Thursday, May 31, 2007

Good Housekeeping

More and more organisations are adopting environmental policies and taking specific actions to implement them.

Eclipse Internet, the ISP within Kingston Communications, has recently announced that it is carbon-neutral. The main input to an IT company is power and in calculating the organisation’s footprint Eclipse also included the emissions due to the daily commute of the workforce. This proved to be a not insignificant 23% of the total. Beyond making sure that heating and lighting in the offices is as efficient as possible there is only so far that such a company can go to reduce its carbon footprint without offsetting.

Carbon neutrality has been achieved in collaboration with the CarbonNeutral Company, by investing in projects which will either produce power without CO2 emissions or positively reduce CO2. Eclipse has invested in wind-farm technologies in India, a methane capture project in Pennsylvania and a Ugandan forestry project. All of these are designed not only to reduce carbon dioxide but also to support the local economies.

Carbon neutrality has a money cost – the cost of investing in the offsetting projects. The return is more difficult to quantify, but consumers are becoming more insistent that everything they buy should be “ethical”, “green” and “eco-friendly”. In response many big names on the High Street are making the investment. In time carbon neutrality may become the norm - or at least the aim - for every company (though not every company will be able to achieve it). Some progress towards carbon neutrality is likely to be expected of any organisation seeking public contracts.

Those who are first into this area will probably find their goals easier to reach through a wide range of offsetting projects. Later converts will have a smaller choice, but hopefully will sign up anyway.

Hopefully too, the market will be regulated so that the marginal operators who have been giving offsetting a bad name will be squeezed out.