We are exceptionally proud to have our managed hostels be the first accommodation network in the world to be carboNZeroCertTM certified!
What does "carbon neutral" mean?
Being carbon neutral is a term that's thrown around a lot, but the idea is that for an organisation, product, or event, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted equals zero. This might seem impossible, but it can happen through a process of measuring greenhouse gas emissions (including carbon dioxide), reducing them, and offsetting any residual emissions. This is where carboNZeroCertTM certification comes in.
How did we do it?
First, we brought Enviro-Mark Solutions on board to help us with the difficult process of measuring our greenhouse gas emissions. They looked at our National Office and managed hostels to find out where we're producing the most emissions. This lets us know where we're at currently, and where we can focus our efforts to make the greatest reductions.
We've committed to a 5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for the relevant parts of our organisation, but we'll be happy if we can manage to top that! We know that electricity is our biggest source of emissions, so we plan to continue investing in initiatives like solar and geothermal power.
Offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions means putting our money where our mouth is and purchasing carbon credits to offset what we do produce. There are a number of carbon credit providers both in New Zealand and overseas, but we've chosen to stay local and support the regrowth of native forest on Banks Peninsula through the Hinewai Trust.
We also offer guests the opportunity to do their bit and offset their carbon footprint through the Green Footprint Project.
Can we prove it?
Sure can! We get a snazzy certificate to show off the fact we're carboNZeroCertTM certified, we're listed on the Enviro-Mark Solutions website, and we have a disclosure statement available for anyone who's interested in the nitty-gritty of our carbon measurements. If you've got any bright ideas we might be able to implement in our reduction, let us know!
What were our emissions for 2015/16?
Our managed hostels and National Office emitted 914.06 tonnes of carbon dioxide for the measurement period. That's about 254 times the average emissions of one vehicle per year, so we've certainly got room for improvement.
Most of our emissions came from electricity usage. This is good news for us since we're already working on reducing our power consumption through solar and geothermal energy.
By comparison, an average household emits about 1 tonne of carbon dioxide per year. That's the same as flying from Auckland to London and back again!
Why did we do it?
First and foremost, we did it because it's the right thing to do. Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing the world today and we think it's our responsibility to do what we can to help. YHA New Zealand was founded on a love of the outdoors, which means we're pretty determined to protect the awesome environment New Zealand has to offer too.
We also have a triple-bottom line reporting structure, which means environmental sustainability and responsible tourism are at the core of how we operate.
Can other organisations get involved?
Heck yes they can! This is something we actively encourage (challenge, even!) businesses to get behind and commit to. Get in touch with the folks at Enviro-Mark Solutions and they'll give you all the info you need to get started.