Planning for sustainability

Pegasus Group

Pegasus Group is a leading planning and development consultancy specialising in design, planning, environment, heritage, transport, land & property, economics, and infrastructure. The company has over 400 employees across 14 offices in the UK.

Before starting work with Grain, Pegasus had a CSR policy and ISO 14001 (environmental management system) in place. They wanted to use our expertise to tie everything together, creating an overall sustainability strategy with targets aligning to global frameworks.   

Currently, the built environment contributes around 40% of the UK’s total carbon emissions, similar to the global footprint percentage. In 2019 the UK government signed a legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, with specific regulations for the built environment, meaning the sector is having to swiftly adapt to new energy efficiency standards and to generally reduce emissions.

Grain began work with Pegasus by identifying topics considered to be material — in the words of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), ‘those that may reasonably be considered important for reflecting the organization’s economic, environmental and social impacts, or influencing the decisions of stakeholders.’ Pegasus and Grain closely cross-checked the topics with the company’s business plan objectives.

We then wrote a materiality background document which we used as the basis for stakeholder interviews and a survey. The findings of the stakeholder input, together with industry standards and frameworks as well as our own research, allow us to prioritise the material topics, which are categorised into E, S, and G: environmental, social, and governance, culminating in the materiality report.

Next was benchmarking against Pegasus’ peers and competitors using publicly available information. We initially screened 17 companies and fully benchmarked eight of them. Grain analysed their sustainability indicators and policies, for example, whether they had made a net zero commitment or aligned to global frameworks. This exercise demonstrates best practices and compares Pegasus’ current position to the others: an initial gap analysis with the aim to become sustainability leaders in the industry. 

To measure the group’s carbon footprint, Grain collected data for the two baseline years 2019/2020 and 2020/2021. This included data from Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions across all 14 locations, with estimates used where data was incomplete. As a services provider, Pegasus has a relatively low footprint with most emissions coming from electricity use and road travel.

Pegasus’ 2020/2021 scope 3 emissions were nearly half those of 2019/2020 due to the restrictions of the pandemic. Additionally, when Grain was analysing data spanning multiple offices, one location stuck out with an abnormally high water usage figure affecting overall emissions. We found out that the building had been flooded and had to undergo water testing, accounting for this elevated figure.

Bringing all the work together, we created the sustainability strategy, aligned with the business plan and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and named it ‘Responsible Future’. Goals, targets, and KPIs include net zero operations by 2030, and net zero across all activities by 2045. Pegasus also set social impact goals of increasing charity work and improving gender pay gap reporting. The company aims to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2030, increase the use of electric vehicles and public transport, and offset unpreventable emissions. Alongside its carbon reduction targets, Pegasus is developing a sustainability services portfolio to complement its planning work.

“Pegasus had a challenge in identifying how sustainability could be measured within the industry and our own organisation. We decided that partnering up with Grain was without a doubt the best option. They had all the expertise in sustainability and in undertaking all the necessary research that we really valued and were able to offer the in-depth detail we were looking for. We were able to pull together a Sustainability Strategy for the future of Pegasus with positive results. Grain provided value for money and continue to stay connected regularly. We would happily return to Grain for future guidance and advice.”

— Sam Kerby, Chief Finance and Group Services Executive Officer, Pegasus Group

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