Originally published in Interiors & Sources

04/07/2014

The Benefits of Speaking GHG

Learn the language and sell your energy project's green benefits

By Eric Woodroof, Ph.D., CEM, CRM

 
Polluted Sky

If you're having trouble getting your energy project approved, you might try selling it as a carbon emissions reduction measure. When this article hits your screen, I will be training energy managers in Kazakhstan (using Russian translators). It should be interesting and hopefully politically uneventful. My work in Kazakhstan is fundamentally about energy management, but my contract is one piece within a much larger objective labeled as a “climate change mitigation program.” This is a popular labeling approach, where carbon reduction is the basis on which the program is presented. But many of the implementation methods are primarily energy management tactics.

Knowing how to translate your energy projects into carbon-related deliverables can help you implement more projects. I can personally attest that this strategy has helped many energy management projects get approved all over the U.S. and abroad. Plus, you can get paid more in consulting fees if you calculate and report carbon emissions, and even more if you are certified.

Selling Energy Projects as Green

Many organizations feel the pressure to be greener as it has become a socially expected necessity for big brands, colleges, and governments. Your energy conservation projects have a direct and positive impact on an organization’s sustainability mission. This relationship is two-way, meaning that sustainability, marketing, and environmental program managers want you if they know how you can help them reach their goals. Thus, you need to know how to speak “GHG” (greenhouse gases) so that the environmental people will understand how your efforts can help them. In return, they may create projects for you (like my Kazakhstan contract mentioned earlier).

Reporting GHGs is not a difficult task, but to understand the requirements of this language, this article will show sample exam questions (with answers at the end) from the Carbon Reduction Manager Certification Exam, which is an established proxy for competence that has been taught all over the world since 2008.

Note the samples below are not the actual test questions, but similar in content and format. My objective is to show how you can take the extra step to translate your energy savings into green benefits. Many GHG calculations are simple and only require basic algebra. If you know the energy saved, you can multiply an emissions factor (for example, CO2 emissions per kWh) to estimate the emissions avoided. Emissions factors for fuels and even kWh by state can be found online in tables from the EPA as well as other organizations. As you get more advanced, you can deal with details like emissions equivalents and corporate GHG reporting. For now, let’s see what you can do. Good luck!


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