Keeping Coatsink Carbon Neutral

Sep 22, 2023

It’s September 2023, a year since I last gave you an update, and I’m pleased to tell you Coatsink has successfully completed round two carbon footprint data collection and, with the help of our friends at ClimatePartner, analysis of that data and offsetting of our footprint, keeping us carbon neutral for another year (high-five!).

Last September, I wrote a deep-dive of Coatsink’s first ever corporate carbon footprint and our Road to Carbon Neutral; (between April 2020 and March 2021, Coatsink produced 160 tonnes of CO₂e and we double offset our emissions). Now I want to give you an update on what happened next…

We knew our first footprint would be our smallest, (it was a strange time – covid, no studio, no commuting and no events), and we were right. Round two, which looked at April 2021 to March 2022, came in at 223 tonnes of CO₂e (the full report can be downloaded here). 

Like last time, the majority of our data came from Scope 3 emissions sources (96.7%), but we also had a little Scope 2 data (3.3%) this time round which came from our in-studio purchased electricity (2.4%) and heating/cooling (0.9%).

Our Scope 3 data was similar to last time, with a few additions, and hotspots included:
52.2% External data centres
22.5% Home office electricity usage
10.1% Upstream emissions electricity
5.2% Purchased electronic devices 

4.1% Operational waste
(5.8% Remaining emissions sources – water, upstream emissions heat, employee commuting and business travel)

A couple of weeks ago, ClimatePartner kindly came along to speak to us; to talk broadly about the climate crisis, climate accounting and possible solutions, but also more specifically about Coatsink’s footprint and where reductions to our footprint might be made. We learnt a lot!

Notes on our footprint…

  • We have a significant hotspot in external data centres which includes our game downloads and player user data. Making games is what we do so it follows that it would be the biggest contributor to our footprint.
  • Between our first and second footprint calculations we released some new titles and so our emissions increased in this category, however, on a per terabyte basis, the footprint of our games is reducing as the energy network continues to shift to renewables.
  • Upstream emissions for electricity and heat factor in all other emissions in relation to electricity and heat which is not the generation itself. For example, grid expansion and maintenance etc. It’s usually a tiny percentage of a company’s Scope 3 data but, because such a significant portion of our footprint comes from our game downloads and play, this pushes up the upstream electricity emissions.
  • Post covid we moved into a new, smaller studio and so emissions from home office reduced slightly (although most staff continue to wfh full time and our team has increased in size) and there was a corresponding small increase in commuting as some staff returned to working from the studio.
  • We are tenants in a managed building and so we purchase our heat. Luckily this purchased heat comes from a district heating system which is a more efficient and lower carbon option.
  • Operational waste refers to an estimated 13,095kg of office waste, based on the number of people in our studio and industry averages for office waste.
  • Business travel is currently very low but is likely to increase as post covid events return. The acquisition of Coatsink by our parent company, Thunderful, and the subsequent transition of our Marcoms team to a centralised group role, means Coatsink may no longer be responsible for these events going forward however. 
  • We could extend our footprint, for example in the purchased goods and services category we could include catering at team events and merchandise for promotions / events / team gifts. 

Notes on reduction and considerations going forward…

  • To achieve net zero, a reduction in emissions of 90-95% is required. Using the climate mitigation hierarchy we should avoid emissions which aren’t necessary, reduce emissions which are necessary, and mitigate through offsets.
  • Implementation of green policies which prioritise impact are key. Recycling is important but it somewhat pales in comparison to more impactful policies such as sustainable travel and food policies.
  • Swapping all company provided food for vegan / vegetarian options can make one of the most significant reductions to a company footprint.
  • The greenest flight is the one you don’t take! Avoiding transatlantic flights where possible and, where not possible, being mindful of where we sit. Economy class, with its significantly less space and extras, requires less fuel. Sustainable aviation fuel only reduces CO₂e by 20% so it’s not reflective of genuinely sustainable aviation. Swapping short haul flights for ferries / the eurostar where possible. 
  • Investigating if our company pension aligns with our attitude to climate change and, if not, realigning it with fossil free options. The carbon footprint of an individual can be up to seven times bigger depending upon where their pension is invested. Times that by 100+ employees and it adds up! Make My Money Matter can help.
  • Home working is the new normal so implementing schemes that help employees lower their footprint and promote sustainable behaviours can make a big difference. Introducing employee benefits like subsidised EPCs (home energy audits) and subsidised smart thermostats / lighting / smart metres and utilising collective buying power / negotiating reduced costs for solar power / air source heat pumps / domestic green energy supply can be considered. Introducing a “switch off when you leave” policy for both the home office and in the studio again adds up when everyone takes part. 
  • Thinking about greener game design going forward with ideas like – reduce download sizes by optimising and using pre-rendered assets, compress data where we can, separate out language packs, consider more efficient data structuring like structuring bundles of assets so they are only downloaded when required, i.e. when a certain point of the game is reached, considering utilisation of the cloud. Designing our games for longevity with backwards compatibility with older devices, and cross platform compatibility to reduce the need to purchase a new device. Considering, is there a market for sustainability themed games which subtly educate?

To ensure that all emissions generated are offset, a safety margin of 10% is applied to the total footprint to compensate for uncertainties in the underlying data that naturally arise from the use of database values, assumptions or estimates. Including the safety margin, Coatsink had 245.71 tonnes to offset this round and, with the help of our team, we’ve chosen to invest in three very worthy, certified projects – a blue carbon mangrove forest project in the Indus Delta, Pakistan, a project combining tree planting in the UK and wind energy in Chile, and a project combining clean oceans worldwide and clean cookstoves in India. Our Carbon Offsets Certificate can be found here and more information about the above projects can be found on our ClimatePartner Climate ID tracking page

So… on to round 3! 😀 (And thinking up our next interesting activities like when we were lucky enough to be joined by Vegan activist and educator, Earthling Ed, back in Veganuary, or our day in the woods with Living Woods in February when we helped improve existing woodland by adding around 230 additional hazel and oak trees. Find out more here). 

Thanks very much to everyone who made this possible! Special thanks to our COO, Eddie Beardsmore who continues to support this work, to our IT and Marketing departments who assisted in our data collection, and to Sustainability Consultants Ruth Thomlinson and Martha Witty at ClimatePartner for all their wisdom!

It's Emma Blenkinsop!

Emma B - Administration Manager

Emma is the Administration Manager and a member of the Senior Management Team at Coatsink. She has a particular interest in the environment and sustainability and heads up our Sustainability Committee.

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