Fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and petroleum produced 80% of the energy used in 2020. Producing all of that energy released toxic air molecules, destroyed natural wildlife, and polluted waterways, forests and communities. In 2020 the United States released and emitted 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. While there’s no denying that enormous amounts of energy are necessary to operate botanical gardens, museums and zoos, there are environmentally conscious options and opportunities to reduce our energy footprints that organizations should consider.
One such opportunity is for organizations to purchase or generate 100% renewable energy. The Climate Toolkit created goals to support and assist organizations as they address energy emissions within their own operations.
Click to read more about each goal and explore further resources. If you need more support, please email the Climate Toolkit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Fossil Fuels, Explained (National Geographic)
- Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Electricity Generation (U.S Energy Information Administration)
Listed below are the Energy goals of the Climate Toolkit:
The Paris Agreement is a global agreement to addresses climate change with a long-term goal of keeping the global average temperature to at least 2°C (3.6°F) below pre-industrial levels. In alignment with the Paris Agreement, the Climate Toolkit recommends that institutions set realistic goals to reduce fossil fuel usage and its associated emissions and make plans to accomplish those goals. This is a critical step to address climate change and diminish our carbon footprint. Click here to read more about the Paris Climate Agreement.
Buildings have a high energy demand, with lighting, heating and cooling contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. They are a critical place to significantly reduce energy use.
For new constructions and renovations, the Climate Toolkit recommends pursuing the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Living Building Challenge, which requires organizations to create a building that uses resources efficiently and is net-zero energy and net-zero water. The Living Building Challenge is one of the few challenges that ILFI created for healthy buildings, communities and living. It focuses on 20 imperatives within seven categories of energy, water, place, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty and inspiration. Click here to read ILFI’s case studies of Living Buildings all over the world that are thriving (2021).
Alternatively, organizations can pursue ILFI’s Zero-Energy certification (2021).
- Zeroing In: Making Your Buildings Net-Zero Energy (Phipps Conservatory)
- The Living Building Challenge (International Living Future Institute)
- Phipps Conservatory’s Living Building Challenge (International Living Future Institute)
- What Does Good Look Like? Getting the Green Building You Want Virtual Workshop (Phipps Conservatory)
Building renovations offer a unique opportunity to retrofit inefficient, older systems and reduce energy use and emissions in the process. From reducing HVAC leaks to using natural ventilation, upgrading lighting and switching to eco-friendly appliances, zoos, gardens and museums should endeavor to ensure that all new rehabilitations are as efficient as possible.
- Renovation Reductions: Making Existing Buildings More Energy Efficient (Phipps Conservatory)
Zoos, museums and botanical gardens emit a significant amount of carbon dioxide through conventional energy consumption. Purchasing renewable energy supports clean energy development, reduces your carbon footprint and hedges future electricity prices.
Generating renewable energy onsite is ideal but requires significant investment, so the Climate Toolkit recommends starting with a hybrid approach of purchasing renewable energy while investing long-term in onsite generation from photovoltaics and wind.
Click here to watch the Climate Toolkit’s webinar that explored options and opportunities for botanical gardens to transition to 100% renewable energy.
- How to Reduce Carbon Emissions: Energy Management and Audits
- Carbon Emission Reduction: An Interview with Norfolk Botanical Garden
- Watch the December Climate Toolkit Webinar
- Buying Renewable Electricity: Leading the Green Power Movement by Example (Phipps Conservatory)
- Purchasing Carbon Offsets: Accounting for Emitting (Phipps Conservatory)
Building emissions are responsible for nearly one third of the carbon released in the United States, and heating is a large driver of these emissions. Public institutions cannot always control how their buildings are heated, but offsets give an opportunity to reinvest in projects that will help build infrastructure for more widespread clean energy solutions.