Reduce Your Carbon Footprint in the Workplace

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Leading companies around the globe have committed to reducing their carbon footprint as part of internal environmental policies. An effective strategy needs to consider both direct emissions and indirect sources.

Today, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are being consider across a company’s entire value chain and can be viewed from two distinct view points. In fact, just recently, The Greenhouse Gas Protocol published two standards to help businesses measure, manage and report GHG emissions beyond their own operations, including the finalized version of long-awaited scope 3 guidance. The Corporate Value Chain (Scope 3) and Product Life Cycle standards were developed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The WRI said the standards will allow companies to measure and manage the full scope of emissions in their value chain and products for the first time, while helping to move businesses and reporting programs to one harmonized global reporting framework.

With small business resources limited, clients in our business sustainability programs ask for quick ways to get a jump start on reducing the company’s carbon footprint without having visibility to major environmental impacts. Depending on what’s a good fit for your organization, some solutions may be more cost effective and easier to implement than others. Consider taking eco action on the “low hanging apples” and plan for 2012 for more resource intensive sustainable options.

Strategy 1: Reduce Energy Consumption – the reduction of energy and fuel consumption is a key component of a sustainable business strategy to reduce emissions. It is a long-term commitment to reduction at the source across a product’s entire life cycle.

• Reduce energy consumption within your supply chain.

• Reduce consumption within the company’s operations.

• Design products for minimal direct energy consumption.

• Consider the consumer and end-life of a product.

Strategy 2: Replace Fossil Fuels with Renewable Energy – Many companies are switching to ‘green’ energy sources to reduce their emissions. There are a number of easy ways to switch to renewable energy.

• Choose a service provider that offers renewable energy choices.

• Install solar collectors to aid energy consumption.

• Switch corporate fleet renewable hybrid or fuels.

• Work within the supply chain to reduce fossil fuel usage.

Strategy 3: Offset Emissions – For businesses with less flexibility at the source, offsetting is a concept of funding an equivalent emission reduction elsewhere. This allows any business the ability to support emission reduction.

• Offset production equipment emissions by supporting renewable energy usage by similar equipment in another area.

• Buy emission offsets for corporate travel.

• Fund renewable energy projects: energy efficiency, sequestration, or biomass.

With corporate giants like IBM, P&G, and Wal-Mart now requiring suppliers to report on carbon and other environmental and social impacts, it has become critical for many companies to have a comprehensive carbon reduction strategy. Businesses must begin to understand both their direct and indirect exposure.

Article by Julie Urlaub, Founder and Managing Partner at Taiga Company; appearing courtesy 3BL Media.

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About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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