Six tips for reducing your organisation’s carbon footprint
Human activity adds 118 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day. This is important to understand because carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases such as water vapour, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone act as a blanket, trapping heat that the Earth may otherwise have radiated into space, and therefore raising the temperature. While plants, oceans and soil remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they simply cannot work fast enough to keep up with the rate that we are adding it.
The term carbon footprint has become part of our everyday language and refers to the amount of greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere from our activities. This includes things like burning fossil fuels, land clearance, production and consumption of food, and transportation. From a business perspective, carbon footprint includes things like how employees are commuting to and from work, supply chain, manufacturing processes, business travel, waste, and energy use.
We all have a part to play in reducing our impact on the environment and globally we are seeing organisations prioritising how to reduce their carbon footprint through the development of workplace reduction strategies. These undertake to educate employees about climate change, promote environmentally friendly processes and behaviours, and implement greener ways of operating.
We have compiled six practical carbon footprint reducing tips you can put into action:
1. Minimise the commute to work
More than 1.4 million Kiwis drive a private vehicle to work and 120,000 students to their places of education each day. This equates to 17 per cent of New Zealand’s gross emissions. In most cases, the commute to work makes up for the majority of an employee’s emissions and is something that organisations can reduce by supporting more work from home days, encouraging and facilitating carpooling, organising shuttles to collect employees from common areas, and even subsidising or covering the cost of public transport. However your organisation goes about it, reducing the amount of people in vehicles is a positive step towards a smaller carbon footprint.
2. Minimise business travel
Along the same lines as minimising the commute to and from work, this also applies to reducing business travel. There are times when in-person meetings are unavoidable, however technology today makes distance no tyranny and video conferencing means the world can literally come to you. Revisit travel policies to clarify when travel is acceptable and when it is unnecessary, and consider options for more sustainable travel, such as electric rental cars and only using airlines with extremely good carbon offset and sustainability practices in place.
3. Implement sustainable data storage
The amount of data organisations are storing is increasing at a significant pace. Storing, moving, backing up, replicating, and managing data requires enormous amount of energy to run and cool the machines that perform this task. So much so that the Cloud now has a larger carbon footprint than the airline industry.
4. Switch to renewable energy providers
One of the most important steps you can take is to switch to suppliers of renewable energy. Renewable energy is energy that comes from sources that cannot be depleted or that are naturally replenished when used, such as wind, water, and solar power. Power companies are increasingly offering renewable, or green energy, and creating a renewable energy-only policy for your organisation sets a line in the sand that non-renewable energy is no longer acceptable. When selecting a renewable energy provider it’s important to ensure that the energy provider providing renewable energy invests back into growing the renewable energy generation network.
5. Conduct due diligence on your supply chain
Your efforts to reduce your carbon footprint should include looking at the suppliers you use and whether they have similar environmental goals. Do they use sustainable products and packaging? Do they have fuel efficient transportation vehicles, and do they use technology like artificial intelligence to prevent the production of excessive emissions? What is their manufacturing process? Do they use renewable energy sources? Many RFP processes nowadays include questions and evidence of efforts to carbon footprint reduction activities and should form part of your consideration of any vendors moving forward.
6. Offset your carbon
It’s a big ask to reduce your carbon footprint to zero, and it certainly won’t happen immediately. While all the steps above will contribute to a reduction, the reality is that your activities will still have an impact on the environment. Carbon offsetting is a good way to compensate for the emissions you are still responsible for and there are a number of options such as purchasing carbon credits, donating to programs that have a positive impact on the environment like tree planting, financing renewable energy programmes, and investing marketplaces that offer carbon offsets for organisations.
Sustainability benefits your business too. Yes, all these things will help reduce your organisation’s impact on the environment for the greater good of all. But these actions will also have benefits closer to home. Operating more efficiently will reduce costs across a number of areas, increase goodwill from customers, investors and employees, and potentially even increase your overall competitiveness (just think about those RFPs!).
Generate Zero’s emission management solution
Our sustainability platform Footprint is a great place to start. It helps measure and forecast your carbon footprint, enabling you to focus your efforts on the parts of your business that need it the most. For more information or to have a confidential chat about how we can assist you on your sustainability journey to a greener future, speak to our team today.