You’ve gotta practice what you preach. As an organization with environmental stewardship at its very core, Sol Systems takes myriad actions every day to minimize our impact on the planet and to be thoughtful about how we can continually improve. So when an opportunity arose for the company to participate in a carbon, or greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory in 2017, we jumped at the chance to better understand the climate impacts of our work so that we could mitigate them.
GHG inventories typically include the calculation and reporting of the annual quantity of emissions in tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) from carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride, the GHGs outlined in the 1992 Kyoto Protocol. Sol Systems’ GHG inventory focused on direct energy emissions, indirect energy emissions, and other miscellaneous emissions resulting from our business activities. Here’s what we learned:
- Direct energy emissions: included our onsite natural gas combustion for cooling, air and water heating; fugitive emissions from refrigerants used to cool our office space; and emissions from our building’s backup diesel generator. The CO2e for this scope was 3.334 metric tons per year.
- Indirect energy emissions: included our emissions from purchased electricity, minus our monthly wind REC purchases. The CO2e for this scope was 36.306 metric tons per year.
- Other miscellaneous emissions: included airline travel for business and rental car miles. We excluded mass transit use here, which likely would have helped to mitigate some of our emissions in this scope. The CO2e for this scope was 226.982 metrics tons per year — more than five times than that of our total energy use emissions!
You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and this exercise revealed that there was ample opportunity for Sol Systems to cut our carbon emissions, particularly for travel. Following this inventory, Sol Systems took immediate steps to increase our monthly REC purchases to fully cover both our direct and indirect energy emissions each month, so the company is now 100% powered by renewables. We also put measures in place to more carefully scrutinize airline travel requests, encouraging employees to take trains when possible or to fly direct in order to reduce miles in the air, and to combine trips within a given region. We know there’s more to be done, so we are making improvements all the time. Since this inventory took place, we have introduced office composting, bumped up our recycling efforts, and provided additional support for remote employees and telework to reduce travel.
As the company enters its 12th year of helping corporations, cities, universities, schools, and other institutions transition to clean energy, we are taking bold action to fulfill our greater purpose soundly rooted in the three pillars of sustainability. This involves making sweeping changes to our operations in order to aggressively minimize our environmental impact. To start, we have formed a sustainability task force that is working to update our carbon inventory, and to identify the largest drivers of our carbon footprint within 90 days. We will use this information to form sustainability goals, strategies, policies, and an action plan that will be tracked, measured, and reported. We are energized by our commitment and look forward to sharing our progress with you throughout the year.
ABOUT SOL SYSTEMS
Sol Systems, a national solar finance and development firm, delivers sophisticated, customized services for institutional, corporate, and municipal customers. Sol is employee-owned, and has been profitable since inception in 2008. Sol is backed by Sempra Energy, a $25+ billion energy company.
Over the last ten years, Sol Systems has delivered 800 MW of solar projects for Fortune 100 companies, municipalities, universities, churches, and small businesses. Sol now manages over $650 million in solar energy assets for utilities, banks, and Fortune 500 companies.
Inc. 5000 recognized Sol Systems in its annual list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies for four consecutive years. For more information, please visit www.solsystems.com