Carbomap has undertaken our annual accounting of our carbon emissions for 2015-16, and calculated that we generated 12.23 tonnes of CO2e.
Admittedly, this is not a lot, however it is important to us to practice what we preach. As a company that focuses on sustainable stewardship of our planet, we acknowledge the fact that our activities can have an adverse impact on the environment, despite our best efforts to minimise that impact. We have always monitored our carbon emissions and keeping tabs on how this changes as we grow. Carbomap’s goal is to be a carbon neutral organisation and so each year we offset those emissions that are unable to avoid.
How did we calculate our carbon emissions?
Our carbon emissions are calculated in line with the most recent Defra guidelines, and carbon conversion factors, published annually. Our emissions are reported in CO2 equivalent, which is the global warming potential of different gases (such as methane) measured in the reference term of carbon dioxide. It allows us to fully account for our environmental impact.
Our emissions from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 was a substantial increase on 2014-15, up 181%, however the story is more interesting when you look at the details.
In April we were still in our Appleton Tower office, but in May we moved to a new home at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI). This award winning building was opened in October 2013 and is the first historic, refurbished building in the UK to achieve a building sustainability BREEAM Outstanding Award and in 2016 it won the Guardian Sustainable Business Award. The building has features such as recovering heat from high level of the central atrium space to pre-heat the air serving occupied spaces; solar controlled glazing in the windows to keep occupants cool and reduce the need for cooling, energy efficient lighting controls and under-floor heating connected to a Combined Heat and Power source all contribute to a significant saving in energy consumption over the building’s former performance. As a result of this we saw that our emissions due to electricity dropped by over 80% to 0.27 tCO2e, and by more than 50% (to 0.19 tCO2e) for heating.
However, the driving force behind our headline emissions increase was in the travel that we are now doing as the company grows and our activities expand across the planet. The largest segment of emissions came from our flights. In 2015 and 16 we had active projects in Canada, Austria and Ireland, and we attended meetings and conferences across the UK, as well as abroad in places like Hong Kong, Austria, and France. This saw our flight based emissions rise to 11.14 tCO2e. Domestic travel also saw more activity, with rail and road travel emissions increasing to 0.32 and 0.30 tCO2e respectively.
Currently Carbomap is a paperless office (though we recycle any waste that we do accumulate), so this hasn’t been included. Neither is water, as this is notoriously difficult to monitor where it isn’t metered, particularly in shared, serviced, offices such as ours.
If you want to learn more about ECCI, you can visit their website here.
How did we offset them?
Carbomap get their carbon offsets from ‘Carbon Offsets to Alleviate Poverty’, or Cotap for short. They counteract carbon emissions through certified forestry projects in developing countries and regions whilst raising awareness of the poverty-alleviating power forestry carbon projects can have. All of this helps to create transparent, accountable, and life changing earnings for rural farming communities where income levels are very low.
By purchasing our offsets from Cotap, Carbomap provided support to all of their active projects.
Carbomap, and indeed Scotland as a country, has a long history of working with the people of Malawi, and our carbon offsets have contributed to this. Cotap have a project in Dowa and Neno, Malawi, Trees of Hope, which works with over 200 community groups and more than 2,000 smallholder farmers to plant more than 2 million trees. Elsewhere in Africa, there is a project in the Albertine Rift, Uganda. This is a small-scale, farmer-led agroforestry programme which produces long-term emissions reductions whilst improving farmer livelihood and emphasises sustainable land-use practises. In the Limay/CommuniTree project, Nicaragua, Cotap have helped to plant over a million trees and paid huge amounts of money to local communities in one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. Another project they are involved with is in India, where the local community are protecting and restoring 27,000 hectares of forest, while also offsetting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions with the added benefit of improving the family incomes for the local people. These were only a few of the multiple projects they are involved in to do their part it protecting the world. and we fully support the projects they undertake.
To find out more about the work that Cotap do, and also on the projects themselves, or if you think that you want to contribute to the projects yourself, then you can visit the Cotap website for more information.
To ensure that the projects Cotap are involved with are as effective as they can be, certification has been sought. The certification for these projects came from Plan Vivo, who are another Edinburgh based organisation, making them a part of the burgeoning Edinburgh Ecosystem for forest sustainability and conservation. Plan Vivo are a Scottish charity who work to help relieve poverty in developing countries through engaging with local communities in sustainable land-use projects, and promoting environmental protection and improvement through biodiversity conservation and restoration. By overseeing projects and demonstrating on a long-term basis, they strive to ensure that their activities benefit people’s livelihoods and sustain vital ecosystems. You can learn more about what Plan Vivo do, and their certification, by visiting their website.
To find out more about what carbon offsetting is and why Carbomap have chosen this route, and what we do to limit our carbon emissions on an ongoing basis, have a read of this previous article on our 2013-14 carbon emissions.