Climate change is no longer a doomsday prophecy, it’s a reality. - Astrid Heiberg - Commercial Buildings and Climate Change The Canadian commercial building sector is known to Methane, or CH4, is considered 25 times more potent as a consume a large amount of energy in the form of greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2). Algorithms electricity, natural gas, and water. Energy intensity is often suggest that organics in landfills contribute 2.6 metric expressed as gigajoules per square meter (GJ/m2) of office tonnes of atmospheric CO2e for each metric tonne in the space. According to the National Round Table on the landfill, not including the additional carbon associated Environment and the Economy, the Commercial Building with collection and handling. Sector represents 14% of Canada’s carbon For example, a Class A building produces 160,000 kg of emissions. As we look to organic waste and 80,000 kg of paper and cardboard waste reduce overall carbon per year, 100% of which eventually ends up in a landfill. emissions, energy inputs The mathematical models suggest that this will contribute have become the proxy 624,000 kg of atmospheric CO2e. The same formulas can measure. However, as we be applied to relatively inert and mildly compostable begin to better understand waste streams. the intricacies of external costs, it’s clear that the true carbon footprint associated with operating a commercial When operating a commercial building, a myriad of goods building is greatly increased. and services are required. From floor matting to restroom and breakroom supplies to snow removal – all have an If one considers the carbon intensity of non-energy associated carbon footprint and contribute to the supplies and services that go into operating a commercial building’s overall carbon footprint. building, along with landfill-destined wastes that leave, the true carbon footprint might be significantly higher. Unlike with waste removal and energy inputs, calculating the carbon intensity of non-energy inputs to a commercial building is almost impossible. Procurement professionals could insist on suppliers reporting the carbon intensity of each respective good or service on their invoices. This would allow purchasers to reward low carbon products or services while ultimately reducing their associated carbon footprint. For example, Service Provider A might offer a lower price, which comes with a significantly higher carbon footprint than Service Provider B. If the carbon intensity can be accurately calculated and monetized (CO2 is Carbon Footprint for Consumption of Goods & Services scheduled to trade at $50 per metric tonne), it may be Water/Sewer: 1 m2 = 7.14 lb CO2 Diesel: 1 L = 5.9 lb CO2 beneficial to choose the higher priced service provider Natural Gas: 1 GJ = 123 lb CO2 Electricity: 1 kWh = 7.14 lb CO2 with the lower carbon footprint. Gasoline: 1 L = 5.08 lb CO2 Landfill Waste: 1 lb = 40 lb CO2 In conclusion, commercial building operators should insist Up to 80% of the waste leaving a commercial building that suppliers report carbon intensity of goods and services (organics, paper, and cardboard) can be classified as provided, so that true costs can be accurately factored into highly compostable, which has a predictable propensity to the purchasing process. decompose in landfills into methane gas.