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SERA commits to carbon offsets for 2015

SERA signed an agreement with Bonneville Environmental Fund to offset 450 metric tons of carbon emissions through Redwood conservation and waste heat energy projects. That number represents just over 100% of SERA’s 2015 footprint, including everything from air travel and employee commuting to office energy use and even the embedded energy in office supplies like pens and paper.

At a recent all-staff meeting, SERA’s Director of Sustainability Mark Perepelitza announced the plan to purchase the climate-mitigating offsets and invited employees to learn more at an in-house presentation. There, BEF explained the basics: a single carbon offset represents the capture or reduction of harmful greenhouse gasses equal to the equivalent of one metric ton of Carbon Dioxide. The concept can be a lot to digest, so there’s a more thorough explanation on their website.

The projects SERA chose to support are improved forest management at the Big River Salmon Creek Forest and Garcia River Forest in Northern California, and a waste heat recovery project in Culbertson County, Montana.

Giant trees and lush forest in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park in California.

Giant trees and lush forest in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park in California.

“We received cheaper quotes from other organizations offering offsets, but we chose BEF because we wanted the impacts to be more immediate to our region and more relevant to our work,” said Perepelitza.

This isn’t the first time SERA has purchased offsets, and he explained why senior leadership recommitted to the practice moving forward:

“Tracking our carbon output helps us understand our impact on the climate first,” he said. “And by buying offsets, we have added incentive to find ways to reduce that impact in the future.”

Tracking our carbon footprint requires admin staff – those responsible for ordering supplies, booking travel and monitoring the daily commuting habits of 140 employees – to compile their data each month. It’s no small feat, but Perepelitza said this has been the practice for at least the last seven years.

Altogether, the offsets cost just over $5,000 – what he called a significant item in our business plan, but a “ridiculously cheap” way to mitigate our impact.

Staff will continue to track our 2016 emissions, and Perepelitza says the firm intends to purchase additional offsets next year.

“SERA has a strong reputation as a sustainable business in the community and among staff. Offsets are another tangible action to support the sustainable culture of SERA, which is widely valued by our employee-owners,” he said.

6 Comments

  1. Jessica Gracie-Griffin says |

    Thank you SERA for continuing to be a leader. The importance of these kinds of actions only grows as we face the new national challenges that lay ahead.

    Thinking of you all from Galway, Ireland.
    -Jessica

  2. Congrats to the SERA team for the accomplishment! Kudos for following through on your aspirations and being a leader in the industry. I hope you can successfully build this into the ongoing business plans.

    Missing those SAC meetings : )…
    Jeff

    • Mark Perepelitza says |

      Thanks Jeff!
      This should just be something that’s routine, but for now still requires deliberate action. It is indeed a part of our ongoing business plan. We plan to make the 2016 purchase in the first quarter of 2017.
      Mark

  3. Mia Yamauchi says |

    Fabulous! What tool(s) did you use to measure your footprint?

  4. Mark Perepelitza says |

    Hi Mia –
    Thanks for your comment. We just have a basic spreadsheet tool that we use to track the various components of our footprint from utility data, business travel, employee commuting, and office supplies.
    Mark

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