Five Things Health, Safety, and Environmental Professionals Need to Know About Carbon Footprinting
As businesses have become more climate-conscious, carbon footprinting has become a valuable tool for understanding emissions and caring for the environment. Organizations that reduce their carbon footprint not only demonstrate continued improvement but also create business prosperity.
Many organizations have become dedicated to environmental stewardship and have teamed up with Climate Smart to make their carbon footprinting strategy a success. Businesses who take on this responsibility with us become leaders in their industry and join a team of climate action pros, gaining unique and specific emissions reduction expertise..
Myles Murphy is a Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) Professional with Soletanche Bachy Canada and a leader in carbon footprinting. He was first introduced to Climate Smart when he worked for an offshore construction company in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he learned tailored approaches to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. He took his learnings to his role at Soletanche Bachy, where he again collaborated with Climate Smart to bring carbon footprinting to his position. Myles takes us through what HSE professionals need to know about carbon footprinting.
Every Day Is A New Challenge
There is no “typical day” for Myles in his role. You can tell this occupation has a diverse set of responsibilities just by the name alone. No matter what he sets out to tackle on a particular day, the main priority is always to prevent environmental damage and avoid injuries for people in the field. “Boots on the ground” is how he explains his role. Myles says he travels across Western Canada visiting sites or offices, ensuring there’s always an HSE presence at every job – from the project launch until it’s complete. That means getting involved in estimating site impacts, construction, and post-construction activity.
Proactive Rather Than Reactive
Most people wouldn’t think about connecting concrete and carbon, but as Myles points out, the batching and making of concrete accounts for 5 percent of the world’s GHG emissions. Myles explains: “In the construction world, there are emissions emitted, and we want to reduce these emissions to the best extent we can… so we get involved in reducing our carbon footprint.” The environmental component of being an HSE professional means being proactive with carbon footprinting rather than just reactive. He tries to prevent environmental incidents, and part of that is by reducing GHG emissions. A crucial element is having access to data. If you want to know the impact of the steps you’re taking, you need reliable numbers. Climate Smart provides valuable data and helps our clients like Soletanche Bachy measure their impact to help them move forward.
Re-Examine Your Process and Materials to Reach Carbon Neutral Goals
Myles’s climate reduction strategies and goals come from the Soletanche Bachy Paris office, which means they follow European rules. These are strict even compared to North America and are set to move the company to reach carbon neutral goals. The way to start reducing GHG emissions in construction is through process and materials. Myles says they first focus on the large equipment and reducing their fuel usage. Then there is also an effort to shift to low carbon cement for concrete and increasing fly ash. This helps with the cement and grout using less coal and achieving lower GHG emissions.
The Rewards Outweigh the Challenges
One of the biggest challenges Myles says HSE professionals face is a lack of engineering knowledge. HSE professionals want to influence the design elements, but as he explains, it can be a hurdle because they often don’t have the engineering experience needed. Recommendations to use lower-emitting materials such as concrete, grout, and other design elements need to be aligned with the engineering side of their business. “HSE professionals don’t have an engineering background,” says Myles. “Yet, if you can involve HSE professionals from the beginning of a project, they can influence the project environmentally.” Despite those challenges, opportunities over the next three to five years are significant. For example, we strive for carbon offsetting at the construction level where the business decision makes sense from an environmental and design engineering standpoint - to get a cost reduction on material use or type of material used.
Educate and Engage Your Team in Carbon Footprinting
Collaboration is key in carbon footprinting. When you have discussions across all groups in an organization, facilitating the bottom line means that you’ve created cost savings and emission reductions. As Myles explains, “It’s a win for the project, a win for the pocketbook, and a win for the environment.” There are many resources for teams in Canada to utilize, including groups that focus specifically on low carbon cement and grouts. This means if you go to a cement supplier, you can request a lower carbon cement mix. “Global warming didn’t happen right away; it took a long time to build, and now it needs to be addressed. We need to manage change and cooperation between parties, and it’s more important than ever,” explains Myles. Taking on climate challenges can seem overwhelming, but it’s attainable if communities and businesses work together. When you team up with Climate Smart, you become part of a community because creating a positive environmental impact is not a solo sport. With more HSE professionals like Myles leading the way in carbon footprinting, we’re taking a step forward in helping businesses tackle significant climate challenges.