Beehive grid with icons of CO2 reduction overlaying photo of city
Art by Aidan Schneider

April 22 is Earth Day, the annual reminder of the importance of environmental protection. At DT Global, we celebrate Earth Day every day, by investing in our planet not just through words but action. That’s why we’re taking bold steps to curb our business emissions and green our operations to protect our planet and communities in the face of climate change.

DT Global is committed to addressing the global climate crisis. Doing this requires us to reduce our emissions footprint in both our corporate and our project offices, integrate greening into our operations and project activities, and help our partners around the world build their resilience to climate change.

Under the leadership of Kena Vasquez, Director of Climate Change and Environment, and Abigail Hays, Program Officer in our DT Global US office, our US Climate Team has made meaningful progress in measuring DT Global’s greenhouse gas emissions footprint at the corporate level in our offices in Australia, Spain, and the US. We’ve used this information to educate staff across our geographies on DT Global’s emissions footprint and on how we can adopt low-carbon business practices to decarbonize the company’s operations around the globe.

“Environmental sustainability is at the core of decision-making at DT Global and by taking action I hope we can become a role model to our partners, clients, and local supply chains globally,” says Kena Vasquez. “One of the great benefits of working at a new and purpose-driven company is that you can help shape the place where you want to work—and the company’s values of learning and innovation make this an exciting journey.”

Setting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets

To actualize our vision, in 2021 DT Global became a signatory to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between the CDP, UN Global Compact, and the World Resources Fund for Nature that helps companies set science-based targets to lower carbon outputs to limit warming in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

As part of this, DT Global has developed a greenhouse gas inventory for our corporate offices in Australia, Spain, and the US. This includes a completed baseline of actual emissions with estimation for future emissions currently underway. Now that we’ve created a baseline inventory, we’re verifying this inventory and working with an expert to set science-based emission reduction targets. Once set, we’ll measure our progress on these targets year on year.

Varying greenhouse gas emission results across DT Global geographies

By creating an inventory of DT Global’s emissions, we were able to clearly see differences in actual emissions during a Covid year versus estimation of emissions during a business-as-usual year. Differences in the overall footprint were impressive, with categories such as business travel and commuter travel representing the greatest emission ‘savings’ in a non-pandemic year—even when considering telecommuting emissions (e.g., energy for home laptops).

Covid actual vs business-as-usual year greenhouse gas emissions

In addition to variations across categories and Covid versus business-as-usual years, we also found that there were variations in emissions among geographies. For instance, because the Washington D.C. office is the largest in terms of both size and number of employees, this office has the highest amount of greenhouse gas emissions annually, accounting for 82% of total DT Global emissions. Our Spain office had the lowest emissions, but not just because it has fewer staff—their low emissions are driven primarily by the fact that their electricity is 100% renewable energy (solar generated), with zero Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) emissions. (CO2e means the number of metric tons of carbon dioxide that has the same warming potential as one metric ton of another greenhouse gas.) Our Australia office’s electricity is sub-metered, which means this office can make a more meaningful impact in emissions reductions through electricity usage. So, while all three offices share many commonalities in emissions sources, each office has unique circumstances that will allow them to tailor their emissions reductions strategies to their own situations and needs.

Actual emissions for all three geographies

Collecting and sharing emissions information—a global effort

Estimation of our global emissions was possible due to close collaboration with Corina Popa, Infrastructure Unit Project Manager and Tamara Amor Perez, Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator from DT Global EU and Louise Houston, People and Culture Coordinator and Mel Dunn, Vice President for Strategy and Innovation from DT Global Australia. Our team presented the finding from the global emissions inventory to staff in all three geographies, who expressed excitement about taking part in reducing DT Global’s carbon footprint and greening operations.

“We have had a great response from our Madrid team and the building management company who helped to provide information on our emissions,” says Ms. Popa. “We were pleasantly surprised to find out that our overall emissions are on the low side because of our use of 100% renewable energy in our building, and our use of sustainable mobility such as bicycles, public transportation, and walking to get to work. The presentation was well-received, and I am convinced that we will all make personal efforts to reduce the emissions even further.”

Piloting GHG estimation activities in project field offices

Beyond corporate initiatives, DT Global is supporting greening initiatives throughout our programs. Some of our projects, such as USAID Climate Ready, work specifically on climate change, but we’re also integrating pilots for emissions reduction into programs in other sectors, such as conflict and stabilization.

For instance, DT Global’s Learning & Innovation Team estimated the greenhouse gas output of specific grants activities run under our USAID Toward Enduring Peace in Sudan (TEPS) project. As part of this initiative, DT Global’s Conflict and Peacebuilding Advisor, Jason Matus, led a workshop to present results to the Sudan TEPS staff team to raise awareness on the greenhouse gas output of grant activities such as workshops and small-scale infrastructure. As a next step, DT Global plans to develop customized greenhouse gas estimation tools to help our projects make better procurement and operation decisions in favor of low emission options. “Sudan is, and will continue to be impacted by climate change,” says Abdalla Mohammed, TEPS Chief of Party. “We’re excited to conceptualize new ways to offset our emissions by ‘greening’ our project activities.”

Greening operations from within: DT Global’s Green Team

DT Global’s work to ‘green’ our business operations will be wide ranging. In addition to setting plans to target the main drivers of emissions—including business travel, employee commuting, shipping, and transportation to the extent possible—we will also assess our business processes—including field operations and procurement processes—and set guidelines around emissions for our home and field office staff. We will continue learning and working on pilot projects at the field office level and facilitating guidance for the implementation of best practices.

To help implement these plans, DT Global is working on assembling a Green Team—a corporate initiative to give global staff the opportunity to grow their interests and skillsets in sustainability, green initiatives, and climate change. The Team’s objective will be to promote environmental awareness, engagement, and to mainstream green initiatives in company operations and projects that reduce environmental impacts and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and costs at DT Global.

"Learning how to collect and analyze emissions data to calculate DT Global's footprint and looking at meaningful measures to reduce it has been an incredible learning experience for me," says Ms. Hays. "Tackling our carbon emissions is crucial for all companies, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to work on the front lines of this effort."