner.
ICON recognises that the health of people and the planet are inextricably linked. We aim to be good stewards of the natural environment by managing and reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy use and waste generation. In particular, our focus on decentralised and hybrid clinical trials has created innovative efficiencies on both our site footprint and business travel, two key drivers of our environmental impact. Additionally, we are engaging with our suppliers to address indirect environmental impacts through the supply chain with the use of CDP and EcoVadis.
In 2019, ICON established environmental targets for renewable energy use and carbon emissions. We remain committed to achieving these targets and to reporting on our progress. Our latest progress against these goals can be seen in this image.
ICON tracks and reports on our greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint. We follow the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard, the global corporate accounting and reporting standard for calculating carbon emissions. ICON works with Carbon Trust to verify scope 1 and 2 emissions data to a limited level of assurance in line with ISO 14064-3. We also collect and report limited scope 3 data for business travel.
ICON participates in CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), a globally recognised system that allows companies to measure and manage their environmental impacts. We have been completing the CDP Climate Change questionnaire on an annual basis for our scope 1 and 2 emissions since 2016. ICON received a C score from CDP in 2021 on our 2020 Climate Change response. View our CDP response here.
Aligned with our goal to be net-zero on scopes 1 and 2 by 2030, ICON’s combined scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions have fallen consistently on a year-over year basis since 2018. In 2020, following pandemic-related closures and a reduction in business travel, our scope 3 GHG emissions declined significantly. In 2021, as we began to resume more normal operations, scope 3 emissions increased however, they remain below our 2018 levels.
ICON has set a goal to reduce electricity consumption by 20% by 2030 and to source electricity from 100% renewable sources by 2025. To move toward renewable energy, we have transitioned six locations to green power, and now 8% of our electricity consumption comes from renewables. Our energy consumption decreased significantly in 2020 due to office closures during the pandemic. As offices began to reopen in 2021, energy consumption increased; however, it remains well below 2019 levels. As we consolidate and reopen our offices, we will continue to shift to renewable energy through on-site green power and, where that is not feasible, through the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs).
Environmental considerations are factored in when selecting new locations for offices and planning building modifications. In addition, we have implemented initiatives to reduce the environmental footprint of our offices at the local level, such as installing energy-efficient LED lighting, using motion detectors to reduce energy use, upgrading to energy-efficient HVAC systems, purchasing recycled office supplies, and reducing paper consumption by promoting paperless office processes, or where printing is necessary, enabling double-sided output. As most of our locations are leased, we work closely with our landlords and leasing agents to leverage incentives and local funding to implement measures that make our facilities more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
In 2021, we began consolidating and downsizing office space as we re-envisioned our collective organisation and operations following the acquisition of PRA Health Sciences. The office consolidation is designed for a new post-pandemic working environment where many eligible employees work remotely from home up to 40% of the time.
ICON’s Sustainability Network, comprised of employees from across the globe, plays a critical role in bringing our sustainability commitments to life by identifying local sustainability opportunities. Employees across the globe participated in 2021 Sustainability Month activities, which included an upcycling event sponsored by employees in Chennai and a plastic cap collection for a children’s rehabilitation charity led by employees at our Warsaw office.
As part of 2021 Sustainability Month, ICON worked with SolarBuddy, an organisation that builds lights powered by solar energy for families living in extreme poverty to light their homes.
As part of 2021 Sustainability Month, ICON employees at our Cambridge, Massachusetts and Buenos Aires locations partnered with the Global Ecobrick Alliance. They combatted plastic pollution by transforming discarded plastic bottles and plastic bags into building blocks that sequester microplastics, preventing them from breaking down and entering the environment, affecting both animal life and human health. These building blocks are used for craft and building projects in local communities.
When pandemic restrictions eased, ICON worked to bring employees back to offices across the globe in alignment with the new flexible working policy, which allows eligible employees to work from home 40% of the time. We also integrated more than 150 ICON and PRA properties, and downsized or closed 37 locations - an initiative that allowed us to enhance environmental efficiency and foster comradery.