Sustainable Printing: The Bernard Group’s Carbon Neutral Program

The Bernard Group is always looking for ways to further assert ourselves as the industry leader in sustainable manufacturing and corporate social responsibility. So in an effort to go carbon neutral and continue to reduce our business’ environmental impact, we’ve partnered with an environmental solutions provider to purchase Renewable Energy Certificates and Carbon Offsets. 

White windmills spread throughout a green field.

Progress at a Glance

With an environmental policy that states we’re “committed to leading the industry in minimizing the impact of our activity on the environment,” we put our money where our mouth is. The Bernard Group has significantly reduced our carbon footprint by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and Carbon Offsets. 

Our 2021 Carbon Neutral Program is comprised of:

  • Green-e® Certified U.S. Wind and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) 
  • U.S. Landfill Gas Capture Carbon Offsets at the Flathead Cooperative Landfill in Montana

“To us, operating a business sustainably is more than just a trend, it’s a responsibility,” said Liesl Beck, director of corporate social responsibility at The Bernard Group. “As a manufacturer, we inevitably produce greenhouse gas emissions. Now that we’re aware of the impact our business activities have on the environment, not only are we taking measures to reduce our impact, but also offsetting our use.”

A Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) infographic for carbon neutral printing.

Renewable Energy Certificates

Renewable Energy Certifications (RECs) account for and encourage the use, expansion and maintenance of renewable energy sources. They also channel funds directly to renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction projects.

So how do RECs work? When electricity is produced from a renewable generator, such as a wind turbine, there are two products: the energy, which is delivered to the grid and mixes with other forms of energy, and the REC. 

When renewable energy is delivered to the grid, it cannot be distinguished from the electrons that came from non-renewable sources. The REC is a way to track the renewable electricity and is like a receipt for owning the environmental benefits associated with the generation of renewable energy. 

RECs allow individuals and businesses to support renewable energy development. Investors buy RECs and then plug their profits back into initiatives that further the renewable energy industry. Thus, RECs help to make renewable energy projects financially viable while lowering carbon footprints.

Solar panels in a field lined up in rows.

The Bernard Group & RECs

We’ve purchased Green-e Certified U.S. Wind and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates to match all of the electricity used for printing services in our offices and facilities, thus reducing our electricity-based carbon footprint by 3,536 tons of CO2. 

The renewable energy generation we support has a positive environmental impact similar to growing 80,733 trees per year for 10 years, taking 1,029 cars off the road for one year or not using 11,215 barrels of oil.

Fun Fact: Green-e Certified renewable energy meets the highest standards in North America. It must be generated from new facilities that meet rigorous standards for environmental quality, marketed with complete transparency and accuracy and delivered to the purchaser, who has sole title.

A landfill with a device that collects and pumps methane.

Carbon Offsets

Carbon offsets address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and enable organizations like ours to reduce our environmental impact by supporting projects that are actively working to reduce, absorb or prevent carbon and other emissions from entering the atmosphere. 

So how do carbon offsets work? A carbon offset represents an action that sequesters carbon, converts it to energy or returns it to natural storage, such as in plankton that makes their bodies from carbon. 

Projects can also be in the form of forestry conservation efforts or based on a technology that captures gas before it is released, such as at a landfill or farm with decomposing waste. Carbon offsets are tools that help make these projects financially viable and are usually purchased by volume.

The Bernard Group & Carbon Offsets

We’ve purchased 788 metric tons of U.S. Landfill Gas Capture Carbon Offsets to cover our direct carbon emissions by 100%. This lowers our carbon footprint with an environmental impact similar to that of growing 13,134 trees per year for 10 years, taking 168 cars off the road for one year or not using 1,825 barrels of oil.

An infographic explaining types of carbon dioxide emissions.

Where We Stand

3Degrees breaks down carbon dioxide emissions into three Scopes: 

  • Scope 1: Emissions are made directly by our five primary facilities and company vehicles in Minnesota.
  • Scope 2: Emissions consist of those generated by the electricity we purchase from local energy partners.
  • Scope 3: Emissions include those made by our supply and distribution chain, employees commuting, business travel, purchased goods and waste disposal.

As of January 2020, The Bernard Group has offset 100% of greenhouse gas emissions generated from our facilities (Scope 1) and 100% of the emissions made by our energy partners to power our facilities (Scope 2). We’ve also begun mapping out how to measure Scope 3, with the end goal to offset all of our carbon. 

Fun Fact: Most companies with carbon offset programs usually only offset Scope 1. Since we’ve already accomplished Scopes 1 and 2, and we’re working on Scope 3, The Bernard Group is way ahead of the game!

The Bernard Group's recycling system on their production floor.

Environmental & Social Priorities

The Bernard Group is proud to offer green alternatives for many of our products while employing socially responsible business practices to turn them into our clients’ dream projects. 

This purchase of RECs and Carbon Offsets is an important step on our company’s sustainability path and is in addition to other measures like our sophisticated recycling and waste-to-energy programs, energy-efficient facilities and energy, water and resource conservation initiatives. 

“Adding a Carbon Neutral Program to our list of sustainability initiatives provides an opportunity to further ingrain sustainability into our culture and brand,” said Beck. Read more about those initiatives, our green accomplishments, partnerships and community involvement on our Social Responsibility page.

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