How's this for a news story? Genuitec, which develops the MyEclipse commercial Eclipse IDE, announced today that it is working toward a near-zero carbon footprint and wants other Java tool companies to do the same. Stay with me here.
Touting its environmentally friendly ways, the company starts with a boast that it's a so-called virtual organization. "Genuitec does not contribute to gas pollution by requiring employee commute times," it said in a news release. Nothing wrong with that. Working from home just one day a week would save me about $75 a month at today's gas prices. By eliminating office space, Genuitec says it also avoids high energy costs of its maintenance (to say nothing of rent).
What's more, all of the company's "communications, conferences, meetings and Webinars are virtual, which makes the organization practically paperless and minimizes further environmental impact," it said. And since it sells its software electronically, Genuitec also does away with the plastics, mailing fees, materials and energy costs associated with delivering packaged goods. With the combined results of these efforts, Genuitec claims to prevent more than 70 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere per year.
Here's where it gets interesting. While the company simply cannot avoid some air travel, it compensates for the resulting carbon emissions by--you guessed it--purchasing carbon offsets. The company has partnered with the CarbonFund.org Foundation, a non-profit organization that's focused on education, conservation and reforestation. Nothing wrong with that, right? Sounds like a great idea. But this requires sending a check to carbonfund.org each and every time someone travels. Even one staff trip a month adds up to hundreds of dollars a year. That's a lot of software at US$158.95 per user per year.
According to its audit for 2005/2006, the most recent available, carbonfund.org "received enough donations to offset 202,961 metric tons of carbon dioxide emission and has purchased 204,999 metric tons of carbon dioxide emission mitigation, providing a contingency reserve of 2,038 metric tons of carbon dioxide." The audit was performed by Environmental Resources Trust, a non-political, not-for-profit focusing on building market forces to protect the environment. Among its projects is a greehouse gas registry. ERT defines mitigation as 1.6 trees per CO2 metric ton for the U.S. and 3 trees per metric ton for the rest of the world. I guess our trees, like American workers, are more efficient.