When we set up our business, I was keen that we designed and built it up in a way that was resource-efficient, and which minimised – as far as we can – our own impact on the world. Considering our mission is to help others accelerate decarbonisation through good decision-making, living these principles for ourselves was particularly important.

We’ve recently gone through the process of rigorously measuring and calculating our own business impact, and then fully offsetting that residual impact we can’t easily reduce at the moment. On that basis we could claim to be ‘Net Zero’ (for all Scopes 1, 2 and 3) which in itself is not an end goal- but rather the starting point for a learning & continuous improvement journey.

Net Zero Since 2022

Here we’ll share some of that journey.

Minimising Impact

We designed our business so that we can walk to work and/or work from home; travel around by public transport when needed and/or call-in remotely; do not manufacture or generate any ‘stuff’ – or burn anything directly; and minimise / re-use / recycle what we use.

Having set up in an old draughty soap factory (which is due to be demolished within the year) with shared power supply, the main things we have no control over are the fabric of the building and source of electricity.

Residual emissions that we do have control over – and which we can continue to reduce over time – include how much we move around, what we eat + drink (and what it took to grow / transport it to us), and how much waste we generate. Lots to think about for the coming year..

Measuring & Accounting for Impact

We decided to use the Climate Essentials tool by Climax Community to estimate our emissions impact. This tool had been recommended to us last year as using robust scientific methods, and Climax Community are West London neighbours of ours.

Once we loaded in the features of our business setup and operational activities, the results summarised that our 2021-22 year had a total impact of around 7 tonnes CO2 equivalent, which can be broken down as:

  • Scope 1 (Direct Operations) = Zero
  • Scope 2 (Indirect Operations) = 1,078 kg CO2e
  • Scope 3 (upstream & downstream value chain) = 5,842 kg CO2e
  • Total Scopes 1, 2 and 3 = 6,920 kg CO2e

Further impact metrics can be seen in the summary dashboard below:

Olwg Carbon Impact Dashboard

Whilst our impact is modest we want to continue measuring & reducing it further in the coming year, and in the meantime offset our current impact.

Offsetting Impact

7 tonnes CO2e is a modest amount for a company to offset. There are a bewildering array of offsetting schemes, platforms and apps in existence, and we chose to use Ecologi on the strength of their scheme flexibility, industry-verified credentials and customer feedback.

Offsetting 7 tonnes CO2e (via investment into new wind generation capacity in Mexico and Honduras) and planting 250 trees (mainly in various African countries and Peru) cost all of £126. The offsetting comes from the renewable project contribution only – and planting the trees does not contribute to any offsetting, but does contribute to biodiversity improvement schemes and provides job in developing communities. View Olwg’s Ecologi profile here.

I thought Ecologi’s setup and schemes are very clever as well as great value – and further info on the offsetting aspects and where the money goes etc can be found in Ecologi’s FAQs.

So that’s it, we’ve just become ‘Net Zero’. Glad that we’ve made this initial step and commitment – but there’s still much work to be done. The most important thing is doing it.

Addendum: Cloud Computing Impact

Data centres are reported to contribute around 1-2% of the world’s emissions (similar to global aviation). A large online presence / cloud computing capacity can have a large impact – and Microsoft developed some Power BI reports that connect to a business’ cloud account.

Olwg’s tiny (so far) web presence is estimated to generate an annual 72kg (0.07 tonne) CO2e per year, so at this stage doesn’t really compare to the impact of our movements, office heating, what we eat etc.

Cloud Computing carbon emissions (source: Microsoft)

Something to keep an eye on for the future as we grow!

Author: admin