Want your business to become carbon-neutral, but just don’t know where to start? Here are 5 specific steps you can take to reach carbon neutrality, including specific examples and learnings from TeamViewer’s own approach.
1. Calculate Your Emissions, Then Tackle Them Head On
It may seem a daunting task to figure out how large your business’ ecological footprint really is. What activities should you include and how do you find out how much CO2 is really generated as a result? If you want to become carbon neutral, you need to know.
Luckily, several companies offer online tools that can help you calculate your carbon emissions. Just a few examples:
These tools make a lot of sense for small to mid-sized businesses that usually look for an easily available solution to start calculating their footprint. Some companies opt to work with an external company or use in-house capacities to crunch the numbers. TeamViewer calculated its greenhouse emissions for the fiscal year 2020 with the support of the scientific research organization DFGE – Institute for Energy, Ecology and Economics.
Whichever partner or tool you decide on, your calculations should be based on a comprehensive calculation method such as the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (abbreviated GHG protocol).
This GHG protocol considers all emissions distributed across 3 scopes:
- (Scope 1) All directly generated emissions
- (Scope 2) Emissions associated with purchased energy
- (Scope 3) Operational emissions such as business travel and commuting
[Green Fact] Interestingly, many companies have their largest potential for a carbon footprint reduction in scope 3.
Once you have calculated your footprint, you have your baseline: Time to set an ambitious goal and follow up on it. Reaching carbon neutrality is often a question of investing in green projects that offset the emissions your business is causing. However, reducing emissions by changing key parameters (think switch to renewable energy etc.) also goes a long way to achieve a greener profile.
Every company is a bit different, so consider the following when you set your specific climate goal:
- Are there any low-hanging fruits for your company to reduce its energy consumption within your current setup?
- Which changes would mean the largest reduction in your overall carbon footprint?
- Can you make a greener profile a part of your competitive edge?
- What types of goals do other companies in similar industries work with?
To highlight a specific and current example, at TeamViewer, we have defined our goals as follows:
- Goal 1: Continued carbon neutrality of own operations with a simultaneous 50% reduction in operational CO2 emissions per employee by the end of 2025 compared with baseline year of 2019.
- Goal 2: Achieving carbon neutrality (net zero; full scope 1-2 GHG Protocol) with a simultaneous reduction in Scope 1-3 emissions per EUR million revenue latest by 2030 with the baseline year of 2019.
Since 2018, TeamViewer has made the emissions caused by its own business operations climate neutral by purchasing certificates to compensate for them. We plan to continue down this road while taking steps to actively reduce our carbon emissions.
We focus our efforts to actively reduce our carbon emission in two principal areas:
- Hybrid workplace: Our switch to a hybrid workplace model reduced the need for employees to commute to work. This switch already allowed us to reduce our emissions with 53% per employee in 2020 as compared to 2019.
- Renewable energy: Our ongoing switch to renewable and green energy sources whenever feasible.
Whether this makes sense in your specific setup will depend on your industry, size, and access to technology to name a few.
Tip: Consider tying your goals to the number of full-time employees you have because this allows for a more realistic steering of reductions measurements. Put simply: Your emissions will inevitably go up with each FTE you hire, you need to commit to finding a way to counteract the added commute, equipment, workspace etc. Following the same logic, you can also consider tying your goals to your revenue stream.
2. Assign a Person to Take the Lead on Your Climate Action
You will need at least one person to lead your green agenda. Whether this should be a full-time or part-time function will depend on your business’ size and means. However, having someone who follows up on your green ambitions is essential to success. Key tasks for a company climate representative should include reporting on your business’ carbon footprint and – at least for carbon neutrality – selecting, managing, and documenting the initiatives taken to offset it.
Make sure this role has the clear support of the leadership team, so their input and concerns are taken seriously. At TeamViewer, our Director Corporate Development has a specified sustainability function and reports directly to the Management Board (specifically the CFO). This function must:
- Pool existing measures in an environmental management system and continuously optimize these.
- Further, develop our climate strategy and coordinate operational measures to reach our goals.
3. Make the Switch to Renewable Energy Sources
If you don’t have the budget to set off your entire carbon footprint by supporting green initiatives, you can investigate reducing it as part of your journey to carbon neutrality. Of course, even if you do have the money to set off your emissions, reducing them will ultimately help protect the environment.
Consider where your company could replace black energy sources with green ones. It might not be feasible to do so 100%, but chances are you can do so in some areas of your business. To fuel the needed change, it helps to set yourself some goals specifically related to the type of energy your company relies on.
At TeamViewer we have set the following measurable goals for our transition to renewable energy sources:
- By 2025, 75% of purchased energy to come from CO2 neutral sources
- Per capita energy consumption down by 19% in 2020
- Concepts for energy, waste, and water management
4. Enable Employees to Work in a Flexible Workplace Model
The global Covid-19 pandemic changed the way workers everywhere in the world worked. Remote work became a requisite for business contingency, and the attitude towards home-based work benefits and drawbacks was revised.
We have yet to experience the long-term effects on the way we work in different industries. However, heavy weights in the software industry such as Google and Microsoft were early to announce unforeseen levels of worker flexibility. TeamViewer believes in a hybrid approach that harvests the best of both worlds: a change to work flexibly with a change to see your colleagues face to face. So, what does this have to do with carbon neutrality?
If employees work 50% from home, they travel 50% less to the office. That inevitably means less CO2 emissions. We have decided to add to that positive green vibe by subsidizing employees that travel by public transport or by e-bike. Overall, it all adds up towards reaching our goals.
Is your company considering the green benefits of offering some or all employees options to work from home or pick a climate friendly commute?
5. Leverage Remote Support to Reduce Carbon Emissions
The pandemic surely opened the world’s eyes to the possibilities and challenges of a home-based workforce as seen from a productivity standpoint. However, did you ever consider the broader potential for carbon emission reductions that the new normal might entail?
Anyone working with any type of machine needs to routinely interact with that machine – be it a personal computer, an industrial computer, a complex shop floor setup or production plant. Experts are called to troubleshoot when non-standard issues occur. The pandemic forced businesses worldwide to consider how to keep complex production setups running with minimal technical staff on site.
So, what does that have to do with carbon neutrality? The use of remote connectivity software avoids CO2 emissions, based on the reduced need for travel our solutions create. An unprecedented number of IT supporters and technical experts used TeamViewer to remotely access a broad range of business computers, mobile phones, devices, and machines to troubleshoot and maintain these without having to travel a single mile physically.
Perhaps your business has a broader potential for emission reductions in remote technical machine support?