How to achieve ZERO net carbon emissions from vehicles

It might surprise you that the cost to offset your vehicle emissions is only 2.5-3% of the annual fuel bill, much less than the average fluctuation in fuel prices experienced in the past 12 months.

Its easy to offset the greenhouse gases from the combustion of fuel in your company operated cars, trucks, mobile plant and other vehicles. Here are 3 simple steps to follow to obtain accurate emission estimates and achieve genuine carbon neutrality for your vehicle fleet.  The same steps can be applied to your private vehicles too. Note: to calculate emissions from vehicles your company doesn’t operate such as trains, planes, taxis and rental cars, there are different approaches which will be covered in a future blog.

 Step 1: Gather activity data

Gather all the fuel receipts for the previous financial year and total up the number of litres of each type of fuel used by each vehicle.  It is important to retrieve the data for ALL vehicles for the WHOLE year so the information is complete.   Do not use kilometres travelled and average fuel efficiency for this purpose.  Get the actual consumption of fuel to achieve the most accurate estimate. Do keep records for reporting and verification purposes.

Example: Small fleet of trucks

During the 2014-15 financial year a company purchased 100,000 litres of E10 petrol and 500,000 litres of diesel for the vehicle fleet.  The information was readily available from the fuel cards issued to staff with company cars and trucks.

Step Two: Calculate emissions

Next simply convert the number of litres into kilolitres by dividing by 1,000, then multiplying this figure by the emission factor in the table below to get the number of tonnes of CO2-e.  The little “e” means that the total will include the other greenhouse gases – methane and nitrous oxide as well as carbon dioxide. If any of the vehicles have used biodiesel such as B5, B20 or B100 or a petrol/ethanol blend such as E10, just calculate the proportion separately then add up the total. Too easy!

Example: Small Fleet of trucks

The table shows that the total emissions from the car fleet in the above example were estimated to be 1,565 tonnes.

Type of fuel used

Kilolitres of fuel

Proportion

Emission Factor GHGs *

Tonnes of CO2-e

Petrol*

100

 90%

2.38

  214.2

Diesel

500

100%

2.70

1,350.0

LPG

1.59

LNG (light duty vehicle)

1.44

LNG (heavy duty vehicle)

1.36

Biodiesel

0.12

Ethanol

100

10%

0.08

      0.8

Total

1,565.0

* Source of emission factors:  Table 4: Fuel combustion emission factors – fuels used for transport energy purposes. The National Greenhouse Accounts (NGA) Factors, December 2014  prepared by the Australian Government Department of the Environment for use by companies and individuals to estimate greenhouse gas emissions. 

Step Three: Purchase offsets

Go on-line to find a reputable carbon offset retailer, then purchase offsets for the number of tonnes you calculated in step 2.  To avoid the risk that the offset does not represent genuine emission reduction (or removal from the atmosphere), make sure that you only EVER purchase verified carbon offsets. Reliable verifiers include, but are not limited to, VCS, NCOS, Gold Standard, Gold Power and Greenfleet. Some sellers will allow you to choose the actual project that your money will help fund such as Tasmanian native forest protection, Australian wind energy or sustainable development projects in third world countries.  Currently carbon credits will cost between $13 and $33 per tonne. For more information and advice go to the independent source:  http://otter.org.au/carbon-offsets-how-to-choose/ 

Example: Small Fleet of trucks

The annual fuel bill in our example was $840,000 ($1.40/litre average fuel price x 600,000 litres) and at $15/tonne, the carbon credits will cost 2.8% of the total fuel bill .

How we can help

Enviroease can develop a carbon reduction program for your company and find projects that may be eligible for state or federal government assistance. We are familiar with the Emissions Reduction Fund, Renewable Energy Target and NSW Energy Savings Scheme and VictorianEnergy Saver Incentive. Feel free to send an email to me (Suzy) at suzanne@enviroease.com.au to find out more.

 

 

How do you take a life cycle perspective?

This article was updated to remove the word “draft” as the final version was published in September 2015.

While presenting a series of one day courses on behalf of SAI Global entitled “Preparing for the transition to ISO14001:2015″

I became aware that one of the concepts in the Standard is new to many people. Its the taking of a “life cycle perspective”.  So, what does this mean?

A life cycle is defined in the Standard as the consecutive and interlinked stages of a product system, from raw material acquisition or generation from natural resources to end-of-life treatment.

Life cycle assessment has been around since the 1990’s and is often called the “cradle-to-grave” approach for assessing industrial systems. This begins with the gathering of raw materials from the earth to create the product and ends at the point when all materials are returned to the earth.
LCA enables the estimation of the cumulative environmental impacts resulting from all stages in the product life cycle, often including impacts not considered in more traditional analyses (e.g., raw material extraction, material transportation, ultimate product disposal, etc.). By including the impacts throughout the product life cycle, LCA provides a comprehensive view of the environmental aspects of the product or process and a more accurate picture of the true environmental trade-offs in product and process selection.

It should be noted that a full LCA on each product will not be a requirement of the new standard. The introduction of the term “life cycle perspective” will simply translate into a stronger expectation for companies to consider how their decisions impact further upstream or downstream of the company’s operations. They will need to demonstrate how they used their influence on suppliers, contractors, customers and consumers to improve sustainability across the supply chain.

How can Enviroease help?

If you are thinking of developing an Environmental Management System or need ideas on how to integrate life cycle thinking into your existing EMS, I can offer help you directly.

I can also arrange for an LCA to be conducted on one or more of your products by an associate, Dr Suphunnika Ibbotson, is an experienced LCA practitioner. Suphunnika has completed a number of peer reviewed LCA projects using Simapro while part of UNSW faculty of Sustainable Manufacturing Engineering and Life Cycle Engineering Research Group.

What makes effective training?

This article was reviewed in July 2018 to update the last section on experience

Deciding how much and what type of environmental training to conduct in your workplace can be a daunting task. Here are 5 tips to guide you through the maze.

1. Focus on high risk
Refer to the site’s Aspect Register or Risk Register to establish the workplace tasks that may cause a significant environmental impact. Determine the roles or job function of people commonly undertaking those tasks. There should be written procedures that outline the steps to take and the operating criteria that must be in place. These can form the basis of the training program.

2. Make the training measurable
Develop competency criteria for each of the high risks tasks that may cause a significant impact. Ask “What should any person be able to do before they are allowed to work without supervision? What do they need to know? What level of language, literacy, and numeracy is required for them to function effectively?” Create a minimum set of performance criteria and a method of assessing individuals against them. For example: an observational checklist or a verbal or written test.

3. Cater for individual differences
Individuals who will be acting in the above roles may have been assessed as having skills and knowledge at a lower level than the minimum acceptable standard. Decide on the best method to address any identified weaknesses. Different approaches include one-to-one supervision or mentoring, tool box talk, an in-house group training course or a public training course by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

Recognise existing knowledge, skills and job-related experience when planning the approach to training and assessment. Develop training materials that are tailored to the learner’s level of LLN. In mixed groups this can be a challenge so include alternative techniques to support those with LLN difficulties.

4. Keep records
Keep records of the results of competency assessments and the actions taken when the learner was regarded as not yet competent. Retain records of training content, training provider’s qualifications and participant’s names. Even if the training is a simple “toolbox talk” you must keep a list of attendees with their signatures to confirm that they received the training.

Remember: “If there are no records, it didn’t happen”

5. Evaluate the effectiveness of the training
All elements of the training program should be evaluated to determine whether the goals of the training have been met. Are people competent? Have there been any incidents or near misses? Are people aware of how their workplace tasks may cause a significant environmental impact?

Change the training content, techniques or provider to correct any weaknesses or deficiencies so that the training program improves over time.

Enviroease has 17 years experience in Environmental training delivering on-site customised courses direct to clients. We also conduct Nationally recognised management system courses (ISO14001:2015;  ISO45001:2018 and ISO19001 auditor training) on behalf of Exemplar Global accredited RTOs such as NCSI (now BSI) and SAI Global.

Call me, (Suzy) to discuss how I can help with training and workshops for staff at all levels, including Senior Management teams through all levels of the organisation. .

Opportunities emerge in carbon and energy

If one or more of your company’s facilities has some carbon and energy saving ideas that haven’t come to fruition, now is the time to firm up the program with quotes and calculations of CO2-e reduction potential. The 2015 financial year will offer smart companies the chance to benefit from new Federal Government rebates.

While support for renewable energy generation has waned under the Coalition Government, recently released draft legislation has some interesting features to note. Consistent with Canberra’s intention to commence the Direct Action Plan following repeal of the carbon tax sometime later this year, the government released the Emission Reduction Fund White Paper earlier in May.

Under this legislation a much wider range of people and businesses will be able to plan one or more emission reduction projects and enter into a contract to secure funding from the Federal government prior to implementation. The Clean Energy Regulator will have an expanded role to manage this process.

The new legislation builds upon the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) introduced under Labor, that provides for land based and certain waste sector projects.  Reforesting and revegetating marginal lands, improving agricultural soils and managing savannah grassland fires will remain and there will be arrangements for existing CFI projects to transition over to the new scheme. The Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Amendment Bill 2014 outlines how to register projects, the methodologies, reporting, auditing and purchasing of Australian Carbon Credit Units.

Projects will need to be new and not required by law or unlikely to occur because of other state, territory of federal government funding. Methods will be approved by an independent Emission Reduction Assurance Committee setting out the rules for estimating reductions so they are both real and additional – that is, wouldn’t have occurred under “business as usual”. A menu of Emission Reduction methods will be released enabling the proponent to choose the method that best suits the project.

Of interest to many more businesses will be the inclusion of sector wide activities such as increased energy efficiency in homes, industrial facilities, commercial buildings, upgrading vehicles and improving transport logistics. Examples of more specific sector activities include reducing electricity generator emissions and capturing waste coal mine gas and the currently popular capture of landfill gas for generating energy. As reducing carbon emissions for many businesses focuses on cutting  electricity and fossil fuels, the steep energy price hikes in recent years already give a strong incentive to implement energy conservation measures.   After all cheapest watt is the “negawatt” – the one you haven’t had to buy.

But where the cost-benefit ratio or ROI of a new initiative is considered borderline, a  firm contract  for the purchase of ACCU’s can be used to obtain secure finance from banks and other financial institutions.

Enviroease can assist your business by guiding you through our Carbon Reduction Program.  This will highlight the opportunities and costs that are open to your company in relation to energy and greenhouse such as government funding in the State(s) of Australia within which you operate.

To find out more about how we can assist you with carbon and energy improvement initiatives us on 02 9411 1764

 

 

 

A view from the inside

Successful audits are a win-win for the community and for businesses wanting to prove to themselves and others that they do what they say they do . By examining a business from the inside out an auditor confirms that the company is meeting the expectations of all interested parties.

Let’s think of the analogy of clothing.

When garments are viewed from the outside in there may be a glossy brand image, attractive packaging, convenience features.  Only when the clothes are turned inside out do the seams, patterns and structure become visible and understood.

What you see is the other side of the same thing. The garment hasn’t been deconstructed – just viewed in a different light, in all its reality, worts and all. The strengths and positives are seen and admired – the reinforced seams and new, unfaded materials and the creative effort gone into its design. But a closer look reveals some weaknesses – the fraying hems, broken stitching, worn fabric and repaired holes.

Just like a jumper that looks OK when its being worn, the deterioration of a company’s standards relating to environmental protection are not immediately apparent to key stakeholders – senior management, customers, the community, financial institutions and government regulators. Not until something unfortunate happens.

Like a loose button or pulled thread there’s been a deterioration – a few people left untrained, a couple of procedures not followed, a key piece of pollution control equipment not maintained. And so forth.

The loose thread may be spotted and repaired in time but when left unattended, things begin to unravel. In time the loose button will fall off  – there’s a major pollution incident or regulatory breach along with the high price of clean up, medical costs, fines, legal fees and loss of company reputation.  Ouch!

All elements of an Environmental Management System – like the level of training and competence and the effectiveness of operational controls – need to be rigorously checked by a program of regular internal and external audits.

The close scrutiny of a good auditor will warn the business owner(s) of weaknesses and threats so that corrective action can be taken before it is too late.

If your company’s management system does not adequately cover environmental issues at present we recommend an Initial Environmental Review. This is the first step towards developing an Environmental Management System (EMS). In many cases an EMS can be most simply and effectively implemented by integrating Quality and/or Workplace Health and Safety.

How we can help

Enviroease consultants have years of experience in both auditing and system design. Please feel free to contact me (Suzy) by email at suzanne@enviroease.com.au to discuss your needs for independent EMS, EMP or environmental compliance audits.

 

 

Post election carbon update

While the dust settles from the ballot box result on Sept 7, Australian businesses will need to stay tuned to developments in the carbon space over the next 12 months. There will be both risks and opportunities emerging from the large policy shift from Labor’s Clean Energy Futures package to the Coalition’s Direct Action Plan (DAP).

Australian businesses will go through an extended period of uncertainty about the price of energy and what their direct legal obligations will be. It is disappointing that the lack of a bipartisan policy by the major parties on Climate Change will stifle investment in clean technology at a point when it has started to take off.   Progression towards an emissions trading scheme, the least cost abatement option for the economy, has been derailed.

The Coalition has vowed to introduce carbon tax repeal legislation within 100 days of coming to power but this will undoubtedly be blocked by the Senate which will still be controlled by Labor, independents and Greens until July 2014.

If a repeal bill is presented and knocked back twice, the Coalition would have  grounds for a double dissolution of parliament and new election. Whether this occurs or not, the composition of the post July 2014 Senate raises questions as to whether the Direct Action Plan, in its current form will ever be allowed to pass. A satisfactory resolvement of the climate change issue could take many years unless the political parties can find a way to work together.

Meanwhile, “liable entities”, those whose activities exceed 25kilotonnes of CO2 will continue to have to buy ACCUs at the legislated price and forfeit one unit for every tonne of CO2 emitted in the previous financial year. Audits will continue and its  business-as-usual in carbon reporting.

What is clear is that the renewable energy sector will get far less support under the DAP.  The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has already ceased make loans.  What will happen to the in-principle-agreements to co-finance ground breaking projects such as the 20 hectare desal greenhouse being built at Port Augusta? Sundrop Farms aim to use solar-thermal technology to desalinate seawater to provide irrigation in an arid area producing 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes. I expect there will be many lost opportunities  to progress Australia on a more sustainable path simply due to lack of finance.

Economic stimulus for renewable energy will be insufficient under the Coalition. We may have seen the last of mega projects such as the 102MW solar farm being built by AGL and First Solar at Nyngan and  53MW farm at Broken Hill covering a combined area greater than four Sydney Harbours…..at least for a while.

As well as that, new funding applications under the Jobs and Competitiveness Program will be a thing of the past. As at June 30, 2013 there were 488 projects at manufacturing firms around the country achieving an average reduction in carbon intensity of 40%.  Of the $789 million in investments made, the government provided only $264m from the carbon tax revenue but it was enough to get the projects over the line, thus helping to decarbonize the economy.

The interesting area is farming, forestry and land sectors as both sides of politics see it as an opportunity.  The Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) is part of Labor’s Clean Energy Futures package, recently expanded to include more abatement opportunities.  It’s a carbon offset scheme that provides an economic incentive to farmers and land owners by allowing them to generate credits that can be sold to other businesses wanting to offset their carbon emissions.  It started in December 2011 and has so far issued 1.88 million credits, equivalent to taking more than half a million cars off the road. 70 projects have been registered across Australia since the first CFI methodology was released in June 2012. There are now 20 approved methodologies and I see this area expanding as more methodologies for carbon abatement are developed and accepted.

CFI is likely to be renamed by the Coalition and become part of the Direct Action Plan with the abatement certificates paid out of the ERF, the Emission Reduction Fund.  The ERF aims to reward emission reduction activities and impose a penalty on under performing corporations whose emissions exceed their baseline.

The ERF is capped at $300m for the first year, $500m for the 2nd year and $750m for the 3rd year.

Both parties are committed to the Renewable Energy Target, otherwise known as the RET, of 41 terawatt hours of electricity coming from renewable sources by 2020. The Coalition view the RET as doing the “heavy lifting” on the task of transitioning the electricity generation sector over away from coal and over to renewables.  A report by Monash University and SKM concluded that the Direct Action Plan will lead to an increase in emissions of 8 – 10% above 2000 levels, not 5% below which is Australia’s Kyoto target.  This and other reports indicate that between $4 and $15billion extra would need to be spent for the DAP to work and that will be at a higher cost to the economy as its carbon credits can’t be bought at the lower international price, currently about $8/tonne.

If the DAP doesn’t deliver then the Coalition may look at increasing the RET.  When the dust eventually settles, we’ll see things more clearly…..but until then stay tuned for more updates.

The Global Carbon Project, budget report

The Global Carbon Project has released its 2012 carbon budget.

This is an informative update on greenhouse gas emission figures and analysis of trends. These latest figures reveal that despite 20 years of climate change talks and the global financial crisis and its aftershocks, carbon emissions have increased a massive 54% since 1990.

Observed emissions are tracking at the worst case IPCC scenarios making it even less likely that global warming will remain below 2degrees centigrade, the level that world leaders have committed to achieve.

The trajectory shows that the likely range of global temperatures in the year 2100  will be 4 – 6.1 degrees C. That is “without  immediate, significant and sustained global mitigation, with a probable reliance on net negative emission in the longer term”.

Lets hope our political and business leaders take heed.

Download the report at http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/index.htm