June 20, 2017

Across Ontario, manufacturers are doing their bit to reduce greenhouse gas (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.

 

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 Evan Aiello calculated Trillium’s carbon footprint 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

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 1,200 cubic meters of natural gas and 4,200 kilowatt hours of electricity. Using the carbon calculator at zerofootprintcarbon.com, we determined that the carbon cost of running our office was 2.62 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 4.67 tonnes of carbon, train trips produced 0.18 tonnes and automobile trips produced 0.84 tonnes for a total of 5.69 tonnes per year. Combining our transportation and facility emissions gave us a total of approximately 8.3 tonnes per year.

Step 2 – Reduce

We identified further opportunities to reduce, building on initiatives taken the previous year. Electricity consumption increased this year because of increased activity. To combat this, we have started unplugging appliances not in use to save energy.

Transportation emissions also increased this year due to a large increase in flights. Long distance travel required flights instead of trains, however we continue to substitute car trips for train trips whenever possible.

Step 3 – Balance

To bring us to carbon neutral, we needed to offset 8.3 tonnes of carbon. We chose a portfolio of projects from Zerofootprintcarbon.com at an average cost of $14.00 per tonne, for a total cost of $116.00+HST.

Step 4 – Report

This is our second report. As mentioned in our previous report, we had substantial growth plans and met all our targets. Despite our best efforts, Trillium’s total carbon footprint did increase from 6 to 8.3 tonnes due to a more frequent travel schedule.

We were able to reduce our office emissions from 3.7 to 2.62 tonnes simply by changing the programmable thermostat for winter heating and summer cooling by a few degrees, and lowering the blinds on our south facing windows during the day.

Transportation emissions increased from 1.9 to 5.69 tonnes almost entirely due to the increase in flight emissions from 0.83 to 4.67 tonnes. A majority of these flights were from London to Ottawa, therefore making it unrealistic to substitute these flights with train travel.

We are continuously looking for more ways to reduce our footprint, check back next year to see our progress.