Opinion - 14/February/2019

Ten steps to become a carbon neutral business

Sustainable business means taking responsibility for your impact. This is the definition of carbon neutrality: reducing your emissions as much as possible and compensating for the rest.

In 2018, LM Wind Power became the first wind industry company to achieve carbon neutrality. As it publishes ten steps showing how other firms can follow suit, Christopher Springham, Vice President, Global Communications and Sustainability, argues that becoming carbon neutral is good for the planet and your pocket

 

Sustainable business means taking responsibility for your impact. This is the definition of carbon neutrality: reducing your emissions as much as possible and compensating for the rest.

As the first company to go carbon neutral in the wind industry, LM Wind Power did not have a clear, predefined path to follow. We had to constantly explore new turf, learn and adjust along the way, and, at times, we really wished we had a guide.

While the carbon neutrality journey of any business will take its own twists and turns, we hope our Ten steps to becoming a carbon neutral business will help you to set your direction and reach your goal. Here is a short introduction to our journey, we then urge you to go off and begin your own.

Off balance

Most of us take more from our environment than we give back. According to the organisation Earth Overshoot Day, humans consumed a full year’s worth of natural resources in the first seven months of 2018. This is 1.7 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate.

Though we belong to a green industry and manufacture wind turbine blades which provide clean power to the world, LM Wind Power is no exception when it comes to its effects on the environment and use of resources. We produce massive wind turbine blades, as long as 107 metres in length, and employ more than 10,000 people worldwide. Our journey to carbon neutrality began as a look in the mirror, to ask how we could take responsibility for this footprint.

Solving global climate change cannot be achieved by one company alone. But if we all take responsibility for our impact in the value chain, we can make a real difference and leave behind a better planet for our children and grandchildren.

 

 

Making a difference

As a business leader or engaged employee, you can restore balance by understanding your impact on the planet and reducing that impact as much as possible.

At LM Wind Power we could not have achieved carbon neutrality without a group of individuals who were prepared to look beyond their job titles for a wider vision of where we could be from a sustainability perspective. I call this our “coalition of the willing”. A few, passionate colleagues in the communications and environment, health and safety departments began planting sustainability seeds in 2010 when the company became a signatory to the UN Global Compact. This commits firms to align business strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.

LM Wind Power demonstrates progress towards these goals in a sustainability report published every year since 2011. This provides us with the data needed to: see how much carbon dioxide we emit and from which activities these emissions come; identify areas that deliver the largest efficiency gains and cost savings; show whether we are doing better or worse over time; and conclude whether we have met our goal of carbon neutrality.

 

What we have gained from going carbon neutral:

  • Business improvement, cost reduction and operational efficiency
  • Employee engagement, motivation and pride
  • Wind energy market growth through demand for clean energy
  • Reputation value as sustainability leader
  • We are delivering our vision to create a cleaner world

 

Business sense

Energy, materials, shipping and travel cost your business and they cost the planet. Go green and your balance sheet will thank you.

Armed with reliable data and supported by passionate advocates, in 2016 LM Wind Power was ready to make the business case for carbon neutrality. We treated the investments needed to reduce our emissions like any other big decision our company would make. We presented a clear business case to our board and they assessed the necessary capital investments on their merits. Then, at the end of the same year, the full board approved the investments and our CleanLM programme was born.

While going carbon neutral, we proved that making our business greener makes good business sense, reducing operating costs and contributing to profit.

Our CleanLM team identified significant cost savings through energy efficiency measures and switching to renewable energy. In 2018, our global energy efficiency drive exceeded expectations, saving our business the equivalent of $2.5 million. A solar power purchase agreement at our blade factory in Dabaspet, India is saving tens of thousands of dollars every month. By sourcing 100% renewable energy and investing in carbon offsetting projects focused on clean energy access, we also support the growth of the wind energy market and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

LM Wind Power achieved carbon neutrality in 2018, but our journey doesn’t end here. Carbon neutrality is an ongoing balance between reducing emissions as much as possible and investing in carbon reduction projects to offset the rest. Every year, we must prove that our net carbon footprint is zero.

Share


Related articles

The Netherlands faces an unprecedented transformation as it aims to switch off its natural gas supplies in favour of cleaner fuels in the next 30 years

The Dutch Energiewende: Goodbye to natural gas

The Netherlands faces an unprecedented transformation as it aims in the next 30 years to switch off its gas supplies in favour of cleaner fuels

Read more

Schleswig-Holstein, Germany is testing how a 100% renewable power system can be achieved with internal low voltage distribution networks, flexible consumption and generation from local production points

Fail safe renewable energy power systems

Schleswig-Holstein, Germany is testing how a 100% renewable power system can be achieved with internal low voltage distribution networks, flexible consumption and generation from local production points

Read more

Cooperation and social justice are at the heart of plans by the historic university city of Leuven, Belgium to become carbon neutral

Mission possible: Leuven’s strategy for carbon neutrality

Cooperation and social justice are at the heart of plans by the historic university city of Leuven, Belgium to become carbon neutral, as is the radical idea of giving owners no choice but to energy-renovate their homes

Read more

Spanish utility Iberdrola is testing the use of blockchain to show customers exactly where their wind energy is produced. Francisco Hernanz, Head of Renewable Energy Management at the company, highlights the importance of innovation

Blockchain in energy

Spanish utility Iberdrola is testing the use of blockchain to show customers exactly where their wind energy is produced. Francisco Hernanz, Head of Renewable Energy Management at the company, highlights the importance of innovation

Read more

The reaction of the Australian government to the recent IPCC report was to reject a phase out of coal. But with research showing new wind and solar are competitive with new coal, economics, not politics, looks set to define the country’s energy mix

Energy transition economics outpace Australian politics

The reaction of the Australian government to the recent IPCC report was to reject a phase out of coal. But with research showing new wind and solar are competitive with new coal, economics, not politics, looks set to define the country’s energy mix

Read more