Source: Kathryn Harth, 785-532-2495, kharth@k-state.edu
Website: http://www.dce.k-state.edu/pro/carbon-footprint
News tip/hometown connection: Redwood City, Calif., and Boston, Mass.
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-2535, bbohn@k-state.edu

Monday, Nov. 21, 2011

Sustainable future: New online course helps businesses manage environmental impact, meet federal regulations

MANHATTAN -- Being green is more than a popular catchphrase today. For businesses, being green can attract customers and help meet federal regulations on their environmental impact.

That's where Greenhouse Gas Accounting can help. This new course being offered online by Kansas State University can provide companies with the knowledge and tools necessary to manage their environmental impact, or carbon footprints, and comply with federal laws. The online, 12-hour noncredit training course is being offered through the university's Division of Continuing Education in partnership with CarbonSolutions, the consulting arm of the International Carbon Bank and Exchange.

Carbon accounting is a relatively new and fast growing field, said Mark van Soestbergen, president of the International Carbon Bank and Exchange.

"Just yesterday it seemed novel that one would calculate a carbon footprint; now it won't be long until a box of cornflakes will have a carbon label on it," van Soestbergen said. "In that sense, it is like nutrition labeling -- except carbon labeling goes way beyond food: everything from drywall to computer chips have a greenhouse impact, and generating that data will take a large pool of skilled individuals to accomplish."

Knowing how to measure an organization's carbon impact enables decision makers to see emissions across various stages of the business process and also identify energy reduction opportunities, lower costs and increase operational efficiency, van Soestbergen said. In addition, an increasing number of government and private sector regulations and initiatives also require manufacturers, service providers and municipal entities to know and report their carbon footprint.

"To do business with the federal government, for example, providers have to now state the environmental impact of the goods and services they provide," van Soestbergen said. "Suppliers to Wal-Mart now also have to disclose the environmental impact of their goods."

Kansas State University decided to offer Greenhouse Gas Accounting as way to expand its resources in environmental sustainability and meet a growing demand as business and industry deal with new environmental regulations, said David Stewart, associate dean of the Division of Continuing Education.

"It became apparent to us that this was a highly credible program attempting to provide quality training in an area where there will be growing demand," Stewart said. "Greenhouse Gas Accounting is targeted toward business and industry and designed to be very user friendly. This aligns with our goal to develop good training resources for our constituents in Kansas and beyond."

The course is now available. Applicants can work at their own pace and can get started within 24 hours of registration acceptance at http://www.dce.k-state.edu/pro/carbon-footprint.

The course is approved for 12 professional development hours for engineers and 12 learning unit/health, safety, welfare, sustainable design for professionals. In addition, approval is pending for 12 Green Building Certification Institute continuing education units.

Students say the course is helping them on the job -- and to get a job.

"I started a new job and am part of a group working on greenhouse gas measurement and emission factors, so I thought getting an overview of greenhouse gas calculations and methodologies would be helpful," said Ana Jamborcic, an energy and sustainability analyst with CA Technologies' ecoSoftware. Jamborcic works in the international company's Redwood City, Calif., office.

"The course has been very helpful in framing a context and for hands-on practice for calculating greenhouse gas emissions," Jamborcic said. "I'd recommend it to anyone working on emission factors, greenhouse gas calculations or sustainability initiatives, or who wants to have a better grasp of the industry. It's a great way to get up to speed on some of the most important aspects of the carbon industry."

Gianna Leandro, Boston, Mass., who has bachelor's and master's degrees in civil and environmental engineering, was unemployed when she started taking Greenhouse Gas Accounting.

"I took the course because I was searching for a job and wanted to expand my professional environmental skill set. I am already trained in classic environmental engineering and wanted to expand my skills to include an important sustainability tool," she said. "I haven't had the opportunity to use the greenhouse gas skills I learned at my new job yet, but I'm certain I will. I recently got involved with my company's sustainability and air group, and both do greenhouse gas accounting."

CarbonSolutions has been active in the greenhouse gas space since 1998 and has generated hundreds of footprints -- touching on everything from roasting organic coffee to measuring the impact of NBA sports teams. The company has provided greenhouse gas accounting services to oil and gas clients in Central Asia, music events in Japan, as well as academic institutions in the U.S. More information on CarbonSolutions is available at http://www.carbonsolutions.com.