Image by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce at Circular Glasgow’s Step Up to Net Zero Panel Discussion.

Agile City Announces Business Route Map to Net Zero

8 July 2024

Our mission is to create an inner-city retrofit campus to accelerate the just transition towards net zero carbon emissions from the built environment by 2045.

We are committed to transforming forgotten or neglected buildings into sustainable buildings for the Glasgow communities of the future. Inspired by the Race to Zero Emissions published by the United Nations, we aim to reduce our carbon footprint by 90% by 2045.

So what does this mean?

In line with the United Nations Race to Zero, we define net zero as reducing 90% of our carbon footprint while implementing and investing in carbon removal methods to account for the 10% of emissions critical to our operation. Carbon removal means working with techniques that actively remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS) plants and long-term reforestation practices. These methods differ from carbon offsetting because they actively reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere due to the organisation’s actions compared to offsets which reduce or avoid emissions outside of the value-chain and can still lead to an increase in emissions.

This journey must start with current measurements of Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions and continue with yearly transparency. How can we reduce our footprint if we don’t know how much carbon we are consuming?

What does it mean to measure the three scopes?

A carbon footprint is a count of how many greenhouse gases equivalent of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by our actions as a business. In tackling this it is helpful to classify different levels of control we have over these emissions. Scope 1 emissions are the emissions we have direct control over. These include fuels that are burned on-site, for heating for example, and as a direct result of the company’s actions, ie. company vehicles.

Scope 2 emissions, comparatively, are somewhat under our control. Scope 2 includes the electricity consumed by the business. It’s important to acknowledge that even though we are not burning the fuel for electricity ourselves, that fuel is being burnt elsewhere as a direct result of our demand for it. In this sense we have financial control, if not operational control, of our electricity. The trickiest source to account for, and unfortunately constituting the majority of our emissions, are emissions classified under Scope 3.

Scope 3 emissions include the effects of actions both upstream and downstream of the business. This includes the carbon produced by employees traveling to work, the carbon produced by business wastewater that must later be processed, the fuel burnt in transporting goods to the business, and the greenhouse gases produced by those goods discarded by the business and its end users, to name a few sources. Scope 3 covers such a large range of sources it is typically the largest portion of a business’s carbon footprint. Also, because it is so expansive it is also the trickiest to fully capture. Our method for calculating Scope 3 focuses on business waste, the water consumed, and spend-based estimates of material emissions based on the Normative Business Carbon Calculator.

Our Progress: Baseline

With funding from Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, we have been able to produce a carbon audit of Agile City’s business across Civic House and Glue Factory.

We calculated our baseline emissions at 118.1 tonnes CO2e. Our assessment boundary included emissions from electricity, gas, waste, and spend-based calculations. These spend-based calculations included emissions from products upstream including food, paper, and website hosting among other categories. Please note that this calculation includes the footprint from our electricity usage which has, since 2018, been a 100% renewable tariff. We could remove the electricity from our calculations, but because we are using energy from the grid it is useful to still consider it in our footprint. The breakdown of the three scopes is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Proportions of Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions produced by Agile City CIC in the Financial Year 2022-2023.

With funding from Glasgow Chamber of Commerce through the Step Up to Net Zero Program, we have been able to calculate estimates for Agile City’s carbon footprint from 2018 to 2024.

Figure 2: Estimates of carbon emitted by Agile City CIC between 2018 and 2024.

As you can see in Figure 2, our highest calculated value of CO2e produced was in 2019-2020 at 279.1 tonnes CO2e. This aligns with the beginning of the retrofit in the 2019-2020 financial year. The following year, 2020-2021, the figure drastically drops. We expect this is due to the majority of work and business being postponed by the global pandemic. There is another spike in the financial year 2023-2024 at 221.5 tonnes CO2e. This is to be expected with the increased footfall after the reopening of Civic House and the commencement of the Glue Factory retrofit project.

Our Progress: Looking to the Future

As you can also tell from Figure 1 and Figure 2, around 90% of our carbon emissions at Agile City come from Scope 3 emissions. Our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are fairly consistent from 2020 to 2024 as can be seen in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Excerpt from Figure 2 showing the breakdown of Scope 1 and 2 emissions from Agile City CIC between 2018 and 2024. Note that the Scope 2 emissions are included despite the 100% renewable tariff.

Note that there is an increase in Scope 1 and 2 emissions after the financial year 2021-2022. This increase is consistent with Parveen’s Canteen opening in November of 2022. There is also only a 2% increase in carbon emissions between 2022-2023 and 2023-2024. This makes 2022-2023 a good baseline for carbon footprint comparisons going forwards.

It is crucial to establish this baseline. We can then set goals to reach net zero by 2045 in line with the United Nations Race to Net Zero. Our baselines show that over 90% of our emissions are from Scope 3 sources. In addition, these are high spend-based estimates calculated through Normative’s carbon calculator for small businesses. Now that we have these estimates, we can target areas to improve in the coming years while looking at what has already had a positive impact. Namely, we can focus on decreasing the impact of our retrofit projects by ensuring we use and can measure circular materials in the future.


2018 – 2020

  • Passivhaus retrofit feasibility study – Civic House
  • Roof insulation and air-tightness – Civic House
  • Installation of air-source heat pump – Civic House
  • Internal electrical improvement – LED lighting, heating controls – Civic House

2019 – 2021

  • PV / solar installation – 50KW system – Civic House
  • External Wall Insulation and air-tightness – Civic House
  • Triple glazed windows and insulated doors throughout – Civic House
  • Ventilation & Mechanical Heat Recovery System – Civic House

2021 – 2023

  • Roof insulation and overclad – Glue Factory
  • 30kw PV system – Glue Factory
  • Air-source Heat Pumps & industrial power supplies – GlueFactory


  • Power and heat storage in both buildings
  • EV charging points across both buildings
  • Internal energy monitoring across both buildings – creating public ‘micro-power station’ digital interface
  • Civic Yard development alongside food waste strategy


  • Decrease of our annual carbon emissions to 59.05 tCO2e by reducing use of virgin building materials


  • Decrease our annual carbon emissions to 11.81 tCO2e (10% of the baselines emissions from financial year 2022-2023)

This article was written by Sebastian Taylor. They are the Community Connector at Agile City CIC with funding through the Step Up to Net Zero program.

Step Up to Net Zero is an initiative by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. SUTNZ supports Glasgow SMEs in their efforts to reach net zero by funding six-month work placements who will help organisations take action towards net zero and circular goals.