HW’s Carbon Footprint & Offsets
Mark Nelson, P.G., Principal
Mark has led water resource protection projects for the last 35 years with clients across the country focusing on protecting drinking water supplies, freshwater lakes and ponds, and coastal estuaries. He has also helped clean up numerous sites contaminated with hazardous materials and led training workshops for local officials on protecting their water resources. Mark is currently leading our efforts to calculate, minimize and offset the firm’s carbon footprint.
The Horsley Witten Group has decided to become carbon neutral! We would like to share the process we are using to calculate our carbon footprint, the steps we’ve taken to reduce our impact, and the options we are considering for offsetting what we can’t prevent. We would like to hear from you and welcome your ideas to help us refine this evaluation over time. Have you tried this for your home or business? Do you have suggestions for what works well?
In our 32 years, HW has developed and supported a variety of environmental programs and goals. This work began with dozens of states and local communities by mapping where their drinking water came from and then developing regulations and plans to protect these water supplies. We have also supported open space purchases, retrofits for numerous stormwater outfalls, planning to improve coastal estuaries, assessments, and cleanups of contaminated sites, and work with local communities on comprehensive plans.
Recently, we were certified by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to help communities plan for climate impacts through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program. To date, we have helped nine communities plan and adapt to climate change and are currently working with many of them to implement the action items developed in the planning process. Our MVP planning work has helped our client communities leverage over $1.5 million in MVP grants.
Our environmental work, though positive, has a measurable impact on our climate. This is true even though we purchase the majority of our electricity (for power, heat, and AC) from renewable sources. As an example, in 2019 our staff traveled over 300,000 miles by plane, and about the same distance in our cars to work on projects across the U.S. We’ve decided to quantify this footprint and look for ways to offset it, hopefully through local opportunities.
You can check out the initial calculation of our carbon footprint above. It is based on 2019 data and shows the firm released approximately 250 tons of carbon to the atmosphere over the last year. This is roughly the equivalent of 4-5 typical households. Over the next few months, we’ll share how we developed these calculations, discuss our work to reduce our footprint, and evaluate the options we are considering to offset our carbon pollution.
There are many calculators available to quantify a carbon footprint and many ways to offset one’s emissions. We look forward to a productive discussion on how we can do this as we work together with staff and other organizations towards a cooler and safer planet for our generation and those generations that follow. You may contact Mark directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for an informative video by Mark. This is the first in a series of blog posts and videos about HW’s carbon footprint reductions. We look forward to sharing what we are learning and doing!