Commons is Climate Neutral Certified

Today, Commons is excited to announce that we are Climate Neutral Certified. 

Climate Neutral Certification, administered by the Change Climate Project, is the leading independent climate action label. It indicates that a company is actively working toward a net-zero future by taking accountability for its greenhouse gas emissions.

This certification represents a months-long process of data collection, analysis, and planning. Taking this step was a priority for Commons because we don’t want to just talk the talk about climate action -- we are also committed to walking the walk. As a company that helps people track their personal footprints and make more sustainable spending choices, we wanted to turn the carbon accounting lens on ourselves and make sure that we, as a company, are doing our part to track and reduce our own emissions.

The process to get a Climate Neutral Certification involved three key phrases: 

  1. Measuring our company footprint
  2. Creating a reduction plan
  3. Compensating for remaining emissions with offsets

1. Measuring Commons’ carbon footprint

Like any company, Commons measures its emissions by scopes 1, 2, and 3. 

  • Scope 1 includes direct greenhouse gas emissions from sources that are owned or controlled by Commons. As a hybrid/remote software company with very few owned assets, this number is zero for Commons.
  • Scope 2 includes indirect greenhouse gas emissions from purchased electricity, steam, heat, or cooling. For Commons, this includes our portion of the utility bills at the Oakland coworking space that houses our headquarters.
  • Scope 3 includes greenhouse gas emissions that a company is indirectly responsible for up and down its value chain. This can include “upstream” emissions, such as emissions associated with the production of purchased goods and services, and “downstream” emissions, such as emissions associated with the use or disposal of a company’s product.

Most of our emissions are in Scope 3. For Commons, the three main drivers of our Scope 3 emissions are purchased goods and services (80.5%), business travel (15.4%), and employee commutes (2.8%).

Getting accurate data for purchased goods and services was a challenge. We believe that we are likely overestimating emissions in this section, as we tend to veer conservative in our estimate. In 2024, we aim to improve our data collection and carbon estimation methods to better reflect the actual goods and services purchased and make our reduction efforts more actionable. 

2. Creating a reduction plan

After taking a look at our 2022 emissions, we had to make a plan for reducing them. Our biggest opportunities for reduction were in our business travel and commuting. 

Reducing business travel: The bulk of our business travel comes from flying our remote team members to California for quarterly company offsites. We have team members who come from as far as Vermont for our week-long offsite events. To reduce those travel emissions, we went from 4 offsites to 2 in 2023, and we plan to have 2 in 2024. This is projected to reduce our 2024 emissions by 25%. 

Commuting: Many of our employees live in dense, urban areas with robust public transit systems. Our goal is to reduce our team’s commute emissions by further incentivizing our employees to make use of these public transit options rather than cars or rideshares. To do this, we are committing to a new Commuter Benefit for our team, which will allow employees to pay for transit to and from work with pre-tax dollars. Our goal is for 100% of our US-based employees who have access to public transit to enroll in this benefit.

3. Compensating for our emissions

Finally, we offset the emissions we haven’t yet reduced. Fortunately, we have already conducted a rigorous evaluation of offset projects for the Commons Offset Portfolio. Through this portfolio, our team curates a set of climate projects, including forestry solutions from Pachama, soil carbon sequestration from Nori and Grassroots Carbon, and engineered carbon dioxide removal from Charm Industrial and Running Tide. These climate projects not only reduce and remove carbon but also prioritize innovation, scalability, and environmental justice.

We are confident in the quality of the projects within our Offset Portfolio. Not every project, however, fully aligns with Climate Neutral’s parameters for corporate offsetting. Commons’ criteria and Climate Neutral’s criteria differ in two key ways. 

First, Change Climate Project requires that all credits be third-party verified through one of four specific standards: Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard, Climate Action Reserve, or American Carbon Registry. While all of our Pachama forestry credits are verified through the Verified Carbon Standard, our soil carbon credits are verified through other highly rigorous standards. 

Second, Change Climate Project does not allow for pre-purchased credits that have yet to be retired. In order to catalyze the much-needed innovation of early-stage carbon dioxide removal solutions, Commons dedicates a small percentage (<2%) of our Portfolio to pre-purchased removals that will be delivered and retired by 2027. The next result is that 72% of our Portfolio is aligned with Change Climate Project’s Compensate requirements.

In order to use our Commons Offset Portfolio to compensate for our 2022 emissions in a manner that is aligned with Change Climate Project’s requirements, we have decided to scale up the volume that we are offsetting such that 100% of our footprint is covered by the 72% of our portfolio that is Climate Neutral-aligned. This means that although our 2022 footprint was 78 tons, we have allocated 109 tons of our Offset Portfolio to our compensation efforts.

As a Climate Neutral Certified company, Commons will continue to report on our company’s emissions, emissions reductions, and offsets. 

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