Guidebook Offers Steps Building Managers Can Take To Manage Greenhouse Gas Emissions

People who work in office buildings also can significantly impact climate change by introducing energy-efficiency measures to improve building operations. That is the major message in a how-to guidebook, Hot Climate, Cool Commerce: A Service Sector Guide to Greenhouse Gas Management, released this month by the World Resources Institute (WRI).

"If you're a building or operations manager at a bank, an insurance company or a retail chain, this guide lays out steps to measure greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and implement solutions," said Samantha Putt del Pino, who co-authored the guide with WRI's Ryan Levinson and John Larsen.

Case studies in the report detail how service-sector companies have put programs in place to measure and manage their emissions and achieve energy savings. Among the companies profiled are Citigroup, General Electric, IKEA and Staples.

"Climate change is becoming a mainstream issue and is increasingly important to our employees and our customers," said Mark Buckley, vice president, Environmental Affairs at Staples. "WRI's tools have allowed us to manage our GHG emissions in a cost-effective manner -- from providing guidance on our inventory to benchmarking our targets and purchasing renewable energy."

All companies contribute to climate change through their electricity consumption for office lighting, cooling, computers, building equipment, and appliances, as well as fuel use for heating, business travel, and the distribution of products and materials. Electricity and heat (46 percent) and transportation (31 percent) are the two largest U.S. sources of carbon dioxide, which is the most common GHG.

"The guide was a foundation for us," said Emma Wendt, footprint officer at the International Finance Corp., the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group. "By working through the methodology, we developed quality data that supported the World Bank Group's commitment to go carbon neutral. The guide will prove an invaluable resource for companies who want to take action on climate change."

Reducing energy use and managing greenhouse gas emissions can also help build corporate value through competitive positioning, improved shareholder relations, and human-resource management advantages such as better recruitment and retention of employees.

"Because the potential impacts of climate change are likely to escalate over time as gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, it is crucial that steps to reduce emissions begin immediately," Putt del Pino added.

The guidebook can be accessed in PDF format at www.wri.org.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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