Environmental sustainability

We are passionate about operating our business in an environmentally responsible way and making sure sustainability shapes our thinking and decision-making. Find out more about our commitment to the environment here.

What does environmental sustainability mean?

Sustainability is about helping us find a better way to do business; working cost effectively, reducing environmental impact and building strong relationships with our local communities and stakeholders. Our environmental management systems are certified to the international standard ISO 14001, which ensures we operate in an environmentally responsible way.

We also have an environmental sustainability framework called ‘Our Contribution’. Within it, we have identified three themes that we believe allow us to make the biggest contribution to society and deliver the most business benefits.

Our contribution: themes

Our climate commitment

We know that helping society to decarbonise is the biggest contribution we can make to the environment. As an infrastructure business, our day-to-day activities result in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We know that we can save money and help combat climate change by reducing our GHG emissions. This will strengthen our company by reducing costs and making our business fit for the future.

We recently announced our net zero commitment, which explains how we are working to reduce our own GHG emissions.

We've set ourselves the following targets:

Group targets

  • Reducing our own direct greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

  • Reaching a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from a 1990 baseline.

  • Implementing carbon pricing on all major investment decisions by the end of 2020.

  • Increasing the energy efficiency of our own facilities.

Targets for the UK

  • Reducing the capital carbon of our major construction projects by 50% by 2020.

  • Increasing the energy efficiency of our UK property portfolio by 10% by 2020.

Targets for the US

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving US customers money through our customer energy efficiency programmes.

  • Increasing the energy efficiency of our ten largest owned US property sites by 20% by 2020.

Last year we had achieved a 68% reduction from our 1990 baseline and we are making good progress against the other targets. We’ll be publishing our final performance against our 2020 targets later this year, check out the performance section below for more information.

Responsible resource use

To build and maintain energy networks that perform safely and reliably, we need to use finite – or non-renewable – resources, such as steel for pylons and aluminium for overhead lines. As populations and economies grow, we are seeing rising demand for these resources. This not only makes it harder for us to source them, it also leads to price rises, volatility and increases the environmental impact of extracting them. We need to respond to this by making the most of the materials we own and buy.

To do this we have set some specific targets:

Group targets

  • Reuse or recycle 100% of recovered assets by 2020.

  • Send zero office waste to landfill from major office sites by the end of 2020.

We’re already making progress and at the end of 2019, we had diverted waste from landfills from 86% of our targeted facilities.

Caring for our natural environment

It's important that we manage the land we own in ways that create the most value for us and our stakeholders, and for the wider environment in which we operate.

Through our Natural Grid programme in the UK, we're working with local communities and stakeholders to make the best of our green spaces and efficiently manage them in a way that benefits local communities and habitats.

We're also making sure that we minimise the impact of our construction projects, as we work to maintain and expand our energy networks.

Working in partnership

We have strategic partnerships with specialist environmental organisations that help us to shape new ways of managing our natural assets on a local scale. This collaborative approach is already creating significant benefits, including lower management costs, reduced risks, improved biodiversity and positive relationships with the communities we serve.

In the UK, we also support four environmental education centres at Bishops Wood, Skelton Grange, West Boldon and Iver. These long-term partnerships provide educational activities to more than 23,000 visitors each year. They've been developed in collaboration with environmental charities, showing how nature and communities can thrive alongside critical national infrastructure.

We've set ourselves targets to help ensure we continue to care for our natural environment:

Group targets

  • Recognising and enhancing the value of our natural assets on at least 50 sites by the end of 2020.

  • Driving net gain in environmental value (including biodiversity) on major construction projects by 2020.

As of the end of 2019, we are on track to exceed our site enhancement goal with 43 sites completed and 12 sites in progress across the UK and US. We are currently working with our construction teams to embed net gain in our construction programme too.


Want to know more about how we are doing? Visit our performance page to get full details of how we are performing so far. And check back through 2020 for more details, case studies and news.



Environment (Wales) Act Summary Report

This report provides a summary of our work to support biodiversity and sustainability in Wales.


Our Contribution

Our Contribution is our environmental sustainability strategy, it contains our targets and case studies.