At Thornton Tomasetti, we take sustainability seriously, so we have made commitments to achieve sustainability in both the built environment and our own business operations, working towards the goal of carbon-neutral business operations by 2030. However, the question remains — how are we making sure that we are on the right track to meet our target?
As the saying goes, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”. In 2012 (our baseline year), the Corporate Sustainability Department began calculating the carbon footprint of every Thornton Tomasetti office larger than six employees. To measure our carbon footprint we identified five material elements that contribute to our carbon emissions from business operations, including electricity; heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC); waste; employee commuting; and business travels. Every other year, we collect data and run reports to measure our progress towards our carbon neutrality goal.
We expect to reach this goal through a combination of energy use reduction, waste diversion programs and carbon offsets purchases. For example, our offices follow the firm’s sustainable operations guidelines, which recommend best practices and set firm-wide operating standards that reduce energy use and waste generation. Additionally, in 2013 Thornton Tomasetti adopted a policy that requires all new offices and major renovations to seek LEED CI Gold certification or higher. In fact, we recently celebrated our San Francisco office’s LEED Platinum certification; the first to receive a Platinum rating in the United States under LEED version 4 rating system.
Although these strategies can significantly reduce our carbon emissions, achieving carbon neutrality using these measures alone is challenging for the survival of our business. In recognizing the necessity of business air travel to our business, Thornton Tomasetti purchases carbon offsets from CarbonFund (an independent carbon offset provider) to neutralize the emissions of all air freights. In 2016, we purchased 1,069.38 Tonnes of CO2 worth of offsets. Further, some of our offices purchase green power to compensate for their greenhouse gas emissions generated from electricity consumption. In 2016, we cumulatively offset 577,371 kWh by buying Green-e Verified Renewable Energy Certificates or RECs. For the third year in a row, Thornton Tomasetti was able to exceed the minimum percentage requirement to remain part of the Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Partnership program.
We have made important progress and remain hopeful that we will meet our set targets on time as we develop more ambitious initiatives to reduce the firm’s environmental impact and neutralize all of our remaining carbon emissions. This Earth Week, we are working hard to publish our Annual Sustainability Report which includes our third carbon footprint results. Stay tuned.
Thornton Tomasetti wishes you a Happy Earth Day!
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