The Top 5 Sustainability “Buzzwords” of 2022
By Jordan Klotzle
As this year comes to a close, it’s easy to get caught up in looking forward; many of us, companies and individuals alike, are busy making plans and setting goals for 2023. It is important to keep our efforts focused on what is ahead of us, but it is also crucial to pause and reflect upon where we’ve been.
At Verdical Group, continuous improvement is the name of the game. As technology and thought rapidly improve year after year, we prioritize innovation and continuing education so that our team is on the cutting edge of the green building industry. We’ve compiled a list of “buzzwords” that took center stage in 2022 to help us look back at where we’re coming from so that we can plan to make 2023 the biggest year yet in sustainability and green building.
Environmental Social Governance (ESG) reporting made the cut for our 2021 Buzzwords, and it’s back again this year as it continues to dominate conversations in the sustainability world. ESG reporting allows companies to take stock of how their business is performing across the three categories, make plans for improvement, benchmark their growth against their baseline, and share all of this information with the public. Public demand for corporate transparency has increased with the desire for consumers to know which companies are doing their part for people and the planet.
ESG is a hot topic here at Verdical Group as we continue taking steps to improve our social and environmental impact. In 2022, we released our first annual Social & Environmental Impact Report, detailing how we’re working to improve with regard to our workers, the environment, our community, governance, and customer services. We also worked with other organizations in our community to guide them through the creation of their own ESG reports and sustainability plans, an ever-growing consulting scope for us.
Scope 3 Emissions
In the world of carbon emissions reporting, there are three different types, called “scopes,” of emissions. A particularly hot subject in 2022 was Scope 3 emissions, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines as being “the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly affects in its value chain.” For instance, employee commutes, purchased goods and services, and leased assets such as office space all fall under the umbrella of Scope 3 emissions.
Our Subject Matter Experts foresee Scope 3 emissions as being a subject of debate in the coming years as more companies work to better understand their total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Although Scope 3 emissions often make up the majority of a company’s GHG emissions, they are also the hardest to define or categorize, raising the important question of who is ultimately responsible for reducing or offsetting those emissions.
Inflation Reduction Act
Signed into law on August 16, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) broke records as the largest climate action investment in U.S. history. The bill includes $369 billion of federal funds allocated to fighting climate change. This landmark legislation will move the U.S. forward on multiple climate fronts. Some major players are transportation electrification, including electrifying the U.S. Postal Service’s fleet of 200,000 vehicles; measuring methane emissions and fining oil and gas operators for emissions starting in 2024; and funneling money into state governments to help fund efforts toward environmental justice and climate action. The IRA also expands tax credits that provide incentives to clean energy producers for purchasing land to build manufacturing facilities before 2025, giving a major boost to solar and other renewable energy providers. This bill is sure to make major waves in 2023 and beyond.
Heat pumps are another 2021 Buzzword staying in the limelight for 2022. Heat pumps are an alternative option to conventional heating and cooling systems such as air conditioners and furnaces. They use refrigerants and electricity, rather than the burning of fossil fuels, to transfer heat into and out of buildings. This technology has applications beyond even space heating and cooling, making appearances in water heaters, clothes dryers, pool heaters, and more. As electrification continues to move our world closer to decarbonization, heat pumps are a key strategy in paving the road away from fossil fuels.
Verdical Group is one of many teams “fighting the good fight” of taking climate action to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and we are inspired by the positive action we see in the green building space each day.
Nonetheless, we must acknowledge the reality that climate change due to human behavior is already well underway, which requires us to consider its effects as we move forward. As defined by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, resilience or climate resilience refers to “the ability to prepare for, recover from, and adapt to” the impacts of climate change, such as severe weather, ocean warming, and extreme temperatures.
Resilience is becoming an increasingly bigger piece of the green building conversation as we examine how to create buildings that function well in the present moment and will also hold up to the effects of climate change in the future to ensure safe and healthy occupants.
Whether it’s conducting ESG reporting to examine how to reduce your Scope 3 emissions, utilizing heat pumps to increase energy efficiency on your next building project, or taking advantage of tax credit incentives offered by the Inflation Reduction Act to make advances in clean energy, we hope you’ll take a moment to reflect on the positive changes throughout 2022 so that we can all make even greater leaps toward climate resilience in 2023!