Did we reduce our carbon footprint?
Discover the result of adaptiVLE's No Impact Week
As part of our bid to become a more environmentally-sound company, the team at adaptiVLE undertook a 5-day No Impact Week challenge to reduce the carbon footprint of the business. The lessons we learned, coupled with our ISO14001 Environmental Management certification, will provide us with a road-map to becoming a carbon-negative organisation.
Before we could reduce our carbon footprint, we had to work out what our current carbon emissions were. In short, through energy use, commuting and daily activities, the adaptiVLE team create a weekly average of:
96kg of carbon commuting to work
48kg of carbon heating the office
38kg of carbon on electricity
The goal of our No Impact Week was to undertake activities that would reduce these numbers, either by eliminating the source of the emissions or by offsetting it in some way.
Commuting to work
We decided to attack the largest culprit first - commuting. The 96kg of carbon was calculated from the emissions of 3 cars driving to and from the office each day over a week. So we banned cars. Through a combination of working from home, using electric trains and walking, we managed to wipe out our commuting emissions.
Heating the office
Our office runs off oil, which is used to heat the water and the 2 radiators we have. We made sure our radiators were completely switched off and that our hot water usage was restricted to washing hands and utensils. Full disclosure here; we worked out our emissions based on yearly billing, and dividing by 52, so our heating will obviously be used much more in winter months. This was a fairly easy reduction in July!
Electricity was a tough one, as we're a digital company that creates online learning platforms, courses and websites - if we aren't sitting in front of a computer, we aren't making money! We pledged to turn off the lights in the office as much as possible, using light from the windows instead. We ran our laptops off charge and only plugged in when necessary and we brought in lunches that didn't require a microwave.
Our best estimates are that we eliminated our commuting carbon, drastically reduced our oil use and made some reductions on electricity. So that takes us from 182kg of carbon on an average week, down to around 38kg. How could we offset this to take us into carbon-negative territory for the week?
The answer was in trees. Here at Broughton Hall, there is a huge tree-planting initiative, with hundreds of thousands of saplings being planted in the last 18 months. Our plan is to get involved with this, however, we needed to do something in our No Impact Week - we decided to plant our own trees at home.
A full-grown tree can absorb around 25kg of carbon per year, but it's hard to get your hands on full-grown trees, so instead, each member of the adaptiVLE team was given a fruit tree to plant in their own garden. Whilst this wouldn't immediately counter the remaining 38kg of carbon for the week, it was a promise to the future that the company and team would all take a more environmentally aware approach to the business.
What did we learn?
Some of the activities we undertook during our No Impact Week weren't entirely practical in the long term. Whilst walking to work was fun, it took an extra 2 hours out of everybody's working day. The July weather was on our side for the week but parts of the walk would be downright dangerous in heavy rain (the fields around here often flood) and snow.
If public transport was more reliable, a combination of trains and buses would be an option but the missed trains and delayed buses we encountered over the week impacted staff when needing to get home for school runs and family commitments.
The best option for cutting our commuting carbon would seem to be a mix of working from home more often and car-sharing to the office.
All of the office-based changes, such as charging devices less, turning off the radiators, using natural light, and banning disposable plastics from staff lunches, are all things we intend to keep up to going forward.
Our plan to plant trees is still something we are in the process of fleshing out - ideally, we want to plant a number of trees per client, to help offset the carbon output of creating and hosting their digital platforms. Stay tuned for more details.
If you're looking for greener solutions to delivering online courses and digital content, get in touch to see how adaptiVLE can help.