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How to Decarbonize Your Organization on a Ticking Clock

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Almost every business, regardless of size, industry or strategic position, recognizes the positive impact sustainable energy offers. Organizations may install solar panels on facilities or enter power buying agreements with green energy generators, but these efforts require careful planning, and can often take months or years to accomplish. 

In the meantime, there are other options businesses should consider that can be implemented quickly with relative ease. Not only are such measures clearly net positive, but they can get the ball rolling and comprise an important part of a complete, renewable energy strategy.

For any business interested in taking immediate steps toward sustainable energy use, here’s where to start.

Use energy wisely 

It’s a given that every business needs power to operate. However, if a business can perform at the same level while using less energy, that’s an easy win. The first step, providing the most immediate results, is to retrofit facilities with more efficient equipment. This can be as simple as switching light fixtures to LED bulbs that use less power and create immediate savings. Other simple maintenance steps like checking insulation around windows and doors or cleaning air ducts can go a long way in reducing heating and cooling bills.

Larger investments like updating HVAC and other appliances and installing Internet of Things (IoT) technology can also reduce total consumption and lower bills. IoT systems measure energy usage and send real-time data to a central hub. These devices help increase efficiency and allow a business to use exactly as much power as it needs to run.

Organizations with bigger energy needs can install wireless sensors on breaker boxes and large machinery to measure use. These sensors help identify the biggest power drains to reduce waste and boost operational performance. 

 

Consider RECs and carbon offsets 

In addition to finding ways to reduce energy to produce the same output, many businesses are exploring renewable supply options.

An important building block of responsible energy buying is Renewable Energy Credits or RECs. RECs represent the environmental impact of one megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy generation. When purchased alongside energy, RECs guarantee that equivalent energy was produced using renewable sources like solar or wind. You can purchase a fixed number of RECs or use them to offset a percentage of total power use. RECs are one of the fastest and easiest ways to green up energy and since they are a fixed price, you can easily budget for them. 

Pros of RECs

  • RECs can be purchased from the project or region of your choice.
  • RECs have no specific term commitment.

Carbon offsets are another fast way to decarbonize. Purchasing these helps counteract the greenhouse gases your organization produces. Businesses can bundle carbon offsets with their existing energy purchases to offset up to 100 percent of their carbon emissions. Offset purchases fund projects like reforestation and methane recapture that decrease or remove CO2 from the atmosphere and expand the green economy. 

Pros of Carbon Offsets

  • Carbon offsets can be purchased from the project or region of your choice.
  • Carbon offsets have no specific term commitment.  

Invest in the green economy 

These green options offer the dual-benefit of purchasing energy responsibly while creating demand for new renewable energy to be brought online. Businesses that buy RECs and carbon offsets are directly supporting renewable energy projects. Even as they plan longer-term investments in renewable energy (such as solar installations or renewable Power Purchase Agreements), businesses can buy RECs to ensure that 100 percent of their energy use is renewable. While RECs and carbon offsets may not create additionality in the same sense that other options do, they are easy to invest in and represent a practical first step toward responsible energy use.


Businesses that implement efficiency solutions and invest in greening up their energy are on the path to better environmental stewardship.

While steps beyond these may be necessary to transition to 100 percent renewable power, aspirational projects take time and, in many cases, represent a total transformation in how an organization uses energy. For most businesses, that is a lot to think about; right now, smaller, easier steps can make a real difference while setting the stage for more systemic change.

There’s no time like the present to start the journey. 

Posted: April 21, 2020

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