At its core maintenance and sustainability go hand in hand. It’s all about keeping the same equipment, materials, and assets in use while producing the least amount of scrap and waste possible.
Better-maintained equipment leads to less waste, and more efficient production lines, resulting in less energy being consumed. But that’s not the only way maintenance can become more sustainable. Read on for our top tips for becoming a certified carbon-neutral organization.
What does it mean to be carbon neutral?
For years, we’ve run our lives on fossil fuels and energy sources that leak carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. If we stay on this path, greenhouse gases will skyrocket, amplifying the heat trapped in our atmosphere and causing a whirlwind of global environmental change.
We need to change the way we do business.
Percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere
Source: BBC Bitesize
Going carbon neutral is one way to help fight these changes and do your part to create a sustainable future. Being carbon neutral can be defined in one, simple equation: The carbon emissions your business puts into the atmosphere are matched by the carbon emissions you subtract from the atmosphere, either through other business practices or purchasing carbon offsets.
These carbon offsetting programs help businesses neutralize carbon emissions. For example, organizations can invest money into a reforestation project to offset the amount of carbon produced by employee air travel.
These reductions can be achieved through various projects such as organics biodigestion, renewable energy, forestry, wind farms, and more.
How to become carbon neutral
Do your research
- Not all carbon offsets are created equal. The David Suzuki Foundation and The Pembina Institute put together a guide for consumers, businesses, and organizations. It shows you what an offset is, how they are assessed, how they are measured, and how they differ.
Contact a carbon offsetter
- The services offered by carbon offsetters vary, but most companies provide a standard energy audit, a report, and a carbon-neutral certification. Others may include more in their assessment, including waste composition, reduction recommendations, sustainability training for staff, and more.
- Using something like the guide mentioned above, compare what offsets each vendor offers, and contact the one that works best for you.
- Once the energy audit is complete, you will receive a certification number that is verified by a registry, like the CSA Group, which registers companies that are carbon neutral.
- Now that you know what your emissions are, it’s time to offset. To do this, you will need to choose a project. In the past, Fiix has chosen projects like the Dufferin Biodigestion Project where methane is captured and used for energy, but there are loads of different projects you can participate in.
- The overarching goal here is to reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible. Going carbon neutral is one tool in the toolbox, but make sure you educate employees on how to reduce emissions, on top of any carbon offsetting your business takes on.
- Providing your employees with hard data on carbon emissions is a very tangible way to have them reduce their environmental impact at the office and reduce the company’s footprint.
- Tackling sustainability can feel like a huge undertaking. Show employees the composition of your footprint, what the company is doing about it, and how their cooperation makes an impact. Odds are, they will take these habits out of the office and make changes in their own homes.
Conduct an annual audit
- Carbon offsets aren’t a ‘set it and forget it’ situation. As your business (and your consumption) grows, your emissions change. That’s why an annual audit is essential for making sure carbon emissions are always neutral. In the next section, we’ll go over some ways to achieve this.
Other ways to work towards carbon neutrality
We recognize that not every organization has the ability to commit to a program like Carbonzero, so we put together a few tips that teams and individuals can keep in mind when working towards reducing their carbon footprint.
- Monitor and reduce energy consumption
Find out what is using the most energy in your building. In maintenance terms, this might be old equipment, light bulbs, and other power sources that aren’t energy efficient. Once you find the energy-sucking culprits you can work on a plan to either remove them or reduce their energy consumption by switching to using renewable energy.
- Reduce your water consumption
Using water might not seem like a big deal, but it takes a lot of heat and power to pump, treat and distribute water and contributes big time to the production of greenhouse gases. Consider looking at ways to reduce your water consumption such as installing low-flow toilets in your home or business, and switching to using cold water where you can.
- Reduce plastic waste
Microplastics, plastic, and the fumes that come out of facilities that produce them are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. The plastic sits in our landfills, and our beaches, and recent studies have shown they are sneaking into our food. Consider finding alternative materials to produce plastic products. Lots of companies have already started to use more sustainable materials to replace plastic like grocery bags, paper straws, paper cups, etc.
Reducing your carbon footprint is a lifelong commitment
Going carbon neutral isn’t just a one-time thing — it takes time and effort to get there. Remember, to keep your carbon footprint in check you can always conduct an annual audit to find new ways to reduce energy, water, and plastic waste. By taking these steps, you’re not only doing your part to lower your carbon footprint, but also setting a great example for future generations to follow.