Wednesday, 01 September 2010 10:28 Written by Greg Taylor
The following is a guest post from Matthew E. Porter, CEO of our partner Contegix, which provides high-level managed hosting solutions for enterprise applications and infrastructure. Great partners and customers do more than just refer other potential customers and pay their bills. They provide honest feedback, challenge you, and help make you to be better than you were the day before. Contegix has the fortunate situation of having great partners and customers who amaze us and do this everyday. Gliffy, a web-based diagram and flow chart editor, and a few others are some that have been pushing our sustainability goals. By the very nature of our business, we consume a large amount of power and do so from different sources. Our data centers have multiple power feeds and utilize diesel generators in case of complete power loss from utilities. In order to ensure operational status and efficiency, the generators need to be tested on a regular basis which amounts to consuming diesel fuel. We already take steps to minimize our carbon footprints, such as using low voltage CPUs, recycling all materials, and reimbursing employees for mass transit. In addition, it’s more efficient, and thus, arguable more sustainable to utilize large data centers, such as ours, rather than each company building small scale server room. Yet, we wanted to start experimenting with the next step in this effort, and Gliffy was happy to help. Enter Carbonfund.org. Carbonfund.org allows individual and companies to offset their carbon footprint by purchasing credits to invest in projects that reduce carbon emissions elsewhere. This is especially useful for companies like Contegix where we are very limited in our ability to reduce. There are a few points that make Carbonfund.org unique. It is a 501(c)(3) charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to fighting global warming. As part of their commitment, they work directly with certification bodies to ensure the quality of their offsets. More importantly, they provide transparency in terms of their finances and their offset projects, including education. Using Carbonfund.org, we wanted to offset the entire footprint of Gliffy’s managed hosted internet infrastructure at Contegix. This would include all aspects and resources of the service. Some of these are dedicated solely to Gliffy. Many others, such as core border routers and the switching fabric, are used by all customers. In addition, we had to compensate for the managed service portion of Gliffy’s infrastrucutre. In essences, this meant assigning a percentage of our people’s carbon footprint to the delivery of their service. This included everyone—from engineer to office staff to management, to the Assigning values for the shared infrastructure and people required calculating the usage on a per customer level. In reality, it uses many of the same work we perform (and all businesses probably should be performing) around measuring, managing, and forecasting growth and profitability for shared resources. This is added to the specific measurable environmental footprint data, such as average distance of employees from Contegix and facility sizes. These numbers were proportionally assigned to the Gliffy as a customer. here to contact Contegix.
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 10:14 Written by Claire Douglass
If you own a dog, you know how important doggy poop bags are. You never want to be caught with a neighbor watching you as your dog does its business and you are left with no bag. Not only do you feel like a bad citizen, but it is illegal and where I live and can cost you a $100 fine. Washington, D.C. passed a 5 cent tax on plastic bags this past January that reduced the number of plastic bags handed out by supermarkets and other establishments from the 2009 monthly average of 22.5 million to just 3 million in January. While significantly reducing plastic waste and encouraging the use of reusable bags, the tax simultaneously generated $150,000 in revenue to clean up the Anacostia River. You may ask what the D.C. tax has to do with doggie poop bags? Now that most people including myself are diligently using reusable bags at stores, my plastic bag supply is down and doggie poop bags are more important to me than ever. Carbonfund.org’s partner Intek sent me a sample of their GoECOlife™ Biodegradable Doggy Waste Bags and I couldn’t be happier. Not only are they just what I need for my dog’s healthy digestive system, they are biodegradable or compostable so I can feel good about my purchase & clean up after my dog’s waste. Intek has been a partner of ours since 2009 and to date has certified over half a dozen products, such as the GoECOlife™ SOHO Ultra-Quiet paper shredder, CarbonFree®.
Monday, 30 August 2010 17:21 Written by Greg Taylor
Any guesses on when business experts first predicted the paperless office? The 1990s? The 1980s? Nope… 1975! Now in 2010, raise your hand if you work in a paperless office. They’re almost impossible to find and sometimes it seems like we’re using more paper than ever. In fact, many government agencies require reporting in paper—electronic filing isn’t an option in some instances. It seems like paper is here to stay—but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your office a more environmentally friendly, sustainable, cost-conscious place to work. Dolphin Blue, a leading green office supplier, offers a one-stop shop to purchase all of your green office supplies. If you can’t ever seem to give your printer a rest—consider replacing your ink cartridges with soy-based ink. This is an easy way to reduce your demand for harmful chemicals and cut your carbon footprint. They also offer FSC-certified processed chlorine-free paper to keep your reports and marketing materials from contributing to deforestation. Also, they’ve made a commitment that all products that they sell contain at least 20% post-consumer recycled material, with many containing 100%.
Before we can change energy use habits we must first change beliefs about energy conservation. A recent survey conducted by the Earth Institute of Columbia University shows that many Americans misunderstand energy conservation. Of the respondents surveyed, 20 percent believe that curtailment (e.g., driving less and turning off lights) is the most effective way to save energy. Few responded with what experts advocate, i.e., taking an efficiency approach like buying more efficient appliances and insulating homes. According to EcoMall, insulating walls and ceilings in a home can save up to 20 to 30 percent of home heating bills and reduce carbon emissions by 140 to 2,100 pounds per year. Similarly, the government's Energy Star program maintains that replacing windows can save from 7 to 24 percent of heating and air conditioning bills. Reducing our carbon footprint requires action but at the same time, the most effective actions. Ariel Schwartz of Fast Company suggests that the government should ramp up its energy information campaigns so that people understand "that, say, insulating homes from extreme heat and cold will save more energy than flicking off the lights.” You can see the full results of the study here. Learn more about practical ways you can save energy.
Grounds for Change, a family-owned and operated coffee-roasting business, makes every effort to minimize its impact on our environment. Not only is its coffee certified organic and Fair Trade, but it is also shade grown. Shade grown coffee protects migratory bird habitats, reduces clear-cutting in tropical rainforests and promotes biodiversity. Grounds for Change coffee is also CarbonFree® Certified after a comprehensive life-cycle assessment that accounts for, identifies reductions and offsets the carbon emissions associated with the product. Through the product certification program, Grounds for Change is supporting third-party validated projects that will transition us to a low-carbon future. Be sure to visit the Grounds for Change website and take advantage of September’s coffee of the month—a “pleasing combination of Pacific and East African coffees.” And with the measures that Grounds for Change takes to reduce its carbon footprint, you really will be drinking responsibly!
Earlier observations of plant growth spurred by warming temperatures are now staring in the face of a warmer world, which researchers say is hampering plant growth. The study, published in the journal Science, shows an overall decline in plant growth from 2000-2009 because of warming-induced droughts. As temperatures continue to climb, researchers are raising concern about food security and development of plant-based biofuels. "This is a pretty serious warning that warmer temperatures are not going to endlessly improve plant growth," said the study's co-author Steven W. Running of the University of Montana. As drought caused by warming reduces the land's ability to take up carbon, the result could be more carbon dioxide left in the atmosphere and thus more warming, explained co-author Maosheng Zhao of the University of Montana. Their study, based on data collected by satellites, found that while northerly areas experienced some increased plant growth from warmer temperatures, this was more than offset by warming-associated drought in the Southern Hemisphere. "We see this as a bit of a surprise, and potentially significant on a policy level because previous interpretations suggested global warming might actually help plant growth around the world," Running said.
We all know that activities such as commuting to work or lighting our homes contributes a substantial amount to our carbon footprints every year. What about your website or blog? You may not have considered it, but all websites and blogs have carbon footprints, and they are larger than you might imagine. Think about everything that has to happen when you view a website. Your computer downloads information, which is housed by other computers on the Internet, all of which are using a wide array of networks and servers to transmit the information. The energy use adds up. The average personal blog, for example, creates nearly a ton of CO2 in a year! Why choose to make your website CarbonFree®? 1. Brand Recognition Distinguish your website or blog as reducing its impact on the environment with the CarbonFree® logo. 2. Your donation supports third-party validated carbon reduction projects With Carbonfund.org, your donation goes to fund the same third-party validated projects that our other carbon offset programs fund. We don’t claim that you can offset an entire website by planting a single tree, nor would we expect you to believe that. 3. Custom Calculations Have a large business site or just a small family blog? No problem. We can calculate a custom website offset that fits any size of site with any amount of traffic. Get started by visiting www.carbonfund.org/carbonfreewebsite and choose the carbon offset that most closely matches your average monthly pageview count. After your donation is received, we will provide you the appropriate CarbonFree® logos to use on your site for a year. Show your visitors your commitment to the environment by making your website CarbonFree® today!