Climate change is something that affects us all. We, as people, tend to take the ground we walk on for granted, but that ground is very much threatened by rising global temperatures, plummeting resources, and excess carbon dioxide we all generate.
At Aquent, we want to do our part to make a difference.
So what could we do? Buy carbon credits? Help our talent and staff switch out that plastic straw for a metal one? Send them all a cotton tote bag? Sure, all of these things help, but they won’t really move the needle.
We are not a company that settles for half measures, and our approach to sustainability is no different.
An idea born out of necessity
Before COVID became a reality, approximately 30% of our staff and talent worked remotely to some degree. During the height of the pandemic, we (like all companies) moved our employees to full-time remote work. With our empty offices, no commuting, and no business travel, we saw a dramatic decrease in the amount of carbon we generated. In fact, looking at the numbers, domestic transport accounted for 27% of the UK’s GHG emissions in 2019. Spurred on by this realisation, we decided to make a drastic change: our entire global staff would be virtual-first, and we would let leases lapse on as many office spaces as possible.
Becoming a virtual-first company was only the first step. Our sustainability efforts needed to match the magnitude of the problem; so, John Chuang, Aquent’s CEO and Founder, pledged that we would be carbon negative by the start of 2022. Unlike other organisations, we decided not to simply buy carbon credits to reach this goal.
To make an impact on climate change, we would take three key actions:
- Build four solar arrays
- Migrate our cloud storage to a site that uses renewable hydroelectric energy, and
- Provide our staff with more energy-efficient laptops globally
No carbon credits here, just less carbon
Again, simply buying carbon credits is not really in line with who we are as a company. We want not only to take the unconventional approach but also to make the biggest impact on our community. That is why we are building solar arrays. With limited Aquent real estate due to our virtual-first approach, we looked to other businesses to host this renewable energy source.
So, what does building these solar arrays on the premises of other businesses do for Aquent’s global carbon footprint?
Becoming carbon-negative means that we are offsetting more carbon than we generate as a global business.
While these arrays will not power the homes of our staff and talent, they will offset approximately two times the amount of CO2 that our staff and talent generate annually worldwide.
We are working with four US-based organisations in Indiana and Ohio (two states that have higher carbon dioxide generated per kilowatt-hour) to host the arrays:
- Futuro Pizza: A funky, fun, Indianapolis, Indiana-based, ‘mom and pop forever’ pizzeria that serves up seriously good pizza. This growing business (and local community favourite) will harness the power of the sun to deliver their crowd-favourite pizzas.
- Circle Kombucha: An Indiana based functional beverage company whose mission is to make delicious sparkling drinks that are also good for you. They are committed to supporting and growing their community and being environmentally conscious, from the first ingredient to the first sip.
- Mount Sterling Dairy: A 980-cow dairy farm, owned and operated by Tuen and Anja Verhoeven, passionate about sustainable farming. Not only producing quality milk, they also use techniques like soil monitoring, manure and compost fertiliser, and planting diverse cover crops to encourage biodiversity and protect against erosion.
- Ball State University School of Architecture: The Indiana based campus is a place where people are learning how to build the future (literally). It seems fitting that it will also host and use solar panels to power the classrooms housing tomorrow’s sustainable designers.
So, yes, a global workforce solutions company is building solar arrays rather than buying carbon credits because taking the easy, conventional route is not really our thing. This project would not be possible without our partner companies who share our commitment and our willingness to fight climate change together.
Next stop: working to erase our 35-year carbon footprint!