Montel Intergalactic – happiness first. Part II.
This is the second part of our sustainability report and plan for a future proof company that cares about humans and the Earth.
Happiness is one of our core values. We pursue the happiness of us and our clients but also aim not to have a negative impact on the Earth and any life on it while doing so. We want to be a genuinely responsible and sustainable company, and aim to be the most responsible software company in Finland.
The first part of the report and plan was about social and cultural as well as economic aspects of sustainability (including Chapter 1: Montel for people and Chapter 2: Montel, growth & ethics). You can read it on our blog. This second part focuses on environmental sustainability.
This is our very first annual sustainability report and plan. There is still plenty to do, and we appreciate any feedback from you.
Chapter 3: Montel <3 the Earth
Cooperation with Ilmastometsä
In September 2019 we kicked off our climate act campaign. We reached out for NGOs, companies and organisations to share their ideas of software projects in Facebook and in LinkedIn. Of these ideas, we got to choose one which our software developers together with Idean’s service and UX designers could execute pro bono. The chosen project is called Ilmastometsä, a tool to conserve forests. The project is worth 20 000€ and the product will be published by the end of summer 2020.
More about the campaign on our blog posts Software development to fight climate change and Designers, tech-heads and a bunch of strangers for forest conservation.
Even though we are stoked about this project we know that our real impact is not on individual projects or campaigns, but on our everyday actions. More about them follows.
Our climate footprint
The software business is no oil industry, and the IT sector can even clearly diminish global CO2-emissions. That said our business also heavily relies on the day-to-day use of electronic devices and electric power, for example.
To get a clearer vision of our company’s impact on climate, we used WWF’s climate calculator for offices to estimate our greenhouse gas emissions for 2019. We also checked and complemented the calculations using another calculator by the University of Helsinki. The results are presented below.
NB: Before the corona, about half of us Montelieers worked most of the week in our Helsinki office. A few of us who are not located in Helsinki or nearby normally work from home, apart from two of them who work in their local coworking spaces. Also, a few of us mostly work from clients’ offices. We have only included our current Helsinki office space to these calculations.
We purchase our electricity from Helen. In 2019 we used 8400 kWh of electric power. Only 9% of the electricity was from renewable resources. However, this has changed 1.1.2020 and now 100% of the electricity used in our office is LEED-certified wind power produced in Northern Europe.
Apart from the energy sources, also the amount of energy we use is something we want to work on for better results in 2020. We are computer geeks who use a lot of electronic gadgets for work. Finding out even the roundabout energy consumption of different gadgets we use, and if this can be reduced, is one of the topics, we need to work on. For all new electric devices bought we check for the electricity consumption level and take that into account in the purchase decision.
We have our own services running on Hetzners virtual cloud servers. Unfortunately, we could not find out the amount of energy our use of these virtual servers consumes. (Hetzner guys kindly told us it’s impossible.) So from our carbon footprint, the use of servers is excluded. But the good news is that the servers we use are located in Data Center Park Helsinki and use 100% wind and hydropower by Vantaan Energia. (About Hetzner’s sustainability acts).
Our Helsinki office space, the mothership, is rented to us by Sponda. Sponda is responsible for providing the heating, cooling and water for our office. Sponda’s responsibility work has been summarised here. When looking for a new mothership we also consider the responsibility of the landlord and sustainability of the office space.
In total, according to the calculator, our energy consumption caused emissions of
6.6 tCO2 eq + the server use.
We are a distributed company: Montelieers live and work in different cities, countries and continents. Mostly we see each other online. However, our mothership gets visitors from Kouvola and Kontiolahti every now and then. In 2019 these travels constituted 20 000 km but as they were done by train, they only equalled
0,04 tCO2 eq.
A lot more meaningful for our climate impact was that our Argentinian colleague paid us a visit by aeroplane, and on top of that 5 other shorter air travels were done during 2019. These travels produced
11.8 tCO2 eq of which part was compensated (see chapter compensations later on the text).
We tend to communicate with our clients and potential new clients through a video connection. However, we also encourage Montelieers to participate in seminars and conferences (even further away from homes), have client meetings and organise workshops for our clients wherever they like us to. And, in addition, we’ve had the habit of travelling together to Lapland once every year. The journeys to these events are strongly encouraged to do by train but that is not always feasible. Hence in 2019 7800 km by car and 600 km by bus were travelled. These produced
1.2 tCO2 eq.
In 2020 we try to cut down the emissions of both air and car travels by doing less international travels and by using more trains for domestic long distance travels. This will require some compromises but it is possible.
Remote work of all Montelieers is encouraged and facilitated. Remote work naturally decreases the emissions caused by travels from home to work and back. In 2019 the commute caused emissions worth
0.7 tCO2 eq.
We support Montelieers to use public transportation (instead of own car) by offering annual commute benefit (allowance for public transportation) to all our Helsinki-based employees. By far most of our commute kilometres are done by public transportation.
We also support commuting by bike (for health and eco-friendliness). In 2019 we sponsored bicycle maintenance for all Montelieers by Yeply (that also happens to be one of our great clients) and also enrolled a team to Kilometrikisa to encourage cycling.
We are a nearly paperless company. We bought a few new pieces of electronics and office furniture in 2019. These purchases caused
6.6 tCO2 eq most of which were from the electronics. As we need electronic appliances for our work the best way to reduce these emissions (and the problems caused by e-waste) is to buy high-quality appliances that last longer and can be repaired. Most of our office furniture is second hand and shall be like that in the future too.
We used to (before corona) enjoy breakfast together every Monday, and also had snacks and drinks in the fridge for the whole week. These are not included in the calculations as we can assume people would eat snacks and drink beverages anyway, even if not purchased by the company. However, we have guidelines for sustainable shopping that we follow, including instructions to choose organic, eco-labelled and fair trade products, and to avoid meat and dairy as well as non-recyclable wrappings and containers.
Waste and recycling
Recycling is part of the day-to-day at our office. We sort biowaste, energy waste, paper, cardboard, glass, metal, cans and bottles as well as batteries and electronics. In 2019 we got better instruction signs for the recycling containers. Also, our recycling-police (sorry guys) was sure to tell everyone if someone made a recycling mistake.
In 2020 we hope to be able to become even better recyclers (to make the recycling-police unemployed) and also start recycling also plastics (though, that is up to HSY).
As we have food in the office there is also food waste. The amount of food waste was tried to keep as small as possible by shopping smart. The shopping process got better and better throughout the year, and will still be perfectioned.
Events & services
The WWF’s climate calculator was missing events and services but we used another calculator to include them too. The carbon footprint of hotel nights and beverages and foods for our events weren’t very meaningful as they totalled only around
0,5 tCO2 eq. Most of that came from beer. Luckily we have started to brew our own beers at our office nano-brewery. (Have to admit the motivation was not sustainability but nice to realise our brewing hobby has this benefit too…)
Internet phone calls and cleaning services produced some more emissions, a total of
2.2 tCO2 eq. Unfortunately, these are services that we most likely cannot stop using.
In spring 2019 we made a company trip to Finnish Lapland, where our company was founded. Even though almost all of us took a train to Lapland instead of flying, we did make some compromises: our Argentinian team member flew to Helsinki, and two of our Finnish workers flew from Helsinki to Kittilä to join the company trip even with their tighter schedule.
To compensate for the emissions caused by these flights we reached out to The Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation to make compensation by conserving old forest in Northern Finland. To compensate for the emissions of these flights, we needed to conserve approximately 1700 m2 of forest from Lapland. That cost us 850 euros.
Read more about this compensation in our blog post (Can We) Compensate.
The result of the calculations are that our company produced emissions of around
25 tCO2 eq in total. Of that, we compensated some so the final result was
23,5 tCO2 eq. To give some perspective the carbon footprint of the average Finn is approximately
10,3 tCO2 eq in a year.
The picture below visualises the amount of emissions from different sources.
From negative to positive impacts
Our company is growing. Growth means that even to maintain the current level of emissions we have to make changes. But that’s okay, we are ready.
As we can see from the results, and from the picture above, cutting the air travels will have the most impacts on our carbon footprint. Apart from that, there are smaller, yet meaningful things mentioned in the text that we can do.
We have also made the decision that at the end of the year we will do the calculation for 2020 and compensate all our emissions for the whole year through one of the Gold Standard projects. We don’t think compensations as an easy way out from cutting any emissions but as a way to take care of the compulsory emissions, such as energy use.
This was a summary of the actions taken and the plans and principles we follow to be a more environmentally sustainable company. This summary focused a lot on the climate impact. Next year we hope to dive deeper into the environmental sustainability issues to also have a better picture of the other type of negative environmental impacts our company has and how to reduce them.
Any comments, we would love to hear them!