October 19, 2016

All across Ontario, manufacturers are doing their bit to reduce GHG emissions. Actions 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.zerocarboncertificate

At the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing, we decided to find out just how much carbon we were responsible for emitting, and begin taking steps to offset it to become carbon neutral. Here is how we did it:

Summer intern Tom Haley led the carbon neutral project. He used a four step process:

  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

At this step we measured the cost of running our office (heating and electricity). Using our bills from the past year, we calculated that we used 1,800 cubic meters of natural gas and 2,400 kilowatt hours of electricity. Using the carbon calculator at zerofootprintcarbon.com, we determined that the carbon cost of running our office was 3.7 tonnes.

Next we examined our transportation emissions. We use planes, trains and automobiles to do our work. Looking at our expense claims for the past year and using the carbon calculator, we determined that our flights produced 0.83 tonnes of carbon, train trips produced 0.09 tonnes and automobile trips produced 0.78 tonnes for a total of 1.9 tonnes per year. Combining our transportation and facility emissions gave us a total of approximately 6 tonnes per year.

Step 2 – Reduce

We identified opportunities to reduce. Changing the thermostat for winter heating and summer cooling by a little bit could result in some savings. We decided to give that a try. In summer, we decided to lower the blinds on our south facing windows during the day.

For transportation, we looked to substitute train for car travel where possible. Car trips produce almost 10 times the carbon per kilometre as train trips, so we will use the train whenever possible.

Step 3 – Balance

To bring us to carbon neutral, we needed to offset 6 tonnes of carbon. We chose a portfolio of projects from Zerofootprintcarbon.com at a cost of $16.33 per tonne for a total cost of $98.00+HST.

Step 4 – Report

This is our first report. It will be interesting to see if we were able to reduce our emissions over the next year – especially since we have some substantial growth plans. In any case, check back next year to see our progress.