A business’s success in dealing with the climate change challenge will increasingly depend on its ability to demonstrate a commitment to doing “low carbon business.” In simple terms, doing low-carbon business requires doing more with less. It means squeezing profitability out of a company’s activities by minimizing energy consumption and eliminating the output of waste. Since energy and waste both contribute to a company’s carbon footprint, minimizing activities like electricity usage and eliminating uncritical activities like certain types of business travel directly reduce emissions while maintaining economic output. In other words, low carbon business promotes efficiency and profitability by decoupling greenhouse gas emissions from an organization’s economic output.
There are five basic steps to doing low-carbon business:
Step 1: Measure Your Footprint
The first step to a low-carbon business requires your company to measure its greenhouse gas emissions. Once measured, these emissions represent your carbon footprint, or baseline inventory, that can be used as the jumping off point for any measures or programs to reduce emissions.
Step 2: Report Your Footprint
Once you’ve measured your carbon footprint, the next step is to report your results to management, staff, suppliers, customers and the public. Your carbon footprint can be shared with stakeholders and decision-makers in and outside the organization, and included in annual reports or other company collateral.
Step 3: Reduce Emissions and Measure Performance
The next step is to plan and implement strategies to reduce your footprint and monitor performance over time. These strategies can range from simple tasks such as powering down computers and electronics at night to more elaborate initiatives like purchasing high efficiency HVAC technologies. No matter the size and scope of the strategy, every effort helps to achieve your company’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Step 4: Purchase Carbon Offsets
A carbon offset is when you make a financial contribution to third-party emission-reducing projects, such as planting trees or investing in alternative energy sources. Purchasing carbon offsets allows you to compensate for greenhouse emissions that cannot be feasibly avoided. Your company can become fully "carbon neutral" by offsetting its entire footprint.
Step 5: Communicate Successes
Capitalize on your company’s dedicated efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by integrating environmental successes into “green” branding initiatives. Increase market share by positioning your company as a champion for the environment and build brand value with eco-minded consumers that will pay more for environmentally-friendly products and services.