Offsetting Our Carbon Footprint – One Step at a Time

Like many companies in 2020, MWA Architects closed our office doors due to the pandemic. Beginning in March, the office was essentially vacant. Even so, our office produced 35.1 metric tonnes of Carbon Dioxide in 2020, only a 30% reduction from the prior year.

As outlined in our previous blog post, building operations generate nearly 30% of global greenhouse gasses. Occupying two offices, we understand that MWA contributes to this issue.

Company Carbon Reduction Efforts

As a company with a core value of responsibility – we are attentive and seek to always do the right thing – we must be accountable for our contribution to greenhouse gases.

MWA worked with Carbonfund to offset Carbon Dioxide emissions produced by our office in 2020. Carbonfund finances “the highest quality, third-party validated carbon reduction and offset projects in the world that are fighting climate change now.” Together, we calculated carbon emissions produced by our office’s energy consumption and offset them accordingly.

We calculated that electricity and gas used to operate our offices produced 0.6 metric tonnes of CO2 per capita between our San Francisco and Portland offices. At a rate of $6 per person, we were able to offset those emissions easily.

Personal Carbon Reduction Strategies

This idea of per capita carbon reduction extends past building operations. Each person at our firm has personal methods of reducing their carbon footprint. Inspired by our team, we want to share some of the personal choices they have made.

As a top contributor to greenhouse gases, many people have chosen transportation as their carbon-fighting method. Greg Robley uses an electric car when needed but decides to “commute to work via bus and ferry.” In true Portland fashion, Jean, Erik, and several other employees choose to bike as much as possible. One employee says, “I do not own a car and use a bike as my primary mode of transportation. I generally do my grocery shopping in one big trip, carpooling with friends.”

Cautious of landfills, a few teammates are using the PNW service Ridwell, enabling them to recycle items that would typically become trash. Other employees are trying to eliminate plastics. Nathan Streib’s family uses alternative options such as, “instead of a plastic toothbrush, we use bamboo ones. Instead of toothpaste in a plastic tube, we use tablets that are stored in a glass container. Instead of household cleaners in throwaway plastics, we use a tablet/ powder that dissolves into water and reusable bottles. We also use soap and shampoo bars instead of gels in a plastic bottle.”

Taking advantage of this lovely summer weather, many people grow their produce. Cassidy Towne says, “Although I live in an apartment downtown, I am determined to have a garden! My little patio is home to two fruit trees, some veggies, and all kinds of herbs.” Many employees also stated that when shopping, they prioritize local products.

For Elliott Ruzicka, his diet proves his dedication, “my mark on carbon emissions is my veganism. Animal agriculture produces a surprising amount of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and going vegan can reduce one’s annual carbon footprint by over three metric tonnes.”

Approximately 5% of carbon emissions originate from the fashion industry. To decrease waste, people are opting to purchase second-hand clothes or buy slow fashion. Valerie Reynolds says, “As much as I love fashion – I rent the trends and purchase the classics. That way, I don’t purchase items that I want to get rid of at the end of the seasons.”

We appreciate that each of our team members is attentive and seeks to always do the right thing. We are proud to work with a team of people dedicated to their planet in their work and personal lives.

Ongoing Carbon Reduction Efforts

Our future promise is to expand our scope of carbon offsets. We will take the next step by collecting information from employees regarding their commute and business travel and work with Carbonfund to offset these emissions. This would represent all the emissions that MWA is responsible for and open the door to MWA being a carbon-neutral business.

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