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Originally published in Interiors & Sources

05/09/2013

An Update on GHG Emissions Reporting and Carbon Offsets

New options available to lower your carbon footprint

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

 

How These Trends Affect Buildings
If you have a large organization, it is likely that you will be expected to at least report your GHG emissions in order to satisfy a supplier, client, or regulatory need. For example, Wal-Mart started making their key suppliers complete a questionnaire from the Carbon Disclosure Project a few years ago, which had trickle-down reporting effects to thousands of companies. Occasionally, clients call me just to help them understand the questions and fill in the form!  

If you require assistance to understand the GHG reporting landscape, terminology, or process, there are several courses/books and free resources and guides available. Some courses are internationally recognized, such as the CRM course, but you might not need all that training if you have a very small organization.

Regardless of your organization’s size, it is highly likely that even after you install energy efficient or renewable energy, you may still have a carbon footprint, though hopefully smaller. If you choose to, you can offset the remaining footprint by purchasing offset credits. Many organizations such as Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Pepsi do this voluntarily to improve their sustainability image or at least offset a portion of their carbon footprint.

There are a variety of offsets available and their creditworthiness is generally related to their cost. A compliance credit is a relatively rigorous one that an organization can use to meet a formal requirement. For example, if a utility uses more coal than they had forecasted, they could purchase a compliance offset credit (probably involving a forestry-related offset project) to close the gap.


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