[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By: Drew Delaney

Businesses today are met with many challenges in relation to carbon emissions. If carbon emissions continue to increase beyond current levels our planet will see an increase in the severity of weather patterns, rising energy prices, global temperatures, increased sea level, and more. All of which will impact countries, economies, and businesses around the globe. To avoid future escalation of these issues, building owners and managers must consider proper emission management.

Carbon dioxide accounts for over 80% of greenhouse gas emissions in the world. In 2018, 22% of the carbon emissions in the United States were generated by industry, making it the third-largest carbon-emitting sector in the country behind energy production and transportation (U.S. EPA). Ahead of industry were transportation and electricity generation, responsible for 28% and 27% of U.S. carbon emissions, respectively. Overall, 67% of carbon emissions in the United States are generated from these three industries alone.

Businesses have a social responsibility to their stakeholders, employees, and the communities in which they operate to limit their carbon emissions. One way companies can reduce their carbon footprint is by focusing on their buildings and operations. Organizations across the country have committed to reducing their emissions by joining sustainability initiatives that drive energy reduction and the adoption of renewables.

What is Net Zero?

Net Zero” is a sustainability initiative developed by The World Green Building Council (WGBC) with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality in all new buildings constructed after 2030, and in all existing buildings by 2050. In order for a building to be net-zero carbon, all of its energy must be generated from on-site and/or off-site renewables and must have zero carbon emissions.  In the United States, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has been working in conjunction with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a worldwide green building certification, to create new standards for zero-emission buildings called LEED Zero.

Principles of Net Zero

Most of the time it isn’t feasible for businesses to generate all of their energy needs on-site. Each building is different, so no universal system can be applied to each building. The World Green Building Council (WGBC) has taken this into consideration and has created a four-principal framework of how businesses around the world can become carbon neutral by 2050.

  1. Measure and Disclose Carbon Emissions: Businesses should track carbon emissions for an entire year, to determine feasible emission goals.
  2. Reduce Energy Demand: An easy way to reduce carbon emissions is to use less energy. This can be done by utilizing a number of energy efficiency measures to maximize building efficiency.
  3. Generate Balance from Renewables: In addition to how much energy is used, businesses should also look at where that energy is coming from and how it is produced. It should be the goal of a business to use clean energy where possible.
  4. Improve Verification and Vigor: Over time meeting the standards of Net Zero projects should cover more than just carbon emissions. Organizations should manage other impact areas such as water and waste management. For example, businesses that strive to meet LEED Zero Carbon should also attempt to meet LEED Zero Water and LEED Zero Waste standards as well.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][vc_cta h2=”What Impact Will Your Organization Have?”]Each year more businesses are beginning to make strides to mitigate their carbon footprint. Renewable energy technology continues to become more efficient and affordable, making it easier for companies to make the switch. If everyone does their part, we can successfully reduce the environmental effects caused by carbon emissions.

Contact the EEP team for more information on how your organization can create a cost-saving plan to reduce carbon emissions.[/vc_cta][vc_separator][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1596464825101{margin-bottom: 0px !important;border-bottom-width: 0px !important;padding-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Drew Delaney is a summer intern at Evolution Energy Partners. Drew is a rising senior at Bucknell University majoring in Management for Sustainability.