Measuring Our Footprint
As a freshman I transferred into Virginia Tech’s business school. But by my sophomore year, I realized that track would not be for me. Classes that focused on the conventional motive to maximize profits above all else frustrated me. Inherent in that motive is the assumption that money—all else aside—is the answer to well-being.
So, I switched to a school of thought that has historically clashed head-on with business. My new major, Environmental Policy and Planning, allowed me take a step back from financially-driven decision making. I began to learn about more productive goals that take a larger view of well-being. Money certainly makes well-being possible in many ways, but I wanted the global perspective.
From Despondency to Determination
The learning was painful. At first, I was immersed in the gloom and doom of environmental and social injustices. For several years, I learned how the consequences of modern life and consumption include passing the acute burden of their high costs to those who can least afford them. At times, studying the worldwide effects of climate change, deforestation, and pollution left me feeling helpless.
But there is hope, and it comes from some remarkable sources, including factory owner Ray Anderson, author of Confessions of a Radical Industrialist. According to Anderson, the answer lies within the problem. He is convinced that business and industry have a powerful capacity to forge a brighter environmental future--and why not? His manufacturing company, Interface, and many others, are now embedding environmental considerations deeply into their business models.
We also want to be one of the brighter lights in business. At Savvy Rest, we strive to provide quality products while minimizing and offsetting our environmental impacts. For the past three years, we have offset our carbon footprint through the Carbon Fund, and we are continually looking for ways to reduce our impact.
Starting Where We Are
Tracking our greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) was the way to begin a more focused effort. With a better grasp on Savvy Rest’s emissions, we can explore new routes to further reduce them. So in 2013, we began our greenhouse gas accounting project. The most widely-used standard, the Greenhouse Gas Corporate Standard, provides a template. The standard tracks three emissions categories, so companies can identify responsible parties and evaluate the potentials for change.
The first category includes emissions that a company creates directly. For Savvy Rest, this includes fuel to power our delivery trucks and natural gas to heat our Vienna location.
The second category includes emissions from purchased electricity. Savvy Rest currently has five locations—four retail stores (one located within our corporate offices) and a production/warehouse facility. Electricity heats and cools most of our locations and powers our production equipment. Aside from those key demands, it doesn’t do much more than give us light, keep some food cold, make some food hot, and power a few microwaves, fridges, and coffee machines.
According to the Greenhouse Gas Corporate Standard, reporting the third category is optional, because these emissions are produced by third parties. But we still wanted to dig a little deeper. Third-party transportation emissions, primarily shipping, create the bulk of this category. Employee commuting is our next-biggest third-category source. Though tracking these is optional for the standard, we believe the more information we have, the better.
Accounting and Accountability
Now that we have our baseline data, we’re seeking more opportunities to reduce. On the bright side, our direct emissions are fairly minimal, limited to fuel and electricity. On the other hand, this means achieving further reductions will be more difficult. But we don’t take challenges lightly, and our commitment is to continue to do whatever we can to make our planet a better place to live.
We’ll keep you posted on our progress; we know we have a lot of company (and companies) who will continue to inspire us in this urgent movement for change.