Icecat Becoming Climate Neutral: Utrecht Office Energy Neutral
Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions, and long term economic decisions go hand in hand with sustainability. We are now taking a closer look at our footprint and the impact we have through our value chain to find opportunities to improve our sustainability and have a greater impact. Our goal in this process is to become climate neutral. And to provide consumers with the necessary information to make the most sustainable choice. Which means giving brands, retailers and marketplaces the necessary tools to be transparent about the products they sell.
Starting with ourselves
In practice, we have applied this when making purchases for the office. When it came to choosing a carpet for the new office we chose one with a low carbon footprint. And when we buy appliances we choose the highest energy classification. When it comes to our company lease cars, we made the decision in 2017 to migrate our little fleet from plug-in hybrids (PHEV) to Full Electrical Vehicles, and we have company bikes for travelling short distances.
On the roof of our office building in Nieuwegein, that we own, we have installed solar panels. This lowered our energy bill with more than 100% during the past 12 months – we earned even a 30 euro margin – and basically generates the energy for charging our electric cars and office use. The annual production was 5618 kw, surpassing the total use of 4853 kw. We want to do the same at our office in Amsterdam. This is a rented office and it involves getting the owner of the building on board. It will have a similarly big impact on our energy footprint.
The hosting provider we use for co-locating our servers we selected on it’s policy to be CO2 neutral. Every new generation of storage and server hardware we purchase, scores better on energy efficiency. The ethereum based blockchain is in our opinion currently not sufficiently scalable and energy-efficient. For this reason, we research viable alternatives that score better.
In the coming period, we will be looking closer at all our purchasing decisions. Everything from hardware, office supplies, toilet paper, soap and tea and coffee is taken a closer look at.
Icecat’s extended impact
Icecat is a leading global product content provider connecting brands, distributors and retailers. As such we have a unique position to help brands to communicate about the efficiency and eco footprint of the products they sell.
We support environmental labels and certifications. Such as the EU Energy label which is mandatory for home appliances and cars. This label speaks to the energy sufficiency of the product but does not say anything about the Lifecycle or the materials used in production.
We also support all the GEN (global ecolabelling network) labels like the German Blue Angel and the Japanese Eco mark (see the full list). These labels have in common that the they are voluntary. Further, their standards typically address multiple environmental criteria over the life cycle of a product or service, they are public and transparent, and they are awarded using independent third-party accreditation.
Noteworthy, is the US government’s Energy Star rating, which has become an international standard also issued by other governments such as Canada, the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Japan, Switzerland and Taiwan.
Other important labels, supported by Icecat, are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Both are licenses for sustainable forestry. These labels are given to wooden and paper products. FSC was the first one, but has been criticized because it was too hard for small and middle sized businesses to qualify for it. Therefore the PEFC came as a label more directed to the small and middle sized companies.
In Icecat we can add any label. It’s a matter of adding the logo and a related feature value to the data-sheet. We will continue to add all the green labels that are relevant, and help consumers choose the more sustainable options.
We are adapting our taxonomy and add more parameters which help brands to provide consumers with more transparency: how are products produced, what toxins do they contain, and what is improved? The most critical green features are upgraded to “searchables”, i.e., the filters that are used for searching and selecting a product. Stay tuned for further updates on this.