By 2030, energy demand is predicted to increase by 50 percent as a function of continued global economic expansion. Over this same time period, carbon-dioxide emissions are expected to increase substantially, and new data are coming in daily, linking environmental impacts with rising greenhouse-gas emissions. As a result, countries around the world have adopted policies and regulations to encourage energy conservation and investment in renewables and distributed energy systems to reduce the adverse impacts associated with climate change.
In response to these challenges, organizations are grappling with understanding how climate change will impact their businesses: They’re reading the literature, joining organizations that are sponsoring climate-change programs, and developing carbon footprints. Their goal is to understand whether or not their manufacturing or other activities emit significant quantities of carbon, whether resources are being used in an eco-efficient manner to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and how carbon issues will impact their businesses and relationships with regulators and internal and external stakeholders.
Managing a carbon footprint can be a challenging exercise for any organization. Typically, it involves identifying the major life-cycle carbon impacts inherent in the design, manufacturing, delivery, and use of products or services; measuring or estimating the carbon emissions associated with product manufacturing, service delivery, and product use; identifying and understanding opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint or seek offsets to carbon impacts; and developing and implementing actions to manage carbon footprints.
As a founding member of The Climate Registry, The Cadmus Group has made a commitment to report its carbon emissions and manage them in a responsible manner. As Cadmus prepares to submit its inventory this summer, it is implementing procedures to better understand its carbon footprint by following the methodology above. As a consulting business, Cadmus’ carbon footprint is primarily related to office-support activities; heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning; and transportation.
On the transportation side, Cadmus provides subsidies to employees for mass-transit passes and use of bicycles and other forms of transportation to decrease traffic-related pollution. Cadmus supports the concept of virtual offices to reduce commuter-related carbon emissions, and recognizes employees who walk to work or use public transportation on Earth Day.
In the office, Cadmus has replaced outdated vending machines with new, energy-efficient equipment. It recycles paper, cardboard, glass, and plastic, and it has installed software to put computers to sleep to reduce energy consumption during the day when they’re not in use. As a member of EPA’s Green Power Partnership, Cadmus buys a significant portion of the electricity it uses from renewable sources. Its participation in this effort is helping the program achieve its goals of promoting the growth of the green power market by reducing the cost and increasing the value of green power. In addition, over the last 3 years, Cadmus has been a Pledge Driver for EPA’s annual Change the World ENERGY STAR® campaign. To date, Cadmus has inspired more than 330 individuals to pledge to change more than 1,700 light bulbs to models that have earned the ENERGY STAR label. This has prevented approximately 703,885 pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions, and saved more than $45,000 in energy costs.
Becoming carbon neutral is a journey that Cadmus has initiated, embraced, and is expanding, with the creation of its employee sustainability committee. This committee has been delegated responsibility for reviewing and evaluating Cadmus’ internal practices to identify additional green-building improvements to reduce its carbon footprint. On the drawing board is the possible expansion of renewable-energy purchases, use of more efficient office equipment, and enhancing the operation of office equipment to reduce energy demands.
Cadmus encourages organizations in all industries to strive to understand their carbon footprints. Cadmus acknowledges that, in these demanding times, establishing and maintaining momentum for such an endeavor is difficult; however, by making well-planned business decisions today, you can successfully articulate your own pathway in a carbon-constrained world of tomorrow.
Jane Obbagy is vice president at Boston-based The Cadmus Group Inc. She manages Cadmus's Emerging Markets Group, which provides technical support for international development activities (including environmental stewardship and risk assessment) and private-sector efforts to foster corporate social responsibility programs around the world. Obbagy also leads the ongoing development of Cadmus’s Strategic Environmental Consulting Practice.