Evaluating our carbon footprint
Each December, environmental ministers from around the world meet to negotiate climate change agreements that will reduce our collective carbon footprint ─ as climate change is, arguably, the most important environmental issue of our time.
It is therefore a fitting time to report on what we have done so far at Yellow Pages Group to measure our carbon footprint, assess how our carbon footprint methodology compares to other Canadian companies, review our reductions over the last few years and reflect on 2012.
What evaluation process do we follow to assess YPG’s annual carbon footprint? The 2010 carbon assessment was our third. Each year, our model and data collection process are continually improving.
Here are the three basic steps we use to estimate our carbon footprint:
1) Build a list of all emission sources, for example:
• Office emissions: Energy used to power, cool and heat our offices • Transportation emissions: Car fuel used by our media consultants travelling to meet our advertisers • Print directory emissions: Energy used to make paper from wood chips.
2) Calculate the emissions for each source. The quality of the data varies significantly. For instance, it is high when data comes directly from the yearly utility bills. It is much lower when it is based on surveys assessing our air travel emissions.
3) Crunch the data, then document and report the results on the Carbon Disclosure Project website (www.cdproject.net/) as most of Canada’s top 200 companies do every year.
How did our 2010 methodology and report compare to other Canadian companies? We scored 69 out of 100 on the quality and extensiveness of our reporting by the Carbon Disclosure Project, which is a significant improvement over our 2008 score of 24. This score puts YPG among the 20 highest scoring companies in Canada.
How has YPG’s carbon footprint improved since 2009? YPG carbon footprint was reduced by 17% from 2009 to 2010. Here are some of the factors that contributed to the reduction:
Office emissions reduced by 5% • As 2010 was more than 3 degrees Celsius warmer than average in Canada, this natural phenomenon reduced our energy consumption in winter. We also improved operations in our Vancouver and Calgary offices and made adjustments to the after hours lighting system in Montreal office.
Print directory emissions reduced by 22% • YPG reduced the amount of directory paper consumed by 25% from 2008 to 2010 mainly driven by reduction in the distribution of residential listings “white pages“ corresponding to changes in usage patterns by Canadians who search differently for personal numbers ─ this cutback translates directly to the reduction of our print directory emissions.
What can we expect in our 2011 and 2012 carbon footprints? As we look to the future, we will continue improving the precision of our calculations and reducing our emissions.
From a methodological perspective, for our 2011 carbon footprint, we will focus on gathering more detailed results from the data centers hosting yellowpages.ca or Canada411.ca. It is somewhat counterintuitive, but data available from our digital services providers are less precise compared than the emissions linked to our printed directory.
Our 2011 and 2012 carbon footprints will likely be smaller than 2010. This is due in part to the following reduction efforts:
• In our Montreal office, the building manager implemented several energy saving measures such as reduced cooling or heating during off hours. • During 2011, we implemented manufacturing and distribution initiatives that will likely result in a reduction of directory paper consumed and therefore a net reduction in emissions.