As part of the US economic recovery, residential housing market values and housing starts are watched closely as a key indicator to economic growth and stability. Last week, Freddie Mac released its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for December, showing projections for modest but steady gains in both home value and housing starts in 2013.
These projections are good news for US home owners and for the thousands of businesses that depend upon new home construction, renovations, and an active home buyer/seller market. CarbonFree® Business Partner Clear Estimates is one of these businesses; one that has maintained a five-year commitment to operating in a carbon emissions-neutral environment.
Clear Estimates, a father-son owned and operated business with three decades of experience, offers a cloud-based construction estimating software that enables contractors and home renovators to manage efficient and cost-effective home building and improvements projects. Clear Estimates allows contractors to accurately anticipate the labor, materials, and their related costs that will be required for all aspects of a construction project and automatically drafts professional proposals ready for client presentation.
The Clear Estimates website serves as the business storefront, and their products are only distributed digitally. For the past three years Clear Estimates has implemented a “paperless” operational philosophy, limiting its carbon emissions footprint to the electrical energy required to run the computers and servers used for developing the product and supporting customers. To address the impact of their energy consumption emissions, Clear Estimates partnered with Carbonfund.org five years ago to neutralize their remaining operational emissions by supporting renewable energy projects each year.
"We chose Carbonfund.org because of its solid reputation," confirms Nolan Orfield. "As the leading nonprofit carbon offsetting organization it is clear they are a reliable resource for any business or individual hoping to protect our most important asset, the environment."
Founded in 1996 by federal employment veteran John Grobe, Federal Career Experts (FCE) is a small business that specializes in training and consulting in the areas of retirement, career development and transition services for federal government agencies and their employees. FCE has a network of consultants, most of whom are retired federal employees, with experience in all categories of federal agency employment and career development areas.
As part of its overall mission, Federal Career Experts believes in protecting the planet by making choices that enhance the quality of the atmosphere and the resulting quality of life. In order to help achieve this goal, Federal Career Experts became CarbonFree® in 2007, offsetting their carbon footprint by supporting Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy projects. FCE remains one of Carbonfund.org’s most tenured CarbonFree® Business Partners.
“The nature of Federal Career Experts’ business requires that we travel a great deal”, said John Grobe, President. “Though we are conscientious about our energy usage, we still have a relatively large ‘carbon footprint’ and have chosen to take steps to offset our impact on global warming.”
To date, Federal Career Experts has neutralized carbon emissions equal to the emissions created by combusting over 18,000 gallons of gasoline. This continuous focus on serving federal employees while maintaining a sustainable business practice sets FCE apart in its field. Carbonfund.org is proud to partner with Federal Career Experts in this long-term commitment to operational excellence.
Producing environmentally-conscious clothing is a complicated and often vexing challenge for “green” clothing manufacturers. Certainly, conventionally-grown cotton has been clearly identified as one of the world’s “dirtiest” crops, consuming 10% of the world’s pesticides and 25% of the world’s insecticides, according to the Pesticide Action Network North America. Synthetic fabrics are, well, just that – synthetics, made from petro-chemicals, releasing large quantities of nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide, and producing toxic waste water, in their manufacturing processes, and are not biodegradable.
Despite “cleaner” fabric choices, clothing manufacturers face additional unavoidable carbon emissions in the growing, harvesting and refining of raw materials, the clothing manufacturing process, and the ultimate shipping and delivery of their products. Carbonfund.org’s emission neutralization strategies help environmentally-responsible producers to mitigate these operational emissions by supporting renewable energy development and carbon reduction projects around the world.
One of Carbonfund.org’s long-time CarbonFree® Business Partners, ONNO Textiles, produces its socially-responsible t-shirts using sustainable fibers from bamboo, hemp and organic cotton. Their website provides great information about the fabrics used to make their more sustainably produced shirts.
But ONNO Textiles recognized the harmful environmental impact of their overall production and delivery processes. They manufacture their apparel overseas, and move raw materials and finished product all over the globe. To balance the resulting environmental harm, ONNO Textiles has partnered with Carbonfund.org for the past five years to neutralize their operational emissions by supporting our renewable energy technology and carbon reduction initiatives around the world. This long-term commitment to carbon emissions mitigation through investment in clean air projects makes the CarbonFree® partnership between ONNO Textiles and Carbonfund.org a great example of true operational sustainability.
We’ve already examined and defined a carbon footprint, but have you ever heard of an ecological footprint? An ecological footprint compares human demands on nature with the Earth's ability to regenerate resources and provide services.
Ecological footprints are ever changing because of advances in technology and a three-year lag for the UN to collect and publish statistics. However, it is a standardized measure that begins by assessing the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to supply the resources a human population uses. This is then contrasted with the planet’s ability to absorb associated waste and ecological capacity to regenerate. Think of it like how much of the Earth (or how many planet Earths) it would take to support humanity given an average lifestyle. In 2007, humanity's total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.5 planet Earths. This means humans are currently using ecological services 1.5 times quicker than Earth can renew them.
William Rees was the first academic to publish about an ecological footprint in 1992. He supervised the PhD dissertation of Mathis Wackernagel who outlined the concept and offered a calculation method. Rees penned the term ecological footprint in a more accessible manner than the original name of “appropriated carrying capacity” after a computer technician described Rees’ new computer as having a small footprint on the desk. Wackernagel and Rees published the book Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth in early 1996.
The implications are dire according to Rees who wrote in 2010, “…the average world citizen has an eco-footprint of about 2.7 global average hectares while there are only 2.1 global hectare of bioproductive land and water per capita on earth. This means that humanity has already overshot global biocapacity by 30% and now lives unsustainabily by depleting stocks of ‘natural capital’.”
We’re definitely overspending the planet’s resources. Just take a look at man-made global warming and climate change. We need to continue on the path to seeking a sustainable lifestyle, and do it on a global scale. All of us working together can reduce the amount of the earth’s resources that we consume. Start with yourself and get creative with how many ways you can save energy and recycle. What’s great about beginning with energy efficiency is that it can save you money too. Then there are cost effective ways to offset the rest such as by contributing to Carbonfund.org’s development of renewable energy technologies and carbon emissions reduction projects. The important thing is to get started right away.
In what is easily the best environmental action in a generation, this week, the Obama Administration announced new CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards for cars and light trucks (think minivans and sport utility vehicles). By 2025, these vehicles will be required to average 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates CAFE standards and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency measures vehicle fuel efficiency. An agreement in support of acceptable standards was made between the government, automakers and their unions, and environmental organizations.
The stage for these historic fuel economy standards was set by an energy law enacted in 2007 under President George W. Bush. Additionally, the 2009 federal bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler were tied to better fuel efficiency.
Fuel-efficient cars and trucks were the U.S. auto industry’s saving grace. It makes good sense on multiple levels to continue these efforts. For one, 570,000 new jobs can be created by 2030. Not to mention saving consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reducing U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels. This also translates to strengthening national security by lessening the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
What about fighting man-made global warming? The new standards will cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks in half by 2025. This reduces emissions by 6 billion metric tons, which is more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2010. We thank President Obama for his leadership on combating climate change, pollution prevention and national security.
Starting in 2017, the standards will be phased in over the course of eight years. New fuel-saving technology is projected to increase the cost of new car or light truck by $3,000 on average. This means consumers will pay a little more when they buy the vehicle, about $50 more a month over a five-year loan, but they’ll more than make up for it at the pump with expected gas savings per vehicle between $7,000 - $8,000. And that is good for the environment and our wallets.
Undeniably, the vehicle fuel-efficiency standards represent an unbeatable combination of protecting the environment and strengthening the economy. They’re also the nation's single largest effort to combat climate-altering greenhouse gases, but we can’t stop building our carbon-reduction portfolios now. Wonderful news like this should push us to continuing to find more ways to reduce our carbon footprint, as individuals and a nation. Now let’s go invest in some renewable energy projects!
Carbonfund.org seeks to partner with businesses that subscribe to the same mission of solving the climate crisis. The goal of achieving a clean energy future is more complex than simply meeting carbon emission reductions targets. Any solution needs to be sustainable, and sustainability is one of the cornerstones of Carbonfree® business partner TCX Investment Management Company.
The global TCX Fund provides protection and risk control against currency devaluation in frontier market currencies for major development finance institutions to microfinance institutions and other institutions investing in the communities of many emerging market countries, such as Cambodia, Kenya, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Peru, and Vietnam. This translates into providing a mechanism to absorb the risk of extreme currency value fluctuations so these institutions can assist local businesses with the startup funding they need. TCX is able to make real contributions to sustainable development and to improving the living standards in communities in some of theleast developed countries on our planet.
TCX maintains a Sustainability Policy requiring that the businesses they assist also meet environmental sustainability goals.A key tenet of the TCX policy maintains that any projects receiving funding should pursue development for the needs of the present population without impairing the ability of future generations to meet community needs. All projects are expected to include pollution prevention and abatement, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable natural resources management.
Carbonfund.org and TCX have partnered to help TCX reach its own operational emission reduction goals. In the past three years, TCX Investment Management has neutralized a total of almost 460 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions created by its annual operations – the equivalent of removing 82 passenger vehicles from the road for a year – in part by supporting Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy projects."We chose Carbonfund.org because of their verified programs, pricing and easy-to-use customer friendly services," confirms Bill Piccolo, Operations Manager for TCX.
TCX’s operational emissions neutralization program supports Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy projects, and in doing so, enhances air quality and promotes new technology development that will continue to reduce carbon emissions and hasten the transition to a cleaner energy future. Carbonfund.org looks forward a continued partnership with TCX in pursuingthe paired goals of sustainable development and environmental stewardship.