Spending money on carbon offsets? Why not protect the climate and make money

Is your business trying to reach net zero emissions? Here’s a quick solution: Keep doing what you’re doing. Buy carbon offsets. Every year. Forever!

Ten years ago, this was considered an (almost) adequate solution. I was working for a climate change NGO at the time, working to convince corporations that if they just looked at how they use energy, and think about what technology was available to them, they could drive emissions down and save money. Often this was via simple things like LED lighting — easy in theory, but often meant a discussion beyond the C-Suite with the folks actually running the assets. It was slow going!

At about that time, I met the other two co-founders of BOOM, Tosh and Alex. Fighting the same battle, trying to turn environmental ambitions into assets that pay their way, and bringing everyone along for the journey. We teamed up to build BOOM, a software tool that goes beyond energy management, allowing asset teams to actually deliver energy retrofits.

Let’s say you have a net zero target. Maybe you already buy offsets directly, or through your energy retailer, and you want to improve your building stock so it reduces emissions and energy costs. Here are a few places to start:

Solar

If you have access to clear roof space and use electricity during the day, this is a no-brainer. It’s a low risk investment, with a payback period typically well below five years. The scale at which solar can reduce emissions is significant. 20%, 50% or more. With battery storage and electrification of gas assets, you might even become fully self-sufficient.

Bunjil Install

There are some caveats of course. How big is your roof space? What does your load profile look like? How much carbon does your local electricity grid produce? The BOOM software takes away the guesswork, and lets you figure out which buildings to focus on, and explain the benefits to your team. When you’re ready, the BOOM procurement module means delivery is just a click of a button away.

Lighting

Do you still have fluorescent lights? Metal halide high bays in a warehouse? Halogen spot lights for the trophy case?

🤯

Given the breakthrough efficiency of LED lighting, you could be spending far more than you need to. And not just on energy; LEDs mean less maintenance and are amenable to smart controls (so you can stop relying on signs like this!)

please-turn-off-the-lights-before-you-leave-the-room-2721032.png

Lighting is usually only a moderate source of energy consumption within a building, but the payback can be two years, or less. It's an easy win. For big unconditioned spaces like warehouses, the scale of improvement can be much more substantial.

You’re going to be replacing lights anyway as they fail. Using BOOM, you can create an audit of lighting costs with your own staff, and get upgrades installed without the hassle.

HVAC

Heating, cooling and ventilation is the biggest single driver of energy use and, hence, carbon emissions across a large chunk of building classes. Heat pumps, more efficient motor drives and smart controls are now available to drive these costs down. Aging assets and spiralling natural gas prices mean these upgrades ought to be easy to justify, but often aren’t prioritised. BOOM! helps explain what these opportunities mean for your energy costs and carbon footprint, getting your whole team on board.

My buildings are now super-efficient. How do I buy clean power from the grid?

Let’s say you’ve upgraded everything you can. Chances are you still need to import electricity from the grid, and in most places that comes with associated carbon emissions.

pexels-photo-189524.jpeg

The easiest fix is to check if your existing electricity retailer has a green power option (check out certified GreenPower in Australia). These products ensure that your energy consumption is matched with purchases from renewable energy generators. Some retailers instead just purchase overseas carbon offsets on your behalf. Better than nothing, but this doesn’t have the same impact in incentivising additional renewable energy generation.

These green power products typically come at a premium, perhaps a few cents per kWh. Another approach is to enter into a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with a renewable energy generator, either directly, or as part of a consortium. The minimum commitment will typically be 5 - 10 years, however the cost may well be lower than what you’re paying now. The guaranteed income for solar and wind generators means they can access low-cost finance, and bring energy costs down for their customers.

I still need some offsets. What should I look for?

If you have some residual fossil fuel consumption you can’t yet get rid of, emissions from waste, or emissions from customers and suppliers, then offsets may still be needed. Here’s what to look for.

First off, check for certifications such Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCU) and Certified Emission Reduction (CER), the latter being subject to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) standards. That’s a mouthful of acronyms! Suffice to say, these standards provide some assurance that the offsets you’re buying are genuine, and don’t have any unintended ecological consequences.

While these offsets can be treated as commodities, it’s worth drilling down to the source projects and what that means for your organisation and values. Perhaps you’d like to support vegetation management by Traditional Owners? Have a tree planting day with your team? Support developing countries with access to clean energy?

pexels-international-fund-for-animal-welfare-5487075.jpeg

If you want zero emissions right now across all aspects of your business (waste, transport and more), chances are you’ll still need offsets. But they’re a tool of last resort. With the support of the BOOM! self-service platform, you can find opportunities that are cash-flow positive from day one. By plugging into our measurement and verification module, we can keep analysing your energy data, and find more opportunities over time as technology, pricing and ambition evolves.


David Blog Bio Pic

Time to give BOOM a try.

1. Schedule a free appointment. Discuss your needs and view the BOOM! platform.

2. Create a personalised plan based on your specific needs.

3. Agree, refine and execute the plan — together.