Ceres believes that every organization, regardless of its size or sector, can and must play a role in building a sustainable global economy. Consistent with that belief, we are pleased to assess and disclose the results of our own sustainability performance.
We look to our own Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability to identify specific performance elements that are especially relevant and that we can measure quantitatively, or at least describe qualitatively. This assessment focuses on four elements of environmental and social performance:
- Our Scope 2 and Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions attributable to purchased electricity, space heating and cooling, employee commuting and business travel (i.e., our carbon footprint);
- The amount of solid waste we are able to divert, through composting, in our Boston headquarters;
- The diversity of our staff; and
- The benefits we offer to staff to promote healthy and sustainable lifestyles.
More important than the specific scope of our assessment, however, is the simple fact that we can be more effective advocates for sustainability leadership within the ranks of our business and investor networks if we regularly look at our own performance and ask how we can do better. We look forward to identifying additional measures of our performance, as well as effective ways to communicate that performance in future annual reports.
Ceres 2016 fiscal year was anything but normal. Our staff grew significantly, reaching 89 staff (including interns) by the end of the year, and we underwent a major renovation in our Boston headquarters, which necessitated a significant amount of telecommuting for many of our staff. As a result, we will be establishing new baselines for our sustainability performance in FY17, particularly with respect to our energy use and overall carbon footprint.
Our Carbon Footprint
Our approach to calculating a carbon footprint included three elements:
- Purchased energy. We collected data for our purchased electricity and natural gas usage from billing statements provided by our utility providers. This year, we provided these data to The Climate Trust for conversion to a CO2e measure of emissions. The Climate Trust used the EPA Clean Power Profiler for our zip code to determine a carbon intensity factor for our electricity use. Similarly, they used an EPA reference to assign a carbon intensity for natural gas use.
- Business travel. Using monthly statements from our corporate credit card provider, we compiled all instances of staff travel by airplane or rail, recording the destination for each trip. We provided these data to The Climate Trust, whose staff used the International Civil Aviation Organization's carbon calculator and the Amtrak CO2 emissions calculator to determine a total travel footprint.
- Staff commuting. Staff provided information describing the distance traveled for each mode of transportation that made up their daily commute to and from the office during each month of the fiscal year (to account for changes in commuting necessitated by the office renovation). We then entered these data into the Simplified GHG Emissions Calculator developed by the EPA Center for Corporate Climate Leadership to determine a total CO2e measure for this element of our footprint. Given the unusual nature of our commuting patterns in FY16, the results of our analysis are unlikely to be indicative of future measures of this category of Scope 3 emissions. More importantly, however, the assessment exercise provided valuable information we can use going forward as we develop a streamlined approach for collecting and processing commuting data.
The results of these three sets of calculations are presented below.
Ceres also maintains a commitment to offsetting our carbon footprint. In previous years the offset has been limited to emissions associated with our annual conference, including staff and attendees’ travel to and from the conference location. Beginning this year, we will purchase offsets (in partnership with The Climate Trust as our offset provider) for the conference as well as for our operational footprint.
Sustainable Design Elements Incorporated into Ceres Boston Headquarters Renovation
Ceres was fortunate to work with CBT Architects, a renowned Boston-based firm that guided our organization through a thoughtful and collaborative design process aimed at reflecting in our new space our organization’s values, culture, and mission. Occupying the majority of two floors in a Class-B building in Boston’s Financial District, our renovation integrated several sustainable design and construction elements, including:
- Investment in a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC System, which enables up to 55% energy savings over alternative units.
- Incorporation of a mothers’ room
- Installation of new bike storage
- Procurement of sustainable materials, including recycled and recyclable carpets, zero-VOC paints, occupancy sensors, LED lighting, and Cradle to Cradle® certified furniture
- Glass offices with moveable fixtures
- Layout designed to maximize daylighting
- Ergonomic desk spaces, including standing desks
- Open meeting spaces and a kitchen cafe designed to foster community and movement
- Technology to more easily facilitate telecommuting and teleconferencing with remote offices and individuals
Solid Waste Diversion
Ceres is pleased to be working with Bootstrap Compost, Greater Boston’s premier year-round residential and commercial food scrap pickup service. Bootstrap Compost diverts thousands of pounds of organic material from landfills every week, creating and delivering organic-rich compost to local farms as well as schools and community gardens. In our small way, we are excited to be contributing to a more sustainable system of food production!
Ceres is an equal opportunity employer and seeks qualified applicants without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, gender identity, gender expression, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation.
Ceres is deepening our commitment to hiring and retaining a diverse workforce in many ways, including by creating a new position to focus exclusively on recruitment and training.
Healthy and Sustainable Lifestyles
Benefits provided to employees to support healthy and sustainable lifestyles.
- Subsidized membership in bike-sharing program
- Subsidized car share memberships
- Subsidized public transit passes
- Fitness reimbursements and monetary rewards for healthy actions included within health insurance benefits
Ceres also offers its staff a beyond-compliance maternal and paternal leave policy, as well as capped dollar-for-dollar matching of employee retirement plan contributions. We also have in place a domestic violence leave policy that goes beyond compliance with Massachusetts state law, which requires organizations of 50 or more staff to allow leave for individuals experiencing domestic violence or abuse.