Conservation Services Group (CSG) designs and delivers cost-effective energy efficiency programs to help millions of homeowners save energy. The nonprofit firm– headquartered near Boston with offices around the U.S.–specializes in mid- to large-scale efficiency programs for existing homes and new homes, and in integrating demand response and renewables with efficiency programs. We also serve institutions and businesses who want to optimize their building performance.
CSG began tracking, recording, and fully offsetting greenhouse gas emissions in 2006. The emerging carbon offset market was an exciting step toward sustainability and CSG was eager to participate. Purchasing carbon offsets and achieving carbon neutrality began as a way for CSG to promote accountability and show leadership, by assuming responsibility for the negative effects of energy consumption that are inherent in operating a business. We discovered that completing annual greenhouse gas audits provided valuable insights that enabled us to strategically target energy conservation efforts.
We aim to be transparent in our business and operations, and therefore we voluntarily report some additional details of our consumption. CSG offsets all business-related emissions, including 100 percent of those resulting from electricity/gas usage for our offices, gas and air conditioning used in our vehicle fleet, all business travel, and even the emissions created by employee commuting. To offset our 2013 emissions, CSG purchased 6,533 carbon offsets and retired 731 renewable energy credits. As we complete our 2014 greenhouse gas audit we will maintain our commitment to carbon neutrality by purchasing carbon offsets and renewable energy credits equal to the amount of total reported emissions.
CSG also endeavors to help employees understand and act to reduce their own carbon footprints. In 2005 we created and began offering ClimateSAVE®, a product that allows employees to purchase carbon offsets (via pre-tax payroll deductions). In 2013, the average participant in the ClimateSAVE program offset eight tons of CO2 for the year.
CSG’s commitment to carbon neutrality has helped us promote our corporate mission of energy efficiency and the development of renewable resources while protecting the environment. The work we perform every day is focused on helping our clients and customers mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Achieving carbon neutrality strengthens our brand and enables us to gain industry recognition. We are proud to have been recognized as one of 20 U.S. firms that achieved an inaugural Climate Leadership Award from the EPA. We are demonstrating that it is possible to address climate change and reduce our corporate footprint while running a competitive business.
If you’re planning on attending NACW 2015, we definitely recommend staying for the weekend in Los Angeles to take advantage of LA’s sunshine, sights, and recreation! Please check out our staff recommendations for weekending in LA below. Thanks!
|Bike ride on the Strand, two suggested routes:
I wish this is what I was doing right now.
|A drive up the coast into Malibu (with lots of stops in between):One of my favorite things to do with visitors to LA is take them for a drive up the coast. Make sure you do it during daylight to enjoy the view! Better yet if you can rent a convertible for the day….. Start by taking the 10 Freeway West to where it dead ends at the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) by the Santa Monica Pier. From there, you will start driving north along the beautiful California Coast. You can start with a trip to the Santa Monica Pier with rides, a ferris wheel, and a historic carousel dating back to the 1922 (if you actually want to go to the pier, it’s actually best to exit the freeway at 4th St before hitting PCH). As you drive north, you will pass Santa Monica and then Pacific Palisades up on the bluffs above PCH. Sunset Blvd hits PCH at that point and you can stop at Gladstones for Fish for a bite to eat or to watch the surfers.
Keep heading north, and you will pass the Getty Villa, which is modeled after a Roman Villa, has amazing ancient art, and is free (except for parking). Once you pass the Getty you will enter Malibu’s “27 miles of scenic beauty” . Duke’s Barefoot Bar in Malibu will be on your left soon after, and this place boasts the best fish tacos in all of LA (no joke), as well as a fantastic outdoor patio at the barefoot bar. Next you’ll pass the iconic Surfrider Beach, Malibu Lagoon, and the historic Adamson House. A great place to watch the surfers (or try yourself) or just enjoy the beach! There are places to rent surfboards, paddle boards and kayaks on PCH (I recommend former the former Malibu mayor’s shop: Zuma Jay’s). Just north of Surfrider Beach is the Cross Creek Shopping center, with tons of great food and shopping options (as well as some of the best celebrity sightings in all of LA)…. Keep heading north, and if you didn’t stop for food yet, grab some Fish & Chips (or some fresh fish to BBQ later) at Malibu Seafood on PCH.
Malibu has some incredibly beautiful, secluded beaches as you continue the drive north; plan to stop at one of them! Some great ones (in order, as you head north) Zuma, El Pescador, El Matador, Nicholas Canyon and Leo Carrillo (which includes an interpretive center). Keep heading north, and you can get more fish tacos at Neptune’s Net (featured in lots of movies, most notably Point Break and the Fast and the Furious), which is located at the northern border of Los Angeles County. You can keep driving north to Point Magu, but after Neptune’s Net, there aren’t too many more outposts until you get to Oxnard. Whenever you want, turn around and start heading back. The drive is even more gorgeous going south on the Oceanside of PCH!
|If you’re sticking around the LA area after NACW2015, I would highly recommend heading south to visit the beaches of Orange County. You can even travel as far as Oceanside using the Metrolink Weekend pass which is good for unlimited systemwide for only $10. It’s a great way to avoid the traffic and enjoy some of California’s breathtaking coastline, not to mention the lower carbon footprint!|
|The Salton Sea is a beautiful post-apocalyptic juxtaposition of nature, recreation and desolation approximately 2 hours out from downtown LA. You’ll see herons flying over the still sea, crunch fossilized fish carcasses underneath your feet, smell the rotting spoils of massive fish die-offs, and walk among the ruins of dilapidated structures at Bombay Beach. It’s breathtaking. Also, Salvation Mountain and Slab City are a short drive away. An easy day trip if you are so inclined.
If you’d rather stay more local, LA’s got some great museums that are accessible by public transit. You can walk to MOCA Grand and MOCA Geffen, take the bus to LACMA, or take the Expo Line to the Natural History Museum and California Science Center.
Put on your running shoes and hit the trails at Griffith Park. Easy to access by car or transit, you’ll be rewarded with great views of the city and lots of photo ops. Trails are easy to moderate, sandy and wide, and you can walk multiple loops depending on how long you want to hike. Bring a bottle of water since there is little tree cover on the trails.
In the Angeles National Forest, the Sturtevant Falls hike is one of my favorite hikes close to the city. You’ll need a car to get there (and arrive early for prime parking) and the drive is about 30 to 45 minutes (accounting for traffic). 3.25 mile out-and-back hike with tree-covered trails, stream crossings, camping cabins, and plenty of spots to stop for a snack. Don’t worry, the hike is easy to moderate and well-traveled, so running shoes are all you’ll need.
Getaway with Hiking Option:
If you want to head out to Palm Springs for some relaxation, you might want to consider taking the tram up Mt. San Jacinto. The tram takes you 5,873 ft up the mountain to an elevation of 8,516 ft. The views of the desert are unparalleled. Once at the top, you can eat at a restaurant, bring a picnic lunch and sit outside, or go for a short (or long!) hike. The full hike to the peak is a high elevation, 11.5 mile out-and-back, moderate to difficult hike and will take you all day, requiring proper hiking gear. Temperatures cool 30 degrees from the bottom to the top of the tram ride, so pack some layers.
Corsican Dining in West Hollywood:
The Napoleon & Josephine restaurant in West Hollywood has a French countryside atmosphere and amazing food. The restaurant can easily handle gluten-free needs. It’s a perfect date location or for small-group dining. Excellent wine list and dessert options too! Price range $$$
The Wi Spa in Koreatown is somewhere you can go to relax for an entire day or night (the spa is open 24/7!) and gives you tons of treatment options. Soak in cold pools or hot pools, get a massage, relax in hot saunas or cold rooms, workout in the gym, grab a snack, and have a nap. It has it all! The spa is for women, men, and children.
|San Jacinto provides a excellent refuge from the heat and hustle of the Los Angeles region. I go to San Jacinto to escape the crowded atmosphere of Los Angeles and get some much needed fresh air. Besides bouldering, San Jacinto State Park offers a well maintained trail system. You can top out the peak at approximately 10,000 feet and see all the way to the Pacific Ocean on a clear day. The park offers ample bird watching and wild life viewing opportunities. I’ve seen multiple mule deer and reported lynx in the area.|
Offsets serve as an important cost-containment mechanism in California’s cap-and-trade program. Capped entities may use offsets to meet up to eight percent of their compliance obligation. To better understand how market participants can successfully manage offset risk under the state’s buyer liability provisions, please check out our infographic below.
And be sure to tune in to our “Managing Offset Risk” webinar on Tuesday, April 7, 9 am – 10 am PT. The webinar will provide an overview of offset credit invalidation risk and outline market-based solutions for managing that uncertainty as a buyer. The webinar will cover the Clean Harbors decision, ARB’s updated regulatory compliance language, and ‘Platinum Offsets.’ Julian Richardson of Parhelion Underwriting and Matt Wallace of ISU Environmental Insurance will be presenting.
At the Climate Action Reserve, we are strongly committed to developing effective, market-based approaches for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We also believe that promoting the development of renewable energy is essential to any serious effort to mitigate climate change. Creating demand for renewables through voluntary markets for green power and “renewable energy certificates” (RECs) is one way to help advance both objectives. However, it is critically important that such markets be based on sound GHG accounting.
Recently, the World Resources Institute published a new guidance document regarding how companies should report their “Scope 2” greenhouse gas emissions. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions that arise from consumption of grid electricity, heat, or steam. The guidelines allow companies to use RECs to “reduce” their reported GHG emissions. If enough RECs are purchased, a reporting entity’s GHG emissions from electricity can be reported as zero, equivalent to not having consumed any electricity!
The parallel to carbon offsets is clear. By following the guidelines, companies can effectively claim to have “offset” their Scope 2 emissions using RECs or other contractual arrangements for green power. But is buying REC’s equivalent to buying offsets? Our longstanding answer is no.
It should be a bedrock principle of GHG accounting that no company be allowed to report a reduction in its GHG footprint for an action that results in no change in overall GHG emissions. Yet this is precisely what can happen under WRI’s new guidance.
It is because of this problem that we, along with other GHG accounting practitioners and academics, are calling on companies to not use the contractual/REC-based reporting method allowed by the guidance, and to rely instead on grid-based emission factors to determine Scope 2 emissions (which is also provided for in the guidance).
You can find out more by reading the open letter here. We would welcome your views and insights, and if you agree with us, you can also sign on to the letter.
Here’s some of the ways we’ll be staying green this Valentine’s/President’s Day weekend. Please feel free to share your green tips and eco-friendly weekend plans in the comments section below. Thanks!
|1. Skip the balloons and store-bought card, and make a homemade valentines card out of recycled paper and craft supplies, or send an e-card|
|2. Go on a tandem bike ride!|
|3. Take public transportation to your dinner date|
|4. Compost flowers after they’ve outlived their life in a vase – or better yet, gift plants or succulents that will last|
|5. Feast on local eats purchased from the farmers market|
|6. Enjoy fair trade, organic chocolate that support sustainable agriculture and worker health and rights|
|7. Take your growler to get refilled rather than buying another 6 or 12 pack of bottles|
|8. Find a super unique gift or super fun dress up outfit at the thrift store|
|9. Do a DIY project w/reclaimed wood – lots of instructions on the internet|
|10. Bring your own glasses, plates and silverware on a picnic date to save on paper and plastic waste|