When we undertook calculating our carbon footprint last year, we faced the same challenges many companies face. For one, 100% of our portfolio is comprised of leased space in multi-tenant buildings making it difficult to access accurate energy consumption and utility data. Secondly, we were seeking to measure energy use for our 258 corporate offices located around the globe. This is challenging in part because of global variations in units of measurement and currencies. So how did we tackle it? Here are a few things we learned along the way:
- Tapping a proven and recognized industry program like the GHG Protocol and the EPA’s Climate Leaders will help you easily define your scope and framework, add credibility and provide valuable benchmarking information. We used the EPA’s Climate Leaders’ guidelines for measuring emissions. The Climate Leaders’ guidelines do not account for the energy necessary to support our tenancy, but in an effort to be as accurate as possible, we chose to include an estimate for emissions from those buildings using the EPA’s ENERGY STAR’s national data. Not a perfect system, but a conscientious attempt to really understand our footprint. And as we move forward, we are exploring ways to make measurement even more accurate and to streamline the process.
- If majority of your portfolio is leased, the best possible set-up for measuring your emissions is to be directly billed by the utility. However, this isn’t often an option Sub-metering certainly makes it easier. Obviously, where we had sub-meters in place, we were able to better estimate our emissions. Another key is to have open communications with your landlord. They should be able to provide at least the annual average of energy consumed per square foot for your building. While again not wholly accurate, this data is at least a decent estimate.
- When trying to measure a global portfolio, having a portfolio management system which automatically converts different units of measure and currencies into a consistent framework is essential. Fortunately, Jones Lang LaSalle’s Portfolio Energy & Environmental Reporting System (PEERS) does just this and was an invaluable tool in helping calculate our global impact.
Aside from measuring and reducing our own footprint, we manage 1.4 billion square feet worldwide on behalf of our clients. Therefore, we know that the biggest impact we can have is actually helping our client’s reduce their emissions. In 2008, our firm’s operations were responsible for about 44,000 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and we helped clients reduce their carbon emissions by at least 438,000 metric tons. This 10-to-one ratio between those reductions and our total emissions as a company show that we’re on the right track. Even better, as we learn how to overcome the challenges of measuring our own carbon footprint, we enhance our ability to help clients measure theirs.