On Wednesday, I attended a carbon footprint workshop at the Rainier Square Conference Center in downtown Seattle. The event was hosted by the Seattle Climate Partnership (SCP), Sustainable Business Consulting and Cascadia Consulting Group (CCG), and featured a case study of Homestreet Bank. You know what’s great about morning workshops and seminars? Pastries. When I arrived, Charlie was just starting his talk about SCP, so I grabbed a Starbucks cinnamon roll and took a seat.
I looked around and found that the audience consisted primarily of staff from local businesses, but members from government and environmental groups were also present. After Charlie finished speaking, he introduced CCG’s Anisha Shankar, who gave a presentation on the SCP Carbon Calculator. The calculator is designed to help businesses determine their carbon footprint, which Anisha defined as the “impact, in carbon emissions, of business activities.” She went on to say that the common sources of carbon emissions for most businesses include building energy, employee travel (operational and commute mileage), materials usage and solid waste practices. I’ve looked at the Carbon Calculator before and have been impressed with its user-friendliness and versatility: the tool can be applied to businesses of many sizes across a variety of industries.
When Anisha finished, she introduced the Marketing Director from Homestreet Bank, who gave a great presentation on their carbon reduction efforts as a member of the SCP. I think his presentation did a good job of showing the challenges and opportunities of carbon footprint reduction, and I liked that he talked about the specific, concrete changes Homestreet has made in their efforts, such as turning their computers off at night and getting Zip Car service for their employees. By the end of the presentation, I was done with my cinnamon roll and had several new ideas for implementing carbon reduction strategies at ECOSS.
Last year, ECOSS signed the SCP pledge to reduce our own carbon footprint. Currently, we’re in the process of gathering data on our building’s energy use and our employee travel, and we’re assessing the way we select and use our office materials, like printer paper. The idea is to collect a year’s worth of data (which can be done either by evaluating a backlog of records, or by multiplying a single month’s data by 12) to serve as the baseline year for our carbon footprint. This takes a little digging through utility records and the like, and in areas where we don’t have hard figures, we’ll have to make smart estimates. From there we can set reduction targets and devise strategies for meeting those goals. It’s likely that our efforts will include a combination of staff education, modified day-to-day practices in the office, workplace sponsored incentives, and, perhaps most important, a reliable tracking system. Hopefully, we’ll reduce our carbon footprint and serve as an example for the many businesses and organizations we serve, while doing our part to be a little easier on the environment.
Learn more about Seattle’s Climate Protection Initiative and how the city is reducing it’s carbon footprint:
If you have questions about joining the Seattle Climate Partnership or about carbon footprinting in general, feel free to email Charlie Cunniff (ECOSS’ founding Executive Director!) or call 206-386-9748 at the Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment.