The secret behind Iron Mountain’s long-term strategy for setting a Science-Based Target? A phase-based approach.

Last week, Iron Mountain publicly shared its approved Science-Based Target (SBT) after committing to the SBT initiative in June of last year.

Setting SBTs has transitioned from a trend to an industry best practice. Last April, 250 companies committed to set or received approval for a SBT. That number today is now 515 companies. More than double in less than a year.

As more companies explore SBTs, it’s important to call out those that have reached that target-setting milestone so that others can learn from them.

Effective targets are aspirational, yet attainable. It’s not enough just to set one. There needs to be a strategy in place to meet it – which is what Iron Mountain did.

Use a phased-approach to tackle a Science-Based Target

Iron Mountain began the process by determining the areas of its business that are responsible for the largest environmental impact. Electricity use in buildings, Electricity use in Data Centers, fleet operations and natural gas use were selected as the primary contributors of its GHG emissions.

The next step was quantifying the impact of each of these areas, and determining steps for reducing it. Taking this data-driven approach required both human bandwidth and expertise – a demand that was filled by a succession of four EDF Climate Corps fellows.

Project Manager, EDF Climate Corps

In 2015 (four years ago) Iron Mountain turned its attention to improving the energy efficiency of its North American operations starting with improving data collection, analysis and reporting.

That showed that Data Center operations where not only a large part of electricity use, it was forecasted to grow very quickly.  That lead to more work on efficiency efforts and it became clear that the company needed to learn how to employ cost effective renewable energy options.

With energy improvements underway and green power purchasing in flight, the company turned its attention to its transportation and logistics services, and explored transitioning its fleets to EVs and alternative fuel vehicles.

Most recently, Iron Mountain developed a natural gas mitigation strategy aimed to bring down heating costs and reduce carbon emissions.

This brings us to the present. Iron Mountain went public with its approved target to reduce absolute GHG emissions by 20 percent by 2025 for a 2016 baseline, including both direct and indirect carbon emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3).

Share industry best practices to keep up with the momentum

The momentum around Science-Based Targets is only continuing to build. This year’s cohort of 2019 EDF Climate Corps host companies saw a 50% increase from last year in the number of companies that are focusing on GHG targets – including setting SBTs. There’s a good chance that this group – and many others out there – want industry best practices and guidance.

This year-by-year approach can be used as a model for replicating. Most companies don’t have the resources to focus on all areas at once. A phased-approach allowed Iron Mountain to create a plan for tackling the high impact areas with limited time and resources.

It also enabled the company to dedicate human capital to each of the projects. Over these four years, four graduate students were hired as EDF Climate Corps fellows to oversee projects in each of these impact areas.

It’s this strategic, collaborative approach that can help other companies, set and achieve, their goals.

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