adaptiVLE's carbon footprint
As part of our push to become a more environmentally friendly company, the team at adaptiVLE has been looking into our carbon footprint and ways to reduce it.
As a business that develops digital courses and platforms, we don’t ship in large quantities of raw materials or despatch products in fuel-guzzling delivery vans. We do consume electricity and oil to power the office and we use server space to host our internal and client projects. Our team also commute to work, eats pre-packaged food, drinks gallons of hot tea and makes the occasional paper aeroplane to throw across the office. So how does this stack up in terms of our carbon footprint?
Before we present our findings, I’m going to preface this by saying that this is all a work in progress. It’s proven difficult to work out exact numbers when the hosting space we use comes from a multinational company, our food comes from supermarkets and some of our cars are more than 10 years old! But we’re committed to uncovering as much as we can and then working to reduce it to a point where we feel comfortable in saying we operate at a carbon-negative level.
Working out carbon for websites and learning platforms is a bit of a minefield, as every image on a web page uses an amount of energy for a visitor to download and view in their browser. Therefore, a blank white webpage would be almost perfectly environmentally sound but in reality, I’m not sure our clients would go for this… There is also a balance between our carbon footprint and that of our clients - we can advise on greener ways to design sites but the decision ultimately lies with the customer. If they fill their pages with hundreds of images and videos, then that decision needs to factor into their own carbon calculations and not ours!
To attempt to simplify it, we need to look at how and where we host client projects. We currently host on cloud storage from Digital Ocean. As a company, Digital Ocean isn’t fully green but we use its London data centre and as far as our digging will allow, this runs on 100% renewable energy. We’re going to take that as a win. Obviously, this is a learning curve for us, so if anybody wants to point us in the direction of a greener hosting solution, we’re all ears!
Similarly, it’s very hard to work out our emissions from pre-packed lunches and drinks in the office. So rather than crunch the numbers and then work to get them down, we’ve introduced a clean-slate policy that bans disposable plastics and packaging at work. Each team member has been issued a 1-litre reusable water bottle and is encouraged to treat themselves to council pop (tap water). The team have also signed up to bring lunches in from home or use either our onsite restaurant or sandwich van, both of which use locally sourced ingredients in their menus.
Okay, let’s get to the numbers! We’ve had to use some averages based on energy billing cycles but we’ve worked out the following for our annual carbon emissions:
Electricity = 2000kg
Oil = 2500kg
Staff travel to work = 5000kg (we’ve overshot here on travel, as not all staff work in the office 5 days a week but thought we would rather over-estimate than under).
So what can we do to reduce these?
When we arrive in the office in the morning, we switch on the lights, the kettle goes on and we plug in our laptops to start the day. So in an attempt to reduce our electricity consumption, we’re doing the following:
Keep the lights off until we need them.
We have 2 rooms in the office - the main hub for working and a breakout zone for meetings and watching films. Do we really need all of the lights on in both rooms all day? No, we don’t. Also, we work on the second floor and have windows with good lighting, so if we’re sitting near a window in the summer months, we generally don’t need artificial light to see our screens.
In terms of powering our machines, we seem to be constantly charging them, which is consuming power and also ruining our battery life. So we’re going to run laptops and phones off battery until we absolutely need to plug them in. To aid this, we’re all turning down our screen brightness by 50%.
The kettle is a difficult one - we like our tea. So we’ve settled on “group brews only”, no more boiling the kettle for your own cuppa. And only boil enough water to fill the cups of the team.
As we work in a shared building, we don’t have a lot of control over the oil we use, with the exception of the 2 radiators in the office. So we’ll continue to ensure the thermostats are set to off until icicles start to form on our noses. We’re all Yorkshiremen, so we’re used to switching off the heating and wearing jumpers - just ask our chilly wives.
Staff travel to work
This is a fairly easy one - work at home more often. We all work at home at least one day a week anyway, so our above calculation is already overstated. We’re going to try to bump that up to 2 days a week to knock some more off.
To kick off our No impact Week, we decided that we would all ditch the cars completely and use electric trains, and our own legs, to get into the office and home again, thus eliminating our car-based carbon emissions. See how day one played out here.
Our journey to carbon neutrality has only just begun and our No Impact Week is a symbolic start to our mission. We’re also currently undertaking our ISO 14001 in Environmental Management to put an official stamp on our efforts and help us formalise a strategy for our efforts going forward.
We are also partnering with a local rewilding project to plant more trees around our offices to help offset the energy used to host our customer platforms. This will mean our clients can rest easy knowing that their digital presence isn't having a negative effect on the environment.
To find out more about how our sustainable activities can help to reduce the carbon footprint of your own supply chain, get in touch.