Reducing Your Facility's Carbon Footprint
Updated: Aug 28
We’re looking at Greenhouse Gas Emissions and what steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint.
In recent years, the issue of global warming has become a popular topic of discussion by the media, by governments, by businesses and individuals. The general consensus is that the earth is warming. While there continues to be debate on all of the causes, there is general acceptance that the rise in temperatures is at least in part caused by humans. EES has been following the global warming issue over the years and felt that it was time to devote another article to the issue. Click here to review the previous post.
This month’s article will highlight what is coming down the regulatory pike as well as outline how and what your facility can do now to address this serious environmental issue.
Regulatory Scene: The regulatory community has recently begun establishing programs to regulate, manage and reduce greenhouse gases. The national government programs are currently voluntary or incentive based. However, state governments in our region have begun to take a regulatory approach to address this issue. Below is a brief description of some of these programs.
New Jersey Global Warming Response Act: In July 2007 Governor Corzine signed this act into law. It establishes a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to be 80% below 2006 levels by 2050. Maryland is taking a similar approach.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Cap and trade program covering Carbon Dioxide emissions from power plants in 8 northeastern states (including Maryland, Delaware & New Jersey). It is designed so that it can be expanded to other sources and other states.
Climate Registry: Program to standardize reporting of greenhouse gases. Thirty states are involved.
Pennsylvania & Delaware: While these states do not have programs specific for global warming, they have many programs focusing on some of the causes of global warming. These programs include Pennsylvania’s Green Buildings, Pennsylvania Clean Vehicles, and various energy conservation/clean energy initiatives in both states.
Evaluating your facility:
While these programs might not impact your facility from a regulatory stand-point for several years, it is a good idea to take stock of your facility’s contribution now. Not only will you reduce your impact on global warming, it makes a great story from a public relations perspective. Evaluating your facility to reduce its carbon footprint might even result in ways to reduce operating costs!
The first step is to do an inventory of all aspects of operation and identify what activities are impact on global warming. This inventory should identify activities that cause emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. These gases vary in potency. For example, methane is 21 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide.
The obvious source of these emissions are from activities directly requiring energy of some sort: electricity and other forms of energy generated through combustion. There are indirect sources as well. For example, lets say your facility ships waste to a landfill. As that waste decomposes in the absence of oxygen, methane is generated which is a greenhouse gas. Another example, could be looking at the raw materials your facility purchases. Were they manufactured next door or in China? The transportation and manufacturing methods used to produce those materials could also be considered part of your facility’s impact on global warming.
Reducing your facility’s impact:
The options for reducing your facility’s impact on global warming are quite extensive, but here are some basic guiding principles and examples:
Use non-combustion forms of electricity (wind, solar, etc). Many states are offering (or will soon offer) rebates on solar panels which makes this type of investment much more cost effective.
Reduce what you use (materials, energy, travel, etc.).
Increase the building temperature during the summer and allow employees to dress accordingly.
Encourage teleconferencing and telecommuting where feasible.
Where feasible use local sources for raw materials.
Care for and maintain equipment and furniture so it can be used for a longer period of time.
Recover chemicals in your manufacturing process for reuse.
There are numerous ways to reduce your facility’s carbon footprint. EES is available to assist you in an inventory of your facility and to walk through the wide variety of options that are within your time and budget.
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