Assess your company's climate-related impacts and mitigate and/or offset them. As a business, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Reducing your carbon footprint is no different from starting any other important business initative. If your organization implements some of the steps discussed by author David Bennell, steps can be taken to reduce carbon footprint and save money.
- Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for hundreds or even thousands of years. For most of the Earth's history, these greenhouse gases were produced by the natural systems of the planet, and have been in balance. With the advent of the Industrial Age, higher concentrations of these gases have been produced, and created a greenhouse effect, which has led to higher temperatures, higher sea levels, and shifts in global weather patterns. A recent survey of major US corporations showed that 89% were taking action related to climate change.
Many are driven by pressure from the investment community. They seek to set and achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals that will improve the company's energy, production, and transportation practices, and better position the company for strategic growth in an uncertain and perhaps uncharted future. As a business, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Reducing your carbon footprint is no different from starting any other important business initiative.
In fact, many companies in several countries have made a public commitment to become carbon neutral. Meaning that the overall output of carbon emissions will be in effect zero, through in-house carbon reduction initiatives and/or through purchasing offset credits from an accredited provider. Knowing where and how you generate greenhouse gases is the first step to reducing them. Online calculators, assessment and tools, like the World Resources Institute's Greenhouse Gas Protocol can help you understand, quantify, manage, and report greenhouse gas emissions.
Based on your assessment of climate related risks and opportunities, a strategy and action plan can be developed. A plan to reduce carbon emissions should first focus on the type of energy used for electricity, heating, and cooling buildings, as well as the energy you use for transportation. Improving the efficiency of your buildings is one of the most obvious ways to minimize carbon emissions, as buildings can account for almost 35% to 40% of CO2 emissions in a typical company.
High performing energy-efficient healthy buildings also save money and are proven to improve worker productivity and retention. If possible, move toward electricity sources that emit less carbon. In many parts of the USA and Canada, customers can choose to have a percentage of their electricity supplied from a renewable energy source, such as hydro power, wind, or solar. These green choice programs are maturing and proving to be a powerful stimulus for growth in renewal energy supply.
Today more than 50% of all US businesses have an option to purchase some type of green-powered product. At the small business or home business level, tax breaks and incentives can make solar systems and other renewable energy technologies like geothermal energy, more cost-effective. Check with the public utility commission in your state or province for more information. Transportation is another major business contributor of carbon emissions.
It includes employee travel and commuting, as well as the distribution of goods and services. If you aren't already looking for ways to make your product distribution operations more efficient, you're leaving money on the table. Look for opportunities to reduce business travel through video conferencing, which not only reduces emissions, but also saves money. Think about ways to encourage telecommuting when possible. Allowing staff to work from home even one day per week can add up to a reduction in overall emissions.
It's also an employee benefit that has proven popular for employee attraction and retention purposes. There's a limit to how much efficiency you can squeeze from your business operations, or how much renewable energy you can employ. The choice for those who wish to compensate for the remaining emissions is to fund an activity by another party that reduces emissions. This is commonly called a carbon offset, or a carbon credit. You can learn more about carbon offsets, and the opportunity they provide, by visiting the websites of The Nature Conservancy, The Carbon Fund, or another reputable non-profit.
The concept of a change in climate can seem overwhelming. These changes are going to impact your business in one way or another, through regulatory changes, impacts in your supply chain, and a likely shift in consumer behavior. The good news is, if your organization implements some of the steps we just discussed, you can reduce your own carbon footprint, and save money.
Last, he helps you figure out where to find resources to help track key metrics, assess your company's carbon footprint, and improve your environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices.
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