Reducing Emissions through Dynamic Work and Renewable Electricity

Climate change is a pressing global issue that is severely impacting people, the planet, and businesses. We can already see these impacts with increasing droughts, wildfires, extreme heat, and flooding affecting peoples’ well-being, and business operations. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report in August 2021 confirming that climate change is undeniably human-caused and will result in dire consequences if the world does not take immediate action. In recognition of the imperative of climate action, Okta is advancing our climate program, aligned with our strategy to measure, reduce, and move to renewable energy. 

At the same time, the last 18 months have accelerated our move to Dynamic Work. Dynamic Work is more than enabling employees to work from anywhere. It is about providing equity across work environments with a flexible work experience that empowers employees to be their most productive and successful selves. With this expansion in work environments, we desired to understand the impact our Dynamic Work strategy has on our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions footprint.

Our advances

Thus far, we have:

  1. Achieved 100% renewable electricity for our FY21 global offices’ electricity consumption, which we committed to in April 2021, and for our FY22 offices’ and Okta employee’s work from home (WFH) electricity consumption.
  2. Expanded our annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory to cover all relevant scope 3 emissions, including employee WFH emissions, and purchased goods and services. This expansion serves to better understand our impact and inform our initiatives, such as Dynamic Work and our renewable electricity strategies.
  3. Conducted a study to understand the impact our Dynamic Work strategy has had on our GHG emissions inventory. Due to reduced employee commuting and workplace square footage per person, we’ve found that Dynamic Work can be an efficient workplace GHG emissions reduction strategy. Our per-employee emissions are projected to be 21% lower in FY23, with Dynamic Work, than pre-pandemic levels in FY20. Specifically, our projected emissions per employee for FY23 are 1.22 tCO2e, while the FY20 emissions per employee were 1.55 tCO2e. For details on the methodology, please see the end of this post.
  4. Invested in energy-efficient buildings. We built our Sydney office to achieve both LEED Silver and WELL Silver certifications and are committed to building all new offices to both LEED Silver and WELL Silver standards. We prioritize buildings with sustainability certifications in our site selection. 
  5. Increased our reporting and transparency efforts. We submitted our climate data to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) (available here), the gold standard for climate reporting. We’ve also published our first annual Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Fact Sheet.
  6. Invested in our second climate justice grantee - the CLIMA Fund. We recognize that climate change disproportionately impacts historically excluded communities, including communities of color. The CLIMA Fund supports grassroots climate justice groups working in more than 100 countries, with a particular focus on elevating the leadership of women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples.

Key Learnings

As our ESG and Sustainability programs continue to grow, we’ve learned the importance of electrifying our offices, supporting our employees to reduce their WFH emissions, building new renewable energy, and of incorporating communities’ voices to inform our climate strategy.

We have reduced our office Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions by investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts. To further reduce office emissions, we will need to prioritize opportunities for electrification within our existing and future real estate footprint. 

By calculating our estimated employee WFH energy consumption, we’ve realized it’s ~2x of our overall office energy consumption. This is due to rapid company growth, diversity of worker location and their energy grid’s GHG emissions, and less efficient heating & cooling systems at homes compared to our offices. Supporting employees by providing resources on how to conduct home energy efficiency audits and opt-in to their local residential renewable energy option is critical to reducing our WFH energy consumption.

As an integral part of our climate strategy, we will continue to work with community-based climate justice organizations like GRID Alternatives and the CLIMA Fund. We strive to incorporate the voices of our communities into how we identify and implement solutions to address climate change.

What’s Next

  1. Evolving our climate strategy to include science-based targets, aligned with the UN Paris Agreement
  2. Integrating climate into our enterprise wide risk management process, as per the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures.
  3. Some other things that we are exploring for the future, include:
  4. “Listening and learning” tour with climate and environmental justice organizations to inform our climate strategy.

Our Dynamic Work GHG emissions study methodology

Okta has partnered with Global Sustainability Consultancy Anthesis to run a comprehensive analysis. We compared our FY20 pre-pandemic, pre-Dynamic Work year of work (Feb 1, 2019 - Jan 31, 2020) with an FY23 projected year of post-pandemic, Dynamic Work data. 

For FY20, we used the Okta office emissions data from our GHG emissions inventory. We estimated employee home emissions based on country-specific increases in home energy use and relevant grid emission factors as outlined in Anthesis’s “Estimating Energy Consumption & GHG Emissions for Remote Workers” whitepaper. For employee commute statistics, we used badge data from each of our offices to understand utilization rates and the number of commute days. We then mapped employee’s zip codes to our offices for commute distances. We used national surveys of commute modes within each country that employees reside. 

For our FY23 projected scenario of office GHG emissions, we applied the average energy per square foot of our offices to our projected real estate footprint. To understand our employee’s work patterns, we held an internal survey in April 2021, where roughly half of employees responded, indicating how many days a week they would work from the office verses from home. With this information, we calculated work from home and commute emissions following a similar methodology as FY20 with our projected FY23 headcount. 

Interested in getting involved? Learn more about what we’re doing from our Social and Environmental Responsibility page.