Environment: Conducting business sustainably

Climate change poses a considerable threat to the health of our operations, our people, our patients and our communities. ICON is committed to doing our part to track and improve our environmental performance across more than 100 locations in over 50 countries. We achieve this by working together toward sustainability strategies that consider our environmental impact, particularly in relation to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy use, waste generation and procurement-related activities.

Two key drivers of our environmental impact strategy are reducing our office footprint and business travel requirements. We also work with our suppliers to address indirect environmental impacts in the supply chain. 2022 marks our second year of reporting with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) as we continue to fulfil our commitment to conduct business sustainably.

Environmental targets

Reducing carbon emissions

To improve our processes and reduce our environmental impact, we track, calculate and report our GHG footprint. We apply the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard—the globally recognised corporate accounting and reporting standard for calculating carbon emissions. Carbon Trust provide annual verification of ICON’s Scope 1 and 2 emissions data in accordance with ISO 14064-3. ICON’s combined Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions have decreased by 23.5% since 2018 and 10% since 2021.

ICON participates in CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) on an annual basis, a globally recognised system that allows companies to measure and manage their environmental impacts. We received a C score from CDP in 2022 on our 2021 Climate Change response, view our response here.  

In 2022, we began engaging with CDP to calculate and assess the carbon footprint of our suppliers to expand the tracking of our Scope 3 emissions. Following the collection and analysis of this data, we will work to cut emissions across our supply chain. We require suppliers to abide by our Global Supplier Code of Conduct, which includes mandates for complying with laws and regulations as well as our own standards.

Overall, including business travel, our GHG emissions have decreased by 28% since 2018. We acknowledge that our Scope 3 emissions have increased year-on-year since 2020, when travel was significantly reduced due to the pandemic. Although these emissions have increased, we remain 31% below our 2018 pre-COVID emissions, and are committed to continue our work towards reducing emissions. Additionally, our emissions intensity has decreased substantially as our business has grown. Since 2018, our emissions intensity per million in revenue has decreased by 46% and our emissions intensity per FTE employee has decreased by 45%.

Reducing energy consumption

At ICON we have set a goal to reduce electricity consumption by 20% by 2030 and to avail of electricity from 100% renewable sources by 2025. In our move toward renewable energy, we have transitioned 12 locations to green power, and 61.7% of our electricity consumption in 2022 came from renewables, with 15% being sourced through direct tariffs and 46.7% purchased through renewable energy credits (RECs).

Ensuring sustainability of our offices

ICON leases most of our offices and facilities, and therefore we work closely with our landlords and leasing agents to implement measures to ensure we operate in an environmentally sustainable manner. Throughout 2022, we continued real estate harmonisation efforts which resulted in the closure of 21 offices and the downsizing of an additional 10 to align with new working styles and business needs. Ultimately, we reduced our real estate footprint by 578,015 square feet in 2022, which helps to reduce our environmental footprint.

We’ve implemented a series of measures globally to reduce the local footprint of our offices while promoting comfort and efficiency. These include:

  • Installing energy-efficient LED lighting
  • Using motion detectors
  • Purchasing recycled office supplies
  • Reducing paper consumption by promoting paperless office processes and defaulting double-sided output
  • Building recycling areas into business centres and kitchens/canteens
  • Planting green spaces to improve internal air quality
  • Selecting building materials and vendors for their low environmental impact

Engaging employees on sustainability

ICON employees from around the world participate in our Green Champion Network. This network helps turn our commitments into action by identifying opportunities for awareness, education and change at the local level. Employees also participated in 2022 Sustainability Month activities, which included a range of challenges and community-based charitable and educational activities. 

Supporting SolarBuddy: ICON continues to support SolarBuddy, an Australia-based organisation that builds lights powered by solar energy for families living in extreme poverty. In 2022, employees at ICON offices in the US, the UK and South Korea built and delivered 400 solar lights, providing lighting to 2,000 individuals. This enhanced lighting allows children to study collectively an extra 2.9 million hours over three years. Because these lights are solar powered, they also offset approximately 512 tCO2 e of emissions, the equivalent of planting 8,520 trees.

Sustainability Month: 47 ICON offices took part in a range of activities in the 2022 Sustainability Month, including food drives, sharing garden harvests, cycling challenges, educational campaigns and webinars. ICON employees also participated in an environmental photo contest. The concept, “Waterside Moments”, encouraged fresh, clear and captivating original photographs to support environmental and sustainability awareness. Employees in 39 countries submitted more than 1,000 entries.