Like many of us at BenchSci, I'm passionate about addressing climate change. Over 20 years ago, as a budding journalist, I wrote about challenges raising awareness of the issue. Thankfully, the world has come a long way. Today a majority of people recognize the issue's urgency. Now it's time to act.
To that end, this year we prioritized becoming a climate-positive business within our BenchSci Forward platform for change. Our goal is to audit our emissions, prevent them where possible, and mitigate any additional emissions through the purchase of carbon offsets. Not only are we dedicated to becoming a carbon-neutral business, but we have also committed to offsetting approximately 10% more emissions than we produce.
We thought our primary sources of emissions would be office space, servers, and travel. Pretty simple to address. Well, COVID-19 complicated this picture. On the one hand, it meant no more business travel. But on the other, rather than having a single office space, we'll now have about 150 since everyone will work from home.
Thankfully, our partners at Less Emissions, a Bullfrog Power company, have helped us develop a solution; BenchSci is the first company in the country (to our knowledge) to offset its employees' work-from-home emissions.
Taking action on climate change
Before we get to that, though, I want to share some of our other sustainability initiatives:
- LEED Platinum-certified office. We moved our head office this year to 25 York, the first LEED Platinum-certified building in Toronto. Our new office has many climate-friendly features, including high-efficiency technologies such as district cooling.
- Renewable energy-powered servers. We also moved all of our cloud computing to Google Cloud, which runs on renewable energy and uses 50% less energy than average data centers.
- Conservation of natural areas. We have begun supporting Nature Conservancy Canada in preserving important natural areas that absorb and store carbon dioxide.
Despite these actions, we'll still have emissions in the foreseeable future, such as from any future business travel. Managing these in a post-COVID world will be complicated by our move to a hybrid work model where everyone will work from home most days each week.
Offsetting remote work
That's where Less comes in.
We worked with Less—one of the highest quality offset providers in North America—to calculate likely emissions for 2021 beyond our direct control. This included work-associated increases in home energy use and associated emissions. We then offset those emissions by purchasing CSA Standard-certified Canadian offsets. These projects are verified, fully measurable and endorsed by several leading environmental advocacy groups, including WWF International and the David Suzuki Foundation.
While we're proud of what we've achieved for 2021, this is just the beginning. For example, beyond offsets, in future we aim to incorporate more renewable energy into our business activities wherever possible.
We'll also be promoting climate-friendly behavior for all our employees, whether at work or home. Because now that everyone's aware of the urgency of climate change, each of us must act to address it.