IHME carbon neutral in 2020 – New goals for calculation

12/03/2021
IHME's carbon footprint is followed on IHME's webpages.

IHME’s carbon-footprint calculation for 2020 is finished. Its emissions corresponded to those of an average Finn for half a year, and the biggest single source was heating. Emissions amounted to 4.2 tonnes and were offset almost twice over. Thus, IHME’s net emissions for 2020 are zero, making it carbon-neutral.

“At IHME we want to act in a sustainable way, so that we can carry on for the next ten or even 100 years. It is great to say that we have already reached our carbon neutrality target. The corona restrictions made it more difficult to carry out our activities, but easier to achieve the goal. The travel restrictions forced a quicker adoption of new working methods on the path to sustainability”, says Executive Director Paula Toppila.

“Since we are aiming for carbon neutrality, it is essential to know where emissions come from and what it makes sense to do about them,” adds IHME’s Eco-Coordinator Saara Korpela. IHME overcompensates for its emissions, since offsetting involves some uncertainty, and many factors are left out of the carbon-footprint calculation.

IHME’s emissions 4.2 tonnes

At IHME 2020 was an exception, since its main production – a work by an internationally renowned artist – was postponed until 2021 due to corona pandemics.

In 2020, IHME’s emissions were 4240 kg CO2e. The biggest sources of emissions were energy (47%) and travel (32%). Of emissions from energy consumption 70% were caused by heating, the rest by electricity consumption. Even though corona measures restricted flying in particular, flights generated 90% of travel emissions. Of IHME’s total emissions only 4% came from purchases/purchased goods and services, and 1% from waste management.

Office heating a big source of emissions, events a small one

IHME’s operations generate the following emissions:

First minimize emissions, then offset them

IHME’s operations have been carefully planned with an eye to environmental concerns. Besides production factors, in 2020, IHME also began focussing attention on its own energy consumption. Conventional electricity was replaced by wind power at the office space. We are trying to switch from district heating to renewable waste heat during 2021. In 2020, corona measures helped reduce travel emissions, and active use of remote meetings will continue in 2021.

IHME’s emissions have been compensated for by investing via the company Ilmastoapu in a Gold Standard Verified Emission Reduction project.

Digital carbon footprint

There is limited reliable data on digital carbon footprints, and they are not yet taken into account by carbon-footprint calculators. This involves lots of variables that are not under the user’s control, or even visible. For example, server-room cooling takes a lot of electricity, and the way it is produced has a major effect on emissions. While there has been some research on emissions from live video streaming and video conferencing, for example, there has been virtually no mention of the carbon footprint of digital marketing on social media.

According to recent research, because of the various options, the carbon footprint of a remote meeting can range from 150–1000 g CO2e/hour. That is considerably more than the estimate of the carbon footprint from live streaming, at 43,2 g CO2e/hour.

This is still a significant source of emissions. Calculated using the new coefficient, the carbon footprint from streaming the Ecoseminar was about 190–1280 kg. Since four bodies arranged the seminar*, IHME’s share of the emissions is a quarter, 48–320 kg. It is obvious that the biggest source of emissions from a Zoom seminar is Zoom itself, but that data will not be revealed by simply by filling in fields in the calculator.

Implementation using the Hiilifiksu järjestö project’s calculator

IHME’s carbon footprint was calculated by Eco-Coordinator Saara Korpela using the calculator created by the Hiilifiksu järjestö (carbon-smart organization) project. This calculator was chosen particularly because it is easy for anyone to start using it, and it is a free and based on Excel.

The calculator is divided into sub-areas: energy, transport, purchases, waste and services. It also uses the latest data on the climate impacts of flying and food.

Environmental work continues – next: an environmental management system

IHME’s environmental work continues. This year, IHME is setting up an EcoCompass environmental management system (EMS) and seeking external certification of its environmental work.

Further information: Eco-Coordinator Saara Korpela, saara.korpela@ihmehelsinki.fi or 045 632 6267.

More about the carbon footprint calculation in Ecoblog.