White Plains Office Building Computes its Carbon Footprint with Surprising Results

While the media constantly inundate us with articles about harmful greenhouse gas emissions, the owners of an office building in White Plains, N.Y., have decided to do something about them. As a first step in an effort to reduce emissions stemming from their building at 55 West Red Oak Lane, the building’s owners decided to calculate the building’s carbon footprint.

“We hear about carbon footprints all of the time, but we didn’t know the size of our footprint or what is considered reasonable,” said Robert Mazzarella, CFO of the building’s ownership entity. “The more we looked into it, calculating and tracking emissions resembled an accounting function. So we retained Energy Reduction Solutions Inc. of New York City to prepare a greenhouse gas emissions study on the facility, and the results were surprising.”

Greenhouse gas emissions are measured in CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) metric tons (one metric ton = 1,000 kg = 2,204 pounds). After the building’s emissions resulting from electrical usage, heating and leakage of air conditioning equipment refrigerants was calculated, the data was not easy to comprehend. However, once ERS re-figured it on a per employee annual emission basis, the metric tons CO2e per employee translated to the equivalency of the emissions generated by any of the following:

  • CO2 emissions from 422 gallons of gasoline consumed
  • CO2 emissions from the electricity use of .5 homes
  • CO2 emissions from burning 3,890 lbs. of coal

“It was difficult to visualize the quantity of a metric ton of CO2 gas, but ERS’ approach made it tangible,” said Mazzarella. “We could visualize the GHG equivalent of almost two tons of coal per employee, and management was very surprised. Our employees were surprised, too. It definitely raised our overall consciousness as to individual emissions within the confines of the building.”

Mazzarella said he now is exploring ways to implement energy reduction measures to reduce the building’s carbon footprint for 2010.

“Unlike most of the industrialized countries of Western Europe that have adopted the 1997 Kyoto Protocol – a legally binding international agreement that sets targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming – the United States has not,” says Carl de Stefanis, P.E., president of Energy Reduction Solutions Inc. “Companies like Mr. Mazzarella’s are smart to get ahead of the curve, because curtailing greenhouse gas emissions is likely to become mandated either by a carbon tax or, more probably, by a cap and trade regime. Besides, a carbon footprint study can also help businesses identify ways to cut energy costs.”

Josh Simon is vice president of business development at Energy Reduction Solutions Inc., which provides energy audits and carbon emission studies. ERS can be reached via its web site at http://www.e-reduction.com or by calling 212-601-9706.

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