CARBON TEAM / JUNE 10, 2008 / Our 2007 carbon calculation results are in… and it turns out they're up from 2006. According to our calculations, Ecotrust Canada emitted 43 more tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2007 than in 2006. That’s an increase of about 66 percent!

Our staff numbers and office size didn't change. The amount of business travel and the way our staff gets to work every day also stayed pretty much the same. So what made the difference? Turns out it's the methodology.

With the new Greenhouse Gas Quanification Tool developed by our Climate Smart partners, The Pembina Institute and David Suzuki Foundation, we're able to measure our carbon emissions much more accurately. The tool (basically a really beefed-up Excel spreadsheet) was designed specifically for small- and medium-sized businesses. It's what our Climate Smart Workgroup participants use to calculate their carbon emissions.

The good news? We now have a reliable baseline to measure our emissions against in the future. We've set a goal of reducing our emissions by 5 percent in 2008. We're aiming to reduce our office paper and electricity use, both by 10 percent. Here’s what we’re going to do:

  • We're going to be more aware of carbon-friendlier ways to travel (like coordinating among staff so we can travel together when project meetings overlap).
  • We're going to lobby rental car companies to provide more small cars and hybrids.
  • And we're going to try to reduce the number of long-haul flights, the biggest portion of our emissions.

It's heartening to note that emissions from staff commuting actually went down in 2007, from 11.3 tonnes in 2006 to 5.3 tonnes in 2007. We're now a group of committed cyclists, walkers, and transit takers. Some staff have made big changes in the way they commute. Ian Gill, our President, now walks to work a few days a week instead of taking the Skytrain (a 6 km trek from Commercial Drive to Yaletown, no mean distance). And Forestry Manager Mike Vitt recently traded in his Ford Expedition for a Toyota Prius! (Not to mention that he usually bikes to work.)

After the meeting where we presented the results, staff were hyper-aware of all things carbon. Emily Beam agonized over the best way to get to Nanaimo for her meeting with potential lending clients. Mike wanted to borrow the Kill-a-Watt (a device we bought to measure how much electricity different appliances use) to convince his landlord to buy a more energy-efficient fridge. Jessica Hawkins wondered whether a large document really needed to be printed out.

Hopefully we can keep carbon on everyone's mind. The Carbon Team will be completing the 2008 six-month calculation in August. In later blogs, we’re also going to share some of our intelligence on the most climate-friendly travel to Vancouver Island destinations. Stay posted!