Making Sustainability Part of Your Company’s Culture

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Originally published on TriplePundit as part of a TerraPass sponsored series on Carbon Offsetting.

By Nancy Bsales, TerraPass

The world of carbon offsets, sustainability, emissions and calculations, and environmental responsibilities can be overwhelming for any size business, but it doesn’t have to be. At TerraPass we have worked with hundreds of businesses large and small (and everywhere in between) with teams that have felt overwhelmed at one point or another. But we are here to assure you that thinking about your carbon footprint and reducing emissions isn’t as complicated as you might think.

For many large corporations, the plan is in place, knowledge is available and the road to sustainable growth is paved. But for more than 20 million small businesses — defined as less than 500 employees according to Forbes — the road can be filled with forks and potholes, and the GPS reading isn’t always clear. This is where TerraPass can help. We don’t just sell carbon offsets. We also work to educate, calculate and offset emissions, build employee or customer engagement programs, or just to be a sounding board for ideas and understanding that starts the journey for your business in a new climate.

Many small to medium businesses start off the conversation with, “Why should we do this?” And that is quickly followed up with one word: “How?” These are simple question in theory, and they are best answered with an analogy.

So, why should you pay attention to climate change and be environmentally responsible? Imagine you learned you have high cholesterol from you doctor and that this high cholesterol, if left unchecked, could lead to a fatal heart attack. Wouldn’t you try to lower your cholesterol? Wouldn’t you want to know and do all that you could to slow or stop the process? 

So, taking a blood test and learning your cholesterol level is high is like measuring your emissions output to see that your carbon footprint is high. Knowledge is power, and knowing where you stand with the numbers is the first step in the process of building your company’s path to a sustainable future. Why, you ask? Because you cannot manage what you don’t measure! Once you know the numbers and where you stand, it gives you a place to begin taking action to reduce your carbon footprint — just like you would to help lower your cholesterol.

High Cholesterol: A doctor recommends diet, exercise and medicine for a healthier you.

High Carbon Footprint: Terrapass prescription to a healthier environment mirrors this, we prescribe technology, efficiency and market-based tools.

Did you know your carbon footprint can lead to simple discoveries that can help a business both large and small save money immediately? For example, if you are at the beginning of the journey, by evaluating your carbon profile, high energy intensive actions will bubble through. If natural gas emissions are very high, an adjustment to heating or an upgrade of a HVAC system will prove to be advantageous (especially at $1.50 per therm).

These savings can be seen more readily in a small-to-medium size business, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true for all. Using a baseline as a comparison for the next year will show a reduction in emissions which is equivalent to savings — and that is only the beginning. The place to start is to measure and find out where you stand.

TerraPass’ partner PortionPac, a mid-sized company, comments on the importance of understanding their baseline to help build a sustainable road map going forward:

“As a manufacturer of concentrated, pre-measured detergents for over 50 years, PortionPac is a company that has always been interested in better positioning itself as a leader in the sustainable marketplace. Partnering with TerraPass has helped us achieve this goal by providing a whole picture of our current and historical emissions footprint. The analysis we receive from TerraPass is a comprehensive snapshot of where we are today and offers practical suggestions for reducing emissions to ensure we arrive at where we need to be in the future,” said John Paulin, communications manager for PortionPac Corp.

Once we know the numbers, what are you going to do about it? How do you lower your carbon footprint? Well, if climate change is the high cholesterol of the environment, offsets and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are like the cholesterol-lowering medicine that bridges the gap. The healthier your facilities and business practices become, the less offsets and RECs you will need to meet emission reduction goals. Conversely, just like the more you pay attention to your body’s health through proper diet and exercise, the less medicine you will need. The bonus for both is saving money, balancing risk, feeling good and building a better future.

Climate change is not simple, and the effects are definitely not simple, but taking action can be. If every small business, individual and large company come together to address climate change, we can make a difference. So, take that first step and calculate, then evaluate, your carbon profile. Whether a quick calculation online or a more complex assessment, measuring is the first step to management.

“Sometimes the riskiest decision you can make is to do nothing.” Richard Branson, Virgin

Image credit: Flickr/dexxus

Graphic courtesy of Terrapass

Nancy Bsales has worked in Sustainable Solutions at TerraPass for the last 8 years. Follow Nancy on twitter @NancyBsales or give her a call at 973-743-5374.

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