An increasingly important issue amongst Ontario manufacturers is the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Actions to reduce emissions range from installing energy-saving equipment to optimizing production processes and logistics. These efforts are good for the environment and often help the bottom line by reducing costs.
At the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing, we decided to find out just how much carbon we were responsible for emitting and have taken steps to offset it to become carbon neutral. Here is how we did it:
Trillium’s carbon footprint was calculated using the four-step process established by Tom Haley:
1 Measure the amount of GHGs you are currently responsible for.
2 Reduce your emissions where possible.
3 Balance remaining emissions using carbon offsets.
4 Report on your activities on a regular basis.
Step 1- Measure
We started by calculating the carbon footprint of running Trillium’s office. Examining the bills from the past year, we found out that we have used 1,017 cubic meters of natural gas and 2,500 kilowatt hours of electricity. The carbon calculator at carbonfootprint.com allowed us to convert our electricity and heat consumption to metric tons of CO2e emitted, showing that the carbon cost of running our office was 3.16 metric tons of CO2e.
Here at Trillium we have to travel by plane, train and automobile quite a bit to accomplish our work goals. Using the carbon calculator, we determined that the carbon cost of our flights totaled 3.44 metric tons, train trips produced 0.04 metric tons and automobile trips generated 1.4 metric tons, which combined constitutes 4.88 metric tons of CO2e per year.
Our total carbon footprint for 2017-2018 fiscal year, including travel and facility emissions, constituted 8.04 metric tons of CO2e.
Step 2 – Reduce
Trillium works towards reducing its carbon footprint on a daily basis. Leaving the office, we always make sure that the lights and heaters are off for the night. We optimize our travel by arranging multiple meetings on the same day.
In September 2017, the Trillium team moved to a new office in Social Science Center on Western University campus. Being part of Western, we benefit from the university’s numerous sustainability programs. On account of provincial grants received by Western through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program campus is gradually transitioning away from fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Funding is being used among other initiatives for renovation of campus buildings to make them more energy efficient.[i]
Step 3 – Balance
To renew Trillium’s carbon neutral status, we need to offset 8.04 metric tons of CO2e. We chose an “Americas Portfolio” from carbonfootprint.com at an average cost of 12.87 $ per ton for a total cost of 103.47 $+HST. The “Americas Portfolio” supports multiple projects within Americas region. The projects are not limited to carbon emission reduction, and include health benefits, energy efficiency, reducing deforestation and clean drinking water projects. All projects in this portfolio are certified to either the Verified Carbon Standard or the Gold Standard. We hope that this donation can at least partially compensate for the damage done to the environment by our daily activities.
Step 4 – Report
This is our third report. Trillium’s total carbon footprint reduced from 8.3 to 8.04 metric tons.
Despite the fact that our office emissions increased from 2.62 to 3.16, the actual consumption of electricity and natural gas decreased. The difference can most likely be attributed to the change of the carbon calculator used to obtain the carbon tons equivalent.
Our transportation emissions decreased from 5.69 to 4.88 metric tons. The decrease can be mainly explained by a reduced number of flights which lead to a decrease of flight emissions from 4.67 to 3.44, while the automobile travel, unfortunately, grew, because Trillium relies heavily on driving to profile Ontario manufacturing firms.
We are continuously looking for more ways to reduce our footprint, check back next year to see our progress.