Due to the move and the construction done to our new Knoxville office, it took a bit longer this year to calculate SACE’s carbon footprint than it did last year. However, I am pleased to announce that our carbon dioxide emissions are down from 2010 to 2011 by about 20 metric tons! That is the equivalent of taking about four cars off the road for an entire year. After calculating our footprint, we purchased offsets for the equivalent of 177 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from NativeEnergy.
As with the last two years, we calculated Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. Essentially, this means we calculated carbon dioxide emissions associated with our biodiesel manufacturing, office energy consumption, air and ground transportation and overnight stays related to work. Our emissions have consistently gone down since we started tracking our CO2 emissions in 2009, as shown in Table 1.
In 2009 and 2010, we contracted with Verus Carbon Neutral to calculate our carbon dioxide emissions. This year, we calculated our emissions in-house. The major benefit of calculating our footprint on our own is that we know what all of our assumptions are, and therefore can easily understand exactly what causes our emissions to go up or down each year. The chart at the end of the blog compares our 2009-2011 emissions. We reduced our emissions from air travel for the third year in a row, but our ground transportation – from rental vehicles and from employee commuting – increased.
Iowa Wind Energy Brings Us Down to Zero
NativeEnergy enables businesses to help finance the construction of wind, biogas, solar and other carbon reduction projects with their Help Build carbon offsets program. The projects that NativeEnergy helps to fund are all new projects with social and environmental benefits, and are validated by one of three national and international standards: Climate Action Reserve, Verified Carbon Standard or The Gold Standard. NativeEnergy reviewed our carbon footprint calculations and gave us four projects that we could choose from to buy our carbon offsets.
We chose the Iowa Farms Wind Project, which will offset a total of 92,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide during the first ten-year crediting period of the project. There are two farmers that are leasing land to 5045 Wind Partners, LLC, which has partnered with NativeEnergy, to build two 1.6 MW wind turbines. The turbines, in addition to helping the local community, will also enhance grid reliability and stability through geographic dispersion of renewable energy; this, in turn, helps balance the variablity of wind energy.
Looking Ahead: Managing our Footprint in 2012
Moving forward, we anticipate that our Knoxville carbon emissions will continue to decline for several reasons. First, we made several energy efficiency improvements to our office. Second, we recently installed a 9.6 kW solar photovolatic array that is projected to offset 12,000 kWh of electricity a year. Third, we have a Nissan Leaf company car, which already reduced some of our transportation emissions last year, and will further reduce them as the recharging infrastructure is built out across the Southeast and we use it more and more. As we reported in our 2010 blog, SACE made a few improvements in our data tracking as well, to allow employees to better keep tabs on their own carbon emissions for the organization. For example, in our 2011 footprint, we recorded what the MPG of every rental vehicle so we could more accurately track how many gallons of gas we burn. The components of our footprint will further change in 2012, as it did in 2011, because we sold our biodiesel operations to Clean Energy Biofuels, and we closed two of our smaller offices in Athens, Georgia and Savannah, Georgia.
We’re optimistic about the results of our efforts to consume less carbon dioxide in 2012, and look forward to sharing our the details of our footprint with you next year!