Warm Springs Consulting Achieves Carbon Neutrality and Climate Leader Certification
By Zach Bell, Analyst at Warm Springs Consulting, and Amber Bieg, Partner at Warm Springs Consulting
Jan. 14, 2022
Warm Springs Consulting (WSC) is pleased to announce we have achieved our goal of carbon neutrality in 2021. With the help of Aclymate, a free carbon accounting tool designed for small businesses, WSC was able to track and offset all Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions produced by our operations.
The Warm Springs Consulting (WSC) Carbon Footprint
Before purchasing carbon offsets, WSC’s carbon footprint for 2021 was calculated at ~ 163 tons. This is the equivalent emissions of about 35 passenger vehicles per year. The sources of our emissions ranged from utilities for our office (such as electricity and natural gas), to business travel, and employee commuting.
Per the internationally accepted Greenhouse Gas Protocol, Scope 1 emissions include direct emissions from operations owned or controlled by an organization. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heat, cooling, etc. Scope 3 emissions also are indirect, but include emissions occurring in the value chain of a company, including production of purchased products and/or employee commuting.
The chart below shows WSC’s emissions separated by category. From July through December, employee commuting (Scope 3) represented the largest portion of our emissions.
To offset these emissions, we chose to purchase carbon credits supporting the Greater New Bedford LFG (Landfill Gas) Utilization Project. This project captures methane gas emitted from the landfill and uses it to power a 3.3 MW onsite electrical power plant, which in turn helps to operate an anaerobic digestion facility. The facility uses food and other organic waste to produce biogas that is used as supplemental fuel for the power plant. The project keeps an estimated 97,485 tons of carbon dioxide or equivalent GHGs out of the atmosphere each year.
By purchasing more credits than necessary, WSC has a positive balance of carbon credits going into 2022. Visit this page to learn more about the project.
Aclymate describes its service as an “integrated, automated software platform that provides free carbon accounting and carbon footprint analytics for SMBs.” WSC is now certified through Aclymate’s Climate Leader program; by achieving the Climate Leader Plus certification, WSC has now been verified in taking the steps to accurately measure and fully offset our carbon emissions.
As a small organization, reaching carbon neutrality has a small impact in reducing global emissions. With our peers, we can accomplish something great. As far as we know, Boise has one other business that has also achieved carbon neutrality (please let us know if your organization is carbon neutral). Oliver Russell (the company in downtown Boise with the “Climate Change is Real” flag), led by Russ Stoddard, has been offsetting emissions for a number of years. His firm recently started using Aclymate for ease in carbon accounting, and in 2021, was awarded the Climate Leader Certification through Aclymate.
But it takes more than two Boise organizations to make a difference. We invite you to join us.
To get started on your pathway to carbon neutrality with Aclymate, follow these five steps.
- Create an account at Aclymate.com
- Input your company information and (if applicable) sync with Quickbooks
- Review your data (Our January data is not uploaded yet)
- Choose an offset project and purchase credits
- Celebrate and let the world (and us) know! Fewer than 10 percent of small businesses take these steps to offset their carbon footprint. By the end of 2022, we hope to throw a party to celebrate all of our success in reaching net zero emissions. Let’s make it happen!
Why Does This Matter?
For every ton of carbon emissions produced by our operations, we have purchased an equal amount of offsets that will remove the equivalent emissions from the atmosphere. The more organizations that achieve carbon neutrality, the closer we get to mitigating climate change. While offsets are a great first step – as renewable and energy efficiency becomes more available, organizations also should focus on making tangible changes to their operations to reduce the amount of carbon they need to offset, the most important being transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
Who Else Does This?
Major companies across all industries are committing to carbon neutrality goals. For example, Coca-Cola, General Motors, and Apple all have made commitments to becoming carbon neutral in the next two decades. Some companies already have achieved those goals; REI and Cotopaxi both have reached carbon neutrality and are verified through the nonprofit Climate Neutral. WSC is proud to join Oliver Russell in representing the Bosie community by joining the growing list of organizations around the world achieving carbon neutrality goals.
How Do Small Businesses Benefit from Carbon Neutrality?
Integrity is a core value at WSC. We are committed to honoring our word, operating with consistency, and building trust with our clients. As a consulting firm that assists clients with their own sustainability strategies, it is imperative that we “walk the talk.” By setting carbon neutrality goals and achieving them, we demonstrate to our clients that we support and believe in the strategic and profitable advantages of sustainability.
Our clients, some of which are publicly traded corporations that measure GHG emissions see that we are meeting international standards – and help them meet Scope 3 emissions goals. Four of our clients are updating their purchasing policies to require their contracts include language that mandates vendors to disclose GHG emissions for their Scope 3 reporting.
New Federal Contract Compliance Rules
The Biden administration recently passed an executive order detailing how the U.S. will achieve five climate-related goals, one of which requires all federal operations to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Small businesses looking to participate in federal contracts will need to take these goals into account if they wish to be considered.
Three of our latest employees cited our B-corp certification and our climate commitments as the “primary reason” they applied for their positions. According to a Fast Company survey of more than 1,000 employees at large companies, “64% of millennials said that they wouldn’t take a job at a company that wasn’t socially responsible; three quarters said that they’d take a smaller salary to work at a company more in alignment with their values.”
The University of Idaho McClure center recently published the Idaho Climate-Economy Impacts Assessment looking at how climate change affects Idaho. The health section of the Assessment specifies that “Idaho climate-related health risks include wildfire smoke, air quality, vector-borne disease, diminished water quality and quantity, harmful algal blooms, and challenges related to food safety . . . and others.” Citing a recent report by NRDC, the Assessment states that the direct health costs of air pollution and climate change in the U.S. exceed $800 billion per year and are anticipated to increase as temperatures rise.” Like many businesses, our greatest asset is our employees and their health is of topmost importance. With a small team, just one person being out sick has a big impact with direct economic consequences for our business. We see climate posing a significant threat.
Next Steps, Acknowledgements, and…A Challenge
What’s in store for 2022? Our firm has ambitious goals for the year to come. We have applied for B-Corp recertification (this will be our 4th year as a B Corp). We’re quite pleased with our 2021 efforts, but we’ve no intention of stopping. WSC’s founders and staff are driven to do better, to be better, and to spur on the larger community of SMBs in Boise and throughout our home state of Idaho.
We’ve recently joined with the Boise Chamber of Commerce, and our hope is that our Chamber peers will join us in working toward net zero. In fact, we’re (informally) issuing a challenge to our peers to follow our lead; to do better, and to be better. Join us as a Climate Leader!
In closing, we wish to acknowledge Russ Stoddard, founder of the Boise-based marketing firm Oliver Russell for his leadership and vision. Without Stoddard’s leadership, the B-Corp community in Boise wouldn’t be where it is. His book, Rise Up, is a must read for any organization aiming to do better. As mentioned earlier, Stoddard’s firm is the only other Boise-based entity to achieve the same level of carbon neutrality as WSC – but Oliver Russell has been quietly sitting at net zero for many years now. Russ has been an inspiration. He has served as both a mentor and a goalpost to measure ourselves by throughout our journey, and his guidance and mentorship has been immeasurable. As Russ would say, “onward!”