Managing your carbon footprint

The Cowichan Energy Alternatives Society encourages individuals and businesses to identify their carbon footprint so they can lower it.

Bob Sieben of Cowichan Energy Alternatives discusses greenhouse gases

Bob Sieben of Cowichan Energy Alternatives discusses greenhouse gases

If you measure it, you can manage it.

That’s the message the Cowichan Energy Alternatives Society is spreading, as it encourages individuals and businesses to identify their carbon footprint so they can find a way to lower it.

Lehonna Green and Bob Sieben from Cowichan Energy Alternatives recently gave a presentation at the Printingdun Beanery that looked at greenhouse gases, climate change and carbon footprints.

Primary greenhouse gases (GHG) include water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. A major human contribution to climate change is the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, which creates carbon dioxide, explained Sieben, who is involved in environmental assessment.

“GHG concentrations have never been this high when looking at climate records,” he said. “”Scientists are seeing increasing average temperatures. The 2000s are the worst decade on record, looking back 100 years or so, with nine of the 10 years being the warmest on record.”

University of Victoria climatologist Dr. Andrew Weaver, who was a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says we must emit zero emissions to halt this global warming, according to Sieben.

“Any increase anywhere around the world affects us all,” he said “The argument isn’t, in my mind, ‘China’s emitting crazy amounts of GHG now; why should I change when they don’t have to?’ I say we can only change one conversation at a time.”

Green, who is involved in marketing, communications and organizational outreach for Cowichan Energy Alternatives, says the first step is to identify and measure what you are faced with, and the tool Cowichan Energy Alternatives uses to do that is a Carbon Footprint Assessment.

“It is the starting point for any business or person who would like to find out how to reduce their emissions,” she said. “We feel if you can measure it, you can manage it.”

A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment, in particular climate change.

Individuals can undertake a personal Carbon Footprint Assessment online.

For a business, Cowichan Energy Alternatives will visit the site and work with staff to collect data, calculate the business’s carbon footprint size and provide recommendations to reduce GHG emissions.

Small changes can add up to lower fuel and electricity costs for individuals and businesses, noted Green.

“Just remember, it might seem like quite a daunting task, but in reality, if you make a few small changes in your household or in how you get to and from work, you can make a big difference and maybe save some money,” she said.

Green and Sieben suggested business owners can change the packaging of their products, change the lighting in the office and bike to work, among other changes.

“’I’ve been called a greenhouse gas sleuth, and I can show you many little ways, little tweaks, that can lower your carbon footprint,” said Sieben.