Setting a GHG Target with the Regional Sustainability Initiative
March 4, 2021 | Alana Rigby
The Regional Sustainability Initiative works with companies across Waterloo Region to empower them to meet their sustainability goals. We collaborate with organizations like yours to set voluntary reduction targets in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), water, and waste diversion.
Every organization’s sustainability journey is unique. Our milestones provide a customized approach for organizations of varying sizes and industries. So follow along with our Target Setting blog post series and learn how our members set and achieve sustainability targets.
Are you a business curious about setting a GHG target?
In this post, we’re exploring the process of setting GHG targets. A greenhouse gas (GHG) target focuses on reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that your organization emits into the atmosphere. When you join our program we will assist you in completing a baseline inventory, which is a collection of activity data from across your organization’s daily operations that may contribute to the production of GHGs. From there, our team will pinpoint your areas of greatest impact and track your progress through annual data collection until we have 3 year inventory. Our reporting framework follows the Greenhouse Gas Protocol which categorizes emission source activities into three scopes:
Scope 1 and 2 emissions are the main sources of emissions that organizations have total or partial control overs. These typically include electricity and heat production from utility providers, exhaust from company-owned vehicles and unintended sources like equipment leaks in machinery. These scopes are mandatory and must be included in all GHG reduction targets in our framework.
Scope 3 emissions are the indirect emissions that organizations have limited control over. They come from activities such as business travel and employee commuting. These are optional to report on within our reporting framework. However, knowing that they are typically the largest component of most organizations’ GHG footprint, we recommend our members consider including them in their GHG targets.
To accommodate different member needs, we permit two types of GHG reduction target options:
Absolute targets focus on the total greenhouse gas emissions produced by an organization.
Intensity-based targets are specified objectives that express greenhouse gas emissions per unit of a particular growth factor or area of output. Intensity metrics can include: GHG / full-time employees, GHG / GDP, GHG / square metres of office space, GHG / products produced.
Absolute targets account for the overall GHG impacts of an organization, while intensity-based targets focus on particular measures of GHG impacts based on the chosen growth factor.
Ready to set a target?
Using the 3 year of baseline data collected in your GHG inventory, we will create realistic and ambitious target scenarios for your review. Members pledge a reduction commitment over a 10-year target period as a Pledging Partner. Pledging Partners sign a non-binding agreement to affirm their commitments and are assigned a Pledge Level of Bronze, Silver or Gold. Our framework categorizes these levels based on the percentage of commitment to reducing your current or baseline GHG emissions, which is outlined below:
*Note: The percentages differ for Waste and Water Targets. See later series posts for details.
Getting started with targeted reduction projects:
Once your pledged target is finalized, taking the first step towards reductions can feel overwhelming. Within the program we have created “The Idea Book” a member-only resource that provides over 300+ inspiratiional reduction projects as well as references to other members who have completed similar projects. In addition, our reporting framework offers annual reporting of progress against targets as well as tailored recommendations on how to further reduce emissions.
What about offsets?
While we encourage members to focus their efforts on reducing emissions from daily operations through long-term and sustainable means, we also permit the use of offsets where control over reductions is limited. In our framework, members can offset a maximum of 49% of their inventory. Our framework specifies that offsets are purchased from credited, local providers and we can help you identify these organizations should you wish to procure offsets towards your targeted reductions.
Current Pledging Partners:
Throughout the 10 year pledge Sustainable Waterloo Region provides ongoing support, coaching and resources to assist with your reduction plan. There are currently 27 Pledging Partners actively working towards GHG reduction pledges. Throughout their sustainability journey we celebrate successes and achievements.
Whether you are an up-and-coming rookie, an inspiring sustainability leader or somewhere in-between, our initiative acknowledges members by featuring their stories and latest projects on our blogs, social media accounts, or in our annual report where target-hitters are announced!
Here are our most ambitious Pledging Partners and their GHG targets to get you inspired:
Gold Pledging Partner | Absolute Target: 100%
Gold Pledging Partner | Intensity-based Target: 80% per full-time employee
Gold Pledging Partner |Intensity-based Target: 60% per license
Interested in learning more? Check out “Water, Waste & GHG’s: Setting targets with the Regional Sustainability Initiative” a webinar on the target setting process hosted on March 24th at 10am.
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