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A Recipe for Cooling the Cubicle
Joel Makower, 21 Jun 06

While sitting there at your desk sweating (or freezing, if the A/C is overly blowing) over the summer solstice and beyond, you might want to peruse a new, downloadable guide from the World Resources Institute.

Hot Climate, Cool Commerce: A Service Sector Guide to Greenhouse Gas Management out steps to measure greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and implement solutions:

is designed to help service-sector companies take action on climate change. Although these companies are not generally viewed as polluters -- they do not have smokestacks or manufacturing activities and are not likely to be the target of regulations aimed at reducing GHG emissions -- they do contribute to climate change and thus should be part of the solution.

Many view the service sector -- the wide swath of the economy (about 80% of U.S. GDP) that encompasses finance, insurance, and real estate; wholesalers and retailers; transportation, utilities, and communications -- as the next frontier for corporate environmental sustainability.

This WRI guide explains why service-sector companies should take climate change seriously, and provides an overview of the connection between climate change and service-sector companies, including the economic impact that companies in this sector may face. It also discusses establishing the business case for companies to take action on their climate footprint.

Beyond that is a step-by-step guide -- choosing a team, creating a GHG inventory, collecting data, calculating emissions, setting targets, reducing emissions, reporting results . . . then starting all over again to continuously improve company performance. It's a recipe that's appropriate for any company, though this one is geared to the types of activities and impacts service companies are most likely to have: electricity use, business travel, building heating and cooling, employee commuting, product and material distribution, and others.

And this isn't just generic advice. There's useful guidance on choosing staff for the climate team (enthusiasm is an important criterion), creating a budget (the first year's inventory will require the most resources), and deciding which among a variety of emissions measurement approaches to use. There are also calculation worksheets, a serviceable resource directory, and short case studies from large and small companies, as well as from WRI's own experiences in managing its climate footprint.

It's not beach reading, to be sure, but a highly useful way to while away the hot summer months -- with the hope that your efforts will keep future summers from getting even hotter.

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