The conversation around corporate sustainability has changed from a question of if to when. With the world setting a target to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030, industries across the globe are examining what role they play in achieving this important outcome.
Corporations now seek to become leaders in reducing their carbon footprint. Aside from the clear climate benefit, this move makes great business sense. Public opinion is in favor of sustainable practices, and it shows in consumer spending habits. A recent survey found that 66% of global respondents (and 75% of millennials) say that brand sustainability practices influence their purchasing decisions.
Corporate Carbon Footprint
Every emission that is directly or indirectly part of the process of doing business is included in calculating a corporation’s carbon footprint. Everything from energy consumption to supply chain emissions are included, and while the scope of data needed to arrive at a calculated carbon footprint may seem daunting, there are services available to assist with determining your organization’s carbon footprint. A full analysis of your carbon footprint is an excellent tool for determining where to start making changes to reduce emissions.
10 Tips for Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Your Business
There are ways businesses can reduce their carbon footprint while they wait for that analysis to be completed. Let’s look at 10 steps your corporation can take toward reducing its carbon footprint.
1. Change your climate
Efficient regulation of indoor air temperature has benefits beyond reducing energy consumption. Many studies have shown that indoor temperatures can negatively affect worker productivity. HVAC systems and control technology have advanced to the point where it is easier than ever to regulate indoor temperatures by zone, time, or usage.
By improving your organization’s HVAC systems you can ensure your indoor climate expenditures are going directly toward creating a comfortable and productive environment for your workforce.
2. Source sustainable energy
Powering your corporate campus with sustainable energy is an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint. There are several ways to achieve this goal.
- Opt-in for purchasing power from sustainable sources. Corporations can enter into a Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (CPPA) to purchase power produced through a sustainable source, typically a solar or wind farm. An additional benefit to this type of agreement is that the price is locked in for the term of the contract, protecting your organization against market fluctuations.
- Invest in your own solar or wind farms on or near your campuses. Not only is this an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint, but it ensures your organization has power in emergencies that might otherwise affect the power grid.
- Purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). These are part of the carbon credit market system designed to offset emissions through monetary support for sustainable energy production.
3. Make the road less traveled
Reducing corporate travel is a helpful way to reduce your organization’s environmental impact since transportation is a major carbon culprit. Within this framework of corporate travel, there is a lot of room to create a balance between times when travel is required and when a remote or digital presence can accomplish the same end.
Hybrid work models have increased in popularity, and fewer cumulative hours of commute time are having a positive impact on emissions.
As hybrid work has increased, the technology to connect over digital platforms has improved. Online conferences are becoming easier to navigate and more seamless to host, offering opportunities to connect with large audiences without travel.
When travel is necessary, consider options that reduce overall emissions, such as carpooling and flying commercial.
4. Upgrade your lighting
This simple piece of advice can have a big impact. Consider all of the places your organization uses lighting: office buildings, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and parking lots. A lot of energy goes into keeping those places lit, especially in regions that see increased dark hours over winter.
Switching to LED bulbs can reduce your lighting energy consumption by 50%-70%. Other technology can help improve the energy efficiency of your lighting, such as motion sensors and timers that ensure lights in certain areas are only activated when needed.
5. Create a local food stream
If your organization has a cafeteria, you can partner with local sustainable organizations to create a food stream that reduces waste and serves the community. Source locally grown foods where possible, compost food waste, and donate untouched foods to area kitchens that help community members in need. These are fantastic ways for your business to reduce its overall carbon footprint while making a difference locally.
6. Work with sustainable suppliers
Your organization’s procurement and purchasing departments can play a big role in reducing carbon footprint by working with sustainable organizations and suppliers who produce items that can easily be recycled or refurbished.
7. Reduce, reuse, and recycle on a larger scale
This slogan shouldn’t be limited to sorting bins. A department-by-department audit of waste production can uncover habits and practices that are low-hanging fruit for improving your organization’s carbon footprint.
You may find that certain single-use items can be replaced by multi-use alternatives, or with products that are recyclable rather than disposable. Accumulated paper files and old tech can be recycled. Processes can be streamlined to reduce overall waste.
8. Don’t ignore your data center
The global shift to a digital workplace in 2020 increased internet traffic by 40% worldwide. As internet services improve in more areas of the world, the demand for data is growing exponentially.
The energy used to process all of that data is only a part of the equation. The glut of energy used to support data centers comes in the form of cooling infrastructure.
Stay on top of industry trends to make sure your data center isn’t increasing your carbon footprint.
9. Send sustainable products into the world
If your organization produces physical goods, you can greatly reduce your global carbon footprint by developing products that are designed with sustainability in mind. Use recyclable or compostable packaging. Move away from producing single-use items wherever possible. Make sure components of your product can also be recycled, refurbished, or composted.
10. Shift to an electric vehicle fleet
Corporations are already leading the way in switching to electric vehicles. With major automobile manufacturers rolling out longer-range, more powerful electric vehicles every year, there are plenty of options available to upgrade your fleet to electric vehicles.
Want more news and insights like this?
Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter, The New Leaf. Our goal is to keep you updated, educated, and even a bit entertained as it relates to all things EHS and sustainability.Get e-Newsletter