For Colorado residential and commercial property owners faced with construction defect issues, there’s a leading law firm that specializes in effective case verdicts and settlements, and that’s also a leader in managing its own environmental responsibilities.
Benson, Kerrane, Storz & Nelson, P.C. is one of the leading construction defect litigation law firms in Colorado, representing property owners with construction defect claims against builders, subcontractors, and their insurance companies. The firm takes a unique approach to construction defect cases, developing and implementing several alternative approaches to construction defect claims that often resolve claims without their clients ever stepping foot in a courthouse.
This leadership in creative and effective construction defect case settlement parallels the firm’s leadership in its ongoing commitment to maintaining environmentally sustainable business operations.
Six years ago, Benson, Kerrane, Storz & Nelson, P.C. committed to offset 100% of its carbon footprint created by office activities, including electric usage and business car travel, in partnership with Carbonfund.org. Each year, the firm makes a donation to Carbonfund.org to neutralize its annual estimated operational emissions by supporting third-party verified renewable energy, energy efficiency, and reforestation projects.
To date, the firm’s carbon footprint offsets have neutralized almost 1.4 million pounds of greenhouse gases, the same quantity as is sequestered in a year by five acres of US forest lands preserved from conversion to cropland.
“We are excited to continue our partnership with Carbonfund.org,” states Doug Benson, Founding Partner. “We hope that our commitment to offset our carbon footprint will serve as an example to other law firms, community associations and their vendors.”
Carbonfund.org is proud to partner with Benson, Kerrane, Storz & Nelson in their ongoing efforts to maintain environmentally responsible business operations.
Carbonfund.org supports carbon offset projects that clearly benefit the environment and fight climate change. A recent study highlights how projects such as ours offer even more than combating global warming alone. They can provide additional benefits ranging from employment to health, which is important to countries' economies and limited budgets.
Often the question is posed as whether to cut emissions or use the funds to stimulate the economy. But we can have the best of both worlds with certified carbon-cutting projects; particularly projects in poor countries. And the numbers add up to billions in additional benefits.
Carbon credit certifier, the Gold Standard Foundation, in a partnership with WWF Switzerland commissioned a peer-reviewed study from Australia-based Net Balance. Economists analyzed the environmental and socioeconomic benefits from clean energy or Gold Standard-approved carbon reduction projects.
The report found, "Robustly designed and audited greenhouse gas mitigation projects... deliver far more than carbon emission reductions, meaning it is no longer necessary to choose between climate and other environment and development outcomes."
The study analyzed more than 100 initiatives including building wind farms, planting trees, installing water filtration systems and distributing clean stoves to discourage people from burning wood or charcoal. Then the report identified areas beyond greenhouse gas cuts where there was a potential benefit from projects, such as local economies, employment, health and biodiversity.
The report gives a couple examples; the first shows how three water filtration systems throughout Africa and Asia deliver health benefits such as less air pollution, which is valued at more than $300 million annually. The second example illustrates how 54 Gold Standard-certified wind farms created jobs worth $12 million a year while contributing a total $100 million per year to countries' balance of payments.
Gold Standard Program projects generate carbon credits that can be bought by individuals, businesses and organizations to offset their own carbon footprints. Learn more about Carbonfund.org's carbon reduction projects at http://www.carbonfund.org/projects.
The National Climate Assessment was released this week, which summarizes climate change's impacts on the United States, now and in the future. Produced by a team of more than 300 experts and guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee, the study was also extensively reviewed by the public, federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.
The report finds that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, global warming could exceed 10 degrees by the end of the century. A quote from the study's overview says, "This National Climate Assessment concludes that the evidence of human-induced climate change continues to strengthen and that impacts are increasing across the country."
This scientific report is mandated by Congress and is the pinnacle of years of work by hundreds of the nation's leading climate experts. They reviewed the scientific literature and summarized how climate change is affecting our country. The two main conclusions are:
The planet's climate is changing; it is apparent across the U.S. and the last 50 years' worth is chiefly due to human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels.
Extreme weather is on the rise in recent decades and new, stronger evidence confirms that some of these increases are human-caused.
Our homes, food, water and the very air we breathe are being affected.
Global warming is more than something that our children and future generations will face. It is our reality now. Climate change is already affecting our country and economy. Now that the situation is hitting home, perhaps we will start to make the changes we must make to reduce our carbon footprints and fund clean energy projects.
Read the most recent National Climate Assessment's Overview here.
What’s one way to reduce your carbon footprint? Reduce your waistline and stay fit.
For some, this is easier said than done, but for those in Southern California, there’s a Carbonfree® Business Partner that can help. Southern California-based fitness and nutrition center HDX Fit offers an integrative approach to optimal health through fitness, nutrition and lifestyle guidance with multiple HDX Fit locations around the Orange County and Los Angeles area.
Through their Carbonfree® Business Partnership, HDX Fit neutralizes its annual operational emissions each year by supporting Carbonfund.org’s reforestation projects around the world. Over the past five years, HDX Fit has mitigated the negative impact of almost 380,000 pounds of greenhouse gases, equivalent to growing almost 4500 trees over a ten-year period.
"We chose to partner with Cabonfund.org because we believed that as a company, if we were to lead by example and help offset our carbon footprint, we could encourage our clients and business partners to do the same,” explains Huw Lloyd Davies, owner of HDX Fit. “We believe that we all need to do our part to bring about sustainable change."
HDX Fit also donates 1% of its profits back to the planet through support of various environmental organizations. They recommend environmentally friendly household cleaning products, nutrition supplements and food that are grown organically, and environmentally renewable clothing suppliers. HDX Fit hosts seminars to help clients maintain more energy efficient and environmentally friendly homes and arrange local energy efficiency contractors for clients at a reduced rate. Many HDX Fit events take clients “outdoors” so they can develop and deepen a keen interest in both a more active lifestyle and in protecting the resources they enjoy.
HDX Fit operates on the belief that a healthy body coupled with a nourished, focused mind can achieve anything, and part of what they strive to achieve is a meaningful contribution to protecting our environment. Carbonfund.org is glad to continue our partnership with HDX Fit in these efforts.
For over 28 years, Hornblower Cruises & Events has been the premier yacht charter and public dining cruise company in Southern California. With the largest fleet of luxury entertainment yachts in Los Angeles and Orange County, Hornblower prides itself on exceeding expectations with uncompromising quality and exceptional service.
Hornblower joined the Carbonfree® Business Partnership program in 2008 by calculating and offsetting the emissions from their office and charter boat operations at their Newport Beach facilities, which serves the greater Los Angeles region. Through the Carbonfree® Business Partnership, Hornblower supports carbon emission reductions achieved through energy efficiency, renewable energy and forestry projects around the world. In addition, Hornblower has taken the unique step of offering a path for their own customers to join their efforts to “Respect Our Planet”, by giving them an opportunity to offset their own carbon footprint related to cruising with Hornblower, as part of the ticket price.
“Hornblower Cruises & Events is dedicated to find ways to provide our guests with a unique dining experience while doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint. Our partnership with Carbonfund.org makes this possible.” Explains Rebecca Milkey, Director of Marketing for Hornblower Cruises & Events Southern California.
Maintaining their Carbonfree® Partnership program is part of Hornblower’s corporate environmental outreach program, Respect Our Planet, which guides the company’s principles and programs. Through Respect Our Planet, Hornblower is committed to conducting operations in the most environmentally friendly methods possible, educating along with motivating tour guests to make positive changes in their lives and creating outreach and education around the preservation of the habitats in the communities they serve.
Are your graduation robes made of recycled plastic bottles? Did you find your dress shoes at the secondhand shop? Take the next step in greening your graduation with National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology Program and Carbonfund.org!
Achieve a carbon-neutral graduation ceremony by investing in verified and validated carbon offsets that support renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects, at a special rate for Campus Ecology program campus partners. Honor each graduate with the gift of carbon offsets to send them out into the world a little bit greener.
The NWF Campus Ecology Program provides tools and resources to help students, staff, campus greening committees and sustainability officers “take a big step to make a smaller footprint” when it comes to campus greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the campus’s overall environmental footprint.
In addition to graduation greening programs, NWF Campus Ecology and Carbonfund.org can assist colleges and universities with various sustainability initiatives, including plans to reduce or neutralize emissions from facility energy consumption, grounds maintenance and operations, travel and events year-round.
Carbonfund.org and National Geographic Society (NGS) have been partners in the fight against global climate change since 2009. Our relationship with NGS is managed by Mr. Hans Wegner, Chief Sustainability Officer at the Society whose leadership in the sustainability realm has been an inspiration to everyone at our Foundation.
In 2011, Han’s leadership with the NGS “Green Team” led to his team receiving our For People and Planet award in the “Media” category for their efforts to reduce carbon dioxide (C02) emissions.
These efforts included reducing emissions from their operations by 80% with an additional goal of reducing emissions from their magazine paper and printing materials supply chain by 10% by 2015. The team has succeeded at numerous other efforts from obtaining Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) Gold Status for their headquarters building to compost and recycling programs in their cafeteria.
Since the origin of our relationship, with NGS, the Society has been a key supporter of several of our projects including the Purus REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) Project in Acre, Brazil, and the Native Species Reforestation Project in Panama to offset the Society’s respective travel and office emissions.
We had the opportunity to speak with Hans on his impressive 41 years at the National Geographic Society and his broader work in the sustainability realm.
1. Please describe your current role as Chief Sustainability Officer at NGS and what lead you to that position?
I came to the Society in 1973, with a background in commercial printing. I came here to work in one of the photographic labs, compiling film for wall maps for 1.5 years and subsequently became responsible for the production and then the manufacturing of the Magazine. During that time I also handled all paper purchasing for the Society so I became very conversant with the issues related to paper manufacturing and the paper market. I took particular interest in learning all I could about the environmental impacts of all aspects of paper making; from seedling in the ground to recycling of old paper products. I took great pride in working with our paper suppliers to make sure they abide by or exceeded all applicable environmental regulations.
In 2006 I headed up a group of concerned NGS employees who felt we as an organization could do more to reduce the impact our operations had on climate change and to raise our collective awareness of our responsibility to conduct our business sustainably. Our groups focused on measuring the carbon emissions that we as a company were responsible for, including those emitted on our behalf by our suppliers. We knew we had to know our corporate carbon footprint, not only in the aggregate, but by product line or service sector so we could have a roadmap for the remedial actions we wanted to take. On the basis of this information, we made our buildings carbon neutral, achieved LEED-EB Gold status for our complex, and certified our campus as Energy Star rated and implemented many energy saving features.
On the basis of our success, I was designated Chief Sustainability Officer in 2009.
2. How did you get started in sustainability work? Who or what inspired you to go into a career in sustainability?
I have always had an inclination to try to be environmentally responsible and I like to think of myself as acting on what I know to be true. This is what led me to set environmental policy for our paper suppliers when I was handling paper purchasing for the Society, implementing a requirement to use best forest management practices, to exceed the guidelines of the Clean Air and Water Acts. In the mid 1990's I became increasingly convinced of not only the fact of climate change, but the reality that it was human activity that was causing this phenomenon. Additionally human activity was consuming finite natural resources at obviously unsustainable rates. I was of course aware that the Society was publishing or producing related stories in our Magazine and TV productions on these subjects so the problem was not a lack of public awareness of the issues but rather a problem of failing to act on what we know. I felt compelled to make a difference and to act, so I began talking to people and knew there was a critical mass of my colleagues who felt strongly, wanted to help, and were willing to volunteer their time to make a difference. That led to the formation of the GoGreen Committee (Now Green Team) which has been meeting monthly since late 2006 and is leading the sustainability initiative at the Society.
3. What personal accomplishments in the sustainability realm are you most proud of?
I would have to say being instrumental in starting the sustainability initiative at the Society and thereby creating an awareness that we as an organization and as individuals could and needed to do more than we were.
As to specifics: 1) Focusing our efforts on knowing our carbon footprint and focusing our efforts at reducing that that footprint by eliminating waste where we found it and thereby eliminating the cost of that waste. 2) Setting and then achieving the goal of becoming a carbon neutral facility and qualifying our Buildings for LEED-EB Gold certification. 3) Doing the most comprehensive Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) ever done on a Magazine in cooperation with our paper and printing suppliers. This was completed in 2009. 4) Convincing the Society to become a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) driven company in 2012. 5) Committing the Society to the idea of offsetting our scope III carbon (all indirect emissions except for purchased electricity, heat and steam). To date, we have reduced our scope III by over 20% since 2008.
4. What are you currently working on in the sustainability realm?
We are working with our suppliers of printing and digital media storage to document their emissions on our behalf and to look into renewable energy for those emissions. We are working to achieve carbon neutral status for everything we do, and to send zero waste to landfill. My goal is to have sustainability become part of the culture of the Society.
5. What is your personal biggest sustainability challenge?
Changing behavior at our company and getting more companies to start addressing climate change. Behavior changes are hard. Energy has always been cheap in the US, and the challenge is to change that perception and get people to change their behavior and use less. The other challenge is for all of us to personalize climate change and take responsibility for that change. At the end of the day each of us must make a commitment to change if we are to solve this problem. We all have the tendency to wait for someone else to start. Don't wait for someone else. You do it. Each of us can start today by: not leaving lights on, shortening the showers we take, using mass transit, recycling everything we can, etc.
6. What is going to be the biggest challenge for sustainability in the next 20 years?
Complacency on the part of most of us. Dependence on someone else to do the job for us. Ignoring the noise from the fossil fuel industry to say everything is OK when it is clearly not. A Congress that is divided to the point of dysfunction, so no federal leadership is possible. The naysayers that persist in trying to say that this is not a problem, and it is bad for the economy to address this issue. The fear mongers who wish to use this issue to divide us rather than to say here is a challenge we can unite on and fix.
7. For the next generation of environmental professionals, what advice would you give?
You do not have to be an expert. Read and act on what you know. Make the business case that waiting is paramount to throwing money away and that America cannot compete with clean economies around the world. Make the business case that inaction, or little action, is far, far more expensive and costly to jobs and prosperity than the most drastic actions we take today.
8. How did Carbonfund.org help you achieve your sustainability goals?
Carbonfund.org has been able to find projects for us to help us offset our use of natural gas to heat our buildings and use in our cafeteria. It has also helped us find projects that offset our business travel. My question to any offset provider has always been: Can you get me a two 'fer or three 'fer? By which I mean I am looking for projects that not only reduce carbon buildup in the atmosphere by adding sequestration capacity, but does doing so expand the habitat for an endangered species (either flora or fauna) in an area, thereby enhancing the possibility of that species' survival? So I am always interested in finding projects that have multiple benefits with the primary one being carbon emissions reductions. So far, Carbonfund.org has done a really good job finding such projects for us.
9. Why did you choose to work with Carbonfund.org?
In keeping with the idea of sourcing locally, I liked that Carbonfund.org is in fact local to Washington DC metro area. I also like the fact of Carbonfund.org being a not-for-profit, as I believe that addressing climate change should not be a profit driven undertaking. That is not to say that we should not do business with for profit entities, it is just that if not-for-profit is an option; that is my preference so we can put more dollars into emissions reductions.
When Carbonfund.org Foundation was created ten years ago with the motto “reduce what you can, offset what you can’t™”, we knew we were positioning ourselves as the last-in-line solution in sustainability plans. The climate change education component to our mission is a very important one, and a significant portion of our website is dedicated to providing ways that businesses and individuals can reduce their carbon footprint before considering carbon offsetting strategies.
This approach has attracted businesses that take seriously their responsibility to seek out recycling, reuse, energy efficiency and emissions reduction opportunities. Fireclay Tile, a California-based sustainable tile manufacturer, is a great example.
“We are scavengers at heart and scrappy when it comes to saving resources; therefore we are committed to finding new and innovative ways to reuse cast off materials, and to incorporate sustainability into all levels of our manufacturing process, explains Eric Edelson, CEO of Fireclay Tile. “We chose to partner with Carbonfund.org simply because tile is heavy, and we wanted to offset the carbon footprint created by shipping our tile all over the world.”
Fireclay Tile’s Carbonfree® Business and Shipping program is a final step in the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Fireclay uses Carbonfund.org’s online business calculator to compute annual carbon emissions from office energy usage, business travel, and product shipping and delivery. The resulting offset donation supports forestry initiatives around the world that sequester carbon dioxide in formal third-party validated, verified and audited projects.
Fireclay’s unique process includes made-to-order tile using recycled materials and sustainable manufacturing practices in their California operations. Their recycled clay body boasts of over 70% recycled materials, which include post-consumer glass, granite dust, and porcelain from toilets collected to back water conservation efforts in the Bay Area. Fireclay’s glass tiles line is composed of 100% recycled glass from local window and solar panel production industries.
Fireclay maintains onsite recycling practices that include water reclamation at cutting and mixing stations, along with rainwater capture at their Aromas, CA factory. Glaze overspray is captured at each glazing station and is included with all scrap material and anything considered defective, then crushed into an aggregate for making the recycled clay. All orders are packaged for shipment using 100% recycled boxes, reused shipping crates, and sawdust from a local furniture manufacturer used to cushion shipments.
A fine example of “reduce what you can, offset what you can’t™”, Fireclay Tile is walking the walk, and Carbonfund.org is proud to assist in that last step.
Over the years, Carbonfund.org has been honored to work with some of the most innovative and environmentally responsible organizations in the world. One of these partners is CREDO, a social change company that offers top-notch products and services, including mobile services and credit cards.
CREDO Mobile is the first mobile phone company in the U.S. to join Carbonfund.org’s Carbonfree® Partner Program, which estimates and offsets the carbon emissions produced from the company’s electricity usage, as well as the shipping of its mobile phones. CREDO Mobile also offsets the carbon footprint of its San Francisco headquarters.
“Carbonfund.org is a breath of fresh air, a cost-effective solution that’s easy for anyone,” states Michael Kieschnick, CEO and President of CREDO.
CREDO and Carbonfund.org currently are partnering on a unique credit card offering with an environmental component. A group of pre-approved CREDO customers will have the opportunity to apply for a CREDO credit card, and after the customer receives and uses the card, CREDO and Carbonfund.org will plant 25 trees on behalf of the customer and send them a $50 Restaurant.com dining reward.
As part of CREDO’s ongoing social and environmental commitments, a portion of all CREDO revenue is donated to progressive nonprofits working for women’s rights, the environment, equality, peace and social justice. Since 1985, CREDO has raised over $76 million for these groups, and their customers and activists help pick the groups and vote on how to distribute the donations.
The CREDO community also comprises a strong political force with more than 3 million activists who are passionate about making a difference in our world. CREDO makes it easier for them to have an impact by giving them simple ways to speak out on issues they believe in. As CREDO puts it, being green isn't just a fad – it’s part of CREDO’s identity, fighting the green fight with dollars, deeds and voices for the past 28 years. Carbonfund.org is proud to partner with CREDO to ensure the company’s environmental commitments are realized.
Even the greenest IT services firm recognizes that it has a carbon footprint. After renewable energy sources, paperless processes, recycling and energy conservation measures, there remains some energy use, business travel, mailings and supplies that create carbon dioxide emissions.
Forward-thinking companies like Carbonfree® Business Partner EMWeb Design are neutralizing their current carbon footprint while continually seeking ways to reduce it.
EMWeb Design provides comprehensive Internet design and marketing for small businesses, professionals, creative artists and civic organizations. Services include branding, logo design, web design, search engine optimization, social Internet marketing and print media.
"Environmental responsibility starts with each one of us," explains Elizabeth Mullen Matteson. "EMWeb is striving to cut our carbon impact continually. For now, we are offering more "green" options to clients, and for the sixth consecutive year, are purchasing carbon offsets through Carbonfund.org, so that our overall carbon footprint remains zero."
This six-year commitment of carbon emissions neutrality has mitigated the same quantity of carbon dioxide emissions as 6000 trees planted and grown over a ten-year period. That's meaningful impact for a business focused on sustainability.
EMWeb Design offers solar and wind-powered web hosting, and can also provide environmentally friendly printing options using recycled and sustainably-produced papers and soy and vegetable-based inks. As EMWeb Design makes progress in operational emissions reductions, the Carbonfree® Business Partnership program will continue to provide a way to "reduce what you can, offset what you can't™".