Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Reaching Drawdown

Pause for a moment and think back to your earliest memory of being taught about sustainability. Were you sitting in a classroom learning from a textbook or did a friend recommend a lifestyle change to you for the betterment of the planet? Depending on what generation you fall into, you may have a very different experience. For example, when millennials first started learning about sustainability in school the two topics they heard most about were pollution and recycling. Pollution was typically associated with large industrial corporations who were encouraged to be more responsible with their waste, but had little application to the individual, especially at age 10. Recycling was the number 1 practical and most effective way that you could improve the planet and millennials were taught at a young age how to do so. You might be surprised to hear that in 2019, recycling is actually proven to be the 55th most effective sustainable strategy. However you first learned about protecting our planet, it might be time for a refresher course on the best strategies for positive change.

Project Drawdown is a non-profit started in 2014 by environmentalist Paul Hawken in order to research and measure the most effective solutions to reducing our carbon footprint and present those findings to the world. The organization is formed by scholars, scientists, entrepreneurs, and advocates who stand behind the common goal of reaching drawdown. Drawdown is the point at which the concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere begins to steadily decline on a yearly basis. Their research is presented in a ranked list of 100 of the most effective, scalable solutions to global warming.

Each solution reduces greenhouse gases by avoiding emissions and/or by sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. These solutions have been measured to determine their carbon impact through the year 2050, as well as its cost to society and total savings. Each solution is considered a “no regrets” response to climate change, meaning that even if they are eventually disproven as it relates to greenhouse gases, they will ultimately benefit society regardless.

In order for their research and plan to be successful, individuals must choose to invest their time, energy, finances, and thought to reach drawdown. Instead of a defeatist mentality, Project Drawdown is empowering human beings at all society levels to make real change. The one hurdle to our own effectiveness is being educated on the most effective solutions.

Try ranking these four food solutions from most effective to less effective:

  1. Cook over clean stoves
  2. Throw away less food
  3. Eat a plant-heavy diet
  4. Compost your waste

How about ranking these four home related solutions:

  1. Install green roofs
  2. Use smart thermostats
  3. Switch to LED lightbulbs
  4. Design more walkable cities

To get the answers, peruse the list of Project Drawdown Solutions. How can you educate others in your family, workplace, or social groups to implement these highly effective strategies?


Top 10 Project Drawdown Solutions

TSP has been directly tackling these solutions in our industry through our architecture and sustainability consulting practice. To date we have implemented bike infrastructure, building automation, green roofs, highly efficient building insulation, LED lighting, smart glass and more in our portfolio. We utilize a sustainable design approach that examines first and life cycle cost impacts, thereby providing long-term cost-effective designs for our clients. Whether or not our clients choose to pursue LEED Certification, The Sheward Partnership always looks to integrate energy/water saving design strategies where appropriate to design a high-performance project.

Take some time to read about some of our highly sustainable projects and how we implement these same strategies in our office:

On a more individual scale, we plan to hold an office-wide challenge using Project Drawdown solutions to determine who can reduce the most carbon. Daily challenges may include going vegan for a day, using mass transit, not using an automobile, or composting 100% of your food scraps.