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Sustainability Reporting – the Role of Renewables

Published:

November 4, 2020

Category:

Sustainability

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In response to the everchanging society we live and operate in, many fleets, organizations and communities have re-evaluated current environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals to be more reflective of the future we are moving towards. Advocacy is growing for cleaner, more equitable offerings that benefit society at large – but, how can that demand be met? That’s where renewables come into play.

ESG criteria: what are they?

ESG criteria are a collection of standards companies integrate into their operations. They are later evaluated by investors seeking responsible investment opportunities. This enables investors to better identify the financial risk potential companies have based on their ESG practices. But – what exactly are investors evaluating? The below table details some factors investors look for when presented with a prospective investment opportunity:

However, the question remains – how do you integrate renewables into your organization’s ESG practices?

Renewable natural gas: minimizing your environmental impact

Renewable natural gas (RNG) is a readily available, drop-in solution for two primary applications: thermal energy and transportation fuel. In each, there is great potential for addressing greenhouse gas emissions, carbon intensity levels and air quality concerns – among other factors. But, how does accounting for emissions differ between thermal and transportation applications.

1. Renewable Natural Gas: a thermal energy solution

Recently, organizations across industries have started evaluating thermal energy and the significant role it plays within their emissions inventory. Aside from wind and solar, RNG can offer immediate reductions to thermal energy emissions, without the costly upfront capital. RNG can be immediately sourced, leveraging existing natural gas pipelines (likely the same you’re using for heat today). It’s an easy solution to instant emission savings and ESG achievement. RNG can help organizations reduce either their scope 1 or 2 emissions – depending on the exact use and classification. Scope 1 emissions are all direct emissions resulting from controllable company activities and operations. Conversely, scope 2 emissions are indirect and result from a company’s use of purchased electricity.

One company who is already using RNG to heat their facility and power their fleet of buses is the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. As detailed through this press release, this will enable them to meet their 2030 carbon reduction goals much earlier than anticipated.

2. Renewable Natural Gas: a transportation fuel

On a different note, many fleets have already added renewable natural gas to their fueling portfolio. When used as a transportation fuel, RNG helps organizations reduce scope 1 emissions from their owned fleet assets and scope 3 emissions from transportation that is outsourced. RNG is a readily available alternative fuel solution to tackle climbing transportation emissions. Not only does it offer the lowest carbon intensity scores, but can also be used with existing, proven vehicle technology and established infrastructure. RNG is the fastest pathway to transportation emission reductions.

Anheuser-Busch has recently transitioned over 180 of their trucks to run on renewable natural gas – recognizing the value proposition RNG offers. Further, this transition brings them closer to their 25% carbon emissions reduction goal for 2025, which you can read about here.

The above graphic illustrates the difference between scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

Why Renewable Natural Gas makes sense, now.

Unlike other energy and fuel sources, RNG will deliver an immediate, positive impact to your organizational ESG goals. This is because RNG is produced by sequestering methane from decomposing waste that otherwise would have been released into the atmosphere as a harmful, potent greenhouse gas. RNG benefits air and water quality for communities where it’s produced in addition to where the gas is used – truly a win, win for our world.

Additionally, developers like U.S. Gain are diligently working to bring new RNG production projects online, at farms, landfills, food waste and wastewater treatment plants, to satisfy climbing demand from thermal energy and transportation applications.

Further, sustainability accounting practices are expanding to provide reporting guidance to organizations as they adopt RNG within their operations and supply chain, ensuring maximum value is recorded.

But that’s not all – using RNG, specifically within transportation, has the potential to result in economic benefits. State and federal governments have incentivized the development and use of RNG through various programs: the LCFS, Oregon’s CFP and the RFS. These programs enable environmental financial credits to be generated once RNG is drawn upon by the transportation sector. After, the credits are sold to obligated parties and monetized by suppliers like U.S. Gain – enhancing the value proposition of developing and using renewable natural gas.

Future growth – emerging uses for Renewable Natural Gas.

As more advancements are made in the alternative fuel and energy sectors, the potential for renewable natural gas is endless. With the emergence of hydrogen and electric being used as alternative fuels and energy sources, this results in the question of how they will be produced. Using RNG as a feedstock to produce both not only helps to lower the comprehensive CI score of the resulting hydrogen and electric but helps to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

So – what are you waiting for?

Acknowledging societal and governmental pressures for adoption of ESG practices will amount in the coming years, many businesses and fleets are already using RNG – minimizing their environmental impact. To learn how RNG can help you achieve your operational and ESG goals, contact us today!

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