When The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota Chapter needed to find a way to meet the chapter’s goal of reducing carbon from their internal operations 25% by 2025, they approached Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) for help. It was important to TNC to make data-driven decisions that prioritize the most impactful solutions to reduce their carbon footprint. At the beginning, TNC’s lead on the initiative Marya McIntosh explains that TNC’s expertise is nature-based solutions rather than renewable energy or electric vehicles so they were “stuck on selecting and detailing the specific strategies that work for [them] with calculations about reduction potential, cost, and timeline.” That’s where CEE’s experts entered. Leveraging utility, business travel, building, and commuting baseline data from TNC’s Worldwide Office, CEE helped identify potential greenhouse gas emissions reductions, anticipated implementation costs, and proposed timelines for building and transportation strategies.
Gathering Data to Drive Decisions
CEE reviewed TNC’s baseline inventory and methodology and worked with TNC staff to collect additional data points to understand building-level energy consumption and fleet vehicle make-up and usage. CEE modeled different scenarios for building efficiency, renewable energy generation, and electrification to estimate implementation costs and greenhouse gas impacts in each scenario. In addition, the team reviewed TNC’s vehicle fleet inventory to understand the types of vehicles they own and lease and general usage patterns to estimate fuel and emissions savings if vehicles were converted to electric vehicle models.
Recommendations to Achieve Goals
As part of the data analysis, CEE customized recommendations to help move the needle on the strategies proposed by TNC, including weatherization, air source heat pump adoption, a fleet analysis, and identifying solar-suitable sites for on-site renewable energy generation.
CEE’s analysis provided TNC staff with the data needed to prioritize key recommendations. “Our sustainability presentation and recommendations were well received by the staff and Board. They agree with our recommendations to replace the worst-performing buildings, weatherize, install heat pumps, and develop on-site solar,” said McIntosh. Next, TNC plans to explore funding sources and contractor options to begin implementing the recommended strategies and achieve their 2025 goal.