How to get climate neutral with your production plant
If you operate a production plant, you're probably aware of the need to reduce carbon emissions in manufacturing. As more companies, government bodies and consumers take steps to reduce their carbon footprint and lessen the potentially disastrous effects of climate change, you need to know what climate neutrality entails and the ways your production plant can become carbon neutral. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions at your manufacturing facilities and taking other climate-friendly steps, you can define your company as a forward-thinking brand devoted to social responsibility.
What is climate neutrality?
Whenever people and companies consume energy, they generate greenhouses gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2). Greenhouse gas emissions can come from manufacturing plants as they employ various processes. They can also come from people's everyday needs, such as running heat, air-conditioning and lights. Many companies keep track of the amount of gas they emit, with the total referred to as their carbon footprint.
Since greenhouse gas emissions can damage the ozone and accelerate the effects of climate change, many eco-conscious companies aim to achieve climate neutrality at their production plants. Climate neutrality means a company has a net carbon footprint of zero. When a company becomes carbon neutral, its activities won't put any strain on the climate.
For a company to reach climate neutrality, it first reduces its CO2 emissions to a minimum. Alongside reducing its emissions, the company will offset its remaining CO2 emissions via climate protection measures. Keep in mind that climate neutrality applies to a company's global emissions. A company may have more greenhouse gas emissions in one country but still maintain its climate-neutral status by implementing various international climate protection projects.
A major marker of climate neutrality becoming a global concern was in 2015 when United Nations Climate Change created Climate Neutral Now. This initiative aimed to inspire global stakeholders to achieve net-zero emissions. The United Nation's goal of net-zero emissions is to balance global emissions, where greenhouse gas emissions are absorbed via sinks, such as oceans or forests.
Why climate neutrality is important
Since climate neutrality is a global concern, it's crucial for forward-thinking manufacturing and production plants to take steps to reduce their carbon emissions. While climate neutrality is crucial for the health and safety of future generations, it also provides several advantages to companies that take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Here are some of the top reasons to become climate neutral:
- Raise your energy efficiency: Many climate and carbon-neutral processes also help production plants become more energy efficient. Energy efficiency lowers your reliance on fossil fuels, resulting in fewer emissions and greater savings. Climate-neutral energy sources also set your company up for future success, as the world's reserves of gas, oil and coal will eventually be exhausted. With renewable energy sources powering your company's operations, you won't have to pay more as the costs of fossil fuels go up.
- Receive cost savings: When you switch to energy-efficient power sources and take steps to reduce high emissions activities, you can receive cost savings. For example, automating processes in your plant can reduce waste and increase efficiencies. Since many green energy sources are self-generating and allow you to set up your own energy grid, you can reduce your energy bills.
- Increase your reputation: Many consumers are starting to become more climate-conscious with their buying decisions. Since consumers are increasingly aware of the effects of carbon emissions and often look to buy from companies taking climate neutrality seriously, a company that's implementing steps to reduce its carbon footprint can improve its reputation and raise sales. If you operate a climate-neutral production plant, you can also increase your reputation with clients, as they'll know any products you produce don't come with the baggage of high emissions.
- Avoid compliance issues: In the future, companies can expect greater regulations from governmental bodies. As different governments attempt to combat climate change, they may issue fines and other penalties for noncompliance with regulations that discourage companies from using fossil fuels or engaging in high emissions activities. By switching to climate-neutral processes now, you significantly lower the risk of running into compliance issues related to not meeting new governmental standards.
- Decrease harmful emissions: Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are very harmful to the environment and lead to climate change. Some of the negative consequences of high emissions include increased global temperatures, rising sea levels and more severe storms. Since climate neutrality decreases emissions, becoming climate neutral helps prevent these negative effects.
The process for becoming climate neutral
Since climate neutrality is so important for every corner of the globe, you'll need to know how you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. As you aim for climate-neutral manufacturing, you can take a few key steps. These steps include measuring carbon emissions, offsetting emissions via carbon credits and making a reduction plan. You can follow these steps to become carbon neutral anywhere in the world.
1. Measure carbon emissions
Before you become carbon neutral, you first need to know how much CO2 and other greenhouse emissions your plant releases. After all, if you don't know how high your emissions are, you can't take appropriate action to reach net-zero emissions. As a result, the first step to becoming climate neutral is measuring your production plant's total emissions.
Start by estimating the total amount of carbon emission originating from producing and shipping products. As you measure your emissions, you'll want to take into account Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. Here is more information on what each of these emissions entails:
- Scope 1: Scope 1 emissions refer to direct emissions originating from your production facilities. Some of these emissions might come from manufacturing plant processes, fuel used in company vehicles and natural gas used to heat your buildings.
- Scope 2: In contrast to Scope 1, Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions. An example of indirect emissions would be those caused by conventional generation for electrical energy, which you purchase from a utility.
- Scope 3: Scope 3 emissions are also indirect emissions, but they specifically refer to indirect emissions generated by your supply chain. These supply chain emissions can include indirect emissions from your staff commuting to work, shipping and transportation activities, corporate business travel and raw material extraction. Usually, Scope 3 emissions make up most of a manufacturing company's emissions.
2. Offset your emissions by purchasing carbon credits
With your emissions measured, you can work towards reducing your carbon emissions. Your measurements can help you target your company's main sources of greenhouse gases and the total quantity of emissions. These targets can help you know what steps you need to take to achieve net-zero emissions.
Your company can offset your emissions by purchasing carbon credits. A carbon credit is a certificate issued to a company when they either avoid or eliminate one metric ton of greenhouse gas emissions. Organizations and other entities produce carbon credits with projects that avoid or eliminate carbon. Later, an independent third party verifies these credits. Verified carbon credits can be traded. Companies that cannot lower their greenhouse gas emissions can buy credits to cover their actual emissions.
Any carbon credit issued to a company must meet a few requirements. Some of the main criteria for a carbon credit include the credit being verifiable, real, quantifiable, enforceable and permanent. Reforestation is one example of an effective project used to create carbon credits.
3. Make a reduction action plan to reduce emissions
After you've purchased carbon credits, you can develop a reduction action plan to reduce your overall emissions. An effective great reduction action plan identifies the category or scope of emissions you want to reduce. These plans also incorporate a timetable, a target for your emissions levels and the steps you'll take to meet this target. Typically, reduction action plans will take one or two years to implement fully.
As you develop a plan, be sure to set quantifiable targets. Instead of setting a general goal, like switching to recyclable materials, be more specific, such as setting a goal to switch to 80% recycled materials. You can also set science-based goals, such as using 100% power from green sources within a year. To make the targets more effective, you can also include information in your goals about how many tons of carbon your planned changes will eliminate.
How zenon can help you become climate neutral
One excellent way you can make your reduction action plan more efficient is to use the zenon Software Platform to help you become climate neutral. At COPA-DATA, we've developed zenon to support companies as they address their carbon footprint and reduce emissions. zenon is an industrial automation software platform designed for the future to help your company make data-driven decisions and simplify your life.
Here are some of the many ways zenon can help your company reach climate neutrality:
- Energy usage recording: Since you must measure your emissions before taking appropriate action to reduce those emissions, recording your energy usage is crucial. zenon gives you a fully integrated environment where you can record data related to your energy usage. Many companies enjoy using zenon due to its centralized data collection, as it makes it easy for users to find data about their energy usage quickly. zenon also ensures users receive accurate data, meaning you can make fully informed decisions based on the data it records. All data is archived and stored securely, making it possible to compare historic and real-time data.
- Cost-efficient system operation: When you want to cut costs while also reducing your carbon emissions, zenon can help. zenon helps you achieve cost-efficient system operations by providing you with tools for reporting, visualization and project configuration. These tools can assist with climate neutrality, as they optimize energy storage and consumption, so your company can make the best use of your renewable energy sources. Additionally, when you use smart energy grids, zenon's bi-directional communication helps you get more out of your grids and reach your climate-neutral goals.
- Horizontal integration: zenon's horizontal integration of the value chain gives you another way to achieve greater sustainability with your production processes. Since the platform can link isolated communication islands, you are able to better synchronize your overall systems. With greater synchronization and communication between systems, you can see where you need to take action and better gear your systems to achieve climate-neutral goals. Horizontal integration also helps you more easily adjust your entire system to carbon-neutral best practices.
- Full transparency over the entire supply chain: Due to zenon's ability to gather data about your entire product plant, you'll also receive greater transparency over your supply chain. zenon lets you quickly spot areas where you're expending more energy than necessary, such as frequently stopping and restarting production lines or underutilized facilities. Since zenon improves information and material flow, you can reduce energy consumption by quickly eliminating processes that harm the environment.
- Predictive maintenance: Unplanned downtime can cause additional emissions since it impairs efficiency. With zenon, you can use existing data to calculate downtime for maintenance far in advance. This information allows you to take steps to reduce downtime at your plants and get the most out of your energy, leading to greater sustainability.
Choose COPA-DATA to make your product plant climate neutral
At COPA-DATA, we're proud to offer our clients zenon to help them become climate neutral. Since climate neutrality helps your company to improve its reputation, lower costs and protect the environment, we've ensured zenon can optimize energy usage and lower your overall carbon footprint. We work with many production plants in various industries to help them connect all their processes, empower users with data and enable digital transformation. Your production plant can use these benefits with a carbon neutrality plan to meet your goals.
With over 30 years in the industry, we're experts at developing intuitive, effective industrial automation platforms. Since we're constantly improving our platform to ensure it meets contemporary needs and has the required logic and algorithms, you can trust zenon to serve your company for many years to come. When you invest in zenon, you set your company and the environment up for success.
Find out more about zenon's main features today. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.