Jan 8, 2014

10 ways to reduce carbon footprints

3 min
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By Jessica Oaks

There are plenty of reasons to green your business, from a legitimate concern for the planet to the money that using fewer resources can save. Then there is the fact that going green and telling the world about it can win you both accolades and new customers. Whatever reasons you have for reducing your office's carbon footprint, know that there are lots of ways that businesses at every size can minimize their environmental impact.

1. Use less paper. In some workplaces keeping paper records is a must but most companies can get by without printing – or even a printer – these days. Offices that aren't ready to go paper free can still make an effort to cut down on pointless printing and start a paper recycling program.

2. Buy remanufactured, secondhand and refurbished. Remanufactured ink and toner cartridges not only save money, they also help save the earth by reducing manufacturing energy consumption. Choosing secondhand goods when outfitting your office can do the same. One caveat: when it comes to buying older electronics make sure you're not going to end up using more energy to power them.

3. Switch to LEDs. The purchase price of these bulbs may be higher but they're going to last practically forever and they use hardly any energy. LEDs also don't contain the mercury and other toxic gases found in CFLs and incandescent bulbs.

4. Implement BYOD policies. In just a few years, it's likely that half of all white collar employees in the U.S. will be bringing their own devices to work and it's going to make workplaces greener. BYOD policies promote fewer devices overall, fewer desktops, and more electronics recycling means less pollution.

5. Buy green for the canteen. Biodegradable cleaners and air fresheners reduce your employees' exposure to harsh toxins and chemicals and ensure that everyone can breathe freely all day long. Instead of stocking the fridge with bottled water, buy a filter for the tap.

6. Make your energy alternative. Many utility companies now offer the option to specify where your electricity comes from, with wind and solar power being the most popular alternatives. Green power generally costs more but is also a lot more earth-friendly.

7. Encourage unconventional commuting. Public transportation may be all but absent in some parts of the U.S. but buses and trains aren't the only non-car option for getting to the office. Offer bonuses to employees who travel to and from work in alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles. Better still, reward those who bike to work.

8. Allow telecommuting. Cut down on commuting and you take commuters out of their cars and off the roads. Make work from home policies optional, though, because research has shown that telecommuters can actually use more resources in some cases.

9. Make partnerships green, too. When choosing vendors and other business partners look for those that proudly set and live up to sustainability guidelines. Ask about vendors' commitments to both the environment and the health of their employees during initial interviews and let them know that environmental consciousness is part of your company culture. Choose local suppliers that offer recycled options and take back packaging.

10. Power off everything at night. Provided yours isn’t a 24/7 business it's not difficult to assign the task of making sure computers, lights and other power-draining gadgets are powered down to whoever is closing up shop for the night. Or there are plenty of gizmos out there that can handle minimizing nighttime power drain automatically.

Author bio: Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.


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Jul 29, 2021

Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030

Dominic Ellis
4 min
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades says the UK's National Infrastructure Commission

Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission

Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.

The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.

The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture. 

It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.  

The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020. 

Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.

The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.

While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.

Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.

Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse. 

"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.

“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.” 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets. 

Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.  

Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."

McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:

  • Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
  • Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
  • Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
  • Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
  • The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere

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