Continuously increasing sustainability ambitions

About the Client

NRDC is an international nonprofit that works to safeguard the earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. Founded in 1970 and staffed by lawyers, scientists, and policy experts, the organization has more than 3 million members. NRDC strives to have its internal operations match its external work, as it is important to them that they “walk the talk”.

The Challenge: Raising the bar to achieve ever more ambitious goals

Agendi’s initial work with NRDC in 2017 included verifying the accuracy of calculations for a general inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. An accurate GHG inventory has helped NRDC expand its sustainability reporting and increase stakeholder engagement, in addition to providing a crucial piece for NRDC to deepen its impact through ambitious reduction targets.  However, as an organization that has always held high sustainability standards, how can NRDC ensure it continuously and consistently raises the bar on its own ambitions?

Agendi has been terrific at ensuring that NRDC is following best practices in calculating institutional GHG emissions. Their ambition to research and incorporate the leading standards for climate change mitigation has aligned closely with our own goals, and they have made the process of buying quality carbon offsets for both our operations and capital projects straight-forward. — Maria McCain Senior Sustainability Coordinator

The Solution: A long-term partnership and system of continuous improvement

So that NRDC can develop deeper initiatives, Agendi has assisted the organization in calculating additional scope 3 emissions, which are indirect and more difficult to capture. As a result, NRDC’s understanding of the impacts coming from printing, data centers, data storage, mailing, events, and online advertising has improved, allowing for better management of emissions. Efforts are currently underway to further expand this Scope 3 coverage while working with partners towards comprehensive solutions. In response to the circumstances caused by COVID-19, Agendi has also guided NRDC in estimating work-from-home carbon emissions and water usage. As remote work becomes more common, the aim is to further improve this process into 2022 and beyond so that NRDC can guide its employees – who dedicate their work towards environmental action – in ensuring their own footprints are as minimal as possible.

In past years, Agendi has assisted NRDC in purchasing carbon offsets that align with the organization’s Environmental Offset Policy. As NRDC moves forward, however, they are focusing on climate financing (instead of carbon offsets) to help shift industries away from fossil fuels and reduce GHG emissions at the source. To this end, NRDC is exploring collaboration with the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance and supporting the development of sustainable aviation fuel through SKYNRG. Fuels from renewable biomass will greatly reduce aviation’s carbon footprint. NRDC advocates for such solutions while also pursuing them as part of its own internal carbon strategy.

Organizations must constantly adapt to new challenges and opportunities while remaining flexible in their strategies. NRDC views sustainability as a journey, and the opportunity to shift the focus to climate financing is part of that always moving, never static landscape. Agendi’s ongoing review process has illuminated opportunities for improvement, increasing the capacity for more impactful goals over the past four years and into the future.

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